Small claims court

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by eggy, Aug 6, 2000.

  1. eggy

    eggy LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 945

    Well after three years of buisness and extending credit to commercial and residential customers it has happened the no payment....I have had plenty of late payments and zero no payments. This residential is not into me for a whole lot but it it still the fact she owes and has been dropped from the route, any advice you guys have about taking er to small claims court would be appreciated....by the way she is into me for 300.00. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Guido

    Guido LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,085

    Hey eggy, since its only a relatively small ammount, I don't see why she would choice court over paying it unless there is something else to the story.

    Before I filed for court, I would try to meet with her in person, or a phone call. This way she can not avoid your claim. If all else fails, use the system. I just think thats a lot of hassle and money to recover the $300.00. Try to work it out with her before it comes to that. Sorry!!

    Good Luck!! Let us know what happens


     
  3. parkwest

    parkwest LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 678

    To bad about the deadbeat.

    We have gone the small claims route with one of our customers a while back. You are basically at the whim of the presiding judge. I would advise unless you have a written contract with this customer to just write it off as a hard-learned lesson. The judge could say its your word against the customers and all the customer would have to say is she had someone else do the job, not you. You could make more money in the amount of time it would take you to prepare for this case and going to court.

    Also, for non-contract clients, establish a firm payment policy such as- Pay as you go - 1st week check not under the mat - Mow and leave a reminder to client to leave check under the mat. 2nd week no check-NO MOW!! Leave reminder to client you will resume services when balance is brought current. Then your only out one week pay. As an added incentive for timely payments, you might give a cash discount (say 5%)to the client and when they don't pay on time(even one day late) remove discount until balance is brought current.

    Heres an old saying that works every time, "Only trust someone as much as your willing to lose and you will never be disappointed."
    Good luck

    [Edited by parkwest on 08-06-2000 at 03:20 PM]
     
  4. Finecut

    Finecut LawnSite Member
    from IL
    Posts: 177

    Eggy,

    You have earned that money and deserve to be paid. If the customer owns the property you can put an attachment on her property...here in Illinois it costs $15.00 to put a lean on the property and takes about 15 minutes of your time to fill out the papers at the court house. Before the deed to the property can be transfered, that debt to you must be paid. It will be a debt until the property is sold, at which time you will be paid.

    An other route would be a collection agency. To do that they will take about 1/3 of the money collected. The per centage they take is not a fixed amount and if you find someone hungry enough for businesss you might even barter your services for theirs. Good luck!
     
  5. parkwest

    parkwest LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 678

    Before filing a lien on a property, I would suggest you familiarize yourself with your state's lien law. The rules vary from state to state.

    By filing a mechanics lien, the claimant has, in essence, reserved the right to later sue the owner of the property for payment and force the sale of the property, if necessary.

    One thing to consider when a mechanic's lien is recorded too late or grossly inflates the amount actually owing, the recorder of the lien does risk exposure to a malicious prosecution suit by the party injured by the recording of the "unperfectable" lien.

    You may want to see a lawyer before going this route.
     
  6. bob

    bob LawnSite Platinum Member
    from DE
    Posts: 4,254

    I took a customer to small claims. The entire proccess took about a year. I did get my money, but it was a lot of "leg" work. The next year I had 2 dead-beat customers, and told them I was taking them to a collection agency. They both payed in full with-in 7 days. The collection agency will do all the work for you. Try this route.
     
  7. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,412

    Send via certified mail a copy of the bill and a copy of the small claims court application (not filed, yet) with a letter stating if payment not recieved in 5, 10, whatever days you will file the suit. You will get your money, unless, as others have said, theres more to the story than non-payment.
     
  8. Getmow

    Getmow LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA
    Posts: 445

    I agree with parkwest. There is alot of time and effort involved using the system. With no written agreement you will be lucky to get 1/2 the amount owed. BEEN THERE - DONE THAT (with a preacher no less).
    Sending a certified letter is a good idea but back it up with one through the regular mail. Deadbeats know this trick and often will not sign for, or accept certified mail.
     
  9. eggy

    eggy LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 945

    hey thanks guys!! What I did is sent her a final notice saying if not paid in full within five days I will turn it over to a collection agency...I hope this works if not I will talk to a local collection agency..I doubht if I take it much futher since its such a small amount....the account was the worst one I had anyway....should have known...
     
  10. sunrise

    sunrise Banned
    Posts: 247

    we use a collection company that if they dont pay in ? number of day that they sue and all of the charges are on the customer. if no money is recovered then they get nothing
    if the win court cost and legal plus 18%
     

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