Customer claims my company was never on her property

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by DLONGLANDSCAPING, Dec 4, 2012.


    DLONGLANDSCAPING LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,418

    Need some advice on what to do:

    I just recieved a check from a customer for $55 dollars when the total invoice was for $750 dollars for the month of October and Novemeber.

    Here's the deal. This is a weekly lawn customer with an acre of woods in her front yard and another 3 acres in the back of her yard. She has about a 1/3 acre lawn and 600 feet of driveway.

    We mow her lawn, fertilize,do her spring/fall clean ups and snow removal.

    Weekly mowing charges are 55 dollars which includes blowing off entire driveway and street into woods as well as mowing, trimming, edging.

    We were there every tuesday to mow her lawn . October 2nd, 9th, 16th,23rd and 30th.

    On november 2nd we did a final mowing with the bagger, and stated in the contract we will do two fall clean ups(huge oak tree's everywhere that are late falling). The first one blowing out all the beds around the house and bagging the lawn, blowing out the 4ft deep ditch (200 ft long) and her 600 ft driveway and parking area in early november.

    This was done on Nov 2nd: $190 as agreed upon before.

    The second clean up was requested to be done earlier than normal because she thought we were going to get snow and it was going to be a wet mess. So we scheduled for Nov 15th. (granted there are still leaves on the trees) which is what she wants every year because she says the leaves that fall after are good fertilizer(which i agree with) This last clean up includes blowing out all her beds, all driveway and parking areas, bagging the lawn and cutting it short for winter months. This also includes blowing the ditches out again and blowing back all along the driveway and road about 6 feet into the woods so its nice an clean.

    This was completed Nov 15th: $285 as agreed upon before

    I billed November 26th for all the clean ups and mowing and the total bill was $750 dollars. I always offer 50% off one fall clean up if a customer wants to use us for snow removal as well. So i took 145 off the entire bill since she committed to this in August when we send the offer out. So total bill after snow removal contract is $605.

    So along with the check of $55 dollars, she says


    Our lawn was mowed ONCE in September Nothing done in Oct. Your men blew out the ditch, with no final clean up done. Total attached is $55.00

    This notice is a dismissal of any future services,


    So wtf do i do? I emailed her back telling her the dates we were there(not just my guys, i worked every tuesday and wednesday this fall to get more work done with my guys so i was on site each of these times)

    I also said in the email that we have talked each week when i was there and i think you are misunderstanding something because WE WERE THERE EACH WEEK. We had a schedule done in August of when we were going to come and followed that schedule to the 'T'.

    She responded with:


    I keep exact track of when you come and I know for sure that you are wrong about everything you state in your e-mail including pricing of clean up. You were not here on Nov. 15th, all you have to do is take a look at all the leaves still left, and the ditch, but I don't want you to touch it, just look to see I'm right.


    I responded,

    Hi Alice,

    Yes, there are leaves in your ditch, but look about 6 feet along your driveway and along the entire property line. There is a 3ft tall pile of leaves from us doing the final fall clean up. You requested us to come early than Nov 30th to do your leaves because of the weather.

    The amount due is $605 (less your 55 dollar check) with snow removal or $750 (less your 55 dollar check) for termination of services.

    She responded back.


    You are wrong, i am not paying any invoice. We are paid up until now. I will hire another company to take care of the leaves left.


    The worst part is, this is my girlfriends neighbor. 4 doors down. I am positive that we did the clean up, i am positive what dates we are there, and i have all email correspondence of the communication between us that okay's all the work.

    HELP ME! This isnt a little bit of money, if it was 100 bucks, i would say okay thats fine, have a nice winter. But its over 500 dollars and alot of man hours.

    JLSLLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,029

    act on it now and dont let it get the best of you.. find out how to file a lein(if worth it), talk to a lawyer.. debt collection with an interest fee... good luck whatever you do!!! I have a similar issue with a person ignoring me and i think i waited too long, dont let it happen to you
  3. Gilmore.Landscaping

    Gilmore.Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 645

    If you have all of these emails I would print everything off and make a visit to her house to discuss in person. If she refuses talk to a collection agency, yes you won't get all your money because they take a cut but still usually cheaper then hiring a lawyer or going to court over it.


    I had one client owe me $350 for final clean up and cutting. I showed up at his door Monday morning 6am and parked truck and trailer in front of his driveway and just waited for him to try and leave for work, because he wouldn't return any of my calls. Gave him all the paper work of his approval for work and told him I would be here at 5 to collect CASH! He wasn't happy but I got my money!
  4. GrassGuerilla

    GrassGuerilla LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,440

    Not sure what your local laws allow, but I would go file a small claims action. No teeth for collections around here, but at least you should be able to get a judgement. Get pics of the piles of leaves you made, print out your e-mail correspondence and any other records you may have including Work Orders sending your crew out.

