What should I say??

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by RB, Apr 7, 2002.

  1. RB

    RB LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 315

    I had a question regarding handling customers who pay late. They are the typical young yuppie-type jerks that live in those $350,000 new housing plans. They have always paid late (before contracts) in the past and they are always trying to get me to lower my price and they like to feel they are always in control.

    My contracts run from April 1 thru Nov 30 and their first payment was due April 1. I added a note on my contract as well as on my statements (which I hand-delivered on 3/15/02) that said "A $25 service charge will be assessed if payment is not received by 04/05/02." I received their payment on the 6th of April, a day after my stated deadline (it was postmarked on the 5th). I am planning on adding my $25 late charge on their next statement and I know when they read it they will call. As I mentioned if they weren't jerks I would have no problem give them a break -- this time.

    Since they live next to each other I have to give them all the same speech.

    How would you word your response when they call and say they sent their bill in time to make it to me on time?


    I don't really need their money.
  2. Richard Martin

    Richard Martin LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,698

    I wouldn't charge them a late fee simply based on the wording of your contract. It is flawed.

    Change your contract next year to read "post marked by 4/05/03" and that will reduce the question as to when the payment was sent. There certainly are instances where the mail does get delayed. After 9/11 I had a piece of mail that was delayed by 3 weeks. It was post marked on the correct day though. My leasing company let it slide with no late fees charged.
  3. leeslawncare

    leeslawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 649

    I would talk to them an remind them that if you can't get paid on time it hurts your biz.Ask them if they would like it if they didn't get paid one time ,I bet they live way above there means an it wouldn't take much to get them behind if there check wasn't there on time! OR Send them the late fee an see what they say!I have had this happen to me .I sent the late fee an it didn't take long for them to see I wasn't playing (i also would send them a copy of the contract an hi lite the late fee
  4. f350

    f350 Banned
    from mi
    Messages: 424

    postmarked the 5th... not their problem.....
    welcome to the u.s. mail. i would never put a late fee on something that they or you have no control over
  5. jkkalbers

    jkkalbers LawnSite Member
    Messages: 144

    We get people paying months late, but we never charge a late fee, because the second we do there will be a phone call, and in the end the cutomer will win anyway, unless you want to loose them as a customer. The competition around here is too stiff to do things like that. It's not worth the hassle of dealing with the complaints and then finding a new cutomer to replace them. also you'll build a reputation for yourself as charging fees and word of mouth is the best advertising. you can either collect the $25 now or reap the bennefits of not hasseling people down the road. People will pay eventually and if your not dependent on the money instantly I would let it go. People think Lawn services are exceptions to paying bills on time, because they know there is nothing we can do (such as report it on their credit history) like a utility can do or a credit card company.
  6. fastrunner

    fastrunner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 96

    I figure that if you but a deadline or something on your bill that says.. Pay by the 25th of the month to avoid a $25.00 late fee. And say you mail it around the 1st or something,, then the customer will just wait til the 24th to send out the payment. If you dont put a date at all i think it works better. they will just pay it right then and there.
  7. f350

    f350 Banned
    from mi
    Messages: 424

    wrong!!!!!! you can put contractors liens on the home!!!
  8. gslam88

    gslam88 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146


    just wondering who said anything on putting a lien on the home?

    I just must have missed who said it.

    But that does give me a questions for someone in rough times... someone who is self employeed and is falling behind... can you put a contractors lien on your own home to beat the bank and other creditors from getting to some of your assets... I know it off subject, but something that just though of as I saw a guy at auction yesterday who is big time in debt and can't afford to pay his bills does not pay his people, etc....

    just wondering

  9. f350

    f350 Banned
    from mi
    Messages: 424

    what i'm saying is that, customers cant get away without paying. as a service provider you cannot write off bad debt unless material cost are involved. but you can lien on a home for unpaid services.. this is where excellent record keeping comes into play. send two collection letters 30-45 days apart..keep copies.
  10. proline32

    proline32 LawnSite Senior Member
    from 98383
    Messages: 278

    Basicly I have worded in my contract that payments must be received WITHIN 20 days of the billing date, anything after the 20 days is fair game and will be assesed a service charge, If the credit card and power companies can do it so can I..... But you need to let the customer or potential customer know your rules UP FRONT, I provide a letter to every new customer stating my billing and payment policies, the letter also states that I have the right to sue for payment, use collection agencies, reprt to credit reporting agencies and attach a lein to the home to obtain payment. So far, I have had no complaints from customers.

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