How would you handle this situation with an EX customer?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by MikeTA95, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. MikeTA95

    MikeTA95 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 84

    I have a customer that is majorly past due (from last season). I didn't continue their service in spring because of nonpayment. I've been sending past dues since last October. I recently sent them a letter saying they needed to pay up, or I was going to have to take it to the next step.

    They wrote me a letter back claiming we broke their siding, and that's why they never paid us. THIS WAS NEVER BROUGHT UP TO ME UNTIL NOW, ONE YEAR LATER. They claim the damage is insignificant, so they can't find a reputable contractor to do the work replacing it. The letter said "once you find and pay a reputable contractor to repair the siding, we will pay you."

    I do not like this, this is the second time in my career a non-payer claimed we damaged their house well after the bill was due in order to avoid payment. Last time I let it go, and it still bothers me every time I pass that guy's house. I don't want to let them slide, but realistically is it worth my time doing anything about this? The bill is about $500. If you do think it's worth my time fighting, what CAN I do about it?
  2. gcbailey

    gcbailey LawnSite Silver Member
    from WV
    Posts: 2,574

    for $500, I think I could have to cut my losses and let the accountant deal with it. I know a guy who is a contractor and is being held up over $8,500 on a new porch because of something similar to a siding situation... His is even on the opposite side of the house that the homeowner is claiming.

    Being this long of a time frame it's hard to say that they could get any legal justification from it, but you could always turn them into a collection agency, but by the time you go through all the fees... there's your $500.
  3. Holland

    Holland LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 740

    I'd still take them to small claims court. Or atleast threaten them with that. Just filing the claim against them ($50 fee) more than likely they will pay.
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  4. easy-lift guy

    easy-lift guy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,376

    Don't threaten to take him to court, gather your records and do it. This person is now trying to stif you in a big way.
    easy-lift guy
  5. Holland

    Holland LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 740

    Your right. Your the victim bro. Screw them!
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. Blade Runners

    Blade Runners LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,021

    Don't threaten, Do it! I took a deadbeat to court over a matter unrelated to lawn care. I know I will never see money from these people but I got them out of the house and that is all that mattered. I heard every excuse in the world from these people.

    Your customers probably never had any intentions of paying you and then just came up with a bogus excuse to cover themselves later.

    Read this link and see if it applies to your situation...
  7. Chilehead

    Chilehead LawnSite Bronze Member
    Male, from Stockbridge, GA
    Posts: 1,899

    Look into the statute of limitations for collecting a past due debt in your state along with any interest you may be able to charge. Take them to small claims court.
  8. jsslawncare

    jsslawncare LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,674

    You took too long to take care of this.
  9. gcbailey

    gcbailey LawnSite Silver Member
    from WV
    Posts: 2,574

    There are some other things here that aren't known.... Is the $500 a one time charge, or is it a buildup of several weekly/bi-weekly, whatever invoices? If he would decide to go to small claims court and the homeowner decided to play ball too, their lawyer could say "well Mr. Mike knew that he hadn't been getting paid, yet continued to provide service... it's his loss for anything beyond XXX date of service because the clients were past due, yet he continued to provide service". So he might only get say $40. I have saw that happen and the judge side with the homeowners. The judge was like, if you're stupid enough to keep working and not getting paid for past invoices, that's your tough luck.

    However, if it was a one time $500 and no service was provided afterwards. It could be a different story.
  10. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 17,009

    Lawyers generally don't not do "small claims".

    Id go ahead and sue them, they will counter sue because of the siding damage, thus proving you did the services. The argument will be over the siding damage that you dindnt cause.

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