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VisionsLandscapes
10-20-2008, 10:54 PM
I completed a nice lawn job for a lady(warden of prison) At her home. I installed a few plants, done some pruning, some edging, transplating of trees and some mulching. Instead of putting down the mesh for the new mulch beds i sparaed them wealthy with round-up. first i cut the grass as low as i could then sprayed heavily. I put in 4" of mulch over top of the ground. after the job is complete the lady tell me how wonderful it looks and she is so pleased. She writes me the check We are both happy. Next morning i go to cash the check and she stopped payment!! i call her up and she said grass was growing in her mulch beds(not thinking it was possible to me) i told her i would come back and fix it if it proceeded she said okay. couple days later i go back to spray on top of the mulch and when i call her to tell her what i am doing she tells me dont worry about it. I tell her if she is not happy then atleast pay for the material and she agrees but in 2 more weeks when she gets paid! she then hires new people to come out and do "something" to her beds which all i saw were more shrubs planted and thats all. She changes her mind and now said she refuses to pay!! what should i do about it???

If i take her to small claims court what are my chances of getting paid??? i have the original cancelled check. is she wasnt happy with my work then why did she pay me in the first place??? sounds like someone was trying to gt out of paying to me!! what do u guys think will happen if i take her to court? and should i make her pay full amount or just labor??? or what im confused...it was a $1,800 job.

Woody82986
10-20-2008, 11:18 PM
I'd personally park in front of her driveway before she goes to work and tell her the truck moves when she gets payment in my hands. Maybe I wouldn't be that vindictive, but seriously, try talking to her one more time and explain that if she doesn't pay, that you will file a lein on her property, file the outstanding debt with a collection agency and if that doesn't work, then you will take her to court. One of those scenarios is bound to scare her into paying.

Wittapp
10-21-2008, 12:10 AM
Before you talk to her again, file a mechanics lien. Mechanics liens are standard practice for contractors. Once you have the lien in place, that may get her moving. Check the small claims limmit in your area. You may want to file in small claims court. If she works for the government, a trip to court may not be the best career move for her. That might get her of her tush. Just curious, why did you leave the turf instead of removing it when you dug the beds?
Dave in Dayton

VisionsLandscapes
10-21-2008, 10:43 AM
left the turf because i bought the round up and it wqould kill the grass along with 4" of mulch. i made deep edgings as well.

I have tried to call her several times andleave messages at one point she said she already talked wit ha lawyer and i would receive something in the mail about a month ago and i never got anything so its time for me to move!

If i take her to court im thinking i should make her pay the full amount and plus the court fees and a good ole day of missed work! i have the cancelled check wouldnt that be the main evidence in getting my money?

topsites
10-21-2008, 11:13 AM
I can not tell you what to do, anything below is just me thinking out loud,
it might be all right as food for thought and best of luck and all of that.

Some folks seem to believe that so long they are not "happy" with the results
this means they do not have to pay, and while this is true in some cases it has
been noted that some folks use this as a tactic to get out of paying at all, that
is by finding any fault in the work and then quickly hiring someone else so they can
say they had to do that to have it done 'right.'

And it does sound like that old scam of how to get work done at the cost of a stop payment, with this silly method one would
technically never have to pay, but I wasn't there and I'm not saying that is what it was nor am I making these choices.

Now as far as I know, a stop payment can be as bad as an NSF check, from certain points of view it
really doesn't make a difference if the end result is the same, but we still do not know this to be so for sure.

Because what we have on the other side of the coin is something like 90% of all Lco's have been in business
less than 5 years, speaking purely from the statistical end the figures say these guys as likely haven't a clue
and don't know what they are doing. Some of them could end up quoting too high and doing a poor job, I see
this all the time and where does this leave the customer?

Should the customer have to pay twice my own quotes for half the job?

So what one can do in these cases, I would at least consult with an attorney,
and I mean a local bar-certified guy, call some of them see what they have to say.

