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Clays Landscape
12-14-2011, 09:11 PM
I did a lawn renovation for a lady 25 miles away this fall. It including tilling up her entire yard, reseeding, lime fertilizer, create/edge beds around home, $220 of mulch and planting of 10 rose bushes. The yard is in a very low swampy area and is always wet.

Well the total bill came up to just under $1,500 with $850 being materials/tractor use. This job was done October 15 and the lady just paid me $615.68 today. I have been in contact with her reminding her but she continues to start that she is not happy that her yard is still wet. The estimate had the exact phrase "surface tilling", NOT REGRADING!

She refuses to pay until I come back in the spring and level the entire yard which would require hauling many loads of dirt in. I am not willing to do this. I have been back twice, free of charge, with a drag and worked for several hours!

Everyone, please be completely honest and let me know how you would handle this situation. I appreciate anything as this has really been bothering me.

Thanks!!!

bruces
12-14-2011, 09:32 PM
what did your contract say about payment ? are you still able to lean the job or has your time run out?

Clays Landscape
12-14-2011, 10:03 PM
what did your contract say about payment ? are you still able to lean the job or has your time run out?

Net 15 days. What do you mean by lean the job? Sorry, I am not up on all this bill collection stuff

Clays Landscape
12-14-2011, 10:06 PM
One other item I forgot to mention. This job was an insurance job as lighting struck her well and they had to redig her well so the insurance paid to have her yard redone.

SECTLANDSCAPING
12-14-2011, 10:54 PM
One other item I forgot to mention. This job was an insurance job as lighting struck her well and they had to redig her well so the insurance paid to have her yard redone.

I would contact them directly.

I think he means a lien on the property. If your a licensed contractor you can put a lien on the property. Each state is very different on how its applied.

stevef1201
12-15-2011, 07:44 AM
My first questions would be do you have a legal contract, signed? If so it's real easy send the contract to the local bill collection agency and let them handle it. Or alternatively send her a certified letter that you intend to file a claim in court against her. Then file it.

I cannot stress the importance of 'signed legal contract' before you do any work. No matter who you are, what service you want to provide. The biggest mistake people make when setting up thier business is not contacting a lawyer. Yes it is a cost but it is deductable, and he/she will get you set up with all the information and paperwork to have a legal business. This makes it much easier to collect on people like this.

TiedemanLLC
12-15-2011, 01:49 PM
This is what I would do. Document everything first. Phone calls, emails, letters sent, etc.

Then call her again and speak with her. Tell her what you just told us about it was not for drainage. Try to be as polite as possible, but if she still gets defensive then it's time to be aggresive. And I don't mean yelling aggressive, I mean, being firm, yet still very polite.

There are two options of being aggressive with the collection. 1) Ask her if he insurance has already paid for the work, and if so, she is doing insurance fraud in which you will turn it into the local authorities. Sure it may not technically be insurance fraud, but it will still scare her a bit.

2) The other option is to inform her that you will submit the final due to a collections agency, in which the amount will show up on her credit history for seven years.

The main thing is to be remain professional, calm, firm, yet polite thoroughout this entire process.

Steve
12-16-2011, 07:37 PM
Could you also take her to small claims court?

Another thing I was thinking, in future jobs, would it be better to require a certain amount of money at first to cover materials? Especially when the job is over $1000?

As you reflect on this job do you feel you would do anything differently next time?

TiedemanLLC
12-16-2011, 08:10 PM
Could you also take her to small claims court?

Another thing I was thinking, in future jobs, would it be better to require a certain amount of money at first to cover materials? Especially when the job is over $1000?

As you reflect on this job do you feel you would do anything differently next time?

Steve made an excellent point. We have a $500 amount. Once it hits $500, we require 50% down before the work is completed, and 50% after completition. We also have been experimenting lately with a 50%, 25%, 25% technique. That is a little bit harder though.

Clays Landscape
12-16-2011, 09:54 PM
Steve made an excellent point. We have a $500 amount. Once it hits $500, we require 50% down before the work is completed, and 50% after completition. We also have been experimenting lately with a 50%, 25%, 25% technique. That is a little bit harder though.

So with that being said, am I at loss with this job? Should I not do anything else?

Clays Landscape
12-16-2011, 09:55 PM
Could you also take her to small claims court?

Another thing I was thinking, in future jobs, would it be better to require a certain amount of money at first to cover materials? Especially when the job is over $1000?

As you reflect on this job do you feel you would do anything differently next time?

What all would small claims court entail? What would I need, how much would it cost?

