My First Deadbeat

dead•beat  noun  \‘ded-beet\

1  :  LOAFER.

2  : one who persistently fails to pay personal debts or expenses.

Thanks to the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary, I have a description of a certain person given in words that are fit to print.  Had I tried defining the individual on my own, it would have started with $#!†#∞@) and continued on with a much more foul tone.

A True Deadbeat

Of course, I am talking about the dictionary’s definition #2.  Had I been speaking to definition #1, I’d probably have to include myself as an occasional practitioner.  After all, it’s difficult not to loaf about in paradise from time to time.

US Citizenship for child

THE  STORY’S  BACKGROUND

As you may or may not know, I own and operate a business.  My company (Keating & Chillingsworth, Ltd.) provides assistance to those seeking a champion in their fight with the Internal Revenue Service.  From preparing income tax returns to representing poor souls in tax court, my business spans the gamut of almost all things tax related.  One of the company’s specialties is helping expats “stay legal” with their income tax situation.

I had occassion last May 2012 to make the acquaintance of Mr. Deadbeat.  He is an expat living in Angeles City who had contacted me with an urgent need to file amended individual income tax returns (federal and state) for tax years 2010 and 2011 as well as an amended corporate income tax return for his Subchapter S corporation for tax year 2011.  On top of these tasks was an hour’s worth of tax consulting regarding tax law and its relation to business operations.

A location of Angeles City should have given me a tip-off to watch my step.  I plead naivety!

If you remember, I wasn’t in very good health last May 2012.  I must admit that my guard wasn’t fully up, and I agreed to provide my services to Mr. Deadbeat prior to receiving any remuneration.  I have, in the past, agreed to similar business arrangements with other clients who were in dire need of speedy resolution.  This instance, outside of Mr. Deadbeat being a potential client, was vastly similar.

PROBLEMS  BEGIN

With the coming of invoice time, all similarity ended.  Mr. Deadbeat became “Mr. Nil-Heard” and dropped off the radar screen.  Emails with the invoice attached received no response.  Numerous inquiries were afforded the same silent treatment.  I called his company and, after being directed straight to voice mail  left message after message requesting that Mr. Deadbeat get in touch with me at his earliest convenience.  Obviously, I’m a very inconvenient correspondent.

Being in the States during its summertime wasn’t very helpful, either.  I’m almost sure that Mr. Deadbeat used the distance in thousands of miles to his advantage.  Now that I’m back in the Philippines, and in much better health, the quest for contact continues.  This time, I’ve included texts and phone calls to his cellphone among the mix of communications attacks.  The results to date, “no response”!  (Gee, who would have thought . . . .)

So there we are.  Mr. Deadbeat remains Mr. Incommunicado.  Did I mention that the invoice is for more than $500?  It was a considerable amount of work at an expedited pace and the price is more than fair.  Did I mention that the net result of the amended returns was a tax benefit of over $25,000?  There was a lot of effort and research that went into those amended returns and their resultant tax savings (read:  REFUND) were well worth the price charged for the work!

THE  PROBLEM  CONTINUES

So, to what point does this bring us?  I’ll continue to employ regular, normal means to establish communications.  Deep down, I have a positive view of all people and have a secret wish that Mr. Deadbeat is just unable to communicate at the present time.  Who knows:  his email address might have changed, as well as the SIM card in his cellphone, for reasons unrelated to this story.

I’ll give him just a little more time before making the decision of whether or not this goes to a collection agency.  I do know of a couple of agencies here in the Philippines (one coincidentally located in Angeles City) that employ rather aggressive techniques when handling deadbeats.  How aggressive?  I’ll leave that to your imagination.

WHAT’S  THE  FUTURE  HOLD ?

The future of this story may well appear in print here in Live in the Philippines.  If this story continues in an unfavorable way, then names could be named, addresses could be identified, and a whole lot of additional information regarding Mr. Deadbeat’s identity could be exposed.  Who knows, maybe there might be a crude wanted poster posted in a follow-on article.  It’s all up to Mr. Deadbeat.  If he comes through with payment, then I’ll gladly remove his title and make known  his integrity, complete with reasons why such a delay in payment had occurred.

Otherwise . . . .

Post Author: PaulK (202 Posts)

Paul is a CPA and a retired tax accountant, having served companies and corporations of all sizes, as well as individuals, in public accounting practices. Prior to what he refers to as his "real job," he served a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer. It was during this career that he met and married his OFW spouse of 35+ years, Emy, while stationed in London, UK. (Though he pleaded for the assignment, Paul never received orders to the Philippines.) A "Phil-phile" from an early age, Paul remembers his first introduction to the Philippines in the primary grades of a parochial elementary school where, one week each year, children donated their pennies to purchase school supplies, food and other necessities for Filipino children in need. That love for Filipinos continues to this day. Calling Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte--in the far northwestern part of Luzon--home (just about as far away from Davao as one can be while still being on one of the major islands) Paul prefers a more relaxed provincial life style, and willingly shares a different view of the Philippines from "up north"!


