stop payment on a check..what to do??

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by VisionsLandscapes, Oct 20, 2008.

  1. VisionsLandscapes

    VisionsLandscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 117

    I completed a nice lawn job for a lady(warden of prison) At her home. I installed a few plants, done some pruning, some edging, transplating of trees and some mulching. Instead of putting down the mesh for the new mulch beds i sparaed them wealthy with round-up. first i cut the grass as low as i could then sprayed heavily. I put in 4" of mulch over top of the ground. after the job is complete the lady tell me how wonderful it looks and she is so pleased. She writes me the check We are both happy. Next morning i go to cash the check and she stopped payment!! i call her up and she said grass was growing in her mulch beds(not thinking it was possible to me) i told her i would come back and fix it if it proceeded she said okay. couple days later i go back to spray on top of the mulch and when i call her to tell her what i am doing she tells me dont worry about it. I tell her if she is not happy then atleast pay for the material and she agrees but in 2 more weeks when she gets paid! she then hires new people to come out and do "something" to her beds which all i saw were more shrubs planted and thats all. She changes her mind and now said she refuses to pay!! what should i do about it???

    If i take her to small claims court what are my chances of getting paid??? i have the original cancelled check. is she wasnt happy with my work then why did she pay me in the first place??? sounds like someone was trying to gt out of paying to me!! what do u guys think will happen if i take her to court? and should i make her pay full amount or just labor??? or what im was a $1,800 job.
  2. Woody82986

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

    I'd personally park in front of her driveway before she goes to work and tell her the truck moves when she gets payment in my hands. Maybe I wouldn't be that vindictive, but seriously, try talking to her one more time and explain that if she doesn't pay, that you will file a lein on her property, file the outstanding debt with a collection agency and if that doesn't work, then you will take her to court. One of those scenarios is bound to scare her into paying.
  3. Wittapp

    Wittapp LawnSite Member
    Messages: 195

    Before you talk to her again, file a mechanics lien. Mechanics liens are standard practice for contractors. Once you have the lien in place, that may get her moving. Check the small claims limmit in your area. You may want to file in small claims court. If she works for the government, a trip to court may not be the best career move for her. That might get her of her tush. Just curious, why did you leave the turf instead of removing it when you dug the beds?
    Dave in Dayton
  4. VisionsLandscapes

    VisionsLandscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 117

    left the turf because i bought the round up and it wqould kill the grass along with 4" of mulch. i made deep edgings as well.

    I have tried to call her several times andleave messages at one point she said she already talked wit ha lawyer and i would receive something in the mail about a month ago and i never got anything so its time for me to move!

    If i take her to court im thinking i should make her pay the full amount and plus the court fees and a good ole day of missed work! i have the cancelled check wouldnt that be the main evidence in getting my money?
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    I can not tell you what to do, anything below is just me thinking out loud,
    it might be all right as food for thought and best of luck and all of that.

    Some folks seem to believe that so long they are not "happy" with the results
    this means they do not have to pay, and while this is true in some cases it has
    been noted that some folks use this as a tactic to get out of paying at all, that
    is by finding any fault in the work and then quickly hiring someone else so they can
    say they had to do that to have it done 'right.'

    And it does sound like that old scam of how to get work done at the cost of a stop payment, with this silly method one would
    technically never have to pay, but I wasn't there and I'm not saying that is what it was nor am I making these choices.

    Now as far as I know, a stop payment can be as bad as an NSF check, from certain points of view it
    really doesn't make a difference if the end result is the same, but we still do not know this to be so for sure.

    Because what we have on the other side of the coin is something like 90% of all Lco's have been in business
    less than 5 years, speaking purely from the statistical end the figures say these guys as likely haven't a clue
    and don't know what they are doing. Some of them could end up quoting too high and doing a poor job, I see
    this all the time and where does this leave the customer?

    Should the customer have to pay twice my own quotes for half the job?

    So what one can do in these cases, I would at least consult with an attorney,
    and I mean a local bar-certified guy, call some of them see what they have to say.

    Peace out, best of luck.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2008
  6. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    Send her a certified letter requesting payment in 7 days. Tell her if you dont receive payment you will sue. If she deosnt pay take her to court. You have about a 95% chance of winning. She paid, then decided she didnt want to. Dont waste your time with leins or that crap, just take it to court. The check makes it a slam dunk.
  7. VisionsLandscapes

    VisionsLandscapes LawnSite Member
    Messages: 117

    today i sent her an invoice with a list of tasks i done and the price total i added on a 10% late fee and put the payment received due date is the 28th of this month. I also sent her a little note explaining the situATION AND I SENT EVERYTHING CERTIFIED SO SHE WILL HAVE TO SIGN FOR IT. hopefully she will pay if not i will get in her court hopefully and get my money!
  8. kaferhaus

    kaferhaus LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,444

    In most states stopping payment on a check that was not issued fraudulently is the same as writting a bad check.

    File a lien AND take her to small claims court AND file with your local state attorney's bad check unit. Make her head swim.
  9. d&rlawncare

    d&rlawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 741

    If you take her to court and you win they will add the court fees to your judgement. but you will have to pay them upfront. how much money we talking here?
  10. ericmcj31

    ericmcj31 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 404

    When she wrote you the check she was in essence saying " this job is completed and I am satisfied with this company/person's work." It is as serious as writing a bad check to stop payment unless someone other than her wrote the check (which it sounds like this isn't the case). I would give your invoice 7 days and then go immedietly to small claims court. I would file for the 1800, interest (which the court will reward-but don't get crazy), court costs-you can try for the day missed, but doubt you will get that. Most courts see that as a thing that comes along with doing business. Good luck-and you've got this one in the bag-you've just gotta do the steps neccesary to collect now. I hate dealing with these PITA customers-they make life a little more hasslesome-but when you file the case-she'll prob. just pay you-accept that PLUS your court costs-b/c you're gonna have to pay that and just agree to drop the case-but ONLY after you have $$$ in hand! Like said earlier-I'm sure if she's a gov't worker she doesn't want a 'petty' case like this on her record! Good luck and Keep us posted!

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