Customer wont pay

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by lasher66, Feb 25, 2003.

  1. lasher66

    lasher66 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 395

    I was just wondering if there was anything I could do about a customer who wont pay. Every time I talk to them they say they are going to mail me a check and they never do. They owe me $230 that is due since June 2002. They have been giving me the run around ever since. Can I take them to small claims court or something? They wrote me one check in July and it ended up bouncing. I dont get why they are doing this, they both work at Jeep and they seem like very good people. They never said anything to me about doing a bad job on the lawn or anything like that. Some help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks



    If you cant find one e-mail me @

    I will give you a collection agency here in Chicago, IL

    They will collect nation wide.

    Collection rates vary from 25% - 50%

    Just remember if they dont pay you dont pay
    But their Cedit Report
    will have you added to it for an uncolected account
    and that balance MUST be paid (By law) before they can be issued any more credit.

    Hope this helps
  3. cos

    cos LawnSite Addict
    Posts: 1,253

    Threaten their credit. Call their work! Threaten a lean on their assets. Collection agents are a waste of money!!! For a little extra money, take them to small claims.
  4. menchhofer

    menchhofer LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 33

    Simply take them to small claims.

    Most people upon receiving the summons will pay up.
  5. As long as you put

    "Customer pays any/all collection fees"
    in you contract

    Then go with a collection agency.

    The collection agency
    will collect your money'and then
    will collect there money from the customer.

    You get all you money back.

    Also If you notify the collection agency within 120 days
    they can place a lein on the title of the house.

    What that does is prevent them from selling their house untill they pay you.

    May take 15 years but you will get your money
  6. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,403

    One mistake was letting it go this far. They sized you up and figured you weren't someone to worry about in terms of consequences. People in debt usually pay only those who will cause them "pain" if they dont' pay. The easy going debtors go unpaid. For example, I bet they paid their electric bill all these months! I haven't had more than a few past due accounts in recent years because I got more strict on terms and am glad I did.

    1. Of course they're immediately cut off from other work, but that problem isnt' relevant here in winter.

    2. I like to send a bill with "PAST DUE" stamped in red ink (cheap to buy a stamp like this) on the envelope and invoice to hardcore deadbeats. People get embarrassed that their mailman knows they are not paying bills, I guess. I've had more than a couple pay up after receiving this.

    Have them served if they fail to respond, with a summons to appear in court. That will shake money out of a lot of people. Costs some money, but sometimes it's worth it.

    3. For the future, be sure to give customers WRITTEN terms of payment when they sign on. It's been shown that people obey written rules more than spoken ones, as if they're handed down by god, not you, and also it makes it clear from the start what you expect.

    4. Try to get money as soon as possible, to identify people who don't pay and reduce your risk as soon as possible. I send customers a bill for each month by the first of that month, based on scheduled work to be done. Any unscheduled work done will show up on the next month's invoice. I give them till the 15th to pay. That's two weeks. Enough time to cover people out of town and such. But I secretly really give them till the end of the month before I say anything. So they get 30 days. If I gave them 30 days up front, many would take 45. But If they can't pay in 30 days, they're either broke and can't really afford your service long term, or are just being disrespectful enough not to care if you get paid on time. I cull these types out each year so that eventually I have almost no payment problems. I include "prompt, reliable, on-time service deserves prompt, reliable, on-time payment" on my payment terms policy sheet.

    I used to wait till the end of the month to send out a bill for the work I'd done, and had tons of late payers. They would string me out, and of course they now know they owe you a lot of money, so they have the upper hand. If you cut them off, they feel they got a free month's service and won't pay. If you keep mowing, the unpaid balance keeps growing.

    Take the quick pain of losing a few accounts who aren't happy with your payment terms, rather than endure years of collection problems from being too generous on your terms.

    The lien is a good idea too, once you receive a judgement, but you can't put a lien on for maintenance I believe, just for improvements like landscaping.
  7. Scraper

    Scraper LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,656

    No offense, but for $230...I'd write it off as a loss and a lesson learned. You'll spend more trying to get it.
  8. Lombardi

    Lombardi LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 538

    I use small claims. If you win, they pay all fees in addition to your amount owed. Documentation is very important. Dates and times that you called or spoke to them at their house and what their response was. For small amounts as this you will not get a collection agency that will be as aggressive and prompt as you can be. Depending on the state there is only so much time that you have to file a lien, ie: 6 months from the last job completed.
    If none of this works go to their house late at night and spray Roundup on the front yard spelling; DEADBEAT. Just kidding.
  9. Rhett

    Rhett LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,071

    Check with your local police department. Several of the states I have lived in have offices within the local departments that deal with nothing but bad checks. They will either pay or they will be arrested. I personally would have a hard time walking away from 230 that I earned.

    Good Luck
  10. polecat63

    polecat63 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,655

    I don't know what it's like in Ohio, but here in Va the judges don't like deadbeats. Send them a few past due notices and keep records and any responses along with the bounced check to small claims court. They will either pay before or after.

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