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deadbeat customer calls years later

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by topsites, Nov 12, 2007.

  1. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Someone who never paid for a service way back 5 years ago (my 1st year) just so happened to call today to get an estimate.
    I didn't realize who it was until I looked up the address, now I'm just at a loss for words.

    Being that it was that long ago, I don't recall the exact amount, but I really don't care.
    The reason I never went after this customer is because back then I lacked the resources to do so...

    I suppose I could assume this person simply forgot to pay, but then why did it take 5 years before they called again...
    Meanwhile, the estimate is for work that I can't see yet, as in, future stuff, you know, something doesn't quite make sense here...

    On the one hand I've got a half a mind to really let this person hear it, on the other I'm not sure if never returning the call is any better either, but how do I deal with someone like this without getting rude about it?
  2. Scagguy

    Scagguy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,522

    Once a theif, always a theif in my book. You have already written off the debt and know what kind of person you're dealing with. Unless that's a new owner in that house, I'd blow them off and not return the call.
  3. Albery's Lawn & Tractor

    Albery's Lawn & Tractor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,675

    I'd call them back and pretend like everything was good. Then when you meet them say hay didn't you stiff me 5 years ago? Depending on there response then let them have it. I'd waste a few minutes just to have a chance to let them have it. Doing nothing makes you a puss, but that just my opinion.
  4. landscaper22

    landscaper22 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 829

    Well, I wouldn't say you were a puss for doing nothing. I'm sure you would like to call the customer every name in the book. But, there still needs to be a certain level of professionalism in the way the situation is handled. If you think there may have been some small chance the customer just forgot to pay, and you never reminded them, that makes it a different story. You hate to call them out over a mistake (which I doubt it was, but those things do happen.) Do you remember if she was always a late payer? Or was it just that one time that you never got paid? If she was a PITA 5 years ago, then I would either not call her back at all, or try to explain to her that she still has an outstanding bill, and that you will not be able to perform any future services for them. If the customer then gets rude, I would give it back to her. But again, only if I knew that she intended to rip me off.
  5. lifetree

    lifetree LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,370

    I have to agree here ... just ignore the request for a quote and don't even call them back !! Just move on with your life and forget about it !!
  6. bohiaa

    bohiaa LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,220

    I'm wondering what action you took 5 years ago....

    I'm assuming none at all. I have had simular things happen to me.

    now I have a collection agency......

    they really have a way about them....

    what ever you decide good luck
  7. PearceLawn

    PearceLawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 290

    I think you should go ahead and call them back and tell them that you would be happy to do the work requested as long as the catch up their past due balance first. If it was an honest error 5 years ago they may just come across with the money. If not it leaves you an out without looking like a jerk.

    Get what you have coming to you or politely bow out.
  8. rob7233

    rob7233 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 861

    Just for shizz & giggles, I'd call them back to "confirm" some info and ask them - How they came across your number and what made them decide to call you. Under the pretense that you're looking to see which of your advertising methods has been the most effective. Confirm who you're dealing with (hopefully,the same person) and hope they say something like: " You did work for me in the past and I was happy.." Blah Blah.

    Then show up for the estimate with the past due notice and records and watch them squirm and stumble.... Now that's pay back and pure entertainment that will brighten your day for sure. :clapping:

    Just be sure they'll be there to meet with you. Tell them it's to sign the work order and get scheduled or whatever.
  9. swim

    swim LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 357

    This sounds like the best idea to me.

    Had a similar situation a few years back, not a non payment account, but a late payer and a can we do this or that for a lesser amount, always behind. When I would catch up with him he would pull out a roll of cash for me to see. I was so impressed with it, it just boiled my blood.:blob2: finished out the season and never renewed the following.
    About four years later he calls me up for an estimate. :hammerhead: Address sounds familiar, so I look it up and sure as the world it was the same guy. I just politely said my schedule was full for the season and let that hassle walk.:walking:
  10. Down2EarthLawns

    Down2EarthLawns LawnSite Member
    Posts: 191

    That was excellent advise. You may be suprised with the outcome. And worste case, you get the opportunity to give them some if they get high and mighty.

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