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View Full Version : Turning the deadbeats over to collections


musician/lawnman
02-14-2009, 10:57 PM
I don't know about you guys but I've got a few that are just flat out deadbeat bums. I've had it. I've called, stopped by, sent reminders I've done it all & they duck you at every turn. It sucks that people feel they can just ignore you. Well Here's what I say. SCREW EM'! Today I called a collections agency, they charge 30% if they recover funds, 0% if they don't. They run a skip trace off of name & last known address & send a notice of collections to the debtor. If no reply in 30 days, they report to transworld who then reports to equifax & whatever the hell the other major credit beuro is called. Then it'll trash their credit score. Only catch at all is that well the company will attempt to collect any amount.... debts of $50 or less will not be picked up by the credit bueros. I say fine you know what?.... after months of attempting to collect on my own. That $30 mowing debt is easily $55 with late fees! I know it's kinda a jerk thing to do & that the people that owe me money will be MF'n me all over town but tough crap. Pay yer damn debts!

I may never see any money from these jerk offs but at least I know they're a few points lower on the credit score & It will cost em' significantly more than they owe me when the shmucks buy their next damn car!
I can't just decide not to pay my phone, cable, water, or any other bill for that matter without consequences.... So neither can they. Guys, being small busniess owners doesn't mean we have to take it in the as@! I suggest you do the same unless that's how you like it.

Steve
02-15-2009, 12:10 AM
Chuck,

Were any of these situations where you could put a lien on their property?

musician/lawnman
02-15-2009, 07:42 AM
Nah, I got about 5 people that owe anywhere from $50-$300. Not really huge in the big schkeem of things but it's principle. Their almost all renters.

Steve
02-15-2009, 11:19 AM
Nah, I got about 5 people that owe anywhere from $50-$300. Not really huge in the big schkeem of things but it's principle. Their almost all renters.

I wonder if you can still put a lien on a property if you provide a service for it and it's to a renter.

In a previous post, one of the forum members was talking about how he would get paid from the renter's security deposit if the renter didn't pay.

Could that help you here? Maybe getting in touch with the landlord?

clarklandscaping
02-15-2009, 07:16 PM
Do you mind posting the contact info to this collection agency? I have a couple of accounts that I was just going to write off but after reading this post i still have some hope to collect something.

musician/lawnman
02-15-2009, 08:30 PM
Sure Shane why not....

The agency I called is:
Universal Collections (Leslie - was her name)
Phone: (941) 639-9648
Fax: (941) 639-6447
Email: wecollect@embarqmail.com

Not sure how they'll do yet, but who cares really! It's a win/lose! Either I win some money back or they lose their credit scores. Either way... I'm good with that. Like you said, I had all but written them off already so whatever happens, happens.

musician/lawnman
02-15-2009, 08:31 PM
Ps. I want some rep power points for that.... haha.:cool:

clarklandscaping
02-15-2009, 08:37 PM
You got them from me but who am I?! :)

VPS Lawn Care
02-16-2009, 12:02 AM
So Chuck, tell us how you really feel.

Just kidding i know how you feel. I hate it when people basicly steel service from me. This may be a good idea you have here

SuperiorPower
02-16-2009, 09:30 AM
I suppose they are ducking contact since they recognize you, your truck, or your uniform? If so here are several ideas (some of which you may have tried already):

1. Consider sending someone else (employee they have never seen, complete stranger, etc) in an unmarked vehicle, but with ID so they can not say they can't prove the person is with your business. Think about even going yourself but wearing a uniform shirt or what ever your would be wearing if you showed up to mow their lawn but with perhaps a button down shirt slipped on over the top to cover up the logo. Don't wear or drive anything they would recognize as being from your "ABCDE Lawncare business"...

2. Consider sending a certified letter. This does several things, a) you are using the unsuspecting evidence: the mail carrier. They can no longer say they did not receive the bill or what ever you send. b) If they end up signing for it you already know they still live there which takes me to idea # 3.

