Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by charlies, Feb 8, 2004.

  1. charlies

    charlies LawnSite Senior Member
    from earth
    Messages: 587

    we send out 60, 90, and certified 120 day notices. the 120 mentions small claims court. never had to go futher than the cert. 120 yet, but i might sometime.

    anyone taken someone to small claims court? i am actually looking forward to it. no lawyers for me, i want to do it myself, and were not talking about much here, usually way less than 1000$. what might it cost to file? maybe 40-50$? would this cost be recovered in the judgement if it went my way? what about lost time from work? postage? can i get p.i.a. fees?(pain in the @ss)

    t, c
  2. allstar

    allstar LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    I'm certainly not a lawyer,and this is just my opinion,but unless someone owes you a significant amount of money just let it go and move on.You could probably sue for lost time from work,attorneys fees,etc. but these things often drag out for months or even years so I doubt seriously if,at the end of the day,you'll ever recover enough to make it worth your time.I usually just turn these accounts over to a collection agency.This way you might get SOME money and you can put negative information on the customer's credit report.If they ever want to buy a home or whatever they'll have to clear up their credit first.I realize how hard it is to let these deadbeats win.Good luck.
  3. charlies

    charlies LawnSite Senior Member
    from earth
    Messages: 587

    well, i would not be able just let it go. besides, i don't just send the 60, 90, 120's out for amusements sake. i am running a real business here, and not paying must have consequences. like i said, for my own education i want to try, myself, w/out an attorney. i mean, we are not talking about a capitol case here. have you ever tried it before? a small claims case over a $200 dispute could drag out for years?
  4. ElephantNest

    ElephantNest LawnSite Bronze Member
    from La.
    Messages: 1,878

    I disagree. Nail them for whatever they owe you, or they will just turn around and do the same thing to the next LCO.

    Nothing in small claims court drags on for months or years. The cost is minimal, usually less then $20.00. When we don't get paid, it's called THEFT. Take action, it's your livelyhood on the line.

  5. DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,116

    I've got a small claims court date set with a deadbeat for march 1st. He owe's me about $250.

    It's my first time to sue a deadbeat.

    My new contracts for 2004 that all new customers will sign says:

    Customer agrees to pay applicable sales & use taxes on all landscaping work. Meier’s Landscape Maintenance will invoice customer for service once per month. Customer agrees to pay each invoice within 23 days of the billing date. A late fee of $29.00 will be added to customer’s account each time that payment is not made by the due date. A finance charge of 2% per month will also be added to all past due balances. Service will be terminated if payment becomes more than 15 days past due and a restart fee equal to the normal mowing amount will be charged if service is re-instated. Customer will pay any additional collection costs incurred by Meier’s Landscape Maintenance. If account is unreasonably past due, but not turned over to an independent collection service or attorney, a fee of $75 will be charged to send each certified mailing and a fee of $450 will be charged if the matter goes to small claims court...these fees are in addition to actual costs. Customer agrees to pay $25 for each check that is returned NSF. Either party may cancel this agrrement at any time without cause by providing _________ days written notice of intent to cancel.

    I'll find out if the small claims court will allow the $75 for certified mailings and $450 for small claims court eventually. My gut feeling is that they will allow. My two attorney friends weren't sure if it would be allowed or not.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  6. dishboy

    dishboy LawnSite Fanatic
    from zone 6
    Messages: 5,739

    I would go to small claims court if needed. This is the language I use to not go there. If I do not recieve payment or contact from you to make payment arraingments in 30 days from when you receive this notice I will consider all of my legal options to collect this debt. Please be advised that [your state] judges typically award court costs as well as all other cost involved in collecting debts in cases such as this.
    This works, I just got a $66 check from a out of state doctor who was going to stiff me because they forgot to tell me they sold their property, and only paid me up to their closing date.
    This languuge is not threatoning [which creates a legal issue for you] and lets them know you know how to collect.
  7. pjslawncare/landscap

    pjslawncare/landscap LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,410

    Well I watch judge Judy and she sais you can only get money due to you plus filing fee in small claims! :mad:
  8. allstar

    allstar LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 282

    If you want to go through all of this for the sake of principle more power to you.I'm just saying it's not as easy as you think,especially if you want to collect lost wages and other things.I took a bad check to the local magistrate who in turn sent the customer a very threatening letter.She ignored it and nothing happened to her.I guess I could have taken off from work for a day and probably taken her to court but,to me,it wasn't worth it.
    I've dealt with bad creditors many times over the years and I believe that about all you can do is take them to small claims court,and collect basically what they owe you(if you think it's worth it) or mess up their credit.
  9. NCSULandscaper

    NCSULandscaper Banned
    Messages: 1,557

    It would always be worth it to me to get my earned money. These people keep ripping others off because alot of people feel its just not worth it to go to court, so they continue to get away with it. There is nothing i hate worse than a thief, and i will bust them down every chance i can get.
  10. cush

    cush LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    Cancel their service and knock on their door every night about 8:30 till they pay. If they aren't home simply leave you card at the neighbors house and ask if they will tell them to call you. May take a few times to catch up to them but when you do they will pay.

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