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Old 10-01-2013, 04:56 PM
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spitfire3416 spitfire3416 is offline
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Past due accounts

I currently have two accounts that are over 90 days past due. One owes me $800 and the other $600. I'm thinking about typing this little note on the bill in red ink. What do you think? Will it work?

"Your account is currently being suspended. Payments not received within 30 days of this notice date will be sent to a collection agency for lack of payment and subject to a minimum fee of $50.00 to compensate for our collection efforts. We have the right to exercise all of our rights to collect any monies owed which can include, but not limited to, collection agencies and small claims court. Any delinquent accounts will have a police report filed for “theft of services” and are subject to criminal prosecution."
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Old 10-01-2013, 05:44 PM
Fuzzy1 Fuzzy1 is offline
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I doubt the threat of criminal action will get you anywhere ... this is a civil matter ... if you go too far with your threats, you may just cause them to dig in and resist. IF you intend to sue them ... tell them so ... THEN ... follow up with a small claims suit. Most deadbeats know EXACTLY what they are doing ... trying to make it sound like a crime won't jar them a bit.
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Old 10-01-2013, 05:49 PM
ztman ztman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spitfire3416 View Post
I currently have two accounts that are over 90 days past due. One owes me $800 and the other $600. I'm thinking about typing this little note on the bill in red ink. What do you think? Will it work?

"Your account is currently being suspended. Payments not received within 30 days of this notice date will be sent to a collection agency for lack of payment and subject to a minimum fee of $50.00 to compensate for our collection efforts. We have the right to exercise all of our rights to collect any monies owed which can include, but not limited to, collection agencies and small claims court. Any delinquent accounts will have a police report filed for “theft of services” and are subject to criminal prosecution."
In most states, its illegal to threaten criminal prosecution in order to collect a debt. Why don't you just call them up and see what is going on.
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Old 10-01-2013, 06:03 PM
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spitfire3416 spitfire3416 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ztman View Post
In most states, its illegal to threaten criminal prosecution in order to collect a debt. Why don't you just call them up and see what is going on.
well what if I just take out the criminal prosecution part? i always hear of guys sending letters to scare them into paying.

and i did call them up on about 6 separate occasions. last time i spoke to one of the customers in person when i was there to cut the lawn they told me "oh yea i actually just mailed out the check the other day". 3 weeks later and i still haven't got it. either she mailed this check via a donkey or she's pulling my chain.
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Old 10-01-2013, 06:08 PM
pseudosun pseudosun is online now
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What's the history and payment history? How old are these accounts? How many notices or reminders did the accounts get in 90 days? I'd try one more time before the "threat", and say that you are not in a position to forgive debt, and you have a family to provide for. Those amounts would make me red hot, i feel you. The disrespect is also a huge factor.

Edit: you just answered some questions. The blatant lie about mailing a check is very offensive to me. I'm remembering similar situations i've had. I never go past one payment due. I only have one monthly pay, and i know her well. It's just not going to happen to me; burned too many times. Post updates on this thread. Last week, someone who is always late, said they'd leave a check out, because i demanded it before service. Well, guess what....it wasn't there, so i drove off, and didn't cut her grass for the weekend. It was there Monday though. You have to train your customers. It seems like that woman has zero respect for you, and thinks you may forget, or don't have the balls to go after her. Since i don't cut if anything is due, if an account doesn't pay, i'll remind them a couple of times, then drop them and lose about $40, and i just move on. Not worth my time. But, 800! - Go get it!

Last edited by pseudosun; 10-01-2013 at 06:15 PM.
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Old 10-01-2013, 06:19 PM
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spitfire3416 spitfire3416 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pseudosun View Post
What's the history and payment history? How old are these accounts? How many notices or reminders did the accounts get in 90 days? I'd try one more time before the "threat", and say that you are not in a position to forgive debt, and you have a family to provide for. Those amounts would make me red hot, i feel you. The disrespect is also a huge factor.

Edit: you just answered some questions. The blatant lie about mailing a check is very offensive to me. I'm remembering similar situations i've had. I never go past one payment due. I only have one monthly pay, and i know her well. It's just not going to happen to me; burned too many times. Post updates on this thread.
the one that owes $800 signed up beginning of april when the grass starts growing here and they didn't pay that invoice until late june. so pretty much they owe for the entire lawn maintenance season may-sept. they have been receiving monthly bills and I think I've talked to the wife two times on the phone about it. the one that owes me $600 signed up this year as well and has probably received a phone call a month for the past 5 months about late payments. i think she made one partial payment of maybe $100 but that's it. that's the one that told me she mailed it when she really didn't. she's been giving me a song and a dance about financial troubles all year. i'm only in my second year so i've been trying not to turn down work, but i'm done with these jokers next season that's for sure.
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Old 10-01-2013, 07:11 PM
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Blade Runners Blade Runners is offline
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Why would you keep mowing someones yard that doesn't pay you? We don't even give them a chance to be a no-pay. Anyone that is a consistent slow-pay for 2 months (4 pay periods) gets dropped. Not even close to being worth the headache.

