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Shopping For The Cheapest Process Server Is Like Shopping For The Cheapest Pizza. You May Not Like What you Get!
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FAQ: How Can I Find The Cheapest Process Server in Denver? :
As process servers in the Denver area, we hear these things so often that they’ve become like FAQ – “Frequently Asked Questions”, to us. There are some important things that you should understand, when looking for a Denver process server.
A lot of people aren’t aware of these things, so they take the same approach as they would if they were buying a TV set and just shop around until they find the lowest price. This can be a big mistake, and it can come back to bite you.
Think about it for a moment. When you buy a TV set, the same model is churned out by a factory somewhere. It has the same features and the same warranty, so it will make absolutely no difference whether you pay $1500 for it, or $1200, except that you can save a load of money. We’d all like to do that, so shopping around when buying the same model of TV sets is a great idea.
But process servers are not all standardized and the same.
First of all, Colorado is still an unregulated state, when it comes to process servers. Anyone 18 or older, who isn’t a party to the case and whose breath can fog a mirror, can serve legal documents here. That can include some really shady characters, including convicted felons. Now not all convicted felons are the same either. Someone might have done something that might not have even warranted being illegal, and gotten a felony conviction. We can support redemption, and giving someone like that a chance to redeem themselves.
But what if someone was convicted for armed robbery or some other serious crime? In 2007, the Denver Post ran a story about a convicted pedophile who was serving court documents. What if someone like that commits another crime while out serving legal documents for you?
Whether a convicted felon, or not, people also vary in their degrees of honesty and integrity. Some have been caught doing what the industry calls “sewer serves”, which has long been a nationwide problem with some process servers in this field. A “sewer serve” is when the process server may as well have thrown the documents in a sewer. They may not have found anyone home, or even known for sure who lived there, but they wanted to get the job done and make their money, so they would do something like leaving the documents under the door mat, or stuck in the door. I once found a set of documents from another server, tied to a door handle with a rubber band, when I went to serve a guy at that address. Did the server even know who lived there? Was it a good serve or a sewer serve?
The next thing the defendant knows, they have a judgment against them, and a contempt of court citation for not showing up in court, yet they had no idea that anyone was even trying to serve them. So they make a motion to have the serve “quashed” or thrown out, and the judgment reversed or vacated. This leaves you either having to do everything all over again, or losing your case.
There are even some part time process servers, who those of us who do this professionally will often joke about, doing it for some weekend beer money. Some do. Do they care much about the job they do? Sometimes not. We’ve heard “horror” stories from clients who found a process server on Craig's List or elsewhere, gave them the documents to serve and paid them, then the “process server” didn’t do the work and would never return their calls after that, so they called us to get the job done for them.
Then we sometimes hear from people who had their brother-in-law ( or another friend or relative ) try to get the job done for them, but they messed it up. This work isn’t like delivering pizza. If someone doesn't know what they’re doing, there are a lot of ways to mess it up. Some people have even been beaten up, or at the very worst killed. You wouldn’t hire your friend or brother-in-law as your doctor ( unless they are one ), so give the work to a professional with experience. We’ve worked in excess of an estimated 10,000+ cases since 2006!
Then there’s the aspect that not all process servers are equal in their talents for the job.
Process serving isn’t the same as, for example, delivering auto parts or pizza. In fact when we hear people talk about it, as having us “deliver papers” for them, we wince. There’s an old saying; “If it was that easy, they wouldn’t have hired me”.
This work is as much an art as a science. Sure, it has technical aspects that are a science, but the actual serving can rely, to a great extent, on experience, talent, and even creativity. I've gotten many jobs done that my clients had other servers try, and they failed. I've been told that I have talents for this work that others don’t seem to have.
“But the Sheriff charges less than you do.”
“You get what you pay for.”
Sure they charge less, but you get what you pay for. First of all, the Sheriff may initially appear to cost less, but then they charge you mileage on top of it. We don’t. We’re not the cheapest process servers around, but did you know that very often with the Sheriffs people, they will only go to a residence between the hours of about 9 AM and maybe 3 PM, when people don’t tend to be home? And they knock or ring the bell, make three attempts like that, then keep your money and say “sorry, it couldn’t be served”. Then people call us to get it done for them, but it already cost them the money that they paid the Sheriff.
