Keep your credibility.
We almost always allow other people to train us how to act, and most of the time, this happens without any consequence. But once you send someone a demand letter, there is a consequence if, thereafter, you allow the letter's recipient to prompt your every move.
The worst consequence is that you could lose control of the entire demand process, because you lost credibility as a confident opponent.
Here is a common example of how you could lose credibility once you send a demand letter.
Your letter was clear on all of the important points:
- The facts that led you to make the demand.
- The specific resolution you are demanding.
- The deadline by which you are demanding that resolution.
- How you wish the letter's recipient to communicate with you moving forward.
On the last point, you were smart to insist that your opponent only communicate with you in writing, and you even specified the address (whether a physical mailing address or an email).
Your opponent received the letter a few days ago, and today you discovered a voicemail from the opponent: they are asking to speak with you by phone.
In yoga and in life, being flexible is good; in demand letters and the subsequent demand process...not so much. Stick to your demand so that you keep your credibility.
Stick to your 30-day timeline.
Many states (and specific laws) have specific requirements for the number of days you must permit your opponent to resolve your demand before you proceed to something like a legal proceeding. Even though not all jurisdictions have this requirement, or require as much as 30 days, in our experience handling thousands of demand cases, we have seen that 30 days is a good, safe timeline to stick to. Why?
First, if you happen to live in one of these jurisdictions that requires 30 days (or are invoking a particular law with this requirement), then you can make sure you are complying with it without having to invest too much upfront time researching to find out what, if any, your jurisdictions requirements are. Generally speaking, if you err on the side of 30 days, you should be in good shape and excuse yourself from having to wade through as many upfront details.
Second, 30 days allows plenty of time for both sides of the dispute to communicate, to consider their respective options, and to negotiate a resolution.
Here are some data points we have seen in the course of handling thousands of these disputes:
- 1-2 days = average time it typically takes a given opponent to respond to a demand letter after they receive it.
- 8-9 days = average time it typically takes a given opponent to propose a resolution, or to refuse yours.
- 30-45 days = average time it takes a given complainant to "proceed to next steps" when a resolution is not reached.
So given these average timelines of activity once you send a demand letter, 30 days is simply a sensible number of days to permit--no more and no less. (These are only estimates, of course, but hopefully they give you a good idea of what to expect once your demand letter is sent.)
Lastly, if your demand letter says something like, "if this matter is not resolved as I have requested within 30 days, I will proceed to next steps," then you should be willing to actually proceed to next steps. You, of course, can define that however you like. But there is no magic here: generally, the most effective next step will be an unambiguous demonstration of your willingness and ability to initiate a legal proceeding against the opponent. And what is more unambiguous than actually initiating that legal proceeding?
Thing # 2 that you should not do...
Do not demand timelines or promise next steps that you are not willing to stick to. If you say that you are giving your opponent 30 days, be patient, and actually give them 30 days. You do not need to proactively reach to them to ask how things are going (this tends to suggest that you are nervous about the outcome of the demand period, and nervous people tend to not be the ones who follow-through on promised next steps).
What to do if your opponent tries to outsmart you?
Let them try. Do not feel obligated to respond to each and every (or any) attempt by your opponent to prompt you to do something counter to the terms of your demand letter. There is an economic reason for this.
The more time you invest playing those back-and-forth games, the thinner your margins become as you hold out for a win. Opponents know that complainants with wafer-thin margins are easily deterred, because those complainants reach this place in the dispute where they take inventory of all of the time (and perhaps even money) they have invested so far, and they ask themselves, "can I even afford to continue this dispute?" Do not let your opponent whittle you down to this place.
More legal disputes are won or lost due to economics than to legalese.
Inefficiency is the enemy, and if you are using Veeto and your opponent is not, then you have the edge. Keep it by letting your demand letter speak for itself.
Oftentimes, if your dispute is with a large company, the person responding to your demand letter is someone whose time is worth less than yours--someone in customer service perhaps. When this is true, the opponent knows that the more they can trick you into going tit-for-tat with that customer service rep, the less gas you will have left in the tank to continue pursuing your demand. So, if you prefer to respond to an opponent who contacts you--to, say, "just talk"-- but who does not appear to be offering you a resolution, then here is a one-liner you can use to maintain your control and credibility:
"I have already described my complaints and stated my desired resolution. I do not wish to communicate further unless [opponent] wishes to resolve the matter as I've requested, and I wish to only communicate about this matter in writing, to [your email address]. As stated in my letter, I will only wait for a limited time before I take further action."
You, of course, can take poetic license here to say whatever you like, however you prefer. The point is to not let them rope you into a rabbit-hole conversation that wastes your time and does not get you any closer to resolution.
Thing # 3 that you should not do...
Do not let your opponent's representatives waste your time by talking about anything other than a resolution. One thing that follows from this is that you should therefore also not waste time talking to people who lack the authority to offer your desired resolution. Insofar as your demand letter was clear and complete, there is no additional exchange of information that is necessary for your opponent to decide whether to resolve your dispute as you've requested.
Is the demand letter all you need?
No! Successfully resolving your legal dispute requires more than just writing a demand letter. You need three things, only one of which is a well-written demand letter.
- a case strategy
- a good understanding of how to behave after you send your demand letter (which this article addresses)
- and a well-written demand letter
Thousands of DIY-legal demands fail every month, because the DIY-er neglects one of the three requirements above. Don't make the same mistakes as they did.
If you need help, you can book a micro-consultation with Veeto to discuss your case.
It's a 10-minute phone call for only $32, and you'll leave the call knowing exactly how to check all three boxes!
Why Veeto? You do not see too many doctors performing surgeries on themselves. But you can be sure that doctors, more than anyone else, are choosing their personal physicians wisely. Same with attorneys: attorneys are probably hiring the best legal service providers out there--right?
Well, here's a stat: about 25% of our clients themselves attorneys, and there is a reason for that. Who are you going to use to solve your legal problems? Use who attorneys use.