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How to Collect Past Due Money from Ex-Customer?

MowinginEureka

LawnSite Member
Location
Eureka, CA
So, I worked for this lady for two months and she was kinda shady. I did a clean up on her yard and made her pay cash for the dump fees and labor. But, I billed her for the monthly yard maintenance. After two months she told me she hired another gardener who was cheaper, I told her I still had not received my money from the previous month and that was the end of the second month already...so she had another bill coming. She said she never received it and to send another. I have in total sent 5 bills, and it has been 2 months since I last worked for her. I believe that she is rents her house. She only owes 260.00 plus late fees...But...thats still a little chunk of change. I have never had anyone that wouldn't pay their bill. She changed her phone number and will NOT answer the door when I come by, whether she is there or not, I do not know, but I've been there 4 times. What should I do?
 

Cummins343

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Kansas
Did you have a signed contract with her?
 
OP
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MowinginEureka

LawnSite Member
Location
Eureka, CA
Yes. Its more of a simple carbon-copy bid sheet. It shows all of the services I offer, and has marked on it, "mow, trim, edge and blow every 7-10 days as needed and weather permitting. Billed monthly." And then at the bottom it shows my total of 130.00 a month. Which I have her sign at the bottom before I even put my hand to a piece of equipment. I would like to add a clause for late fees on there, but I just charge 1.5% per month. That's the standard here.
 

360ci

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Kitchener, ON
With small claims, that'll cost you half of the money she owes, unless you have on the contract that the client pays any necessary court fees! I'd phone a collection agency, that way it shouldn't cost nearly as much as court fees, and they can do the dirty work for you. Just be sure to keep adding monthly interest until she pays. The collection agency will also tell anyone who she tries to get credit from, about the incident and it'll haunt her until she pays.
 

grassman177

LawnSite Fanatic
With small claims, that'll cost you half of the money she owes, unless you have on the contract that the client pays any necessary court fees! I'd phone a collection agency, that way it shouldn't cost nearly as much as court fees, and they can do the dirty work for you. Just be sure to keep adding monthly interest until she pays. The collection agency will also tell anyone who she tries to get credit from, about the incident and it'll haunt her until she pays.
ditto, chock it up to a loss, but make an example out of her either way.
 

travski

LawnSite Member
Location
billings, mt
I just asked a similar question in another way... this is what I learned.

File a mechanics lien on the property at your courthouse. ($25 to file) You will have to wait to be paid until she sells the house, but at least you will eventually get paid!

Thanks to MikeKle!
 

Roger

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
McMurray, PA
small claims court, if she doesnt show, you win the judgment by default.
Win the judgment? So what? That does not put any money in your pocket. The costs involved only confirm what you, and the delinquent account, already knew. This hasn't advanced the cause of adding to your bank account. Oh yes, it may give you a good feeling that somebody else is on your side. But, that is not the issue. The issue is getting payment, not generating good feelings in your house.

The lien is also a good-sounding strategy. But, if somebody doesn't sell their property for 10, 20, 30 years, what good is the lien. It does not put money in your bank account on a timely basis.

The amount of money is too small for any aggressive measures. The cost of recovery will quickly exceed the amount owed. Some will say, "... need to teach them a lesson." Sorry, the lesson has probably been taught on many previous occasions, and hasn't worked. I don't consider it my task to teach anybody anything about monetary responsibilities. I'll leave the teaching task to somebody else who is better equipped, and gets paid for their teaching activities.
 

circlelawn

LawnSite Member
Location
ohio
Some times if you just have a lawyer send something about taking legal action with their letter head on it will be enough that the customer doesn't want to deal with it and pay.
 

GreenmanCT

LawnSite Senior Member
Location
ct
Win the judgment? So what? That does not put any money in your pocket. The costs involved only confirm what you, and the delinquent account, already knew. This hasn't advanced the cause of adding to your bank account. Oh yes, it may give you a good feeling that somebody else is on your side. But, that is not the issue. The issue is getting payment, not generating good feelings in your house.

The lien is also a good-sounding strategy. But, if somebody doesn't sell their property for 10, 20, 30 years, what good is the lien. It does not put money in your bank account on a timely basis.

The amount of money is too small for any aggressive measures. The cost of recovery will quickly exceed the amount owed. Some will say, "... need to teach them a lesson." Sorry, the lesson has probably been taught on many previous occasions, and hasn't worked. I don't consider it my task to teach anybody anything about monetary responsibilities. I'll leave the teaching task to somebody else who is better equipped, and gets paid for their teaching activities.

when you sue someone in small claims court, your claim and court costs are included (its right on the paper work)

yea you may never get paid, but atleast you can damage their credit..

might as well screw them for screwing you......most times ill chock up the loss, but theyre some instances when you know you have been wronged and small claims court is the best way to justify it.
 
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