no pay with mitigating circumstances

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Big Bad Bob, Oct 5, 2007.

  1. Big Bad Bob

    Big Bad Bob LawnSite Bronze Member
    from zone 5
    Messages: 1,074

    I have a customer that I picked up in July. She lives in a higher income neighborhood. Monthly billed, after the fact. July, paid right on time no problem. August, no pay. Sept., mowed twice, sent a suspension notice. She was never home. Third week of Sept. I sent a rather unfriendly past due note. Sept. 28, I sent a threat note giving 15 days to pay.
    Today I get a call, from her cell phone, which I didn't have the number, that her son had been in a children's hospital in North Dakota, where she had just moved from, with a brain tumor and that 2 weeks ago he had surgery and would need another surgery next week. Anyway, she notified me that she was moving back to ND and would need our services no longer. I inquired about the past due and she assured me that she was mailing it today. She said she was just so tied up with her son that she just didn't think about our bill.
    I guess I feel bad for the woman and that I sent threatening letters to her when she was in such distress. And, I guess I'm just venting on here to make myself feel better. Thanks for listening.
  2. BanvilleLawnCare

    BanvilleLawnCare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 190

    That's unfortunate, but you didn't know.
  3. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,085

    It's unfortunate, but if you don't have a check in a couple weeks I'd put a lien up so she can't sell the house w/o paying you.
  4. Albery's Lawn & Tractor

    Albery's Lawn & Tractor LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,674

    We get stories like this all the time at the shop. If it's true (rarely is it) then I am sorry for what she is going thru, BUT, if the work was done you deserve to be paid. We get people LCO's who drop off equip for repair or service, say they need it asap, so we fix it quickly (usually less the 24hrs if we have parts in stock), call tell them it's ready & the price......2 weeks later they show up, with some bs story (probably didn't have th cash for repair).
  5. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    When very young I once told a girl I hadn't called in weeks who was mad at me a fib of this sort to get back in her good graces. So people will say anything.

    It could be true or not. But ask yourself. If she was so tied up with the sick kid, how did she find time to pay the bill on the cellphone she called you on? I'll tell you why. Because she knew they'd turn the dang thing off if she didn't.

    Ditto for her car payment, house payment, power bill, etc, etc. Funny how people always seem to "forget" just the bill they know won't hurt them if the don't pay it.

    I had one rather affluent guy (at least the house was big) make up some convoluted excuse about his wife taking the bill on a trip and being in Alaska with it, so he couldn't pay it. He said he'd call her and have her send it from Alaska, so it might take a while.

    I get the check in the mail a week or so later. The genius forgot that they then stamped the place where the letter was mailed from on the envelope. It said "Cumming, GA", not Alaska, and included the original statement so it was here the whole time. The human mind can think up some pretty realistic sounding whoppers.

    Suggestion: Include a pre-addressed reply envelope with every bill. If they have to go find an envelope to send you, they will set your bill aside and pay the easier ones. People are a little lazy.
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Everything they said is true, it never ceases to amaze me.
    Watch out for this one, it might be a stalling tactic.
    Guess I'd wait 5 business days on the check, it might arrive, there's no telling but it stands a chance.
    On other notes, yes a SASE helps.
  7. brucec32

    brucec32 LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,403

    Good point here. If they sold the house they could be stalling to get the closing done before a lien goes on the property. If renting they just need to get out of town.

    The way I see it, the median wage earner makes about $1.75 million in a lifetime. Millions in, millions out. What are the odds they spent exactly everything they had except the $150 or whatever they owe you?
  8. whoopassonthebluegrass

    whoopassonthebluegrass LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,305

    I think compassion is a key character trait. It's sad that we are all so skeptical.

    That being said, I have to admit I agree with the others. I have a personal rule that goes something like this: "If you live better than me, I can't offer favors."

    Give her a realistic amount of time to prove her honesty/sincerity. Treat her like any other customer. But pursue it heavily if time proves her a liar. I've chased customers across state lines... Consistent nagging :nono: works wonders.
  9. General Landscaping

    General Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 801

    Make sure you get the lien process started.
    She can sell and you'll be left holding an empty bag.

    Her problem is "nachos"
  10. Big Bad Bob

    Big Bad Bob LawnSite Bronze Member
    from zone 5
    Messages: 1,074

    I called her cell # right after I started this thread. She told me this story about her son having brain surgery and that he is now blind and that she may have to move from South Dakota to "some other state". Couldn't get her to say what state because she said she wasn't sure of what state.?? WTF
    I gave her my condolences but told her that my Grandchildren may not have a Christmas because of what she owes me and that business is business.
    She then told me that her parents were taking care of her bills for her and that she needs to check with them and find out why they're not.
    Then she said she'd make sure she got a check out for us. I no longer trust this woman so I went to Old Debts. I paid for the package, 3 letters, 3 phone calls and some other things.
    2 weeks later I called the # and , well golly gee wiz was I surprised.:eek: . The # has been temporarily disconnected by the customer. Old Debts also reported a bad phone #, the first letter went to, what she said was her mother and fathers address. She even id'd the people living at that address. Came back, directly to me as "temporarily gone away" . Never heard of that. It's a postal term. Not sure what it means.
    I just got another email that OD tried the same # again and failed.
    The property was rented.
    This ain't looking good guys. But for the fact that OD is supposed to be putting a mark on her credit report she just may get away. I'm not even convinced that Old Debts has identified the credit report to snatch.
    I see where they have a service, if these tactics are unsuccessful, where for 30% they go after her more thoroughly. I guess I wouldn't have anymore to lose than if I just dropped the case.
    I just wonder how successful they are?
    I doubt she is telling the whole story.

    I'm into this thing over $30.00. Seems like I have 1 every year. Never this much $$. The last 2 were under $50.00 and one finally paid and the other passed on in another state.

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