Comments

  1. says

    Hi Paul, it is all a cost of doing business, my friend. Also, these kinds of incidents are a lesson for us on how to adjust our business practices to avoid further such incidents. A good education is never free!

    • says

      Hi Bob – Yes, I agree. I’ve all but written it off as a loss – there’s still a chance that this fellow fell into bad times and hasn’t been able to communicate with anyone. I’m sure that when I do my year-end review, this will be a write-off. :(

      It’s too bad that instances like this can’t be counted as educational expenses for tax purposes! ;)

  2. Todd (Gillracing) says

    Paul,

    Did you ever think this person may be dead or in a hospital it could happen. Did you say he got $25,000 back? maybe being in Angel City he/she could have been showing to much money and got robbed or even worst? Just a though if not then he/she will get what they deserve for sure. just my 2 cents.

    • says

      Hi Todd – I’ve considered all you mentioned and kept an eye on the local newspapers. As I mentioned to Bob, I won’t write it off just yet, just in case one of the situations you mention happens to be the case.

      Funny thing – that little voice inside my head told me there might be a problem, but I ignored it. Lesson learned, at least about listening to the little voice! ;)

  3. Brian says

    Hi Paul,

    Do you have a contact email I could reach out to you on (or conversely, could you email me)? US citizen/business-owner looking to reincorporate in HK and spend part of 2013 in the Philippines. Will be needing to hire an expat CPA for help with business & personal returns, etc. And I promise I’m not a deadbeat!

    Thanks,
    Brian

    • says

      Hi Lenny – Yes, Bob is right. The use of immagination would be more to warn other entrepreneurs, especially local ones, to stay clear of the individual. USD 500 = PhP 21,000 or thereabouts – a substantial chunk of change for a local businessman. ;)

  4. says

    It is always sad to experience that our trust is misused. In my life it have happened some times, that i had to say goodbye for my fee, it can be to expensive to go on and sue people to get the money, also it’s a pain to do so. It takes so much mental energy and frustrations.

    Another thing: Angeles city is mentioned a couple of times – and not in a positive way “A location of Angeles City should have given me a tip-off to watch my step” another say: “maybe being in Angel City he/she could have been showing to much money and got robbed or even worst”.
    I live close to the city (not living in the city, not doing bar hopping or night life and so on), but for me it looks like some kind of discrimination of us who live here. I see this as a nice place, peaceful, not dangerous at all, when you live a “normal” life. So what’s wrong with Angeles? I just like to know what kind of extreme place i live, where people not can be trusted or is in danger for being robbed or killed. I can’t see or have not experience any of that. :-)

    • says

      Hi Axel – Let me clarify a little on the Angeles CIty comment – I should have said that his address in Angeles City should have given me a tip-off . . . . The area he gives as his address is not the world’s greatest address. I agree that Angeles City (and all places for that matter) have good sides as well as bad sides. The side that this fellow lives in is not the good side! ;)

      It’s is very frustrating, but I’m sure we’ll all get over it.

    • steve says

      Axel,
      I think you know what Paul is talking about as you try to distance yourself from it with the comment “not doing bar hopping or night life and so on”. Obviously he’s not addressing everyone there.

  5. chasdv says

    Hi Paul,
    Welcome back, sorry to hear of your dilemma.

    Like the saying goes, “been there done that” and more than chicken feed if all added up over a lifetime. Business can sometimes give you cruel lessons.
    Sadly the days of sealing and honouring a deal by handshake or “My word is my Bond” are long gone.
    Regards,
    Chas.

    • says

      Hi Chas – Thanks for the kind words – it’s great to be back.

      Life has all kinds of lessons to learn. I guess it was my turn at learning this one. It won’t shake my faith in my fellow man. It may, however, cause me to take a little longer look at him prior to shaking his hand! :lol:

  6. says

    Thanks for sharing, Paul. Sadly in the 5 years, 11 months and 3 weeks I have lived in the Philippines, I have only been ‘stiffed’ on a bill once … from a fellow American … and I have only fallen victim to an out-and-out conman once … and yes he was also a fellow American, posing as a retired military officer, who had gone to great lengths to concoct a story with a lot of details regarding me he could only have gotten from some diligent Internet research, where I had spoken about particular events in my past life.

    This guy was sooo good that my wife (who was part of the meeting where the money was extracted from my wallet) and I agree that the smoothness and the line of BS he regaled us with was almost worth the several thousands of Pesos we paid for our “entertainment”. Or was it education?

