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Small Claims Court?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by SoloMow, Aug 6, 2005.

  1. SoloMow

    SoloMow LawnSite Member
    Messages: 173

    I have a customer who is obviously trying to avoid a $65.00 charge for services (mowing, trimming, edging) rendered in early July. I mailed an original invoice, a reminder, and a double super-secret probation reminder! :cool: I will wait 7 days longer and send an invoice by certified letter. I fully expect that it, also, will be disregarded. My point is that I am PIZZED and want to pursue this goldbricker in small claims court. Now, it is a matter of principle! More than the money, I would like to place a lien on the property. I would appreciate any responses concerning actual experiences you have had in small claims court. :p
  2. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I much prefer psychological warfare - Much faster, cheaper, and at least as effective. If you must, the THREAT of an agonizing, prolonged court proceeding followed by years of collection agencies doing their utmost to get your money for you should do it, after all, either they pay or they don't - the court doesn't make a difference as far as I'm concerned... other than it's YOUR time (and you will spend HOURS going to court, several times {at least 3 appearances for you})

    Forget certified letters - The customer can ignore it OR better yet, refuse to accept it AND the post office HAS to wait 15 days before informing you because that is how long the customer has to decide. So now you get to wait another 2 weeks + 5 days (yes cauz it COULD take UP to 5 days before it is even delivered). I hate waiting.
    So I like hand-delivered: Run to an office supply store and get some manila ENVELOPES (not the folders), then stick the letter in there and go to their house and stick it on their door with a small piece of scotch tape. Make sure you put NOTHING on the outside of the envelope, leave it BLANK like it came from the store - This greatly increases their chances of actually OPENING it - Yes because if they even THINK it's from you, good luck. Now once they OPEN it you need some good motivation words.

    Here is an example of a letter I've used before:



    Dear First Last:

    I hereby give you notice that on or about DD.MMM, YYYY, work was performed on
    your property with labor and materials totaling _______ dollars. This money is now
    seriously overdue and your account has been filed for collection.
    Unless the amount due thereon is paid in full within five (5) days, a lien
    will be placed upon your house for the amount owed and further fees, fines,
    and interest will be due.
    OPTIONAL: This lien will stay on your house until such day the
    money is paid and can prevent you from selling or refinancing your home,
    in addition to appearing on your credit record.




    Of course, we won't tell them they still don't have to pay, lol

    Oh yes - IF the customer decides to fight, they can press charges against you for some type of fraud so you need to be CERTAIN that you really did the work and this truly is a case where they just don't want to pay - We all know the kind, just be sure for your own sake then there is no prob (In other words, this isn't just some he-said/she-said bs).

    TURFLORD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 834

    I posted a reply in the thread "can you buy a can of chinch bugs?" please read it. It will answer some questions. I LOVE SCC. Suing people is fun especially when it's for chump change. The stress I know I'm causing them plus their time away from work is well worth it.

    TURFLORD LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 834

    When you drop papers on people the Court sends them a notice Certified Mail, if they don't respond you win by default. The Post Office says they live there and the Court recognizes this.
  5. Green-Pro

    Green-Pro LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,420

    Around here when you win judgment in your case you may then file for a garnishment of their wages.

    I had a guy dodge me for $30 measly dollars Sheriff served him the court papers, no response within twenty days you win,(court date is set if response) after you win you file for garnishment, papers are served to employer on notification of garnishment and it is immediate. Got my dough plus court costs. I don't like to use intimidation opens to many doors to get yourself in trouble, besides I truly enjoyed seeing the Sheriff serve the papers while I was across the street working :)

  6. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,899

    Totally illegal --- You pull the above example and its more than just fraud they can sue for. There steps and laws to follow to collect.
    Green Pro gave some good advise
  7. bushtrimmer

    bushtrimmer LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 351

    This is the way we do it. The problem is that in Ohio, when you are incorporated, you must have an attorney represent you in these precedings.
  8. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,899

    Only if an officer of the company is presenting the case. The way around it is to have a friend or reletive ask the questions and present the evidence.
  9. Nosmo

    Nosmo LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,216

    In Oklahoma if you are trying to service notice of Small Claims by certified mail you get recognized legal service if the green card is marked refused. You do not get service if the green card is marked unclaimed.

    This means if the customer doesn't even go to the post office to pick up the certified mail (unclaimed) he is not served. However if he goes to the post office and asks at the window who the mail is from
    and then refuses it he is served.

    Sheriff service of papers here can be served to anyone in the household (regular household member) that is 15 yrs of age or older.
    All the Sheriff (or deputy) has to do is find someone home and attempt to hand them the papers. If they won't take them he can lay it down at their feet and leave. This is legal service. A process server can do the same thing serving any civil matter papers.

    Same thing here as Greenpro said -- after service they have 20 days to respond , if not they loose.

  10. MMLawn

    MMLawn LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,569

    Okay, call me Crazy....but instead of "double secret" demand letters, copies of invoices mailed via Certified mail, all of which the cost btw take away from your profit, and then the cost of probably $85 or more that YOU will have to front to sue in SCC, well like I said, call me crazy, but I'd just go knock on their front door this weekend and say I was there to collect the $65 bucks they owed me......

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