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what to do when a customer refuses to pay?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself to the Community' started by TinyGiant, May 3, 2011.

  1. TinyGiant

    TinyGiant Junior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 16

    i picked up a customer mid winter and met up with him walked the property and agreed to plow at 4" unless he called to ask us not to.

    that last storm we had in NH was 4-5 inches and happened to be warm the next day. I plowed all the accounts that didnt call and ask me to not come.. as i usually do. A few even called to double check that i was coming.

    so this guy ignores the bill for a month.. when its far overdue i emailed asking for him to pay the invoice asap since its overdue a month. He replied saying he didnt think it needed the plowing and is not going to pay.

    mind you this is a month after the work was done..he didnt mention this the day i plowed.. or when i sent the invoice that month..

    is there anything i can do? or worth doing?

    here is the discussion from email

    me-"please send payment asap. this is over a month over due now....(send with invoice)"

    customer-"I haven't paid this bill because I wasn't expecting to be plowed that day. The snow was melted hours after you left! Please let me know how we can resolve this. Thank you!

    me-"please let me know when you plan to make the payment. of all 25 of my accounts that my wife and i plowed that day you are the only one who hasn't paid up. We had 4+ inches that day and schools were canceled. Typically every plowing company plows on agreed depth automatically unless the client calls and asks not to plow. Ignoring bills doesn't make them go away, its inconsiderate to be thinking you didn't want to pay this the whole time and just ignoring the bill after we spent the time and gas servicing your property so you wouldn't have the hassle of dealing with it.

    here is the link to make the payment again."

    customer"You have provided a respectable plow service thus far. It's a shame to have come to this disagreement. If you had called all 25 customers prior to plowing, many of them would have declined service due to the impending warm weather. Some, I'm sure, appreciated it. As for our household; we did not find it necessary and did not expect plowing into the Spring season. This bill will not be paid.


    me-"We had some clients call us and ask us not to and some that called to make sure we were still coming. I believe it was stated when we met if you didn't want us to come you are to call. Plowing is a verbal agreement to automatically plow at an agreed depth. You asked me to come when it needed it not at will. If payment isn't received we will be forced to forward this to the collections agency we deal with. The work was done. Payment must be received. Sorry to be a stickler on this but it's ridiculous to just decide randomly not to pay someone for the work they were asked to do. Especially a small local husband and wife business just trying to make ends meet.
    I will not be pushed around. You are outside of our route and we even added you late in the season. We went above and beyond trying to offer great service and spent far longer making sure your driveway was well plowed than we had to.

    Please pay your bill. I hate putting a mark on peoples credit but. The agency will charge me 20% so if you want to send payment for 48 instead of 60 we can do that. But we spent our time and gas (which isn't cheap) on your property making your life easier..."

    (note i havent contacted or use a collections agency.. but this guys arrogance might lead me to it lol)

    customer-"Honestly, there was no snow on the ground beforehand, the weather was 50+ degrees before and after the storm. At some point a person assumes that the plow trucks are no longer working. When you first contacted me I had no idea what day was in question. I didn't even realize you plowed that day. But I considered paying this just to throw you some money and resolve the issue. But now I consider that unreasonable on my part.

    I've worked for a small business so I know how it works, some people ignore the invoice. But at the end of the day we still tried to please the non-paying customers, because it never fails, at some point they would have to return and their money would be received one way or another. "

    me-"so you are saying that if it snowed april 1st and it happened to be cold the whole week you wouldn't have expected me to come plow .. leaving your driveway with 4-5 inches of snow. you would have been upset that i didn't come. The city trucks were out plowing which means snow piles up at the ends of driveways. I'm not a mind reader.. which is why we come to an agreed plowing depth with customers. its quite the standard practice.

    I sent an invoice the day of the storm. there should be no question of what day we plowed.

    From the beginning you are telling me you are not paying me for the work i did. if you were considering "throwing me some money" you would have done that. Why put me through the hassle of having to chase down money due to us if you were "intending on paying". thats quite contradictory. Its unreasonable to not pay for work that was done... I've given you over a month to pay the invoice without a word from me. A having to wait a month to be paid for something that was invoiced the day after the storm is unreasonable. I didn't bug you guys and figured maybe you needed some time. I did send an invoice ..then later you guys tell me you were just ignoring me hoping it would go away. If a client doesn't pay i have no reason to go back and service them in the future especially when a client says.. eh i decide when i want to pay you for the work i agreed on. chances are they will do it again. Time is valuable and i don't like my time and money wasted. I wouldnt work for an employer that pays me when he feels like it. you wouldnt either.

    every tried this stunt with any other bills? would like to see what your phone company, mortgage or credit cards would say about you deciding you don't think you need to pay them.

    i am not being unreasonable. we discussed the plowing when you decided to hire us. if you had a problem you should have addressed it immediately rather than being inconsiderate and irresponsible and figuring ignoring the bill would make it disappear. I still cant understand how you think you are in the right for doing that. "
  2. TinyGiant