3. Have you tried small claims court? Or is there no such thing in your state? If you have access to a small claims court you may have a minimal expense to file a suit against them and then bring them into the court to face the wrath of the judge.

In some states when you file a suit in a small claims court you may have the option of how the summons to court is served: by the local Sheriff's Department, or by a Private process server. You may have to go through an attorney to get access to a private process server. Here is where the info from the idea in 2b becomes useful. If you know positively that the person lives there (from the signature on the certified letter return) you can provide this info to the process server. Additional info that is nice for the process server to have is: vehicle they drive, telephone numbers, place of employment, family members who may know where to find them, any oter contact info, etc.

Once they are served with process and they fail to show for their court date there may be a warrant for their arrest for contempt of court. again, they created the problem, not you.

If they do show for court and you receive a judgement in your favor you may be able to charge them with the cost of pursuing them including late fees, court costs, cost to serve papers, etc, to help you minimize your out of pocket. if they do show up to your court date be sure to ask the judge if the Judge can find judgement for these additional expenses (and have the expenses at hand). In Missouri, and I assume it is similar in other states, if the people are employed, you can then garnish their wages. If they are unemployed and don't pay, you can go back to the court and continue the process.

I know this sounds like a long process but again, it is partly for the principal. If you have major outstanding accounts I would recommend using an attorney for these and making these to be the first ones you pursue. If you decide to not use an attorney start with the smaller accounts in case you loose them you have lost less......

I would obviously try options 1 and 2 first as they are much less time consuming and expensive. Just make sure you add your late fees and penalties etc. Just remember, when you spend an hour trying to collect, that should be at least partially on them, not you. After all, it is because of them.

Thus some preliminary figures:

$35.00 bill over due by 5 months
$25.00 late fees (at $5.00 per month)
$ 5.00 in interest (preliminary at $1 per month to make it easy to figure)
$65.00 total. Now you have $30 to either pay for your labor and agravation or to reimburse the collection agency fees.....

SuperiorPower
02-16-2009, 09:38 AM
Sorry for the long winded response.......:D

musician/lawnman
02-16-2009, 10:09 AM
Sorry for the long winded response.......:D

Hey, there's nothing wrong with long responses if you have alot of pertinant things to say. Good informative post.
I Have looked into small claims court already on one of them. Trouble is even if they recieve a judgement against them, they don't nessesarily have to pay. IF they don't at that point all I can legally do here in florida is lein the house. If they don't sell or refinance anytime soon I'll wait forever to see any return. I can lein the home for $10 without going to court & spending the court fees for the same result. Plus as I said earlier, man of these are tenants I don't think I can lein the home, though I supose if I found the owner I might be able to contact them & collect from the security deposit as you guys said above (good idea).

Sherman,
Yeah, I was tweeked when I started this thread & I am not really one to sugar coat anything to anyone. I am about as straight foward as (I imagine) it gets.

Kind of off topic:
As leins go here is a story that reinforces what I said above (why I don't want to rely on just a property lein) After Hurricane Charlie destroyed our town in 2004 my father hired a roofing company to replace his roof, he had an expensive standing seem metal roof put on, had paid them I think a third as deposit, a third on delivery of materials. They put the roof on & wanted the balance that day. May father refused to pay til it passed inspection & the permit was cleared (good thing). It failed misserably, multiple issues, shotty work & the roof needed to be ripped off & started over. the company refused to do it. We got word that they were in financial trouble from an employee there. The owner through a fit & threatened my father to lein the house. My father said go ahead azzhole! If you morrons are still in business when I die you can have your money then. They went out of business & the lein has lapsed.
Now I'm not afraid of going out of business but my point is if someone takes this stance.... you can be waiting forever.

SuperiorPower
02-16-2009, 03:34 PM
Another idea I kind of alluded to but did not specifically point out is to dress up like say a UPS or FED-EX driver, etc? This works great if you have friends employed with UPS or FED-EX.... I know that happens around here at times...... lol

bnclawncare
02-16-2009, 08:12 PM
I am not sure about your state, but some states have laws about "theft of services". Don't know where, but I seen on TV where a guy paid 10% tip instead of the required 20% and lost in court. He actually faced criminal charges. I do not know if this is the same, but in my mind, they stole services.

