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Steinlaw, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 1811
Experience:  Consumer law attorney, author of California Debt Blog, top foreclosure attorney
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Customer Question

Got a hard pull from Collection Agency (California).

Contacted them (I live in Hawaii now). They said that have an accountant trying to collect debt.

The story with this "account" is more then controversial.Half a year ago I hired a company (it was only based on oral contract, so no written contract, no my signatures anywhere). It was a business transaction - I hired them to do a tax return from my company. They didn't do job well (quality and timeframe), and, more then that, and they send me invoice which didn't reflect our agreement, so I rejected to pay and they didn't give me tax return I ordered. I don't feel comfortable to pay for job which was not delivered when it was needed.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Steinlaw replied 5 years ago.
What type of "business transaction" was this? Can you be more specific?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
That's the more detailed story:
I'm owner of the small business. I was referred to one C.P.A. to make tax return. during discussion with him, we discussed timeframe and what is to be done. I'm in outsourcing business, he told that he is also in outsourcing. We did not have any written contract, as job looked really simple for him and agreed on a price $700. I left him all my papers and corporate documents.
After i left him documents, he just started to behave in evasive way, he did not respond phone calls and ignore most of my emails. Later he notified me that he refered me to another person, Michael (who worked for him). And who is not formally C.P.A. This person behave exectly like him. As far as I understood this person also delegated his work to someone else, who was even less experienced. As result the level of service was catastrophic, with all delays and mistakes they did. When time came to make final delivery, they started a game - Michael was telling me that he sent me my corp.documents and return, and I was not getting it. A week before deadline I've got invoce on $3000, and then,when they understood that I'm not going to pay, under different reasons they send me invoices on about $9000. It all looked like some kind of blackmail, using fact that they keep my corp.documents and that I need it badly to some moment which is too close. Services which were in invoices just had no sence in a context of or agreement wiht first C.P.A, and with others I did not have any discussions at all, they just asked me technical questions. I came to their office, demanded my documents and tax return. After 2 hours thay released my corp.documents, and gave me a customer copy (spoiled by watermarks) of a tax return. I repeaded them that it's the last day I need my return (it was friday and monday i had meeting with my lawyer whom I had to provide a filed return), and I told them I'll pay $700 and they will give me return. They rejected, as they believed they wasted a lot of time. I told that probably I will come monday to speak with their boss.

I had to do and file return myself, as result. They were not happy that they missed their money, and after a year fom the moment I was last in their office I've got that hard inquiry from collection agency. I believe they were hoping to get default verdict, because they were sending me mail to the address where I don't live anymore and ignored my corporate address.
I think in their methods they will rely more on making the process as inconvinient as possible for me - doing hard checks, suing me on the territory of CA and demanding my presence, wasting my time.

Expert:  Steinlaw replied 5 years ago.
I am sorry you are going through this.

Unfortunately, none of the debt collection statutes are going to protect you as this is not a consumer debt. It is a business debt so you cannot use the FCRA or the FDCPA to protect you from their tactics. Your best bet: sue them first. Sue them for breach of contract and fraud. That should get them to back off as they will have to defend their practices. But short of that, they can harass you almost freely. Sorry!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Where I should sue the?
Can I sue them in HI, where I live, not where they are located?
whom better to sue - C.P.A. I was speaking with, personally (when we were discussing a contract in his office, he told that he will do things and did not mention any other workers he even have), or his company who invoices me?
For me the goal it to stop this with minimal affords and $.
Doing it remotely in CA sounds more logical, but if my presense will be required in a court, I and my wife, who is olso an officer in a company and was presend on the price discussion have to fly to CA from HI only for this?

Expert:  Steinlaw replied 5 years ago.
You have to sue him either in the state where the contract was entered into or where he is. So, basically, you are going to get stuck in CA. If you hire an attorney in CA, you would not have to make many, if any, appearances.

As for who to sue, I would just sue him.
Steinlaw, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 1811
Experience: Consumer law attorney, author of California Debt Blog, top foreclosure attorney
Steinlaw and 3 other Consumer Protection Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Ok, thanks. If I will sue him in CA - should I do it in Los Angeles county, or just anywhere in CA? I need it to know for selecting a lawyer for it. If I'm bound to los angeles county it will not be more painful easy for a lawyer from anyther town to handle this matter - meeting judge, have connections in a specific court, etc?
Expert:  Steinlaw replied 5 years ago.
If he is in LA County, you have to sue there. I would look at for an attorney in LA County who can handle this for you.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
In what category it would fit the best?
Expert:  Steinlaw replied 5 years ago.
You want to look for a civil litigator or a business attorney.

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