Peace out, best of luck.

lawnman_scott
10-21-2008, 12:36 PM
Send her a certified letter requesting payment in 7 days. Tell her if you dont receive payment you will sue. If she deosnt pay take her to court. You have about a 95% chance of winning. She paid, then decided she didnt want to. Dont waste your time with leins or that crap, just take it to court. The check makes it a slam dunk.

VisionsLandscapes
10-21-2008, 07:05 PM
today i sent her an invoice with a list of tasks i done and the price total i added on a 10% late fee and put the payment received due date is the 28th of this month. I also sent her a little note explaining the situATION AND I SENT EVERYTHING CERTIFIED SO SHE WILL HAVE TO SIGN FOR IT. hopefully she will pay if not i will get in her court hopefully and get my money!

kaferhaus
10-21-2008, 09:40 PM
In most states stopping payment on a check that was not issued fraudulently is the same as writting a bad check.

File a lien AND take her to small claims court AND file with your local state attorney's bad check unit. Make her head swim.

d&rlawncare
10-21-2008, 09:52 PM
left the turf because i bought the round up and it wqould kill the grass along with 4" of mulch. i made deep edgings as well.

I have tried to call her several times andleave messages at one point she said she already talked wit ha lawyer and i would receive something in the mail about a month ago and i never got anything so its time for me to move!

If i take her to court im thinking i should make her pay the full amount and plus the court fees and a good ole day of missed work! i have the cancelled check wouldnt that be the main evidence in getting my money?

If you take her to court and you win they will add the court fees to your judgement. but you will have to pay them upfront. how much money we talking here?

ericmcj31
10-21-2008, 09:54 PM
When she wrote you the check she was in essence saying " this job is completed and I am satisfied with this company/person's work." It is as serious as writing a bad check to stop payment unless someone other than her wrote the check (which it sounds like this isn't the case). I would give your invoice 7 days and then go immedietly to small claims court. I would file for the 1800, interest (which the court will reward-but don't get crazy), court costs-you can try for the day missed, but doubt you will get that. Most courts see that as a thing that comes along with doing business. Good luck-and you've got this one in the bag-you've just gotta do the steps neccesary to collect now. I hate dealing with these PITA customers-they make life a little more hasslesome-but when you file the case-she'll prob. just pay you-accept that PLUS your court costs-b/c you're gonna have to pay that and just agree to drop the case-but ONLY after you have $$$ in hand! Like said earlier-I'm sure if she's a gov't worker she doesn't want a 'petty' case like this on her record! Good luck and Keep us posted!

VisionsLandscapes
10-22-2008, 12:02 PM
thanks for all the info guys. I will keep posted!

ericmcj31
10-22-2008, 08:13 PM
...yeah-you've got him...err...her by the balls!

clyde
10-23-2008, 01:10 AM
Try to call her in morning and dial *67 before her number and she can't see your number on her fone ...

I do it all the time with people that wont pick up.
Good luck

Lawn-Sharks
10-23-2008, 04:46 PM
I completed a nice lawn job for a lady(warden of prison) At her home. I installed a few plants, done some pruning, some edging, transplating of trees and some mulching. Instead of putting down the mesh for the new mulch beds i sparaed them wealthy with round-up. first i cut the grass as low as i could then sprayed heavily. I put in 4" of mulch over top of the ground. after the job is complete the lady tell me how wonderful it looks and she is so pleased. She writes me the check We are both happy. Next morning i go to cash the check and she stopped payment!! i call her up and she said grass was growing in her mulch beds(not thinking it was possible to me) i told her i would come back and fix it if it proceeded she said okay. couple days later i go back to spray on top of the mulch and when i call her to tell her what i am doing she tells me dont worry about it. I tell her if she is not happy then atleast pay for the material and she agrees but in 2 more weeks when she gets paid! she then hires new people to come out and do "something" to her beds which all i saw were more shrubs planted and thats all. She changes her mind and now said she refuses to pay!! what should i do about it???

