What to do About This Non-Paying Customer?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by GreenBlade, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. GreenBlade

    GreenBlade LawnSite Member
    Messages: 216

    I have a customer who has been a real pain this season. It is a lady, rough, tattoos, piercings, bandanas... She contacted me in May needing someone just to mow & make her property look clean. Arrived to an overgrown jungle with trash and debris all throughout. It is a rather large lot with a fence that is also out of our service area, but we decided to take it to maybe expand to that region, and because we have a lawn that is close to this one while still in our region. The price I gave her was $71/cut. This was with a military discount because she is a disabled vet. Being nice I made it an even $70. She signed into a contract with me and we got started.

    First cut I had to charge the high-grass fee of a mere $5, which probably should have been $10, but hey I'm a nice guy. Now we come to the end of the month, time for bills to go out. She had already mentioned that she would like to pay me the first week of each month, and I said that would be no problem as bills go out the last service day of each month and are due in 14 days.

    First month she receives the bill, and I had the check the next day. Only problem was she had made the check out to my company (Green Blade Lawn Care) and I am only 16 so I am not old enough to open a business account yet. So I had to get another check explaining her the situation and pointing out to her that on the bill it says "Make checks payable to Logan Sizemore". I go to the bank and deposit the new check.

    Couple weeks later I see I have $(however much the check was written for) taken out of my account AND a $12 returned check fee. It was a bounced check. I contact her about it and she says she doesn't know why it happened and will try to get to the bottom of it. She contacts me later saying it was some sort of auto-pay thing with the cable company that she "didnt authorize".

    Being I thought the previous month was payed, we continued service for the next month. So now it was time for the next month's bill to go out, AND I had to send her another bill for the previous month with a $12 inconvenience fee added in.

    So that brings us to now. We have stopped service, she is 2 months behind, and nothing. It's something different each time I need to receive money from her (air conditioner went out, $500 electricity payment, etc.). The lawn has been mowed either by her or another company, which voids the contract.

    What should I do? As I mentioned she did sign a contract saying she would pay and all, so do I take her to small-claims court? I plan on giving her a few more weeks at least to pay. I'm not concerned about late fees, I just want my money. All $371 of it.
  2. C & T Landscaping

    C & T Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 480

    You stopped service which is good. Is her property out of your way? If not, visit it everyday, knock on the door, demand the money...Id do that for five or so days...then I would come up with a letter saying 'pay me this, plus this late fee by this date or meet me at small claims' and be sure to mail it via Certified Mail that way she has to sign that she received it. Be sure to take the mailing receipt with you to court, along with any and all documentation of her (contract, receipts, invoices, letters, etc.) Just my two cents.
  3. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,793

    I think the contract is worthless since you're 16
  4. KrayzKajun

    KrayzKajun LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,737

    This may be true.
  5. GreenBlade

    GreenBlade LawnSite Member
    Messages: 216

    That's what I was afraid of.
  6. alldayrj

    alldayrj LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,793

    You need to be 18. So stay out of court, go old school or chalk it up as a cheap lesson to learn in the grand scheme of things.
  7. larryinalabama

    larryinalabama LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 19,635

    If I were 16 Id just cut for cash.
  8. Will P.C.

    Will P.C. LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 966

    Writing bad checks is a serious crime. Write her a certified letter that you plan on contacting the DA and state about her check writing habits. Use that as leverage to get your money.
  9. Charles

    Charles Moderator Staff Member
    Messages: 8,935

    This is why I don't extend credit to people I don't know. She could have a poor credit history and therefore you risk cutting her grass a month for free.
    I agree with Will . Hang onto that check and take it to Law Enforcement. They will prosecute bad check writers in many States/cities/towns. This is where you learn a very important part of business--being a good collection agent
  10. DoubleClutch

    DoubleClutch LawnSite Member
    Messages: 165

    Yes a certified letter is the next thing you need to do. I have a customer that agreed to pay me each mow which is every 2 weeks at $80 and haven't seen the check yet. I have called and left messages and reminder notes on her door. Its been going on 6 weeks now and the certified letter was sent out last Friday with late fee's. Got to keep on them!! Calls, Notes, Letter's just like the big company's do when they want there payment!!

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