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Need Advice - Install - Collecting

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by DFW Area Landscaper, Jan 26, 2004.

  1. ElephantNest

    ElephantNest LawnSite Bronze Member
    from La.
    Messages: 1,870

    WRITE a verbal contract?? Hmmm, then that would suddenly make it a WRITTEN contract.

    And what's to lose? The $14.00 in small claims court fees?? LOL
  2. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,898

    No whats to loose is all that he collected! If she counter sue $14 thats all it take to counter, you tell me where it says the judje won't or can't award her damages in the amout she paid. The stones are scoffed it may be a minor inconvenience to you or me but how do you know that judje won't consider it a major problem, or maybe he/she got burnt by another lco or just don't like the way the plaintiff looks. Justice is not fair last time I check O.J. was still free. Right now DFW can walk with $1800 or roll the dice and try for the $800 I already stated what I would do, I've been in that court and I know that if you don't have a written contract and you own the business your basically screwed. Thats all I got to say about it except good luck with what ever you do DFW

  3. NCSULandscaper

    NCSULandscaper Banned
    Messages: 1,557

    Mark it up to a learning experience to use written contracts. Mine state that 50% down and the rest due when completed. You still have a right to your money. And since small claims court fees are low, you wouldnt be out of much more money if it comes to that. Id send a few more bills and keep adding the interest fees to it. If you happen to win in court you can show the judge the pictures of the landscaping, the numerous invoices you have sent, write down the time and date you go back to the house each time you try to collect, and perhaps a description of the reason she gives you why she is a non-pay. Plus you can also sue to get your interest fees, and court costs.
  4. OP
    DFW Area Landscaper

    DFW Area Landscaper LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,119

    Maybe I should just send the next statement via certified mail along with a polite letter stating that the balance due is $1,033 and that I'll be more than happy to replace the pavestones and any plants that haven't survived after payment in full has been rendered.

    Then, when she still hasn't paid the balance in full a month later, I could take her to court. Then I'd have written proof that I was willing to make repairs and honor warranties contigent on her account being paid in full.

    Wouldn't that reduce my risk of being forced to return the $1,600 she's already paid me?

    Honestly, this lady is much more interested in a hefty discount than she is in seeing those scuff marks go away. That's obvious to me. I just don't think I'd be in this situation had there been a signed contract.

    One detail that I left out of all of this that may or may not be any good in small claims court: When I went to her house on Sunday, October 5th, to address the "I erred in my decision to hire you" thing, I looked her in the eye and told her that I was proud of the landscape. I told her I thought it looked outstanding. She agreed. Then we focused on her real concern: She thought I made too much money on the job. After I showed her my costs, she agreed to the price (again). But that entire conversation showed me that she is taking advantage of the lack of a written contract. She never brought up the lack of a written contract, nor did I. But I think we both know that's the heart of the issue.

    So what do you guys think of the certified mail and the written offer to make repairs/replacements after payment has been made in full?

    DFW Area Landscaper
  5. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,898

    I think you would have a 100% better chance than you do now. You need to get her to agree that there was a contract so why not word it something like you have already paid me xxxx amount of dollars for the landscaping but that still leaves a balance of xxxx and is 60 days past due when can I expect the rest of the monies owed. please contact me as soon as possable by e-mail or certified letter so that we can settle this matter.

  6. Kut Kreator

    Kut Kreator LawnSite Member
    Messages: 25

    I think alot of these guys ideas are superb, hey what else do you have to lose i'll try small claims court.

    Cut Creations Lawn Service
  7. jwholden

    jwholden LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Messages: 218

    Write a payment plan on a piece of paper and have her sign it. When the checks don't come use the piece of paper as evidence that she never paid you what she promised.

    Have her write you a postdated check and when the check bounce take her to small claims for the amount.

    I've never used either of these two methods but an attorney recommended them when I had a similar situation. Something to consider.

    Either do something about it or chalk it up to experience. You are only going to get an ulcer if you let this eat you up.

    My .02.
  8. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,898

    DFW one more thing you could do but gotta be careful. Take the pavers back stack them on a pallet with a letter attached to the company stateing that your sending them back for there inspection since the scoff marks are still om them. Put them up, if the cops are called you covered your butt becuase your sending them back for inspection, and as soon as you get your money from the woman flip them over and reinstall

  9. askarvelis

    askarvelis LawnSite Member
    Messages: 33

    Boy this sure started a big debate! I do not know how old she is but she probably has a son or daughter giving her advice. She maybe confused also. You seem to have had good luck getting nickels and dimes from her. If you have had that much patience for this so far why not continue? She may wind up paying the whole thing! Avoid small claims court if possible. I do have experince with them when I worked on cars...VERY SHAKY! One minute thy love you, next minute they blame you!
    Maybe as she pays you the balance, you slowly warranty some things. Hell, she might wind up being your best customer ever!
    Some people I have dealt with seem to need different things. Some you handle them and others you hold by the hand and baby. Guess you have to decide if it is really worth the hassle or could you get the money quicker and easier by working on another job?
  10. lbmd1

    lbmd1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 462

    Notify her that you are replacing the entire walkway. Pull all the pavers up and then do not replace them. You own those materials and I would reposess them just like car reposessors take your car for lack of payment. If she calls, tell her she broke your verbal agreement and you have the right to your property. Either that, or send her a letter stating you are putting a mechanics lien on the property. Our contracts state that if the final balance is not paid within the given time frame, that all warranties are void and that we have the right to remove all materials used on the project. Those scuff marks are barely noticeable and the tumbled paver look makes them look like they are supposed to be there. They will disappear in a short time.

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