    Out of habit of doing work for Banks, I always take pics before and after every job. Takes a couple minutes, priceless for deadbeats. Nothing like a time stamped, date stamped before and after to end the whole "you never came" discussion.

    Best of luck, deadbeats suck!
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Certified 10 day demand letter with dates and amounts, as long as you have a log book or accurate records of exactly when you were there to back it up. If not pursue legal action/collection. It sounds like you waited a long time to invoice and shocked her with it and now she's playing dumb to avoid paying it.
  6. rob7233

    rob7233 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 876


    Do you have any documentation signed or otherwise, with her agreeing on the work to be done and the price to be charged? Or even return emails stating her acknowledgment and/or agreements?

    Having learned from the "School of Hard Knocks", I bill ahead for monthly maintenance and clients get cut off, if they don't pay by the end of the grace period along with getting charged a 'late" and even "later" fee. Service agreements do alot to stop these type of issues BEFORE they even start.

    Some future suggestions, with each agreed upon extra service, write out the estimate and that, becomes the work order when they sign and agree to it. Then they sign again when the job is completed satisfactorily and I've collected my payment.

    I decide how I run my business and how I am to be paid. You need to make some changes asap. Besides, unless you're getting paid to extend credit there is no reason to "Float" anyone that long. Not waiting up to 4-6 weeks for completed work really helps with cash flow. Now, End of Lecture.
    You get the point. I understand, "The horse has already left the barn".

    So, how are you able to document to an uninvolved party, the dates visited and the work that was done? Do you have proof that you were there and the work discussed was done? Start gathering it up right now along with getting written statements from employees etc. Seems now you're gonna have to put even more man hours and work into this to possibly get paid. Good luck.
  7. CowboysLawnCareDelaware

    CowboysLawnCareDelaware LawnSite Senior Member
    from DE
    Messages: 581

    First off you need to stop the emailing, first thing tomorrow you need to go over to her property and talk with her. Bring the printed out emails and make sure that all of the dates and times are visible on the emails.

    During your conversation, STAY CALM! Otherwise you shouldn't even bother going over because she will just look for any reason to get mad at you and kick you off her property. Let her know which days you were personally there, and which days your crew was there without you. Have all of this typed up and printed out so it is as plain as day for her to see it. Along with the specifics of any work that was done during each visit.

    If she doesn't pay after the conversation, and refuses to pay you politely pull out a piece of paper that gives her 5, 7, or 10 days before you file a law suit against her in court. Make sure all of this looks 100% legitimate. As well stating that she will have to also pay for any of your legal fees should she not pay for the services rendered.

    "Services Rendered" is a good word to use, it sounds official, seriously.


    DLONGLANDSCAPING LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,418

    I found a picture of the leaf pile in the background of one of my equipment pics i took this year so i will be showing her this. Thanks for all of the advise. I called her about 30 minutes ago setting up a meeting tomorrow morning to go over everything with her. I have 14 pages of email in the last year. she has never given me any trouble and has been a customer for over 6 years. The worst thing i can do is act rashly to this news, i myself need to lose the stress factor of this and act reasonable and hear her side of the story. If she is going to try to tell me that i wasnt on her property, i will show her the pictures and my log books that my employees take care of when they get to a property and when they leave a property. Ive never had this happen to me before so im not sure how i can get what i am owed out of her nicely.

    I have a great attorney lawyer who does everything for me for free, and he will send her a note and file a lien. i just didnt want it to come to that. Breaking up a relationship over 500 dollars is rediculas IMHO when she has paid out over 14k the last 6 years of doing business with her. Its just nonsense that now, for some reason she is suprised.

    DLONGLANDSCAPING LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,418

    This is great advise and is almost exactly what my lawyer said to do. Staying calm is the biggest thing he said to do. Having all paperwork with me will help too, it will give her a ultimatum "Pay the bill now" or go to court and pay all legal fee's plus services rendered.
  10. CowboysLawnCareDelaware

    CowboysLawnCareDelaware LawnSite Senior Member
    from DE
    Messages: 581

    Yes your right, I would also like to advise you not to "throw" all of the papers at her at once. Maybe just a couple with the prices high-ligthed. Let her know that she has always been a great customer and if she will sign on again for next season right then, that you will cut the costs in half (or drop them all together, your call).

    I didn't recall you saying she was a great customer, that's why we were all saying to file court document warnings.


Share This Page