I’m attending a party at Tommy Tallarico’s mansion in San Juan Capistrano. I meet Tommy’s father, a round, stocky, grinning Italian named Tom.
“Your son has told me some stories about you,” I said. “He told me that you handle collections on game developers for him.”
“Yah, I do that,” said Tom, nodding. Somebody jumped in the pool with a splash.
“So tell me,” I said, swirling my glass of Chardonnay. “What’s the best way to handle customers who don’t pay?”
“Ah,” he said, touching me on the arm. “That case, you write ’em an invoice. Always gotta do the paperwork, you know. You send ’em the invoice. Fax it to ’em. You know?”
“Okay,” I said. “Let’s say they don’t pay up then. What do you do?”
“Ah. That case, you give ’em a call. Real polite. You say, I’m just calling in to check the status of the payment. And I’m calling you to understand the status of that. You give ’em thirty days. Sometimes they can make a mistake. So I give ’em every chance.”
“All right,” I said. “Let’s say the customer still doesn’t pay. What now?”
“Ah well. That case, you give ’em thirty more days. And you send another copy of the invoice. Fax it to ’em. And you give ’em a call and you ask, what’s the status of this payment? Real patient, real calm, you ask ’em. You know?”
“I don’t get it,” I said. “You have this reputation for being Tommy’s strong-arm.”
“Yeah, he’s a real nice boy, he can get walked all over,” said Tom. “But ya know, a polite way, that’s the best way to take the collections. Most of the people want to pay ya for services rendered. And I just keep asking ’em, real nice, ya see. And eventually, the deadbeat sons-a-bitches get the fuckin’ clue.”