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Jane Doe Deer
Jane Doe Deer, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 3896
Experience:  Atty since 1986. Real estate, tax, and other business law questions
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Small business harassed by the big brother

Customer Question

We are small business. Getting products from distributor and then re-selling online. Distributor has our several credit cards online which they charge before they ship. List of available credit cards changes over time. If charge fails distributor tries different card until payment clears.

We received a letter from distributor, stating that they shipped goods as long as 3 years ago and did not charge any card. Now they are asking us to prove payments or pay again. Credit cards involved don''t exist anymore, neither do associated banks.

We seem to be considered guilty and are asked to prove innocence.

Please advise what are our rights and how to respond to this claim.

We can not imagine a manager of a local grocery store to ask us prove payment for one gallon of milk bought years ago.

Thank you,
Alexander Zimmerman
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Jane Doe Deer replied 9 years ago.

Hello and thanks so much for writing to me. I will need just a little bit more information before I can respond:

Did the other company send you any verification that they shipped the goods? Is a lot of money involved? What state are you in and what state are they in? Do you want to maintain your good business relationship with this company?

I'll look forward to your response!

BTW, sometimes there can be a delay of many hours before I can get back to you. Be patient; I won't forget you, and I can usually respond within no more than 8 hours.


Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Hello Merry and thanks for quick reply!

They sent copies of invoices and also screenshots of shipments. All shipments without "signature required". Invoices are from 2005, total amount in question around $3,000. All invoices with the same card which did not exist for that many years so they are not trustworthy. It is hard to believe they were "forgetting to charge" for this many years in a row. If they did it would be their fault as payment must clear before shipping. We are in CT. They are nationwide with headquarters in FL. We are positive they charged some card, but finding which one would be extremely challenging as they split and combine charges so invoices not always correspond to what is showing on credit card statements. Charges are also scattered in time and shown in statements without reference to orders or invoices which only allows comparison of totals to balance books. It could be months to research. There should be some cutoff time beyond which they can not dispute anything.

Loosing this partner would be ok as they are not safe to deal with. The main concern – they may file to collection agency and impact our credit record.

Thank you,
Expert:  Jane Doe Deer replied 9 years ago.

There isn't a lot you can do right now except write to them (certified, return receipt requested) and explain, once again, that until proven otherwise, you believe that payment always cleared before shipment. Try to resolve this amicably.

If you're unsuccessful, you can't really do anything to keep them from taking this to a collection agency. But after the collection agency contacts you, you can send them the same letter, also certified/return receipt.

Finally, they could take you to court. But they would have to prove their case, and if you win, you'd be entitled to attorneys' fees and costs if that's what your written contract with them says (you do have a written contract, don't you?).


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The information provided is general in nature only and should not be construed as legal advice. By using this forum, you acknowledge that no attorney-client relationship has been created between you and Merry A. Kogut or Key Peninsula Law in Washington