Well I figured I'd throw this out to see how some of you guys/gals in the industry would respond to a customer letter like we received today. Here's the story: Our crew was mowing a lawn in August and a new resident who had just bought the house across the street from our customer asked us for a proposal to cut his lawn. He had purchased the house but was not living in it yet. We gave him a written estimate and he said he would look at it and let us know if he accepted our price. That night he left a message on our machine saying that the price was fine and he was returning the signed estimate in the mail but could we go ahead and cut it right away because it hadn't been done in a few weeks and was an eyesore in the neighborhood. We said ok and the next day our crew performed the service. We received the signed estimate in the mail a few days later and all was ok. Than before the next week his wife called and said that they were not going to need our service any longer and wanted to cancel the contract. We said no problem but we had mowed the lawn already and we would have to bill them for the work we completed. She said no problem just send the bill. We figured they found someone cheaper and really didn't care because we already had a full schedule. Their invoice was sent and lo and behold no payment. Sent out a letter each month with late charges and inquiry as to why we hadn't received payment. We didn't have a phone number because when they first approached us they didn't have a phone number at the house and gave us a cell number but when we left messages on the cell number the calls were never returned. This started the 2nd week of August and finally today we get a letter in the mail from the husband saying that he has been ignoring our invoices because we never provided the service. He stated that he didn't return his signed contract until August 6th via 1st class mail and we could not have received it by the day we did the service which was August 7th. And I quote, "my letter could not have possibly reached the company before August 8, 2003. Hence, on August 7, the company could not possibly have had any authorization from me on lawn mowing at my property". So for a measly $50 bucks I'm not gonna go crazy about this but how would any of you handle a response to his letter. I hate when customers reneg on a commitment and it really burns me that people have the nerve to just make their own rules. If this guy felt this way why didn't he call in August or send this letter sooner?? One thing we don't do is charge someone for work we didn't perform and I'd hate for this guy to start mouthing off to other people in the neighborhood that we are trying to rip him off. We are in a very competative market and the image and reputation of a company makes a big deal. That is one thing we pride ourselves on and have always received most of our work via word of mouth. I am going to write a letter back to this deadbeat and in a polite way try to explain our stance on the issue. I'm sure a lot of you have run across this and was just wondering how you might respond. Sorry for the rambling post but guess I also needed to vent some. Thanks for any input.