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  • Bill Collection

    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!!!

  • #2
    what did your contract say about payment ? are you still able to lean the job or has your time run out?

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    • #3
      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

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      • #4
        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.

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        • #5
          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.

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          • #6
            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.

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            • #7
              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.
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              • #8
                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?
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                • #9
                  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.
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                  • #10
                    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?

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                    • #11
                      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?

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                      • #12
                        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.
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                        • #13
                          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.
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                          • #14
                            cutomer will not pay

                            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!!!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              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 %

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