If i take her to small claims court what are my chances of getting paid??? i have the original cancelled check. is she wasnt happy with my work then why did she pay me in the first place??? sounds like someone was trying to gt out of paying to me!! what do u guys think will happen if i take her to court? and should i make her pay full amount or just labor??? or what im confused...it was a $1,800 job.

Call the police! It's a crime for her to do that. The same thing happen to my friend and he called the police and they came out and was going to arrest the person, but the customer ponied up the money on the spot or it was off to jail! It is treated like writing a bad check..:nono: Good luck!!!!

VisionsLandscapes
10-25-2008, 12:24 PM
today i got back the receipt that she did pick up the letter and invoice i sent to her. what is the next step going to claims and file it?

JDUtah
10-29-2008, 02:39 PM
file the lien TODAY!... Just ask your accountant to do it... or search for a mechanics lien company... they will have a form to fill out. Usually all you need is the property and owner information, your final cost, day started, day ended, and what you did to the property... Make sure you add a late payment charge to your final cost first! And the cost of the lien...

It will take about a week for her to get notice of it... then follow what I did...

---

I had a customer threaten he wasn't paying for a $2,600 mulch job... no contract (oops)...

When arguing with him at his place when I went to collect, he threw his arms in the air and said, “Look at everything I have, do you really think you can hurt me?” (He was a real estate investor, nice place, nice beemers, etc..) I said "Yes I do" as he walked inside.

Before that he refused a final walk through and said I would have to take him to court to get any money out of him. I said, "No, it's simple really. I leave you this invoice... wait a week... file a lien with a 50% late payment charge... and you pay me or your credit gets screwed (I know his credit is critical for his profession)... and you don't sell this house until I get paid, including interest." That's when he tried to intimidate me by bragging about his stupid possessions.

I did just that... waited a week and filed a lien... the day I suspected he would get the certified letter informing him of the lien... we called and threatened another late payment charge, court fees, etc. if he didn't pay by that Friday.. He laughed and hung up... later that day he got notice of the lien and must have realized we were serious...

He paid through our website by Friday.

----

Lien her property TODAY (you only have so many days after completion to file the lien)... add a late payment charge for the pain in the neck she caused (we added 50%).. and the day that lien gets to her call her and let her know you mean business... and will take it farther if you need to… AT HER EXPENSE!

She is trying to play you... you have protection from crooks like that.. start with the lien.. your accountant should do it.. or search google for a local mechanic lean company... it should run you $25 to $150 bucks... add that cost along with a late payment charge too...

In the end you can whip her for more than she bargained for… she is playing a game… you have legal protection to beat her at her game… do it! And don’t be afraid to charge for the extra collection time she cost you. Crooks deserve to pay.

Good luck.. keep us posted.

ed2hess
10-29-2008, 07:16 PM
That is too much money to mess around with go get yourself a lawyer and let them do the the work. My bet is one letter to her from the laywer and it will be over. All of these law firms have new guys who are looking for this type of work. They will add their fees on to the bill so it cost you nothing.

Bwing96
10-30-2008, 09:29 AM
Try running the check through again. My son was farming and had sent a check to some company for payment and they evidently lost it, so after they couldn't't find it they had him write another check. After he wrote the second check he put a stop payment on the first one. About 3-4 months later he gets an overdraft notice from the bank and after trying to figure out why, he realized the company had found his lost check and sent it through.

The Banks response was that a stop payment was good for only x number of days.

BCarlson
11-03-2008, 02:44 PM
Be careful on how you go about the recovery process. Threatening court gives you an alloted time to file the claim and and take it to court. as for interest make sure it doesn't exceed the states maximum amount allowed. Working for the the Prison means she probably has some connection on the legal side to snowball you. You're overall best bet would be to keep the records and send it to collection agency (at a loss usually) but that puts all the legal stratagies on the agency. Also make it a local collection agency, one that is out of state or out of area is limited on what they can do also.

VisionsLandscapes
11-04-2008, 03:07 PM
i went and put a lawsuit on her yesterday asking for the amount plus 20% late fee and all court and filing fees. we will see what happens!

