The stinking rich

HIS long suffering wife was visibly upset as she handed him a list upon which were listed some 30 companies that owed their printing business money.

The invoices were well overdue and she was bushed; she had unsuccessfully tried everything and heard every miserable excuse known to man.

It wasn’t hard times; the amounts owed were not big. Sadly there is a business mindset that is Teflon-resistant to paying bills and the effects are far more damaging than any recession.

A blinds and awnings manufacturer fitted a nightclub to perfection but payment not forthcoming he applied for settlement through the courts. The weary clerk rolled her eyes: “Another one,” she shrugged. It turned out that this particular excuse for a businessman, who loved playing the big shot, refused to pay small traders as a matter of policy.

He reasoned that for every supplier who took court action nine would give up and put it down to experience.

There was always another sucker to take their place.

I was cynical when a student, innocent of such malpractice, excitedly told me about a small job she had won. Engaged by a jet-setting Riga art dealer she would translate artists’ biographies; her modest fee was about €120.

After completing the laborious job she was denied her fee. He impudently told her; “When I sell a painting.” When you peddle your reputation to a student for that amount you’re not wealthy; you are impoverished.

These counterfeit businessmen are low-life crooks but lack the guts to steal in conventional ways.

Parasites; thieves without honour, they target the financially innocent and vulnerable; student artists, those who fall on hard times; house clearances.

One can only hope that they choke on their artichokes for it would be a fitting end to these walking recessions.

A friend of mine had a milk round that covered three social classes. One was made up mostly of the respectable middle class. They were careful but friendly and generous. The round then took him to a council estate. He tells me these fiscally challenged customers were trusting and paid the biggest tips. Finally his round took him to a wealthy estate; the customers here would argue for hours over a few coppers and they rarely tipped.

One business acquaintance was my hero; I listened to his methodology with a grin on my face.

In business he was an ex-court bailiff and knew the tricks. Courteously he would approach reception and asking for Mr Big would explain he was there to take care of an overdue account. Of course Mr Big was never available.

At this point, my friend would reach into his briefcase; hold up a court document; then a padlock and chains. He would then request the startled clerk to remove herself from the premises. As he was legally empowered to lock the business doors; trading must cease immediately.

I leave it to your imagination as to the effect; enough for me to say that he always received immediate payment in full and in cash. That is what I call chutzpah and real business acumen; anything else is lowlife theft; plain and simple.

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