Screwed out of $700

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by buddhaman, Jun 23, 2006.

  1. buddhaman

    buddhaman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 136

    Did some work for a guy few weeks ago. 3 people most of the day there. All kinds of work from landscaping, lawn trimming, edging, tree trimming etc. Writes me a letter to let me know he's not going to pay. He decided it was too much. Told me if I want my money I need to hire an attorney. This guy is in his late 80's or early 90's. I didn't have a contract, always done my work on a handshake. Bad thing is, I have done work for this guy for 7 or so years and never had a problem with him before. I did his snow every winter and did his mowing and other small landscaping every year also. No idea where this came from. Not sure if I should just turn it to collection or hire a lawyer and put a lien on his house if I can even do that. What have some of you others done in this situation?
  2. 1MajorTom

    1MajorTom Former Moderator
    Messages: 6,073

    Maybe he is in early stages of dementia given his age. Does he have a wife or family member that you know of that you can talk to and explain the situation? If you do not know of any, i would look in the phone book to try to locate a relative. Most likely if you do find a relative, they do not know about this situation, and explain to them that you contacted them before you proceeded to contact an attorney. Let it be known to them that you do mean business, and that you will get your money. See what they say, they just may step in and talk to the old guy and advise him to pay.
  3. JJLandscapes

    JJLandscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 682

    call the attorney im sure one call from the attorney he will pay up but he might charge $200 for that call lol

    the other guy gonna spend more than 700 on a lawyer to fight the case
  4. Green-Pro

    Green-Pro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,420

    File suit in small claims court, verbal contracts are binding. Obviously a written contract is worth its weight in gold, but if you can establish a pattern of past payment for services rendered with records from service provided in the past you will likely win.
    He does not want to pay because he thinks its to much? Call around to other companies establish a reasonable and customary charge criteria for the amount you charged him.
    If you can do these things I'd bet the farm you will win this suit.

    Good Luck
  5. buddhaman

    buddhaman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 136

    I forgot to add that when he was younger he was an attorney. May make him think he can get away with it or know how to. I personally don't think his chances are any good. Thanks for the advice so far.
  6. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,199

    I don't think talking to the kids of old people will help our experience is they usually think you are taking advantage of their folks. Obviously $700 will sound like a lot and if it is all maintenance he could grow out in a short time and it may be difficult to tell how much you did. ONe thing to cover if going to court did you do work for him before at a rate similar to what you charged on this day. And do you have a verbal agreement on what needed to be done. In the case of tree trimming that will be very very difficult, he could claim he never intended for you to do as much as you did.

    We do use lawyer for this kind of thing and his charges are piled on to the $700. If he don't win we don't pay anything. In almost 100 percent of the time a couple letters to people changes their perspective a lot.

    Good luck..
  7. procut

    procut LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,852

    I would try what Jodi said. That sounds like a good plan to me.
  8. richallseasons

    richallseasons LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 479

    you say that you have done work for him in the past,so why dont you stop over one night and talk to him man to man.Tell him straight out that you do not understand why he refuses to pay and see if you can come to some agreement,since you already have a history you should be able to work it out-even if you walk away with 500.00 it will save you the time trouble and headache of going through the system.Then you can decide if you want to wash your hands of him or get paid up front.
  9. garth1967

    garth1967 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 640

    i would speak to a relative first.if that doesn't work i would certainly take that amount to small claims.three workers as witness,receipts for materials on the job.i don't think you will have any trouble.chances are being old guy maybe their are a few problems there .i reckon a good chat to a relative will sort it out
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    Oh this is easy, I love it when they say I am NOT paying. Heck, you got it in black and white, that is awesome.

    Because by law, so long the customer has intent to pay, we have to give them TIME. This time frame varies but as a rule, 60-90 days really... And by law, the customer has intent by default unless they specifically make it clear otherwise <- Yours did this.

    So this one's easy two steps, I would do this:
    First, fix / edit this letter to your specs then put it in an unmarked manila envelope and tape it to his front door (one piece of tape, be cool):

    [Debtor&#8217;s name]
    [Street address]
    [City, state zip]

    [Month day, year]

    Re: [Account balance]
    [Account number]

    Dear [debtor]:

    Your account due of $________ has been processed to collections. Unless the amount of $_____ is received within five (5) days, your information will be forwarded to an agency who will promptly place this on your credit record at which time a late fee of $45 and further interest rates and fees and penalties will accrue. Please pay this account now. You have the right to do nothing, in which case your credit record will reflect this as a collections issue for a period of time not to exceed ten (10) years.

    Thank you for your time,


    Now you got a fair chance, wait 5 days, then if you don't got your money go to and get the 6.95 Instant Collect Package and fill out the information (for $745 with 12% APR or so) and also pay the extra +$3 for the Credit record thing. Just for kicks you can pay the +$1 for the NCOA bit and all in all, you're out 11 dollars and an hour or two max, whether he pays or not, you spend no more time / money than that chasing.
    By the way, don't say this in the letter but do give him 5 business days.

    BLAM, you're done.

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