Woody82986
11-04-2008, 04:16 PM
Good luck with that! I love forced confrontation... haha

VisionsLandscapes
11-04-2008, 10:07 PM
What are my odds here guys?? I relly hope i dont get jipped out of that much cash!

BCarlson
11-05-2008, 12:11 PM
Odds are in your favor as long as no threatening was done. You had the check. it was to her satisfaction when the job was completed and also didn't give you a reason as to why she stopped payment. My guess is that she stopped payment on the check to the next guy too. I would talk to that guy also and see if she did the same to him so that he could take it to court also and maybe get on the same docket to where it shows a pattern with her.

wbw
11-05-2008, 12:22 PM
File the lien. Do it now.

DVS Hardscaper
11-05-2008, 12:58 PM
I am amazed at EVERY SINGLE response in this thread :dizzy:


Welcome to business 101, FOLKS!

First rule of business is: ALWAYS HAVE A WRITTEN, SIGNED, AND DATED AGREEMENT. I read the opening post and I skimmed all the responses, and no where do I see where a ratified agreement is ever mentioned.

I'm guess there is no written agreement. Because if there was - you would simply let the legal system handle it and this post wouldn't exist.

You can certainly go to court. First thing the judge will want to see is the agreement bearing signatures and dates from all parties involved. Otherwise the judge will dismiss the case.

Mechanics Lien??? You can do that. Couple of things - doing so can get you sued for defamation of title, if they decide to countersue.

Legally, you can not place a lien on a property UNLESS you have signatures from all parties listed on the recorded deed. So if a house is deeded to Frank & Helen Homeowner, and only Helen signs the contract, and Frank DID NOT - you can not slap a lien on the property. Again, this can get you countersued.

Also A lien does nothing. That just means 15 years from now when they go to sell the place or re-finance - you get your money. Who wants to wait that long??

DO YOU HAVE A SIGNED AGREEMENT? If not - chalk it up as "lessons learned" and move on.

Some advice: It's usually one spouse that calls for an estimate. Again, find out who the property is deeded to. The agreement MUST be written for all names on the deed. In MD, the state has a website that tells you all you want to know about ANY real property in the state. Without all parties concenting to work being done and the terms of the contract - you can't take action against the property.

Woody82986
11-05-2008, 09:09 PM
I'm glad I don't live in MD. I agree that signed agreements are great, but they aren't fool proof and iron clad. In Texas you don't necessarily have to have a signed agreement to prove you were asked to do work, you did the work and the client then refused to pay. Going around and talking like every part of the country is just like it is in MD doesn't help anyone out. Your "BUSINESS 101" Course should have taught you that laws and ordinances are different in all parts of the country and that in the end, you should talk to someone who is familiar with the laws in your area. That's Business 101, my friend.

lawnman_scott
11-05-2008, 09:31 PM
What are my odds here guys?? I relly hope i dont get jipped out of that much cash!from my experience your odds are near 100% on getting the amount of the check + court and filing costs, and slightly less than 0% of getting the late fee.

DVS Hardscaper
11-06-2008, 10:46 AM
I'm glad I don't live in MD. I agree that signed agreements are great, but they aren't fool proof and iron clad. In Texas you don't necessarily have to have a signed agreement to prove you were asked to do work, you did the work and the client then refused to pay. Going around and talking like every part of the country is just like it is in MD doesn't help anyone out. Your "BUSINESS 101" Course should have taught you that laws and ordinances are different in all parts of the country and that in the end, you should talk to someone who is familiar with the laws in your area. That's Business 101, my friend.


Thats correct Woody.

But you're missing my point.

The point is you can't just walk into a court room or the clerks offices (to file a lien) and say "poor me, that lady refused to pay me". A judge is going to want to know the terms of your arrangement. I mentioned "MD" as a qualifier to my statement. And honestly....most laws may not be the same as other states, in terms of payment dispute the facts are similar no matter where you are, Woody.

A verbal agreement is only as good as the paper it's written on. Regardless of where you are. And thats the point I am making.

