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Returned checks

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by ChadsLawn, Oct 20, 2006.

  1. ChadsLawn

    ChadsLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,110

    I had my first returned check last week. Lastnight went to my online account and what do you know, another returned check. My bank took out the total of both checks plus $5 for each check.
    What do you guys charge the customer for this. I was going to charge the extra $5.
  2. Frontier-Lawn

    Frontier-Lawn LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,955

  3. newz7151

    newz7151 LawnSite Silver Member
    from Tejas
    Messages: 2,419

    If this is from a regular customer, give em a call first and let them know that way. Collect in cash the original amount plus the $5 from the bank. If no response is had from that, then proceed with the letter. Life's too short and there's too much work to be done to be messing with something that the law can possibly handle for you.
  4. OMG

    OMG LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 275

    I give them the option to pay by certified check, money order or cash the amount of the check plus $35.00.

    If no pay by next service date, no more service and it's eventually turned over to justice court.
  5. ChadsLawn

    ChadsLawn LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,110

    Yes they are both regular customers and are very nice people. I have made most of my extra money with these 2 customers. I think Im going to bring them a copy and add $10 fee to it.
  6. Total.Lawn.Care

    Total.Lawn.Care LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 840

    I have a business policy, $35 handling fee for all return checks. If this is your first, you might do okay only charging what the bank charged you. But you might want to start documenting a return check fee on your invoices or statements so that if it happens again, your customer (these or any others) will know to expect a service charge.

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,981

    This is how I do it as well...first time I just have them cover my $6-$7 fee and let them know next time it will be $30.

    I don't really run into this much...my bank at least will cover almost all checks but charge an insufficient funds fee to me. I would think more and more banks do this so bounced checks are not as common as they once were.
  8. Waterscapes By Design

    Waterscapes By Design LawnSite Member
    Messages: 237

    I got my first returned check this Thursday as well.....The customer who has only been with me a month actually came home just as I was getting in the truck and ran over to me and said she had sent me an email and that the check had been returned, she pulled out cash on the spot and was very apologetic/embarrassed and said it wont happen again and that she would pay whatever charge I got....I didnt know how to handle that and she is so damn cool as it is I told her not to worry about it and I would call the bank and see what was up....I called BB&T (highly recommended! IMO, these people kick ass) and they told me it would be $5.
    Ok thats the story I wanted to tell, but I have a question....

    Should a statement just be put at the bottom of an invoice, or should I handle it as a case by case issue?
    Also, should I put this in somewhere in the contract for people to sign and agree to or is it not necessary?
    Frontier thnx for sharing that link.....
  9. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Yeah I'm kinda with you guys on this but I have had some problems with this (other than no bounced checks in close to a year), namely:

    - Why an NSF in the first place? Please don't feed me the 'banking error' story, the money needs to be in the account solid (meaning deposited at least 5 days prior, but longer is better) before the check is written, and there should be enough money behind that to cover any checks written, I like to say there should be a minimum balance of $1000 in a checking account at all times, never less for no reason.

    - NSF writers tend to just GIVE me the original amount real fast like, you know, gee here ya go, thanks and sorry...
    Yeah right, first it takes 2-3 weeks before I find out, now there are funds in my account missing, in addition to a minor accounting issue it costs me money too (granted, only $5) but customers are acting like they don't know this thou I suspect they do...
    Then the smart ones call me to let me know, like try and smooth things over... Man, ain't nothing smooth about it afaiac, other than when the call comes it means they intend on skipping out on the fee.
    Last but not least, I get that LOOK when I inform them of the fee situation, it's roughly the same kind of look I might get if I had just brought home their attractive 14-year old daughter at 10pm, drunk... Even on the phone, you can feel the look on the other end lol.
    The ONLY good news is, I'm starting to understand what that look really means, as in, it's NOT my fault and it IS their problem.

    So, charge an appropriate fee and be firm about it, don't accept partial payments (meaning payments that are less than the original amount PLUS the fee). As for me, I think $20 - $25 per NSF should cover the issue, but that's on my end.
  10. Woody82986

    Woody82986 LawnSite Silver Member
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 2,128

    I haven't ever had a check returned to me. I never really considered that it might happen until now. I think on all my invoices from now on though I will state an NSF handling fee of $25 to cover my butt plus the payment in full. Thanks for making me realize this potential problem.

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