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cuts BEFORE contracts?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Ramairfreak98ss, Jan 28, 2007.

  1. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,210

    I know all of you guys probably do it... how do you handle a customer that states "you did not cut the grass" for a person you billed that you only cut ONE time before a contract was even signed?

    I had a customer in end of October 06, call up, asking to setup a "shed", then the wife asks to cut the grass, it WAS pretty high since it was still warm, most companies stopped cutting mid october already.

    I cut the front half of the lawn and the woman comes out, asking if i am bagging, since i only bag with my walk behind and wont bag anything that isnt cut weekly, and especially a lawn that hasnt been cut in a couple weeks at least like this one, i told her no. She waves her hand in disgust and says then stop cutting. I was mulching at the time and it was comming out pretty nice looking. I said, "stop right now and leave the rest?" She says yeah and walks inside the house.

    I blow off all the front sidewalks, on a corner lot and around their fenced in back yard and leave. Send a bill that week for $40 which was what i quoted her and nothing. Two more bills and two phone calls now by Jan 07, and the husband FINALLY calls me, leaves a message saying "i am why billing him?"

    Then his phone that same day, doesnt work anymore, some indian cell phone company person comes on saying the phone is not working or something. Both of these wife\husband dont speak english well, indian decent of some sort.

    So today he finally returns my call after a dispute letter i sent him about the date it was cut, how much it costed, i got his message, and his phone is inopperable yadda yadda.

    He states at first, i never cut the grass, he thought it was quote. I said, we spoke a month ago, you said that if i wasnt going to bag bi-weekly, you did not want service NEXT year. That doesnt mean you dont have to pay for your lawn cut this year. He said, i never ask you to cut the lawn, i have already lawn company. I said obviously not, it was not cut for weeks. And your wife was the one i spoke to that day and she said to cut the grass. He says, no no, she never said that. LOL. Anyway, keeping my cool and to the facts, he tries to deny it and i said thats fine, ill send the bill to the state and they can collect from you. He starts flipping out because he thinks im just going to drop the $47 bill after a $5 late fee for two months and sales tax in NJ. Then from this point, i swear hes speaking indian or something, i cant understand more than "but" out of his sentances. Then he says he never authorized me to step on his property.

    So anyway, lots of lawn companies bill, i have for 3 years for some customers. Usually it works fine, others its a pita to collect from or force to pay their bill, small or large. If i have to sue this guy and take him to small claims court for only $50 plus $21 filing fee, its rediculous there is no other way to get people to pay. There is no snow, ive had little income these past few months compared to normal and have the time to go to court even over $71+. I doubt the judge will understand very much of what the guy has to say.

    What do you do when you dont have a signed contact though? I know this will come up in court, and it would almost be a guaranteed payment to my case but if you dont have it?

    All i would have is my 3 bills from my company, a "picture" of his fence and lawn" when i left his property, showing its cut and clean, just after his wife flipped out over not bagging for only $40 :nono: Id also be able to dig up my verizon statements showing a few phone calls before 10-27-06 going back and forth with this customer and the phone calls back and forth after that for billing. It would give the court a better idea that this wasnt just a he said-she said deal, and rather the customer DID call me and speak with me a couple times before this service date. Does it prove a lawn cut or contract? no but im open to suggestions:confused:
  2. Semper Fi

    Semper Fi LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Posts: 7

    I have been to small claims court a few times and know exactly how you feel. This is what is going to happen. You are going to go to court and he is not going to show up. Then you will win but have to file paperwork because you dont have any financial information (whose does he bank with). I do not know if you have gone thru the small claims court before but it is a very big pain in the $$$.

    I know your financial burden with not having any snow and trying to collect money to pay your bills. But to answer one of your questions. A verbal contract is a contract " This is what the NJ court system told us a few times. Good luck and pray for some snow....
  3. westwind

    westwind LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 444

    We have never cut without a signed contract for this very reason. If they can't wait or just don't want to sign, you don't need them as a customer. Stick to your guns and you will go alot farther in this business.
  4. daveintoledo

    daveintoledo LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,587

    no i am not a bigot, im a very culturaly accepting person.... but

    if they are of a Indian, Packistani, arab decent, i tell them the schedule is full, and im not taking on any new clients at this time.....

    man the horror stories guys have posted on here with this problem.......a quick search and you could read for days the problems ....:dizzy:
  5. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,210

    yeah i understand, im not discriminative or racist in anyway but ive talked to others, and they have the same problem with the same "nationalities" should i say. It sucks, Has little to do with income or money, i have poor customers that always pay the bill and others who have 3 cars, $400k development house like this guy wont pay a $40 bill and wait 3 months so its now $50.

    I may soon only cut with a signed contact, its the only obivous way to protect yourself from this problem.

    One other thing, i dont have this guys last name. His name is Sandeep and spoke with him and his wife, which her name was so long i couldnt even try to spell it on paper so i didnt. I cant find his last name in the phone book or online either. Im not sure what to file at the court when it asks for their full name?
  6. NMS0219

    NMS0219 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 610

    You should be able to get their full name from the county tax records all you need is their complete address.
  7. StBalor

    StBalor LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 798

    I remember TOPSITES (user on here) talked about this same thing last year. He seemed to have the small claims court thing down to a science.
    Maybe pm him or post some questions for him on the site. Maybe he can give you some pointers.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    I thought you did not actually finish the lawn right? She stopped you in mid-cut? I mean if you did the whole lawn it's one thing but if you only did half then I don't think I'd pursue this....chalk it up to experience.
  9. Vikings

    Vikings LawnSite Bronze Member
    from canada
    Posts: 1,667

    You can't say all pakis are bad, I've had some bad ones and some good ones, in fact they some of my best customers. They give me christmas presents and referals.

    And I have 6 italian families, all related and two more Italian Familys but not related to the first set. They are all the cheapest mofos I ever met and the biggest complainers as well. After the snow season they can kiss this window cleaner good bye.
  10. Patriot Services

    Patriot Services LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 12,903

    NO work performed until agreement is signed, even if they are standing right there. My contracts clearly state this. Yes I have had past problems with people from that demographic too. One woman insisted because I answered my phone I was obligated to come and her give an estimate, that is the law she says. I told I was not interested in the job. Woman calls every day for a week asking why I wont come. :dizzy: I wont deal with people that only have a crude understanding of American culture and language, less misunderstanding that way.:usflag: :usflag: :usflag:
    ericg likes this.

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