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getting burned for over 1000.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by aaronm, May 9, 2008.

  1. aaronm

    aaronm LawnSite Member
    Posts: 23

    My richest client has been playing games with paying me from day 1. they paid the first invoice within a few weeks. now they have been pushing the rest back endlessly.

    I have mowed their 3 acre lawn 3 times( takes about 2 hours with a mow trim and blow i charge her 100), did a huge topsoil grade and seed job, did a huge bed edging job, did a full pre emergent/fert, and a few other random taskes like trimming over 100 boxwoods, and pruning small trees.

    First it was. "we will pay at the end of the month"

    I agreed

    then the end of the month comes, no money no phone call..

    2 days later

    "we will have a check for you friday"(may 2)

    I come for the check and now the wife says the husband is disputing the costs even though she gave me the go ahead for all of the work I did.(not in writing :( )

    so took 450 off of the 2450.oo dollar bill because I need this money and I cannot afford any more delays. After I took off a large portion of money, she then said she will have my check the following Friday (11 days past the day she said she would initially pay).

    I go to her house in the pouring rain and find a check in the mailbox for 987.00.

    Is this a game? Is she just really bad with numbers? There is so much work to be done with this property but it costs me money to work there. Has anyone else had this type of situation? What would you suggest doing? I really need the balance of what she owes because after I pay for materials and labor, im still a few bucks in the hole on this job.

    Its true what they say.. the richest people are the hardest to get to pay up.
  2. Uranus

    Uranus LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Posts: 1,624

    If the check had "Paid in full" in the memo line DONT DEPOSIT IT. I'd be on the door step till they come home.
  3. KrayzKajun

    KrayzKajun LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,742

    Id be in the drive waiting for them to come home
  4. CrystalCreek

    CrystalCreek LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,455

    I one time had a customer that did a very similar thing to me. I simply had my accountant send a formal letter that was certified mail. Letter stated that if payment was not recieved with in ten days for XXX amounts of dollars, the case would beturned over to XXXXX collection agency. Fill in the dollar amounts, get the name of a good collection agency, and sit back and watch. My check was delievered within three days buy the people in person! They were crying about how sorry they were, and I said that it was ok, because it would never happen again. FIND A NEW LANDSCAPER! Tossed the accountant a few bucks and a night at the local taveren. Hope this gives you some ideas. Sometimes certified letters form people with fancy titles scared the poop out of late payers.
  5. Mr. Vern

    Mr. Vern LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 632

    THe first thing we do is to mail an invoice reflecting the original amount plus 1.5% interest for each month that it is late. THis will usually get their attention. Not sure about your "Mechanic's Lien" laws, but here we have 60 days to file a lien. It costs about $40 to lien a property, so our letter will restate that we WILL exercise that right if we do not hear from them and come to an agreed upon payment resolution.

    That has almost always worked for us. If all else fails we exercise the lien and then we have a great collections agency that we use - 100% success since we hooked up with them.

    BTW - now that they are making you do more work to get paid, I would tell them that the offer to knock $450 off is no longer valid and that you will be pursuing the full amount plus interest. DO NOT let these kinds of jerks bully you around! Tell them that you were giving them a "good customer" discount in hopes of getting a timely payment and that they no longer qualify for that discount. It works to play hardball with them!

    Also, in California a verbal contract is as binding as a written one; it's just more difficult to prove that the contract existed. Not sure your local laws.
  6. shovelracer

    shovelracer LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,009

    Well your first mistake was not getting it in writing. Second was lowering your price. You say they are your richest clients, but they probably dont have any more disposable income than you or I. Its hard when your mortgage, timeshare, and mercedes payments are due at the end of the month and your investments took a dump last quarter.

    Not sure what PA has for regulations and laws protecting either one of you, but you not having written and signed estimates is not good on your part. How are you keeping records of your pesticide applications?

    Basically without writtens your out of luck in the legal department. However a lot of people arent as smart as they think, and if you start throwing words around like lien and debt collection service most people get scared enough to pay up.
  7. mngrassguy

    mngrassguy LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,167

    Head straight down and file a claim in conciliation court. Ask for the original amount plus 50% collection fee.
  8. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 14,700

  9. Big Wes

    Big Wes LawnSite Member
    Posts: 247

    I've been in this business for 18 years and I find that the people with money (Doctors, Lawyers, etc) are the hardest to collect from, I guess that's why they have money. My Dentist is the worst one I have. I have never been ripped off though. ( Knock on Wood)

    Good luck!
  10. Frue

    Frue LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,472

    Let the grass get a foot high theyn will then call you. After 90 days in Pa you can take it to a district justice turn it over and they will do the rest.
    1. bill them wait 30 days
    2. send them a reminder letter balance is due
    3. 10 days later call and ask for the money
    4. document everything.
    5. 60 days a nother letter and notice of cancellation of services
    6. another call with ramifications of non payment
    7. 90 days off to the district judges I go. If found guilty they pay everything. The first time they bounce a check you can go right away.

    Each step must be documented for the judge. I had one of the riches guys before.
    Here is what I did, sent him a late notice, then no response. So I quit cutting that got a response two weeks later my phone is banging. Whats going on johnny my lawn is a foot high. I told him payment in full or no service 2 days later here is the check. 1 day later I called and cancelled after his check cleared. This guy has a private jet he was always 2 months behind then he started into his third month and I had enough......

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