How do bail bondsmen stay competitive?

Or bail “bondspeople”, I don’t think there is a gender neutral term.
While in downtown Oakland, not far from the jail, I counted around twelve places offering bail bonds in a row. Clearly there would be a higher concentration near the jail, but how exactly would they compete? The larger ones have commercials, but one would think that the one closest to the jail or parking would be the most affluent. Do they all offer different incentives? According to my… um… knowledgable brother, they offer discounts on the bond if you are arrested with a keychain by one company.

thelurkinghorror writes:

> According to my… um… knowledgable brother, they offer discounts on the bond
> if you are arrested with a keychain by one company.

What does this sentence even mean? What is being “arrested with a keychain”? If you want your questions answered, you’re going to have to be more careful about formulating them.

It either means
[ol]
[li]You were carrying that company’s keychain on your person when you were arrested.[/li]
or
[li]The cop pointed a keychain at you and yelled, “FREEZE!”[/li][/ol]

Which one makes more sense in context?

Neither one of them makes sense to me. Would you please explain what you mean?

It’s kind of like answering your phone every time with “My favorite radio station is WNOK in the morning!” You know, a branding thing.

Yeah, that’s somebody you want to be hanging around with.

“Hey, what’s that say on your keychain?”

“Joe’s Bail Bonds.”

“Why do you have that?”

“So when I get thrown in jail I can get a 10% discount on my bail bond.”

“Use that discount often do you?”

Bail bonding companies try to develop customer loyalty, because there is a great deal of repeat business. T-shirts, keychains, frequent customer discounts, personal, quick, 24 hour service, family discounts, billboards implying a pretty lady will come release you from jail…I’ve seen them all.

To a certain segment of our society, going to jail is simply a cost of doing business. Another segment simply accepts that this happens periodically. They aren’t embarassed by bail bonding company t-shirts. I see them on the streets all the time. I’ve talked to high school kids who say they expect that sooner or later they will do jail time.

What do you even mean by “Neither one of them makes sense to me”? Do you mean that you are unable to parse the words in those sentences to formulate a mental image of the scenarios that they are intended to describe? Or do you mean that you don’t understand the economic benefits that would motivate the company to give a discount in either case? Or do you mean something else entirely? If you want your questions answered, you’re going to have to be more careful about formulating them.

Jeez, such snark. As was said, I think it’s pretty clear in context. You are arrested, and if you have a keychain with the business’ name on your person at the time, you can receive a discount. I know this information is only anecdotal, although it would make sense from an advertising/brand loyalty standpoint. I’m not sure how they find out you had it, do the police release a list of your possessions to you?

If I were ever arrested, I don’t know how I would choose a company(or the person paying the bail would choose), but I expect that the more well known companies pick up the most business. I doubt they compete in prices, as the bond rates seem to be fixed. Sadly what Cub Mistress said makes sense for much of it, although I still wonder how the smaller businesses get “clients,” unless it is just a matter of stratifying and each bail bonds specializes in a different incentive.

A lot of times, the business is going to the first guy that answers the phone. It takes a bit of time to prepare the necessary documents, verify payment, etc, and those 24 hour places don’t always have a huge number of graveyard shift employees. Also, cops have been known to suggest a particular bondsman, as have lawyers. The criminal justice system is a fairly contained community, especially in more rural areas. Most of the major players are well known…this company may be more willing to consider alternative payment arrangements…like title to a car, jewelry, land…I know of one instance where the Bondsman accepted the use of a tractor for a set period of time. Another company may be more willing to write a larger bond, etc.

When i was arrested, I called the first bail bonds place on the list above the payphone. It was alphebetical.

Which is why you see so many AAA, AAAA and AAAAA Bail Bonds.

How does bail bonding work? I’m clueless.

boils down to the bondsman posts a bond…ie, a promise to forfeit a substantial amount of money…to guarantee the bondee shows up to answer the charges against him and thereby secure his release from the “County Hotel”. In my area, the typical fee is about 10% of the face amount of the bond, plus “administrative expenses”. In exchange for posting the bond, incidentally, the bondsman effectively owns your ass. Skip bond, and he’s entitled to track you down and haul you back to Court in chains.

The amount of the bond depends on the offense or offenses charged. Some jurisdictions have a set standard bond schedule for common offenses like misdemeanor possession, DUI, shoplifting, etc. A separate bond may be required for each charge, or it may be a pay one price deal. Most felonies, on the other hand, are going to require an actual bond hearing before some local magistrate…often a relatively low ranking one.

Just taking tis one step firther - there was an episode of “Law & Order” once where a pair of out-of-state bailbonspersons left a swathe of bodies across New York and walked away scot free (people shot due to mistaken identity, women and children caught in crossfire as they burst in and started shooting ) . I know "“L&O” is hardly a credible place for framing legal questions and arguments, but are bailbondsfolk and their employers really that free from accountability?

A local bonding company here advertised by sponsoring the penalty box at hockey games.

Well…not to that extreme. They can be charged with crimes committed against non-bond jumpers, and civil liability would also attach. In extreme cases, they may also be criminally/civllly liable to the bondee. They can’t kill a man in cold blood for skipping bond. They do have more leeway than cops do in certain situations, though.

Most of the bounty hunter types I know avoid violence whenever possible. These guys don’t want to die or take unnecessary risks…but they deal with some scary people, and are capable of defending themselves when needed. What they really want is to make a clean take down, and tender the bondee in return for a release on the bond, while maintaining the structural integrity of their bodies. If provoked, they are sometimes inclined to display lesser concern for the structural integrity of opposing bodies.

Tyrrell McAllister writes:

> What do you even mean by “Neither one of them makes sense to me”?

I couldn’t picture either of them. Why would anyone carry a keychain of a bail bond company? How could they be used to arrest someone? O.K., now I understand, but it would really have helped if the OP had explained that bail bond companies sometimes give out keychains to their previous customers. It would have helped if the OP had explained that bail bond companies even would want to have repeat customers. Believe it or not, some of us don’t have wide experience with bail bonds. I think that the OP could have been written more clearly.

Just wanted to add - you certainly don’t have to use a bail bond - if the bail is $1000 and you have it, you can post it yourself and get it all back if you show up to court. If you don’t have it, you sit in the pokey or you pay a bail bondsman.

And if you try to screw them, Dog the Bounty Hunter is on your ass like white on rice, boy.

Of course I meant you don’t have to use a bail bondsman, obviously if you’re getting out of jail without a card or a file you’re using a bond.