If you file to the credit bureau, they will always have this showing on their report where ever they go and will eventually cause them pain somewhere down the road. If they are renters, can you put leins on their vehicles?

Good luck!!

I still have on guy that owes me $125.00 on a piece of commercial property. I think he is getting ready to sell or build. He has 30 more days before I make a trip to the court house.

SuperiorPower
02-17-2009, 10:21 PM
I am not sure about your state, but some states have laws about "theft of services". Don't know where, but I seen on TV where a guy paid 10% tip instead of the required 20% and lost in court. He actually faced criminal charges. I do not know if this is the same, but in my mind, they stole services.

Just depends on how your state laws are written. For example, in the state of Missouri, there needs to be at least some "intent" which you have to prove: "A person commits the crime of stealing if he or she appropriates property or services of another with the purpose to deprive him or her thereof".

Typically what you would have to prove is that they intended to deprive you of the money when they agreed to have you service their lawn.

musician/lawnman
02-18-2009, 07:32 AM
I
I still have on guy that owes me $125.00 on a piece of commercial property. I think he is getting ready to sell or build. He has 30 more days before I make a trip to the court house.
If that is the case, go lein the property now! Here it only costs about $10 to file a mechanics lein. They can't sell or refinance without clearing the lein.
If he sells you maybe SOL.

S.P.Martin Lawn Care
02-22-2009, 10:14 AM
I found it interesting that criminal charges sometimes are brought forward. By far and away, debts are handled in civil court. At least then you only have to meet a preponderance of the evidence level of proof vs. a beyond a reasonable doubt level in a criminal case. In other words, whoever has the best evidence wins, i.e., 51% proof trumps 49%. I fully understand that collecting from a favorable small claims decision is no the end of the problem.

I anticipated using liens in case of a deadbeat customer and did some homework on most of the properties I service. Before anything was signed I found who or what actually owns the property. It could be a corporation, individuals, trusts, and so on. Whatever that entity was, it was named as the customer, not the person signing. I had a few ask why I did that and told them straight up it was make sure I was paid, otherwise I would file a lien. They have always paid and are my best customers.

SuperiorPower
02-22-2009, 03:23 PM
I found it interesting that criminal charges sometimes are brought forward. By far and away, debts are handled in civil court. At least then you only have to meet a preponderance of the evidence level of proof vs. a beyond a reasonable doubt level in a criminal case. In other words, whoever has the best evidence wins, i.e., 51% proof trumps 49%.

Good point about the evidence needed. In a criminal case if the defense can prove "a reasonable doubt" then the case is typically dropped. Like you said, in a civil case you just have to prove you have more evidence than the other side.

There is only one thing I can say about criminal charges: if criminal charges are an option (meaning if your case meets the requirements for stealing according to your state's statutes) then you should be able to press charges. If the person is arrested they will ultimately have to pay a higher cost because if they post bond they will have to come up with that money. On the flip side, if the person is not found and a warrant is issued they may be contacted on a traffic stop or at some other call. When they are found to have a warrant they go to jail.

Hopefully you will be able to collect your money from a victim's compensation fund when they have gone to court. Either way, they have been greatly inconvenienced by having to go to jail and criminal court. Most people would rather be sued in a civil court than face a criminal court judge. But to even be able to do this you have to be able to prove stealing. Remember, you have to be able to prove to a jury of their peers that they have, beyond a reasonable doubt, committed the crime of stealing. If you can not, try civil court. To see if this falls under any criminal statute you should contact your local law enforcement agency as each state has different statutes. If the person lives inside the city limits there may also be some city ordinance.

Also keep in mind that if you press charges or sue civilly then you agree to show up for court, otherwise charges or the suit are automatically dropped. Showing up to court can drastically cut into your profits you have to go to court rather than mow yards. Think about starting this process at the very beginning of your slow season so you can hopefully get all your court appearances out of the way before the busy season rolls around again.