No Pay ?

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by grasscutterman, May 4, 2007.

  1. grasscutterman

    grasscutterman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    Hey all,

    I need a little advice, I cut a customer yesterday. The lady took 15 minutes to tell me that she did not have the cash to pay me, she refused to write a check, she spoke to my wife who handles billing she told my wife she would drop it off and if it was not there by 5pm she would put it on the door of her house. Of coarse, there was no money and she is calling our office telling us not to come to her house anyone.

    My questions is, what are my rights, how often can I call her, and what is the law about going to her house. At this point I just want to make a point.

  2. gary6768

    gary6768 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    I would go to her house with her grass clippings ( and several other customers, but don't tell her that) and proceed to disperse them on her lawn. You have no right keeping those clippings.

    I use to work on oil burners. I had a customer stiff me with a bad check. I called him and got the run around. I waited until it was 10 degrees out. Loaded 2, 5 gallon jerry cans with water. I knocked at his door no one answered. Just when I was ready to dump the water into his oil fill he opened his front door and asked what I was doing. Long story short he payed..
  3. Mow It All llc

    Mow It All llc LawnSite Member
    Messages: 115

    I had the same problem with a few (3) customers last year. I make all my customers sign contracts so legally im ok, but its a hassle. My biggest prick customer worked night so he was home days. He got a month behind ($50 a cut), I give them 10 days to pay before i stop cutting. Well i let his slide and he went $300 behind and refused to return calls and mail. I would go there each day and would cath him outside but he would RUN, and fast.....I cut the neighbors also and he would drive down the road to come hme and i would catch him turning around......I waited till he had a birthday party on a Sat, blew all the clippings from the neighbors lawn onto his driveway and proceeded to go into his back yard and say to him LOUD that he is a dead beat and needs to pay his bill.....3 weeks later i had a check. GET CONTRACTS MOST IMPORTANT

  4. PatriotLandscape

    PatriotLandscape LawnSite Bronze Member
    from MA
    Messages: 1,209

    you only recourse is small claims. DO NOT DUMP CLIPPINGS ON HIS YARD. you will never get your money.
  5. gary6768

    gary6768 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 62

    To go to small claims court is time consuming. If he's only cut the lady's lawn a couple of times it's not so much the money but his time. You don't want customers like this.

    Some things in life aren't about money. Teach the ***** a lesson and maKE IT EASIER ON THE NEXT GUY.
  6. Allens LawnCare

    Allens LawnCare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 926

    Three options option 1 (not as fun) small claims court.....Option 2 ( a bit more fun) you can go to the town hall and file a lien against her property....basically she gets a letter from the town and will either pay or if she sells her house you get paid.....kinda a win/win situation......Option 3 ( Personaly my favorite) Call her and let her know you'll be delivering her grass clippings back to property if payment isn't recieved in full with penalty by such and such date.......Its fun, chances are you'll get your money....I'd go with Option 3, if she doesn't want you back....what do you have to lose
  7. Allens LawnCare

    Allens LawnCare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 926

    They don't want him back anyway......I say dump them in clumps....not one big pile.....that's to easy to pick up
  8. M&SLawnCare

    M&SLawnCare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 306

    I'ld be carefull about that. If you "dump" clippings there after you had already finished and left (obvious) then if she really wants to be an pita she can in fact take you to court. Remember people can sue for "anything" these days, and she's already proven to be a low life by dodging your bill.

    It sounds like this was a 1 time cut so how much does she actually owe? Don't do something stupid and get yourself fined or sued over a 50$ unpaid bill. You can take her to court, and you'll win *if* you have a signed contract, but you need to decide if what she owes is worth the lawer fees and headaches. If you have a contract, most people will pay up if you threaten to take them to court.

    I've had a handfull of dead beats rip me off in the past, and since i don't use contracts i just have to shrug it off. Never let yourself get far enough behind that if you don't get paid it will hurt your busness. On any large projects that will cost several hundred or more i'ld make sure you have a signed contract, and preferably get half of the payment up front.
  9. ppfield

    ppfield LawnSite Member
    from florida
    Messages: 7

    Do you have a signed contract??

    YES: Small claims court or just get a lein on the property. The lein is likely the easiest scenario, but you may not see the cash for 10 years... but you will eventually see it.

    NO: Try to be reasonable with the woman and DON"T CONTINUE TO CUT HER GRASS. Likely you might have to eat it or try to get the lein anyway. Some states will let you do it without a contract or invoice.
  10. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,592

    It sounds like you might have been overaggressive in what you said to the lady and how often you were contacting her to collect. Don't do anything stupid like throwing trash on the yard etc etc. You should have asked when she could pay and see if a payment could be worked out. I would continue to send bills monthly then after a few months send a registered letter indicating your intention to go to small claims court. I suggest you go to small claims and ask the judge if you can sit in and listen to how the proceeding go before your trial. It helped me a thing the judges don't like to hear is a collector that is overly aggressive and arrogant so be careful. We have a law firm that handles all of ours and once a lawyer sends a letter 90% pay almost immediately.

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