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head scratcher... (minor customer rant)

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Cassy, Mar 10, 2007.

  1. Cassy

    Cassy Senior Member
    Messages: 180

    This is a bit of a rant, but partially I want to know if I did something wrong here.

    About 3 weeks ago we had our only "major" storm, during Valentine's Day. I sent out invoice within 2 days.
    Everyone has since paid their invoice, except for one rather difficult client.
    I have contracts with all my clients, with one of the terms being that they agree to pay within 10 days.

    10 days have come and gone with this one client. I emailed her about a week ago and asked if she recieved the invoice. She replied she had, but her husband only writes checks once a month--a fact I was not told of before hand. She assures me that the check will go out by the 3rd of March.

    One more week has now come, and I sent her another email saying we stil haven't recieved a check from her, and asked if there was a problem.

    She shoots back stating she has already told me she doesn't write the checks, and that she wasn't happy with the service we were giving her, and that she wasnt to terminate our agreement.

    I replied, reminding her of her contractual agreements, and that even though she doesn't write the checks, she is our contact person, and she also signed the contract.
    I also acknowleged that we will terminate our contract agreement, and apologized for not being able to resolve this situation.

    Now the money isn't bothering me, b/c we're not talking about alot, so if I don't get anything from this client, it's not a problem. and I'm not upset at this client. for me its more of a head scratcher--a wtf?

    I don't think I did anything wrong in this situation. Any opinions?
  2. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    I'd guess this is a retired couple on Social Security and are finding themselves short of cash (only write checks once a month). Whether this was deliberate or a matter of circumstance, it's hard to tell and really irrelevant. She's making excuses for not paying you that make it sound like it's your fault, but really as a deflection for facing the real problem. In that situation, I'd just write it off. You can't write it off as bad debt on your taxes unless you pursue payment "vigorously" or something like that. Anyway, I've had a couple of times where I didn't get paid what was owed me and just was glad it wasn't me in their place.

    It won't be the last one.
  3. Cassy

    Cassy Senior Member
    Messages: 180

    you know its actually not a retired couple. I'd say they were in their early 40s at the outside.

    yea at this point I'm thinking, if they pay, great. If they don't pay, it'll just be a lesson learned.

  4. oman1999

    oman1999 Senior Member
    Messages: 198

    Customer SERVICE

    First storm next year, wait till they get plowed, Then accidently pile 6 feet of snow in their drive in the early am with an unmarked truck. Not legal, not right......just feels good.

  5. mcwlandscaping

    mcwlandscaping 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,557

    You held firm with your agreement.....good for you!!!! move on and fill their slot in the route sheet with someone else

    X-LOWBALLER Senior Member
    from Toronto
    Messages: 102

    I say get paid. Even if you have to show up and demand payment (careful not to threaten them). I have a builder who hasn't paid since June LOL. I still drive by once in a while asking for my money. I say they are strapped for cash and cancelling you made them feel better as they obviously can't afford to pay. Why would they not have brought up the "not happy with the service" card when you first called to inquire as to where YOUR money was? As far as plowing them in.........did that last storm. Didnt plow him in but I put a big ass snow/ice bank right behind his work truck and oh yea, it felt good.
  7. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,990

    Have you talked to the husband? If he's hard to get a hold of call about 2 or 3 am.
  8. Cassy

    Cassy Senior Member
    Messages: 180

    i'm not up for the plowing them in advice.
    don't get me wrong, I've thought about, but in trying to stay professional, I don't want to go down that road.
    I think I would sooner keep at her with emails, for at least another few weeks.

    If I don't get paid, I don't get paid. we're talking about less than $50.
  9. MSS Mow

    MSS Mow Senior Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 981

    I accidently did that a fews ago to a person who hadn't paid all the winter prior. I waited to make sure the car was in the garage, and I "accidently" left a towering pile of snow completely blocking the garage. The person wasn't very long in paying for the year prior and the new year in advance, in CASH!! Luckily for me, I didn't get in trouble for it, as I could have. I don't think I'd do it now though. Too much to lose. It did feel GREAT though!!
  10. LwnmwrMan22

    LwnmwrMan22 PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 27,862

    You never know what's going on behind closed doors.

    I don't really care for wife / husband deals, unless they're both there. More than once I've had an agreement with one spouse, but lack of communication between the husband and wife leaves something to be desired when they think they should get more than they're paying for.

    I think this one might fall under the 3 price rule for the wife.

    She may have told the husband a price that he would be happy with, even though it was more, because she didn't want to deal with finding someone else.

    Now, he found out the real price.

    She's paying the price from him, he giving grief saying that's too much, wanting her to call you up and complain, but she doesn't have the guts, and is just putting it all off.

    The price you tell someone you pay(ed), the price you really pay(ed) and the price you pay when the spouse finds out the real price you pay(ed)!! The 3 price rule.

    Then you email, and she says "yes yes yes! I told him, leave me alone." meanwhile he doesn't want to pay, because he thinks its too much, even though he didn't take the time to search out someone cheaper himself.
  11. diehrd

    diehrd Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 199

    A good business NEVER accepts non-Payment.

    You plowed , the agreement was pay 10days net , They never sent any notice to you the service was sub standard or out of the contract agreement, And weather it is $500.00 or $20.00 I would pursue it .

