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Need Advice - Install - Collecting

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

  1. OP
    DFW Area Landscaper

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

    D felix,

    I agree with what you're saying. What she's talking about in the letter is that when I went to meet with her the first time, I confronted her on the appearance of the landscape. I said I was proud of it and she agreed that it looked nice. Then we moved on to the real issue, which was what I was thinking was the real issue all along: Price. She thought I made out like a bandit on this deal. Anticipating this, I brought a spreadsheet with me listing my anticipated costs as well as my actual costs. I thought she'd see how little I made and that might have some bearing on this, which was a very wrong assumption. Anyway, that's what she's talking about.

    As for the comment: "I'm disappointed that my trust in your business was too great early on before you had enough experience and your own equipment so my pocketbook would not have to support the lacking", what she's talking about there is the rental for the plate compactor and the brick saw. She was amazed that I didn't own both of those peices of equipment.

    This was never a cost plus contrcact. It was a flat rate contract from the get go.

    I still don't know what I'm going to do. But it really does bother me that she's refused to live within her means and now she expects me to suffer because of it.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  2. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,898

    There will always be those people. You just have to learn to read them when you meet with them the first time. Experience helps here, I'll admit I'm still not the best at it.

    As for renting the compactor and saw, unless you are doing hardscapes at least every two weeks or so, it makes no sense to lock up $5-6k on those pieces of equipment. We don't own them, and really have no plans to own them.

    Even if you did own the equipment, you still should have charged for it's use, so it should be a moot point.

    Here's the question. How much does she owe you right now, with and without finance charges/late fees? How much would you get (percentage-wise) by turning it over to a collection agency? If you took her to court and won, do you think you would ever see anything from her again?

    Without knowing the above, I probably would send her one last letter (certified), stating that if payment of $XXX is not received by XX/XX/XX, you will be forced to turn her bill over to a collection agency. At the time of her payment, she would then be paid in full, etc, etc, etc. Again, offer payment terms of cash, certified check, or charge (Visa, MC, AMEX, whatever you are set up to handle). Reinforce that you do NOT want to make her life a living hell by turning it over to a collection agency, and that you look forward to resolving the issue in a timely manner.

  3. OP
    DFW Area Landscaper

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

    ++++If you took her to court and won, do you think you would ever see anything from her again?++++

    A judgement might not produce rapid payment, but they do make it next to impossible for an individual to obtain credit in the future. With a small claim judgement, at least here in Texas, for another $12 you can file a lien against their property. This would prevent them from selling the property without first paying off the lien. It would also make it impossible for them get a second mortgage or home equity loan. It also makes it impossible to refinance at a better interest rate.

    A judgement is powerful. The credit reporting agencies pick them up and I'd guess if you have an unpaid judgement against you in the county where you live, you can't get a charge card in your name or buy a new car on credit. The only way out for a debtor is to file banktuptcy.

    DFW Area Landscaper
  4. mdscaper

    mdscaper LawnSite Member
    Messages: 17

    All I can say is that you handled this like a saint, and she has taken advantage of you. Maybe you missed some of the sure signs of a deadbeat, but this happens to all of us eventually.
    I NEVER mention the word discount, and never try to nice money out of anyone after 30 days. An honest person would have offered to pay you $100/month if she was a little short.
    Saying you charged too much is BS, saying you don't own equip. is BS (multi-million $ companies rent and lease all the time). She never planned on paying you, I'll bet she's behind on all sorts of bills, she is a DEADBEAT LOSER. I would just punt it and try to fight the urge to accidentally spill a gallon of round up on her lawn.
  5. gr8cutter

    gr8cutter LawnSite Member
    Messages: 91

    DFW, I think you are getting some good advice from these pros. I would take their advice and make a complete statement including total price, payments she has made and a payment arangment that she can live with. Put a clause in their that if she defaults the entire balance becomes due. Have her sign it. Then if she misses a payment put a mechanics and materials lein on the property. You won't get the money soon but you will get it.

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