    I have seen many times with others as well ,that most Americans come here “spring loaded” to be wary of scams involving Filipinos and yet are completely naive with dealings involving fellow Americans. Sad to say, everyone who ‘speaks your language’ (especially military insider jargon) is not necessarily your buddy. Lessons learned … and all that.

    • says

      Hi Dave – Good to hear from you, again.

      My “deadbeat” is a “fellow American,” too. I’ve never had any problems in business transactions with Filipinos. He spoke eloquently enough for me to decide in his favor to add him to my list of clients. Needless to say, he made the “suspended” list. I should have known that the way he was squeezing his dollars in his company that he would probably “nickel and dime” me! :lol:

  7. says

    Hi Paul- The irony is that people like the one you have encountered actually can put small businesses to the wall as a result of not paying either on time or at all. Maybe with future new customers you can ask for a fee up front at least that way you will reduce any future losses from people who ultimately refuse to pay.
    All down to experiance allbeit the hard way.
    Regards.
    Jim.

    • says

      Hi Jim – I may switch to an upfront down payment for new clients. I’m still mulling that over. I don’t want to penalize others for the activity (or non-activity in this case) of one person. Still, I don’t want to penalize myself, either!

      I’ll just count it as a few more credit hours earned in the school of hard knocks! :lol:

  8. John Miele says

    Paul: Lesson learned. Unfortunate that you had this happen, but the collection agency will most likely end up being more trouble than it is worth for such a small amount of money.

    Figured when I read the Angeles comment that someone would get their nose out of joint. I agree with your take on it too… Yeah, there are good people that live there, but the area also has a high number of expats there for more nefarious reasons. However, “bad guys” can come from anywhere… It pays to vet out your clients regardless of where they live. Personally, were I in your shoes, I would give an estimate of your hours up front, 50% deposit due at that time. Balance due before you hand them the returns for filing (or the books/documents).

    • says

      Hi John – You’re absolutely correct about a collection agency. By the time all costs and expenses were paid, I’d be lucky to see a ten-spot!

      As to the “bad guys” – they sort of gather in the seedier part of town for some unknown reason. Cliches such as “birds of a feather flock together” and “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” seem to come to mind.

      I’ll have to rethink my billing procedures, too. Plenty of “off the books” time will have to be put into place, unless I can justify it as “client development” expense. ;)

  9. Murray says

    Hi Paul, although my girl’s family have tried to scam so many times I’ve lost count, the worst was when I lent an Australian some money to tide over a cash flow problem with his bar in Manila. I had to go back to NZ for a couple of months and when I returned to Manila he had sold the bar and buggered off. I believe he is living in Angeles, as I am now, so Dave (aka Lolo) if you are reading this I may just bump into you one day. I sure hope you have the money. It would be best if you text me so that we can sort this out like gentleman. Cheers Kiwimuzz.

    • says

      Hi Murray – Well, for some strange reason, I’m still holding out a little hope that all this deadbeat talk has been for naught and my client contacts me. One thing I haven’t tried yet is meeting up with him face-to-face. That is a possibility if he still lives at the address he uses in the Philippines. Sorting things out like gentlemen would be just fine with me! ;)

  10. says

    Unfortunately, that’s one of the pitfalls of operating your own business. I had a design business and got stiffed a few times from people I never thought would do that (a lawyer, a club owner, and even my friend’s best friend). I’m pretty persistent on collecting and managed to get back most of what was owed me but sometimes you have to put things in the “bad debt” column and move on.

    • says

      Hi Maria – That’s probably what will happen: “Bad Debts” column entry. :(

      Better scrutiny of potential clients will be a must, now. Still, I will hold out a little hope for my stray client! ;)

    • says

      Hi David – I normally have low blood pressure. Maybe this is what I need to get it up to “normal” :lol:

      Yes, it appears to be a loss that I will have to write-off at year end.

  11. chasdv says

    Paul,
    I’m in agreement with Jim C and John M, a deposit up front and the balance payable on completion prior to handover.

  12. Jim Hannah says

    I’m willing to pop over and sort it out for you Paul. An all expenses trip from Australia to Philippines, first class travel, five star hotel etc. Should have it all sorted out in about three weeks I think. Drop me an email if you’re interested!

    :-))

    • says

      Hi Jim – Well, I’ve had to turn down similar proposals in the past week so, unfortunately, I’ll have to decline your fine offer. After all, I don’t want to show favoritism! :lol:

      A cousin here told me that PhP 50,000 would take care of the problem permanently – didn’t want to go there! ;)

  13. Loren Pogue says

    Sad when you help some one and they turn around and stick it to you. Sounds to me like you charge a real fair rate too. I pay three times that for a fairly simple return. I would say the guy deserves the collection agency. Hope tomorrow is a better day.

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