Steve
12-17-2011, 02:32 PM
Have you checked your local county or township website? I would figure they would have the costs online. There are also a lot of sites that can walk you through how to file in small claims.

In fact, some members of the forum have done that in the past with success.

Keep us posted.

TiedemanLLC
12-17-2011, 02:49 PM
So with that being said, am I at loss with this job? Should I not do anything else?


I would personally try one more time with a phone call and then send a letter, stating that she has so many days to pay the bill or you will send it to collections.

Then if she doesn't pay, send it to collections. You won't get the full amount, but some if better than nothing.

A lot of times too the collections agency will go through arbitration with their lawyer. You have to pay a small fee sometimes for the papework, but a lot of times you can wrap that fee back into the amount that they owed. I actually went through that this past year with a sub that owed me money. They are going to start to garnish his check pay check in about two weeks.

Primo
01-03-2012, 08:16 PM
I completely understand which means you care. I would call her and setup a meeting to go over contract. Let her know person to person that your quote was not to eliminate the water. Let her know that it requires a different type of work and machinery something you did not commit to. Let her know the current bill needs to be taken care of to then make a game plan and quote to resolve her issue. Be very nice and clear Primo. I did a lawn renovation for a lady 25 miles away this fall. It including tilling up her entire yard, reseeding, lime fertilizer, create/edge beds around home, $220 of mulch and planting of 10 rose bushes. The yard is in a very low swampy area and is always wet.

Well the total bill came up to just under $1,500 with $850 being materials/tractor use. This job was done October 15 and the lady just paid me $615.68 today. I have been in contact with her reminding her but she continues to start that she is not happy that her yard is still wet. The estimate had the exact phrase "surface tilling", NOT REGRADING!

She refuses to pay until I come back in the spring and level the entire yard which would require hauling many loads of dirt in. I am not willing to do this. I have been back twice, free of charge, with a drag and worked for several hours!

Everyone, please be completely honest and let me know how you would handle this situation. I appreciate anything as this has really been bothering me.

Thanks!!!

Ducke
01-03-2012, 08:28 PM
Looks like your limited to what you can do.
I think collection is the way to go, They have a way of putting things that you as a business owner would not think of to get people to pay up.
My wife use to work in collections at a major phone company she even sent a disconnect order to a high up executive in the company because she wouldn't pay up. I use my wife if I have a problem customer it easier for her as she is detached from the company on a day to day and she has the training to ask and say the right things to get most people to pay up. You may only get $300 or so back but at least you can cover your expense and you learned a valuable lessen. all be it an expensive one.

oh my wife said shop it around for the best deal on collections not all agencies charge the same %

jymie
01-03-2012, 08:50 PM
I would go back and remove all that mulch and make it look as bad as possible! :eek: j/k.

Collections is the way to go.

Clays Landscape
01-03-2012, 09:32 PM
Looks like your limited to what you can do.
I think collection is the way to go, They have a way of putting things that you as a business owner would not think of to get people to pay up.
My wife use to work in collections at a major phone company she even sent a disconnect order to a high up executive in the company because she wouldn't pay up. I use my wife if I have a problem customer it easier for her as she is detached from the company on a day to day and she has the training to ask and say the right things to get most people to pay up. You may only get $300 or so back but at least you can cover your expense and you learned a valuable lessen. all be it an expensive one.

oh my wife said shop it around for the best deal on collections not all agencies charge the same %

How do I find collection agencies in the area?

jymie
01-03-2012, 11:09 PM
http://virginiacollectionagency.info/collection-agencies-in/blackstone/virginia/9828

Google your town, state and collection agency

Ducke
01-04-2012, 07:49 PM
http://virginiacollectionagency.info/collection-agencies-in/blackstone/virginia/9828

Google your town, state and collection agency

That will work
I was going to say the yellow pages.

Liberty Landscaping LLC
01-04-2012, 11:46 PM
You said in your previous message the "estimate listed surface tilling" did you form a contract and have it signed by both parties? If you did not then small claims court isn't going to work.
Collections I have never tried so I am not sure. The proof that she made a partial payment is def going to work to your advantage. You will need a log of phone calls and (certified) letters sent to her advising her of the amount do. If there is a way to record the next call I would do that.

