Legal question and some advice

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Prot1, Jun 17, 2004.

  1. Prot1

    Prot1 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 64

    I have a customer that owes me $145 for a spring clean up done on march 13th. This customer recieved a statement ever 15 days once it went past 30. I never heard a word from this customer even after sending a statement that she would be sent to collections.

    On Monday we were in the area mowing another lawn so we decided to drive by her house. My partner stopped and knocked on her door. He was very polite and simply stated who he was and that he needed payment on some services we provided. She rudely told him to go away and shut the door. On the way down the driveway he made a comment to another contractor working on her heating/air and stated "I hope you get paid for your work."

    Shortly after i get a phone call from her claiming we had harrased her and that she was going to sue us for "defamation of character." She also told me that it was "illegal to send a thug to her house to demand money".

    My main question is where does the law stand on this? Is it illegal to knock on someones door and politely ask for your money? Is its "defamation of character" to say that to another contractor? There have been a few conversations with her since then but this post is getting winded. Any help would be greately appreciated.
  2. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205

    Sounds like empty rhetoric to me.
    Is she going to hire a lawyer when she can't pay you?
    You can knock on her door all you want as long as you are polite and not threatening.
    The comment to the other contractor is borderline but again she would have to prove it in court and she isn't going to do that nor will the other contractor serve as a witness in her defense either in my opinion.
    Have a laugh and move on,the agrivation isn't worth it,just send her an invoice every month,she will be the one getting irritated rather than you.
  3. J Hisch

    J Hisch LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 952

    As far as your state laws are I am unaware of your laws. But in Indiana it is not illegal to knock on the door for payment that is past due. Secondly, I dont think you should have mentioned any personal business about this woman to someone else, but that is just my opinion. Thirdly, In Indiana when a contractor does work at a residence and non payers dont pay we can put a lein against the property where the work was done. when they get the papers erved to them in the mail they will pay up quickly. If they dont they cant sell their house until the debt has been satisfied. Lastly, with her threats she is trying to create a red heron tactic get the attention off of her problem and trying to scare you away by making up a bogus problem for you. dont let her off.
  4. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,995

    that is a "mechanic's lein" and I am pretty sure all states have some means of doing this. File the papers and watch the check come.
  5. Prot1

    Prot1 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 64

    We can get a lein on the property as we have done that in the past. I have already filed with small claims and assume ill get the judgement. I was more concerned whether we had broke the law by talking to the other contractor.
  6. jbell113

    jbell113 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 654

    How much does it cost to put a mechanics lein on someones property? I had a customer that owes me 70$. Is that amount worth the headache?
  7. Mindless

    Mindless LawnSite Member
    Posts: 95

    Do this...stay away from her property. Don't go near it. Send her a certified letter return receipt. In the letter, kindly point out your past efforts to collect from her (every 15 days you'd send her a bill) and that she has an outstanding balance of $$$. On the letter, stick a brightly colored pasty on it and on that pasty print something to the effect that this is final bill. If you don't get a reply within a period of time determined by yourself, send another certified letter return receipt and up the anty...your bill remains outstanding and you leave me no other option than to turn it over to a collection agency. Yea, if collection agency takes it own they'll want a piece of the action. Or you could look into placing lien on her property. Good luck w/this deadbeat.
  8. jbell113

    jbell113 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 654

    Thanks for the advice but I sent her a letter saying I would send it to collections and she called me and said she would leave a check in the mailbox which I dont like to do and she wanted her grass cut again and she would add that to the check.So i went over there and guess what no check .This was exactly a month ago today and I have done nothing since. I dont know if it is worth the hassle for $70 .Would u pursue it?
  9. Mindless

    Mindless LawnSite Member
    Posts: 95

    Face-to-face collection if possible. None of this leave it under the door mat or under the garbage can. Now she'll tell you she left it in the mailbox and since its no longer there, you must have picked up the check and since it hasn't been cashed, you lost the check. If you haven't addressed this for a month or more, in my opinion, there is too much drag here meaning counterproductive at this point too reengage with customer. Let it go. Tighten up your business process in this area for future.
  10. Norm Al

    Norm Al LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,227

    you didnt say she she didnt pay you,,,,,,you just said,,,,"i hope you get paid"!

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