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tomcat172002
05-04-2009, 08:58 PM
Ok I have a question regarding a contract job that I did. I was for a Spring Cleanup. I did alot of work and it took me about 5 hours with another person. Before I did the job the customer (a new customer) signed a contract paper that I had. He told me that he would pay me when the job is over. After I finished I walked the yard with him and went over everything he told me to do. After 3 weeks he is refusing to pay me? For the first 3 weeks he kept saying the check is in the mail but he was lying. Today I finally got a hold of him and now he said that the job was done poorly and he isn't going to pay. Ok I have a signed contract saying he will pay me for my work. I told him and he said that the job was not up to par so he doesn't owe me a thing. Now what?? If I take him to small claims court is it going to cost me more than $300? Also I know an attorney is going to cost more than $300. Next time I get a signature and they will have to prepay. Do I chalk this one up to experience?

CHEESE2009
05-04-2009, 09:43 PM
I finally got a hold of him and now he said that the job was done poorly and he isn't going to pay.

Give him back the debris. I would be furious with a customer like him.

Every lawn service should have an agreement to never service these sort of customers. The cases must have before & after pictures to prove your word against the customer & an understanding with & between other services.

I think I smell a website idea. Boycott these fools.

turfmaster
05-05-2009, 01:05 AM
I had a similar experience with a new customer on a cleanup also.
First of all dummy me bought in to their B.S. that if I gave them a good deal on the cleanup they would reward me with the total mowing and fertilization for the season. Well they decided to mow and fertilize themselves. What a suprise!
Then they told me they would not pay me for the cleanup because they were not happy with the results. I was furious. My son and I loaded up 2 trailers of branches, sticks, leaves etc. from their property and guess what we did. Just what Breeze said we unloaded all that crap scattered it all over their front yard and driveway. The bum came running out his front door yelling and screaming in his foreign language and we just kept throwing the stuff and then I yelled back at him WELCOME TO AMERICA A-S-S HOLE. I have to say even though I lost about $300. bucks it felt good to do that. :D

Steve
05-05-2009, 02:44 AM
Tom,

I am glad you made this post. Don't fret. You can get this resolved and if you follow these steps. You will also feel empowered.

How to get deadbeat customers to pay? (http://gopherforum.com/showthread.php?t=7627)

There are two pages on that post with sample letters to send. Keep us posted on what you are doing to resolve this and how it works out. Your story will help inspire others who find themselves in a rough spot.

Remember you can get this resolved!!

SuperiorPower
05-05-2009, 03:58 AM
After I finished I walked the yard with him and went over everything he told me to do. After 3 weeks he is refusing to pay me? For the first 3 weeks he kept saying the check is in the mail but he was lying. Today I finally got a hold of him and now he said that the job was done poorly and he isn't going to pay.

I think he has had his opportunity to tell you he is not satisfied with the job you did. Why does he wait for 3 weeks?

Ok I have a signed contract saying he will pay me for my work. I told him and he said that the job was not up to par so he doesn't owe me a thing. Now what?? If I take him to small claims court is it going to cost me more than $300? Also I know an attorney is going to cost more than $300. Next time I get a signature and they will have to prepay. Do I chalk this one up to experience?

I believe that contract would indicate he needs to pay and if he disagrees he needs to dispute that in small claims court to get his money back. Just make sure that he understands that you will sue him in small claims court for:

-Original $300
-All court costs and filing fees,
-All service fees (to have papers delivered),
-Hourly wages for any and all time you spend messing with the papers and in court because of him,
-anything else you can think of. I think this could easily come up to $500+

In my opinion you can not allow him to get away with it. Its the principal. You need to check with you local courts but in Missouri you could win that case hands down and all the above costs could be included in the judgment. Then you could garnish his wages and make him pay for an additional "service fee" to have the garnishment served to his employer.