    TinyGiant Junior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 16

    last reply "Send this bill to collections and do not contact me EVER AGAIN."

    i dont really want to do this. why would someone want a bad mark on their credit for something stupid like this?
  3. show-n-go

    show-n-go Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    Wow. what an *******. drive into his lawn at 20-30 mph and drop plow. that will do mor than 60 bucks lawn damage
  4. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Call your local court and see if you can small claim him. If you can add a money for time spent trying to collect on him to.
  5. IMAGE

    IMAGE Sponsor
    Messages: 1,736

    Small claims court. The fees get added to his bill. He will likely not even show up to court, thus you will win automatcially. Then he will get a set # of days to pay, if he does not pay then there are other options, and the court administrator can help you with them. (likely filing a request for asset information, getting a judgement, and levying the funds from their bank account)
  6. TinyGiant

    TinyGiant Junior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 16

    its only $60 bux which isnt a huge deal. but this guy obviously is causing a problem..
  7. swtiih

    swtiih PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,179

    for 60 bucks write the guy off not worth the headache. Next year have contracts for all your customers that clearly spell out the begining and end of the season.
  8. CAT 245ME

    CAT 245ME PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,029

    This is why I no longer bill per push on residentials. Charge a flat rate for the season, it's not worth the aggravation to have to chase money every spring. Been there done that, never again.
  9. TinyGiant

    TinyGiant Junior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 16

    of the 25 accounts we have everyone paid all season with no issues.. this guy did too.. just crapped out in the end i guess
  10. Mackman

    Mackman PlowSite.com Addict
    from S.E. PA
    Messages: 1,356

    For 60 bucks i would just write it off as a loss.

    On a side note i have the other problem with people calling me up wanting to know when the bill is going to come so they can pay me lol.

    I forgot to bill one of my driveways. i only have 4. the lady called me asking where her bill was at. lol
  11. csi.northcoast

    csi.northcoast Senior Member
    Messages: 320

    We have put on the bottom of our invoices , " Any dispute of invoice must be made with in tem days in writing" but for sixty bucks i would write if off....or tell him you are going to send in navy seals
  12. JRS Landscaping

    JRS Landscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 103

    LOL i thought i was the only one when the customers come out of the house when im there wanting to write me a check. BTW to the original poster, I clearly say and have in writing signed by each customer anything 2" or more is automatic service and anything less is on call basis. I do not work on call for everytime for anyone. either you need me every time or i don't need your business. :waving:
  13. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    I have a few customers that just mail the check the day following the storm- no invoice needed. Several customers call asking for a bill - there are good customers out there.
    What to do depends on how much you want the money, how much you want to make him pay and what you're time is worth. Make sure you have contracts for next year spelling out payment and terms. I head out when the municipal trucks do - between 2.5 and 3 on the road which is usually more in drives.
    If you want to persue, go to small claims. If your time is more valuable, forget it and move on. I'd remember him for the future, in case he calls in a few years.
  14. TinyGiant

    TinyGiant Junior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 16

    yeah i will probably not bother to pursue it. just hate when people pull that stuff and get away with it. lol

    i guess i know the real reason they needed someone mid season and why the old pow guy stopped plowing.. they probably pulled the same thing on him.

    i will definitely add the dispute line on the bottom of the invoices. thats a good idea

    all of my other customers have been awesome paid the next day or within a couple days of invoice. theres always one in the crowd i guess.
  15. PerfectEarth

    PerfectEarth Member
    Messages: 86

    Just reading this makes me angry....people have some nerve. What an A**!!!!!!!!!!
  16. Mackman

    Mackman PlowSite.com Addict
    from S.E. PA
    Messages: 1,356

    I hear ya. But it will cost you more to keep messing with this guy then what its worth.
  17. RedArrow

    RedArrow Member
    Messages: 50

    That's the Great thing about KARMA, he'll get his!!! And if you maintain your professionalism the way you have, you will get it back in spades!! When it is all said and done, people still like to deal with honest and ethical businessmen. If this helps, look at it this way: 25 accounts x 10 snow events = 250 invoices. 1 write-off for 250 invoices is less then 1/2% bad debt. In my other business, I would kill to get it that low!!!
  18. mcwlandscaping

    mcwlandscaping 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,557

    These are the stories that make me wish we had a "do not service" list for PITA people...i certainly would have a few to add to the list!
  19. blk90s13

    blk90s13 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,157

    We have that on the wall in front the telephone in our family owned bed and breakfast

    trouble makers non payers etc go on there :nod: and lots of them call to make up but no thanks

    What does he do for living ? I would try to stiff him in his place of work in return
  20. wizardsr

    wizardsr PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,538

    His wish would be my command. Send it to a collection agency. You provided the service, you should get paid for your time. A collection agency won't make diddly on it, neither will you, but he may very well pay it at the threat of having his credit screwed up over $60, to get rid of the annoying phone calls at dinner time, etc. If he still doesn't pay, write it off as bad debt. Not worth the drive down to the court house for $60 though IMO.