The ole checks in the mail line should have been your giant red flag that somethings wrong. Who the hell mails checks in 2013 anyway? Either pay in cash or check in person or pay online through a customer portal acct or the 400 other ways to make online payments. If anyone even mentions mailing me anything I would be suspicious right then.
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Old 10-01-2013, 07:26 PM
Jimslawncareservice Jimslawncareservice is online now
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Go talk to them face to face. Its way harder for a person to pay you looking you square in the eye than if you send a note. Heck calling will be better then sending a note. If you don't have the balls to talk to your customer then you should quit
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Old 10-01-2013, 07:46 PM
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nashlawn01 nashlawn01 is online now
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Past due accounts

I have 3 slow payers. 1 I don't trust. I cut off services and she pays. 1 is a lawyer and her husband is too. I mow 2 1/2 acres bi weekly for $125 and when she gets up to $500 I contact her and meet face to face to receive payment. Always the lost in the mail excuse. 3rd one is a chiropractor and mow weekly for $75. Have mowed his for years and as of right now he owes $750. But I know he will pay he's just slow as hell about it. I also have an old lady I mow a $20 lot for and at the end of the season I send her an invoice usually $500-$600 and always worry about that one but she has always paid up. All and all I end up getting beat out of $300-$500 each year. This year only $80 so far
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:51 PM
Zach_KY Zach_KY is offline
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Is there a written contract concerning this/these account(s)? Do you keep perpetual detailed and accurate records of services rendered as well as time and mileage information? If so, kudos to you, this info will be very helpful in small claims - not to mention, keeping the IRS happy should you receive "the letter" at some point.

Next, you need to prove you've made a good faith attempt in collecting the debt...

First, I'd attempt to meet face to face. This may take multiple attempts and your cell phone is your best friend in proving you've tried your best. Call records and your phone's camera are golden. If you stop by the client's site, take a picture of your vehicle in front of their home or business. Bonus points if you are able to capture your vehicle and their street address in the same picture. If not, take two pics. If you have location data enabled, the time, date and GPS data will be embedded in the .JPG image file which proves you were there at a particular time and date. Don't have a smart phone? No problem, just MMS your pictures to a friend or relative. With most carriers, the MMS will appear on your billing detail which will, at a minimum, provide time and date records. If you're successful in setting up a meeting, keep your clipboard handy and make detailed notes of what is discussed or promised. If you can get a partial payment or a signature on anything - extra credit. Don't forget the pictures; both when you arrive and when you leave. This will provide you with a record of not only being there but also how long you were there. If the client ultimately denies meeting with you, it's going to be hard to explain why you have notes and were there for 20-30 minutes.

If you get no satisfaction, wait a couple of weeks after the timeline discussed in the face to face meeting has expired then send a demand letter, complete with a recap of what was originally discussed, amounts due and due date via registered USPS. If ignored, wait 30 days and mail again. Keep all receipts!! If ignored a second time, file in small claims. I have always remained quiet about my collection plans in all correspondence - it's a nice surprise for the debtor when they receive the summons. No need to give them a 60 day heads-up of what I intend to do.

One final note...

There is a good chance the judge is going to ask you why you didn't mitigate your damages. Once you didn't get paid after the third or fourth service visit, you were on notice that this client is problematic and should have been cut off. You are going to need to present some reason or circumstance why you genuinely felt the client would make good on the debt. Hint: "I don't know" and/or "I didn't want to loose the client" won't sway the judge. In nearly all cases, a deadbeat client is worse than none at all.

Unfortunately, collecting from slow or no pays isn't generally easy or quick. Patience, persistence and attention to details are the key to a favorable outcome.

If you either loose your case or decide to eat the debt, keep all of your records. You *may* be able to deduct some of your expenses as a bad debt come tax time. A good accountant would be able to advise on what, if any, deduction you can take on bad debts.

After 40+ years in business, I've done my rounds over unpaid bills at the Plaintiff's table but YMMV. So far, I've yet to be referred to as the Defendant - knock on wood.

Good luck!!
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