Here is why I think you can win this case easily:

-He signed a contract saying he would pay you when the job was completed.
-He had every opportunity to tell you he is not satisfied with the job you did when you walked the grounds with him. Try to remember if he made any statements, positive or negative regarding your workmanship, at the time he walked the grounds with you.
-You spoke with him several times during 3 weeks and he did not express his dissatisfaction with the workmanship. Just make sure you document the # of times you spoke with him during this time period.
-During the 3 weeks he would promise to pay you, or rather that he had just paid you. To me this is an indication that he is lying to you and is now using this as a way to get out from under his responsibility.

tomcat172002
05-05-2009, 05:14 AM
Thanks for the posts on this one. I am really P.O. about this. I usually don't have people sign contracts but on this one I did for the first time. Now look how it turns out. I did talk to some friends and they told me that he has 30 days to pay. So I am still within the 30 days. I did ask him when he walked the yard with me why he said I did a good job?? He just said he really wasn't paying attention to the details. He cannot afford to pay so after saying the check is in the mail now for 3 weeks he has to come up with something else. Thats exactly what I told him over the phone. He kept saying that my work was no where near $300 worth what did I think I should really be paid. I told him $300 was a bargin and that he aggreed to it period, I wouldn't budge. I am just going to cool down for now and give it about a week or so. I got this guy out of the church bulliten too go figure? I'll let you know what happens.

Steve
05-05-2009, 06:04 AM
You know, this brings up another thing to consider. Maybe in the future you could have something where you have the customer sign off that the jobs was finished and completed to their satisfaction and have them sign it on the spot. Or maybe they could initial the contract that you hold to affirm it.

That could help in the future. Keep us posted on how this turns out.

turfmaster
05-05-2009, 08:09 AM
You know, this brings up another thing to consider. Maybe in the future you could have something where you have the customer sign off that the jobs was finished and completed to their satisfaction and have them sign it on the spot. Or maybe they could initial the contract that you hold to affirm it.

That could help in the future. Keep us posted on how this turns out.

In all my years in the biz I have yet to have a signed contract for residential customers only commercial. With my first bad experience in this regard I am thinking that maybe I should have a checklist or a more detailed description of the work the customer is asking us to do and have them sign it.

tomcat172002
05-06-2009, 05:19 PM
Thanks for the podcast Steve it was great. I do have a question one of my customers is an attorney and he told me this would be a slam dunk. No questions asked. Its just a matter of doing all the paperwork. I am first going to send him a letter stating that I will go to small claims court. But someone had told me that I might take it to a collections agent. That would ruin his credit. What should I do threaten small claims or a collections agency?

majoe7
05-06-2009, 10:33 PM
But someone had told me that I might take it to a collections agent. That would ruin his credit. What should I do threaten small claims or a collections agency?

If you did either, both would be a ding on his credit report.

A judgement would hurt more. :cool:

Steve
05-07-2009, 12:50 AM
I am first going to send him a letter stating that I will go to small claims court. But someone had told me that I might take it to a collections agent. That would ruin his credit. What should I do threaten small claims or a collections agency?

You could ask your lawyer client but I think one way allows YOU to do it and collect the full amount plus expenses incurred, the Collection agency will get THEM to do it for a large % of what they recover.

Keep us posted.

Scottler
05-07-2009, 11:57 AM
Would it be worth putting a clause in your future contracts stating that the customer will have a dispute period of 24 hours to dispute satisfactory completion of the job, and if they fail to contact you within that time period, they have forfeited their right to further complaint?

I'm not sure if this would spook people away by putting a "negative" in their mind from the start, but it would solve a bunch of problems, too. Then if they do call you within 24 hours (which they won't, because we're all awesome) you can arrange a time to return, address their concerns, and complete the job to their satisfaction.

Thoughts?

Steve
05-07-2009, 02:45 PM
I think as we go through life, we get burned on occasions and then we are more wary of things and get more cautious. So if I had just gone through a similar problem, I probably would want to experiment and include some kind of wording to deal with this and try to avoid it from happening again.

Would it work? That is another story.

tomcat172002
05-16-2009, 12:23 PM
Steve,

Thanks to you and everyone who replied to my thread. I sent the letter and was waiting for 10 days to see what would happen. I just got paid in full so it took about a month but he finally paid me. I guess the lesson here is if you have a signed contract doesn't give you false confidence that you will be paid. I did get a few more jobs and I had the people sign and prepay me. Thanks so much for doing the pod-cast. I was really just going to chuck this one up to experience. It pays to watch GopherHaul.

Thanks

Tom