Process Serving Tips from the Field

Lately I’ve been writing a lot about the business side of being a process server. Let’s change gears and take a look at some process serving tips from the field. It all starts with a tough serve:

I park a couple houses down on a residential street. The drapes are pulled shut. The porch light is off. My guess is no one’s at home. But there’s this work truck, a maroon Ford, in front of the house.

I knock on the door and wait. No answer.

So I head off to serve another case and return a couple of hours later. The Ford’s on the street, but no one comes to the door.

Same thing the next day. There’s the maroon truck, but no answer at the door. Only now I hear someone on the other side of the door. The peephole darkens and I know he’s watching me.

I try again, and again, but the dude just won’t answer. What’s a process server to do?

One of those dirty little process serving tips no one wants to talk about:

First, I called the client to authorize additional fees and hourly billing.

Then I mailed the defendant a small box, filled with gummy worms, from the UPS Store.

I got package tracking, and I knew when the box would be delivered. When the driver walked up to the front door, carrying my box of gummy worms, I cut across the lawn and caught up just in time to hear him confirm the recipient’s name. I shoved the papers in the door before the surprised defendant could slam it shut.

It was a good clean serve and the client was happy to pay.

A lot of process servers have their own variation of this trick. Pizza delivery, door-to-door salesperson, it’s all fair game. Just don’t impersonate an official, like a building inspector or police officer.

Oh, and why the gummy worms? I don’t know, but it’s been a tradition ever since.