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Previous customer who old me money has past

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by Soupy, Apr 29, 2005.

  1. Soupy

    Soupy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,125

    I cut grass for this guy for a few years. He past Tuesday at the age of 45 (don't know how). The weird thing is that I stopped by his house on Tuesday because his house is on my Tuesday route. I knocked 3 different times thinking he was home because his truck was in the drive.

    Here's the scoop. This guy was a union plasterer and didn't work much. He only worked when the gravy jobs would come up. His wife is an accountant and they live in a decent home and drive nice autos. He had a 4 year old F-150 and traded it last year for a new Dodge Ram. Anyway every year I had problems collecting all my money. He would pay weekly, but always have an excuse to fall behind here and there. It seems like the first two years I had to let him work off about $150 in plaster work around my house. Last year I let him plaster some walls in my parents basement that used to have paneling and it ended up costing me about $300 over what he owed me. I told him I would credit his account but he insisted I pay him now because he needed part of it to cover materials. I gave in and paid him. Well at the beginning of last season I cut his lawn 8 times and was only paid for one cut. I finally told him he was cut off until he paid. Every so often I would get a call promising my money soon, but it never came. All winter he said his sister and him was currently selling a bunch of land they inherited that was previously rented to a farmer. The farmer was going to buy it and he was going to receive a huge check any day. This went on for months and the story was always the same. any day now and I will pay you in full.

    Here's the biggest problem. His wife thought he was always paying. The first year she come out when he wasn't home and asked what he owed me. I told her and she flipped. She explained that he is supposed to pay for lawn care out of his spending money or she was going to hire a house keeper. She apologized for him getting behind and paid me out of her account. He comes home while I was cutting the neighbors and said she jump him good and was about ready to send him packing. He asked me if I would tell her I made a mistake and say I was looking at the neighbors balance. I said no, but agreed to keep things between us in the future. For some reason I liked this guy and bent over backward for him.

    Lately when I had talked to him I threaten to call his wife about the money owed which is $210, 7 X $30. He said any day he would pay, and I would let it slide for a couple more weeks and then call him. This went on for a few months.

    I quit cutting his lawn last June and I am sure his wife does not know why. He was constantly calling me asking me if I would continue cutting if he promised to pay each week and catch up on the balance later. I said pay all now and then I would consider cutting only if he paid up front and the minute he didn't he was done. Well that never happened. well he had the balls to ask after I said maybe if I would lower the price by $5 to help him out. I said no way. He said the guy that replaced me was only charging him $25 but I did a better job. I laughed and said just get me my money soon.

    I have been sending invoices once a month addressed to Mr. and Mrs **** hoping she would get a hold of one. Since he didn't work much he was always there to get the mail. My father (who just called me telling me he seen the obituary in the paper. remember he knew him from the plaster work I let him do the previous year )thinks I should just drop it and eat the cost. He said I will cause the wife more grief when she sees that her husband was keeping this from her. My wife on the other hand says I should keep sending invoices and she is surely to get them now. My wife never cared for this guy because of all his broken promises.

    Also I want to explain that this guy had a very thick Zoysia lawn and I did agree that pushing a lawn mower through it would suck, I even told him a few times he needed to tell his wife to agree on buying a rider becasue he obviuosly couldn't afford me. This lawn was actually a $35-$40 lawn although I only charged him $30 because I did his neighbor and there was little trimming. There was just something about this guy that made me want to help him as much as possible. I don't want to slam the deceased but this guy drank a lot and did other things. The first time I cut he tried to tip me with an illegal substance. I declined the offer and he said I just looked like the type. Well he was right that at one time I was the type and went through hell to stop being that way although I do still drink. Anyway I think this is what drew me to him knowing that I was once just like him in many ways. If at that time I had a wife to live off of I would probably been doing the same things.

    So again, do I send the invoices, or write it off? It won't hurt me any just to write it off but my wife said the power company or anyone else wouldn't. Why should we? I have always considered it a bill that would eventually get paid, but only when this guy had a few extra dollars from doing a gravy job or when his wife finally found out. I guess that was my ace card knowing that he would have to pay me off at some point.

    I also want to add that his neighbor moved and I stopped cutting that lawn 2 years ago, so I have not been working on his street (only in the neighborhood). I just thought I would clear that up so some wouldn't wonder if the wife would be more curious as to why I was still cutting the neighbor and not them. For all I know is that he told her that I quit all together. I doubt she would fall for him firing me because she did like me. She locked herself out one day and I climbed through a window to open the door for her. She would have never gotten through that kitchen window and over the sink and asked me to do it. She told me that she would tell her husband to tip me next time :) yea right lady, I would just like to be paid period is what I thought.

    Sorry for the long post. I just wanted to be sure to paint the full picture. Please advice.
  2. Appalachian landscape

    Appalachian landscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 453

    Send them the bill. It's not your fault that the man was a P.O.S. If she inherited the house, she inherited the debt.
  3. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 8,635

    Yes, the bill passes on to his estate.
    I think you have to file it with whoever handles estates in your city
  4. greywynd

    greywynd LawnSite Member
    Messages: 132

    I'd send the bill at the same time again this month. Maybe she will pay up, and at the same time, ask you to come back? Maybe if she pays regularly, you can eventually recoup some of the lossess and aggravation.
  5. nocutting

    nocutting LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 530

    Hi, that story was a "Heart Breaker", I'd send a prayer card or flowers and an invoice in a seperate envelope...You couldnt of been any kinder, and I'm sure your only 1 of several outstanding bills that this guy kept from his wife.[ I'd even go as far to offer her a "Budget Plan" if that made it easier for her.- Good Luck :angel:
  6. clc2003

    clc2003 LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ia
    Messages: 284

    I agree as well. Besides not only did he disrespect u by not paying, but when you let him work off his debt, he didn't give u a break. I would feel a little uncomfortable in this situation, but u might even consider charging interest? Just a thought.
  7. Green Pastures

    Green Pastures LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,457


  8. grass_cuttin_fool

    grass_cuttin_fool LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,526

    I would bill it again and see what happens, you may even get the yard back, also I would send a sympathy card to the house also
  9. lawnranger44

    lawnranger44 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 370

    I would send a bill with a card expressing your sorrow
  10. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,497

    Send the bill first, the sympathy card second. It was written above, that this probably isn't the only charges he was keeping from his wife. She will probably get more, anyway. As far as the other stuff,...it is a great thing that he had money to drink and to do drugs on, but yet, he couldn't pay you. Let's face it,..with all due respect,..the guy was a moron. I would get with the wife. She may just want you back to continue keeping up the place. Obviously, she will be in need of it.

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