    I would write a letter advising them that the un-paid balance will be referred to a collections account manager who will seek full payment plus reasonable costs as allowed by law.Send it certified mail and I can assure ya the payment will be forth coming .
  12. Cassy

    Cassy Senior Member
    Messages: 180

    That's not a bad idea.

    Even though I haven't a "collections account manager," the mention of one might be enough to get the payment.

    Thanx :)
  13. diehrd

    diehrd Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 199

    Your welcome . . . .
  14. Bobby Blaze

    Bobby Blaze Member
    Messages: 92

    Get a loader and put the snow back,I had a similar problem a couple of years back,the guy owed me over 1000.00 for a 10 inch event with salt and sidewalks included.I sent the invoice out about 3 days later I got a call from him complaining about the price ( no contract only verbal agrrement} so I explained what was going to happen,he told me that he didn't care thinking I was full of s**t,so next morning I brought over the loader and stated to back blade my piles along his dock doors,needless to say I got paid after around ten minutes.:gunsfiring:
  15. Capodosto

    Capodosto Member
    Messages: 30

    Send her a letter with another invoice "reminding" her that payment is due. Tell her politely that you value her business, and you would be happy to offer different payment terms for a different price, i.e., net 10 days is $40, net 45 is $50, and you will add $15 per month late payment fee for anything beyond 60 days. Her excuse that her husband only writes checks once per month will be covered by the "net 45" option. Send her an invoice for each storm with that storm's charges, and also include a cumulative "statement of account" with all of the money you are owed to-date as of the day you print the statement. The $15 per month added to the bill is a better return than any other investment you might make, and if you ultimately have to go to small-claims court or have to file a mechanic's lien, you will have all of the paperwork you need to make it an open-and-shut case. By being polite and offering options, you breed goodwill with a possible good customer who just has fluky ideas about cash management. By laying a paper trail, you cover yourself if she ends up being a deadbeat. Do NOT retaliate in any way by piling snow, etc. This will just get you into trouble (maybe arrested) and you can be sure that her neighbors will hear about it. You will also solidify her resolve not to pay you and give her an excuse that she will self-righteously embrace.

  16. Yaz

    Yaz PlowSite.com Addict
    from NH
    Messages: 1,061

    Nice job Dan , very well thought out.. have you done this before?
  17. YardMedic

    YardMedic PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    Capodosto has sound advice there. I'll be the first to admit that jungle justice is easy and feels good in the short term, but the lesson we want here is that good customer relations is what helps us grow in business, or at least maintain what we have. Think all the negatives you want with this type of customer, and do your best to maybe avoid them next year and the next year, and use the experiences to develop additional billing options like Capodosto mentioned. Perfect solution as he had said; ok, husband writes checks once a month. They can choose the later payment option, but it's at their expense and not yours.
  18. diehrd

    diehrd Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 199

    I am sorry , but some clients YOU DO NOT want to work for , a good business should be able to identify these clients and discard them ,

    Never fall into the trap of thinking a good re- pore with a dead beat client is worth any more effort then it takes to get paid . . . I have told clients during an estimate to call someone else and to date my best line has been " Did you get me from the phone book or local advertiser? ) When they say yes , , I say go back to those publications and call someone else , Have a good day ..

    Sometimes not often but sometimes a business has to be smarter then the old adage the customer comes first , because the buck comes first and although we disguise that with keeping our word let us never forget our words are designed to make people feel good while we making a good living , That is what it is all about be it Wal Mart , or Joe Blow plowing.
  19. YardMedic

    YardMedic PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    Absolutely, Diehrd... I agree that the red flags & problem people we get bad feelings about are often best left for someone else to deal with. I too have declined people on getting bad vibes during an estimate. But there's a difference in accepting a client and trying to get money from someone has gone stupid on us. I believe there is a need for finesse, to be smarter than the $hitheads we have to deal with. There is sometimes no greater satisfaction than manipulating some dumba$$ into paying what they owe, knowing that when their check comes in they are getting a contract termination letter. I've long since passed the days when I had to take crap work to make a truck payment. If someone looks/sounds/feels like trouble, I walk away & make my observations known in our professional circles. No need to deal with it
  20. diehrd

    diehrd Senior Member
    from NY
    Messages: 199

    Well my experience with non-payers is action .

    I had a TWA Air line pilot start jerking me around after I finished his 16k Roof job..

    I did not play kind , I simply told him he had 48 hours to pay or he would wish he was in a plane crash then have to deal with me.. I hung up on him ..

    45 Minutes later he called back and said he was out of line , and paused I said Ya I was as well .. And we meet talked and he paid in full..

    I give no quarter to any peep who has a complete service done and plays the play to get paid game ...Ya play with them and usually you get tired , or end up in court getting sued for damages you never did ..

    He plowed , they never complained , never called , never sent a letter, He has asked for payment and was told it would be mailed out .. So far he has no payment..

    Building repore with people like that is ******** , any of there friends are carbon copies of there loser ways and ya don't want them as clients any way ..Go Italian on them like I do , they will pay just to avoid dealing with an unbalanced plow guy .

    Get tough , get paid .. I have yet to attack a past due client and not been paid , every time i allowed them to string me along I have been beat out of money .If we are supposed to deal with there personal issues or worry about how they feel then get a counselor job !~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!