By all means I would not do anymore work for her even if she pays you for this one. She has set a pattern as a problematic customer and why would you invest more of your money into another project at her home? Get this resolved and bid her a fine fairwell. I wouldn't call her anymore if you have her email thats great to use (as my lawyer says even Judge Judy can't argue with emails) if not only certified letters attach a bill deduct what she has paid, if there was a contract include that, inform her that by x (date be reasonable) a month or so it will go to collections/small claims court (with a contract without don't do it you will loose). You need to show a pattern of attempting to collect the debt for courts. I had this issue with a snow plow customer actually husband and wife they each had a business location I serviced neither paid me. Collections companies I hear charge significant fees like up to 50% of the debt being recovered. Just so your not shocked. Good luck keep us posted!

Sprinkler Buddy
01-04-2012, 11:58 PM
As much as it would infuriate me, I would chalk it up as a learning experience. Being self employed, I believe we all have these cases from time to time. I know I have.

In the end, I just tell myself, "What goes around comes around."

Makes me Mad just thinking about it. :mad:

dpld
01-05-2012, 03:49 PM
I did a lawn renovation for a lady 25 miles away this fall. It including tilling up her entire yard, reseeding, lime fertilizer, create/edge beds around home, $220 of mulch and planting of 10 rose bushes. The yard is in a very low swampy area and is always wet.

Well the total bill came up to just under $1,500 with $850 being materials/tractor use. This job was done October 15 and the lady just paid me $615.68 today. I have been in contact with her reminding her but she continues to start that she is not happy that her yard is still wet. The estimate had the exact phrase "surface tilling", NOT REGRADING!

She refuses to pay until I come back in the spring and level the entire yard which would require hauling many loads of dirt in. I am not willing to do this. I have been back twice, free of charge, with a drag and worked for several hours!

Everyone, please be completely honest and let me know how you would handle this situation. I appreciate anything as this has really been bothering me.

Thanks!!!


you could take her to small claims court but depending on the wording in your contract the scales could balance in her favor.

was every detail in the contract from start to finish?

i learned to not only do business with a written contract with every detail spelled out includeing a authorization signature i even list details as what would not be covered in the contract.

it is not only important to spell it out word for word with people you need to also include the unforseen's of a potential job because most people get into agreements without ever reading or asking the right questions and then when its over and they are unsatisfied they start the " i thought you were going to do this and that" deal.

i do all commercial property care these days and even dealing with corporate owners and management companies it is sad to say that you got to spell it out like you are dealing with a 5 year old to avoid these kinds of problems and home owners are even harder to deal with.

Steve
01-05-2012, 04:08 PM
i learned to not only do business with a written contract with every detail spelled out includeing a authorization signature i even list details as what would not be covered in the contract.

How long into running your business did you start doing this? Was it right from the beginning or did it take a while? Also was there any situation you went through that made you decide enough was enough and you had to start doing things this way?

dpld
01-05-2012, 06:10 PM
How long into running your business did you start doing this? Was it right from the beginning or did it take a while? Also was there any situation you went through that made you decide enough was enough and you had to start doing things this way?


i learned early on that this was the way to go. i never did'nt get paid but i had a issue where there were some grey area's in the scope of work and it ended up costing me more time and money that actually bombed the job but it was a matter of biteing the bullet and sucking it up to get it done and chock it up for experience.

it takes time to get it right because you want to make sure everything is spelled out to protect both parties and avoid and misunderstandings but you also have to do it in a manner that is not so intimidating.

the most effective part is every detail of the work at hand from start to finish as well as pointing out any pre existing condition's and if they will be addressed or not.

most guys worry about the bid price and the basics of what they are doing in contracts but they always leave out the parts that mention what is not included in that agreement.

Steve
01-06-2012, 02:40 PM
as well as pointing out any pre existing condition's and if they will be addressed or not.

This is a very good point that is not brought up much. What is your view on why you feel this is important to include?

willshome
02-06-2012, 08:56 PM
just so I understand this, the first time she said there was a "problem" was two months later. NICE

dpld
02-07-2012, 09:25 AM
This is a very good point that is not brought up much. What is your view on why you feel this is important to include?

i found it important because sometimes the owner may not mention something but in the back of their mind they think it will be part of the job and self explanitory.

it also conveys a more professional image as well as gives the client a better sense of satisfaction that not only did you take the time to give them a proposal but you listened as well as noticed things that they either paid no mind to or failed to mention.

some folks will not mention it on purpose and try to let it slip through the cracks so they can hit you up for it as a throw in and dangle the carrott in your face and if they see you made no mention of it in the contract then that gives them the green light to screw you.

i know we would all love to believe that our customers are the best and anyone who calls you for your services are a good person but it takes all kinds to make the world go around and your first responsibillity as a business owner is to protect yorself.