Woody, someone asked "what are the odds". Well with detailed signed agreement - the odds are in your favor. But if there is no signed agreement, and the client can prove they were not happy with what you did (and more than likely they'll show up with photos and a witness ir 2) - the odds are not in your favor.

And you're correct, just because you have a contract does not mean you automatically are awarded the case. A contract is nothing more than a guide. In a nutshell, the purpose of a written agreement is it states what to expect, and who is responsible for what. By writting a detailed contract covering every detail, every angle - you're covering your bases the best you can, with the hopes that a judge will look atit and will side with you. Our contracts are usually 2 to 4 pages in length. VERY detailed, leaving no stone unturned. This way if it were ever to be challanged in court - hopefully we got it covered.

And Woody, to go one step further, you wanna know something?? In MD, say I show up and I start mowing your lawn. And I have a sign on my back that says "LAWN MOWING $15.00". I just show up out of the blue and start mowing. Well you walk outside, smile and wave hello to me. Since you did not stop me, legally - you just indicated that it is ok for me to mow your lawn for $15. See, thats an old law, that most people do not know exists. My point of this paragragh isn't about MD, it's showing that there are exceptions to the signed agreement rule.

I was an expert witness in court about 4 years ago. The contractor showed up infront of the judge and more or less said "poor me, that mean client is refusing to pay me....". Well.....they were REFUSING to pay the contractor because the contractor did sub-par workmanship, and they had exhibit after exhibit after exhibit, along with about an hour of my testimony on the stand - proving that the workmanship was below standards and not acceptable. Judgement was for the homeowner.

Over and over I read on industry message boards about "poor me, the client doesn't wanna pay me". And for everytime I see such a thread - I always uncover the underlying fact. And the underlying fact is that there WAS NO WRITTEN AGREEMENT between the client and the contractor :hammerhead:

Again, it does not matter if you're in TN, HI, TX, CA, WV, ND, AZ, CT, MD, WI, it doesn't matter if the value of the job is $110.00 or if it's $22,000, it doesn't matter if it's your mother, a sweet little old lady you attend church with, or the guy that owns every business in your town - YOU NEED TO GET IT IN WRTIING.

GET IT IN WRITTING!

Ramairfreak98ss
11-06-2008, 11:21 AM
Send her a certified letter requesting payment in 7 days. Tell her if you dont receive payment you will sue. If she deosnt pay take her to court. You have about a 95% chance of winning. She paid, then decided she didnt want to. Dont waste your time with leins or that crap, just take it to court. The check makes it a slam dunk.

yeah i woudl do that. Problem is, you ONLY have the canceled check. We've all been there before, but did you REALLY do $1800 worth of work without her signing for anything? common man, you know thats asking to not get paid one way or another :hammerhead:

Did you take pictures before and after to use in court, any receipts from her materials DATED and lines up with photo dates and her canceled check date?

I once had to beat a lady to the bank to cash her check for $100 because AFTER i left, she called up complaining about everything wasnt right in her mind and she wanted to to redo it, she then says well if your not going to come back RIGHT now and fix it, ill go and cancel the check... you know our next stop was HER bank and walla $100 cash and F her. I wont deal with that kind of crap anymore. That was before we had everything signed for though.

lawnman_scott
11-06-2008, 01:15 PM
yeah i woudl do that. Problem is, you ONLY have the canceled check. We've all been there before, but did you REALLY do $1800 worth of work without her signing for anything? common man, you know thats asking to not get paid one way or another :hammerhead:

Did you take pictures before and after to use in court, any receipts from her materials DATED and lines up with photo dates and her canceled check date?

I once had to beat a lady to the bank to cash her check for $100 because AFTER i left, she called up complaining about everything wasnt right in her mind and she wanted to to redo it, she then says well if your not going to come back RIGHT now and fix it, ill go and cancel the check... you know our next stop was HER bank and walla $100 cash and F her. I wont deal with that kind of crap anymore. That was before we had everything signed for though.You have a great point, and pics would be a great help. But on the flip side does she have pics? I have just noticed when I have been in small claims court, it isnt like judge judy, or law and order. The judge isnt looking for this technicallity or that, I have been impressed with the way they actually try to look at it from a common sence outlook.

