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Not paid..what to do?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by C Cutters, May 25, 2007.

  1. C Cutters

    C Cutters LawnSite Member
    Posts: 33

    Alright, I did a job (this was about a month ago now) and have not received payment. The job was to edge the beds, lay new mulch where the beds were edged (only about one foot in, excess mulch from year before), trim two ornamental grass down front, remove a small japanese maple, and spread the mulch where it was builtup from last year (lots of mulch from previous year, caused it to clump up), and mow the lawn. All in all a $360.00 job. I got a letter from him several days ago, sending me the invoice back saying he rejected it, because not all work was completed. He is willing to pay $170, as he feels this is the amount of work that was done. Basically, he feels that I should have turned the beds and weeded them. This was not in the bid. However, to give him to benefit of the doubt, I am willing to drop the price to $270, still $100 more than he is willing to pay.
    Now, and unfortuanetly for me, I did not have him sign a contract. What should I do? I am going to write him a letter back saying that such and such is still owed for said reasons. If he refuses to pay, can I take him to small claims court? Never done this before and not sure how it works. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks guys!
  2. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,112

    Nope not without a contract to prove what work was covered in the estimate and what wasn't. But you did the work and he needs to pay you. Even if you did not turn the beds 170.00 is not acceptable. I suggest you fully explain in a letter the work performed and the work he requested and resubmit the bill.
  3. RLW

    RLW LawnSite Member
    Posts: 46

    Maybe send him to collections if the resubmit doesn't work.
    Mess with their credit rating and they'll pay.
  4. Albery's Lawn & Tractor

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

    Take the $170 and learn from it. Piss him off and you'll get nothing
  5. d&rlawncare

    d&rlawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 741

    Send him a second notice for the $360.00 with a letter stating it must be paid in full within 10 days or he will be turned over to collections. Send it certified mail. Do not drop your price. If he does not pay then send him to collections or small claims court.

    One question: How many days after you finished did he bring up the fact that he feels you should have weeded the beds? Probably when he recieved the bill.
  6. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,547

    I would take him to small claims court. You may not have the contract, well you didnt have one, until the idiot wrote you and told why he wasnt paying. All you have to do is convince the judge that weeding wasnt part of the deal, or that it wasnt worth $200. If you present it right in court, its a lock. You have to make it look like all the work you did was worth the $360, and IF you had agreed to weed it would only be like another $40. How long does it take anyway to pull a few weeds? I have won 4 0f 4 in court with residential customers. I have contracts for commercial only. Most of the contracts I have seen on here arent legal anyway. A good contract is great, but a bad one is useless. Dont let not having one scare yoiu away. If you need specific pointers feel free to pm me.
  7. Mow It All llc

    Mow It All llc LawnSite Member
    Posts: 115

    Well here are my to problem solvers......I have a few coustmers that refuse to pay, and have signed contracts. Well 1 I went to his house daily (he owed alot) Well i finally hit it on a day when he was having a family party......Well i walked in the backyard and told him he has an outstanding bill over 3 months old, blah blah blah, His entire party was listening so he gave me a BS story and paid to save face in front of his family......another didnt pay, i did seeding, fertalizing, cutting ect......I built him a new lawn. Well 2am and a 3 gallon sprayer full of weedkiller and his new awn went bye bye in a short time.......
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Sneak up from behind, and give'm a wedgie.
  9. Markf

    Markf LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 407

    It has been a while since I graduated law school, however, despite the fact there was no written contract, they are nevertheless enforceable. You seem to have the ingredients for the contract: offer, acceptance, terms and conditions. The Statute of Frauds may not apply here since the amount of the oral contract is less than $500. You should check with the local courts or Small Business Administration in your area. You customer cannot deny there was no contract since he has made a counter offer AFTER THE WORK HAS BEEN COMPLETED. The counter offer negates the contract PRIOR to its execution. You have shown detrimental reliance by buying mulch and performing the other duties.

    The amount of your damages will be determined by fair market value of your services in the area. Here, you will need affidavits attesting to this fact.

    UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you enter onto his property, unless to knock on the door to discuss the matter. Once you are asked to leave, do so immediately. Otherwise you can be arrested for trespassing. Also retaliation is not the way to go at all. Again, this is a criminal matter.

    Good Luck

  10. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,192

    So how many hours did you spend on this job? Good thing you didn't take the advise in your original tread about the price being too low or the guy would have went crazy. If the bed had weeds in it at the time you worked it a month ago they should have been addressed. Also need to take pictures of all jobs like this and get approval when finished.

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