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Would you go after cust. that owes you $13?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by K.Carothers, Jun 14, 2006.

  1. K.Carothers

    K.Carothers LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,124

    I dropped a customer that was a pita and sent her the final bill.

    When I first went to do her estimate, she told me about all her problems including her husband is dying. I felt sorry(never again) and gave her a low price- she accepted.

    It turned out to be a nightmare.

    She could afford to have all kinds of other work done. Everytime I showed up, someone was their doing some sort of work.

    Here is the timeline of events:

    1. Gained customer
    2. 2nd week, she calls to cancel cutting for the week due to workers at her house
    3. Sent bill, she sent payment and took out the tax herself along with a note saying that she has been inbusiness for 30+yrs and she was not going to pay sales tax.
    4. I sent her a letter with the pa sales tax law(Thanks Jodi) and she did send the sales tax.
    5. The quote I gave was for the front, left and right side of house(keep in mind that I gave her the underpriced cut). She had the back seeded about 1/3 more area.
    6. She expected me to cut the back for the same price.
    7. I sent the final bill
    8. She sends a check for 1/2 $13 with a note saying I caused her stress and because I did not cut the back, she was only sending the $13

    What would you do?

    Here is my letter that I am sending

    Your thoughts???

    Dear Mrs. O’dell,

    I have received your ½ payment for services performed by us on 5-12-06 along with your note which I would like to address.

    The estimate I gave you was for the grass in front and left and right side of house- not the back. You did not have any grass in the back. The price I gave was $25 which is way below industry standards. The first bill I sent you, you took it upon yourself to tell me how to run my business and not include sales tax and wrote on the invoice about your 30+ years in business and I was wrong. I then had to print PA’s law on sales tax collections and mailed it to you. I received a call from you to skip your Second week cut. The grass continued to grow and the following week, my crew had to double cut your lawn and I still only charged you $25- (you saved $25). The 4th week, we came by and could not get into your driveway.

    I lost money on your lawn and couldn’t afford to do that anymore. That’s why I sent you the final bill. I can’t afford to give away my services.

    Making the decision to only send $13 for our labor, fuel cost in vehicle and all other costs is not acceptable.

    This is not a hobby for me, it’s a living.

    Enclosed is your balance for services rendered by us on 5-12-06

    God bless you and I hope in your business, your customers paid for agreed services in full.

    The reason I said God bless you is because she wrote that at the bottom of her letter.
  2. Brianslawn

    Brianslawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,004

    certified letter with copy of bill and $20 late fee included. in 10 days, file a lien. add $200 to bill when file lien as your lien fee charge. then file with olddebts.com for all the charges + 70% of total for collection fees.

    believe me. if shes smart she'll pay the $400 now owed.
  3. Raven386

    Raven386 LawnSite Silver Member
    from CT
    Posts: 2,160

    certified letter?? what exactly do you mean by that? just sending it certified mail or actually certified by a lawyer etc.. right now i have a PITA customer who thinks we owe him and he thinks its "fair" he only pays me $25 of his $125 bill... the 2nd notice is going out tomarrow morning.. he is a huge PITA so i will probably be headed to small claims court haha thanks for the info !
  4. Brianslawn

    Brianslawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,004

    mail. one notice is all you need.
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Depends, I would do it not for the money but because of how she acted.

    Customers do not have the authority to decide who gets paid what, when, how much, or how: We, the business owners, have this authority. Any customer who thinks they're going to tell me otherwise has bad news coming.

    The ONLY times I do not / will not go after a customer is if it was my own fault *OR* I have reason to believe the customer does not know any better / can not afford my services but was honestly not trying to get over on me (very few people fall under this category, you'd about have to be ******** or in a wheelchair or something to that effect, no offense to anyone intended).

    As for how much is owed, fair is fair: If I go after the guy who owes me $500, then I need to go after the ones who owe me 5 bucks, also. Yeah, because if I were a high roller, I'd be ticked off to find out some company is only going after guys with the bucks.

    I also understand it costs money to go after them, and in that sense I may let a small amount ride just because it costs me more, the exception to this rule would be where someone rides me like in your example ... Man, I'd go after that lady so fast, sorry to say but she's just asking for it. For someone who claims (falsely as far as I'm concerned) to have been in business for 30+ years (that's an awful long number of years, hence why I think she's so full of herself), she sure practices the ways of the thief and not the honest business owner.

    You can skip the bs with waiting 30-60 or whatever number of days, she's indicated she is not paying and is thus eligible for immediate collection procedures. (more next post, not enough time left in edit)
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    I would hand-deliver a letter in a manila envelope that states thusly:

    dang... I used to have one, but I don't usually run into these jokers anymore...

    Basically, select a business letter format with a paragraph that states:

    On or about (date), the work for which you agreed to pay (amount) was completed as agreed and thus payment is due in full. As you have given indication that you are not paying, you have 5 (five) days to pay the remaining balance of (amount) or your account will be sent to collections and be promptly reported to all three credit agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian) as a collection issue until such time the balance is satisfied. If this bill is not paid in five days from (today's date), furthermore a late fee of US$45.00 will be charged and interest will accrue at the rate of 1.5 percent per month (18% APR) until such time the balance is paid. You have the right to never pay off this debt, in which case the collection issue will remain on your credit record for a period of time not to exceed ten years.

    (where to send payment goes here)
    I would stick that letter in a plain, unmarked Manila envelope and stick it to her front door with one single piece of tape.
    Then if you don't get your money in 5 days, go to olddebts.com, select the Instant Collect package +3 for the credit bureau reports and voila.

    You do that, and your problems with the pitas will start to improve but it does take years before most of them go elsewhere to steal.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Just so you guys know, I don't waste time in court because in those hours where I'm sitting around waiting for my case to come up, I could be out working and it is thus not worth it. Furthermore, in civil cases involving money, YOU have to pay the cost of court upfront which is even more money you're out of, and last but not least, if the judge does find in your favor, they STILL don't have to pay!

    I take it all straight to olddebts.com, especially once someone tells me to my face they are not paying or gives me good indication of same, that is instant dismissal of the nice 30-60 days I give most slow payers before I get nasty.

    Because in the end I don't mean to break bad, but there is no ultimate guarantee any of us will get our money.
    Court or collection agency, it doesn't matter, they do not HAVE to pay. If you doubt this, think deadbeat dads and child support.
    Hence, the cheapest and easiest method is what I always use so I'm out the least time and money chasing what is already owed.
  8. garth1967

    garth1967 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 640

  9. Precision

    Precision LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,995

    I currently have a lien on a house for $12.83. It was originally over $800 but she is refusing to pay the last little bit. Oh well. 18% interest and she can't sell her house without paying me.

    Dirt bags get filed on, regardless of amount owed. It is the principle as much as the money. Teach them a lesson and hopefully the next guy wont' get screwed too.
  10. CutInEdge Lawn Care

    CutInEdge Lawn Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 677

    I would surmise this to be the best course of action. This will also show her you are a REAL business and not just the lawn boy.

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