DVS Hardscaper
11-06-2008, 03:31 PM
Typically, collection case's like this make it to court because there is some sort of a dispute. With cases like this it's not like the plaintiff walks in there and says "she owes me money", and the judge says "ok, pay up".

If they were not happy with what you did they're are going to testify accordingly. And more than likely they will be armed with photos. And since someone had come behind you and finished - that other contractor will probably be testifying for the defendant. A judge will want to see the wording of the contract. And if there is a dispute as far as the workmanship or materials used, if pictures (known as exhibits) are available - he/she will want to look at them.

But see, we're getting off subject!

Bottom line is: PUT IT IN WRITTING!

Had there been a DETAILED written contract.......then more than likely the issue would be resolved without going to court, without hiring a collection agency, and without slapping a lien on the property.

Again, a contract lays out expectations. If you're planning to use #4 potting soil, then it needs to say that because the client may be thinking you're going to use #1 potting soil. If you're going to plant a 5' Jap Maple - it needs to say that because the client may be thinking they're getting a 6' Jap Maple. If you're planning to create a landscape bed, but you do not plan on spraying the existing vegetation with Round Up prior to creating the landscape bed - your contract needs to address such, as the client may have expectations that the Thistle that was there, won't be returning 2-3 weeks later.

A written agreement puts all parties on the same page.

VisionsLandscapes
11-06-2008, 03:53 PM
I talked with a lawyer yesterday and he said i had a GREAT chance of winning the case. Writing a bad check is a criminal offense. she checked the work i done then payed me simple as that then she canceled the check. she said i done something wrong and i offered to come back and fix it or whatever she refused. Why would she refuse me to come back and do something for FREE instead of paying someone else to to do it? doesnt make sense, shes just trying to get out of paying.

IF i do lose the case I will personally go up there and take all of my plants and materials i put in!

YardPro
11-09-2008, 05:28 PM
I am amazed at EVERY SINGLE response in this thread :dizzy:


Welcome to business 101, FOLKS!

First rule of business is: ALWAYS HAVE A WRITTEN, SIGNED, AND DATED AGREEMENT. I read the opening post and I skimmed all the responses, and no where do I see where a ratified agreement is ever mentioned.

I'm guess there is no written agreement. Because if there was - you would simply let the legal system handle it and this post wouldn't exist.

You can certainly go to court. First thing the judge will want to see is the agreement bearing signatures and dates from all parties involved. Otherwise the judge will dismiss the case.

Mechanics Lien??? You can do that. Couple of things - doing so can get you sued for defamation of title, if they decide to countersue.

Legally, you can not place a lien on a property UNLESS you have signatures from all parties listed on the recorded deed. So if a house is deeded to Frank & Helen Homeowner, and only Helen signs the contract, and Frank DID NOT - you can not slap a lien on the property. Again, this can get you countersued.

Also A lien does nothing. That just means 15 years from now when they go to sell the place or re-finance - you get your money. Who wants to wait that long??

DO YOU HAVE A SIGNED AGREEMENT? If not - chalk it up as "lessons learned" and move on.

Some advice: It's usually one spouse that calls for an estimate. Again, find out who the property is deeded to. The agreement MUST be written for all names on the deed. In MD, the state has a website that tells you all you want to know about ANY real property in the state. Without all parties concenting to work being done and the terms of the contract - you can't take action against the property.


these restrictions are not the case in our state....

the lein process and what rights you have differ from state to state....

call your magistrate and ask them what to do...
DO NOT TAKE ADVISE FROM THOSE OUT OF YOUR STATE......

in NC there is no need fro a written contract...
the fact that she paid the check is her admission that she owed that debt, unless she can prove duress was the reason for giving you the check.

you will get your money...
go take pictures,bring all reciepts and make sure your times are written down..
you should do fine...