We’ve heard from our clients, who came to us after having the Sheriff’s people try it, that Sheriff’s people don’t often have the depth of experience or the drive that a good seasoned experienced professional process server will. They don’t have to, they’re the government. In fact we had one client who said he came to us because he didn’t even think that the Sheriffs should be allowed to serve civil process. Why? Because they’re being subsidized by tax money – taking food off the table of the single mother who's struggling to work hard and feed her children, and using it to serve documents in private civil case lawsuits, while competing unfairly in that fashion, with private process servers who don’t have taxpayer subsidies and have to pay all their own bills.
Don’t get me wrong. We love the Sheriff when it comes to law enforcement, but unless it’s a serve where there have been threats of violence and the Sheriff should handle it, we think a professional Process Server is best for the job.
“Why Shouldn’t I Just Use The Sheriff?”
2-22-2011: True Story:
A guy called us in a panic at 4:20 PM today. It was his last day to get his documents served and he had given the serve to the Sheriff, to get a guy served at his work place. The Sheriff went there at 12:30 PM and the guy was out to lunch, so the Sheriff said “sorry”, they couldn’t serve it today! And they took his money for the Same Day Rush service attempt anyway.
People think they’re going to save money by using the Sheriff?
The Sheriff’s Deputies are great for responding to crimes, and we love and support them for that. But when they serve court documents, they tend to go out between 9 AM and 3 PM, then go back to the office and do their reports and Affidavits, before going home at 5. Residential serves are best done in the evenings and on weekends. They also tend to knock lightly or ring a door bell, and sometimes leave their card in the door, which most Defendants will likely ignore.
We often wind up with cases that the Sheriff “non-served”.
“Well at least I want a big company doing my work for me.”
Then there are the big process serving companies. The people who own and run them often have many years of experience, so they’ve expanded and become a bigger company and hired servers to go out and do the actual serving work for them. Some of them do background checks on those servers. But they cant pay those servers, who are almost always essentially subcontractors for them, anywhere near as much money as you give them for the work, or they'd be out of business. So the big company becomes the “middle man”.
We’ve seen companies that may only pay their subcontractor servers as little as $10-$15 a serve, yet they promise them; “You can make good money at this! No experience necessary!”. ( We know, because this is how we got started in this business years ago. )
They also often hire them on a “no serve, no pay” basis, so if they get a lot of bad addresses and don’t make much money, they quit.
The subcontractor servers are using their own car, gas and insurance and often getting only one serve an hour for $10-$15, which is why the turnover is very high. Some of them have such high turnover rates that they have to hold training classes for new people every 2-3 weeks. They give them a training class and then send them out to do your work. If they find out later that the person was doing “sewer serves” ( A term for dropping the serve in a sewer, or perhaps rubber banding it to a door, and saying they did it! THAT can REALLY mess up your court case! Yet when we started this work, we heard of servers that did hundreds of sewer serves, before being caught! ), or wasn't getting enough done for them, leaving their clients without their work done on time, they get rid of them and hold another training class for a fresh batch of new people.
And last but not least, how much is your time worth?
My father used to joke around about my “thrifty” ( cheap ) uncle, who would drive 20 miles across town to save $5 on a pair of shoes. He would ask “what's your time worth”, with that kind of thing, and is it really “saving” money?
So what's your time worth? If you’re a paralegal, or even if you’re not, how much do you get paid per hour? If you spend an hour calling around, to find the least expensive process server, you have to add that hour of cost to what you pay for the service. Then, on top of that, as explained above, the cheapest may be very far from the best.
One thing that can help when looking for a process server, is NAPPS – National Association of Professional Process Servers. This is the biggest, and we think the best, national association for process servers. They require that a process server have at least one year of professional experience to join, have references to that effect, and abide by their professional standards, otherwise disciplinary actions can be taken, up to and including being kicked out of the organization. We think this should be your minimum criterion for choosing a server, especially in an unregulated state like Colorado. Convicted felons are not allowed to join NAPPS. I've been a member of NAPPS since 2007.
So please take all of these things into consideration when you need a process server. Visit our web site’s main page, and contact us for our Fees and Terms.
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"Serving due process of the law. Dignity and respect for all."
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In Lakewood, Colorado 80226 & Denver, Colorado 80202, 80112
Company Established 9/12 of 2006, to serve the Denver area of the Rocky Mountain region.
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