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Customer finally paid, but didn't include late fee

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by LoneCowboy, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    Billed on Feb 22
    sent late notice on March 22nd, including 1.5% late fee (which I agree isn't enough, next reprint of invoices, it goes up to 3% or 5% a month, Credit card companies can do it, don't see why I can't)
    Followed with a phone call, so they knew

    Finally, today (April 14th) received a check, but only for the original amount.

    do i go after them for the $5.17????????

    BTW, It's a church and the guy is "difficult" (to be nice about it, I would use much stronger words)

    CARDOCTOR PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,312

    be glad you got paid. cr card co. can do it because if you dont payup they'll
    wreck you credit

  3. Woodland

    Woodland Senior Member
    Messages: 269

    That's a tough one. Usually if I have to add a late fee to an invoice, I get payment within the next few days and most times, less the late fee. I let those slide. But, if I understand you correctly, you added a late fee and still had to wait for your money. If you plan to keep them as a customer, it probably wouldn't kill you to let it slide. If you do want to go after it, I would give them a phone call and explain that the late fee is still on their account and politely explain that the fee is essentially to cover the cost of your time chasing payment. Maybe you could offer to just keep the amount on their account and re-bill next season. Just a thought.
  4. Vaughn Schultz

    Vaughn Schultz PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,565

    NO. People dont pay late fees and there is not a damn thing you can do about it. Be happy you got paid.
  5. Cassy

    Cassy Senior Member
    Messages: 180

    don't go after the 5 dollars and change. thank your customer for finally paying you, and move on.

    I'm with you in wanting to really stick it to a person like this, but we're professionals, and we can't do that.
  6. HitchC&L

    HitchC&L Member
    Messages: 57

    What if its written into a contract?

    If it was a construction job, not just a plowing job, and you had a 5% or so late fee on it, and that late fee adds up to a couple hundred dollars or so. Could you take them to small claims court, or even possibly slap a lein on the work you did, say you built a retaining wall or a deck or something, not just a smaller plowing job.

    KINNCO Senior Member
    Messages: 256

    Add it to next years billing sometime. They'll never see it:D
  8. justme-

    justme- 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,138

    It depends on your state- in mine I can only legally add 1.5%, but there's nothing stopping me from adding a $5.00 account maintenance fee when I have to issue a late fee- and I almost always get it when they pay.

    IF you have a contract with the customer and the contract states the late fee and the terms in which it applies then yes you can enforce it, no matter what state. It's breach of contract at minimal. The question is do you want to be a PITA to them and deal with more aggrivation next year? Do you even want to plow him next year?
    Every time I have to deal with a PITA I add to the costs and charge them more to cover the respective cost and agrivation of servicing their account. If they have gotten to the point they think I'm expensive and look for another provider I've already gotten to the point of not wanting to plow them. Even referrals hold this true- I lost a PITA this season who was referred to me by her neighbor (who is one of my first and best customers) with no effects to my other customers.
  9. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760

    and that's half the reason I just want to stick 'em with another invoice.
  10. linckeil

    linckeil PlowSite.com Addict
    from CT
    Messages: 1,272

    forget about the $5.

    send him a letter indicating that you will not be able to plow the account next year and thank him for his business over the past XX years.

    thats it. don't state a reason and just leave it at that and be polite. don't burn a bridge. some of the church members may be current or potential future clients of yours and you don't need any bad press. look at it this way, for $5 this PITA customer is out of your life - a small price to pay.
  11. Brant'sLawnCare

    Brant'sLawnCare PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,756

    I'd say forget about it. Basically the only thing you can buy with 5 bucks is a McDonalds meal or a bag of salt.
  12. powerjoke

    powerjoke PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,341

    so le'me get this right

    you billed for (hypothetical)origional bill $525,
    the guy never paid so you sent a bill for $525+1.5%=$530.17
    witch left the guy with a bill of $530.17

    he sent you a partial payment of $525.........? and there is question whether or not the guy owes money???????? I DON'T GET IT!!!!!

    the way i see it is the guy is still outstanding. i have prosecuted for not much more than $5 before, I am a man of principle, i don't care if it is $500 or $5 the guy still tried to screw you!

    take the advice for what it's worth but if you give them an inch they will take a mile.

    i dont bill till the end of the year (april 1) so when i send my large contract's a bill it's at least 5 digit's so you can bet that they take thier sweet time to pay BUT THEY ALWAY'S PAY THIER LATE FEE'S, there is a disclosure on my bill that states " pay within 10 day's take 2% off, pay after 30 day's add 10% per month" (2 in 10 10 at 30

  13. scottL

    scottL PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,613

    Late payers ... :gunsfiring:

    On my bills I state due upon receipt - I'd say 80% pay within 2 weeks of the bill. 3 or 4 weeks later I will send the second notice that if not payed by 10 days later the new amount would be penalty plus admin fee's. This usually leaves just a few stragglers. The next step is a phone call which usually takes care of it in a few days and then a final notice. I've never had to go past the phone call but, I am prepared to go mechanics lien or small court.

    I figure I did the work, they had time to complain or call or whatever, I'm not a finance company and they owe what they owe - otherwise why did they take the service. I'm easy going but, wave a dollar bill and push my buttons and it's all business.
  14. Blazin

    Blazin Senior Member
    Messages: 185

    I never checked into what the state says I can charge for late fees.
    I do 5% over 30 days, 8% over 60 days, 10% over 90 days.
    Its right on the bottom of the slips. 98% of the time I get a check from someone late and it will include the late fee.
    As far as your $5 and change I would just say screw it. Then next year when they call and ask if you are doing it again ask if they plan on paying last years late fees, and if they plan on paying on time this year.
  15. QuadPlower

    QuadPlower PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,056

    I'm with PowerJoke. Send them an invoice. State that per the contract you still owe me money.

    If you are leaving them anyway, why not get what is yours. I don't understand plowers waiting to get paid for so long. If someone is that late, they get a knock on the door and I leave with a check.

    When was the last time you left a resurant without paying? Did you get an invoice in 15 days saying you owed for the lunch? Heck no!

    Send them a bill. Quote or copy and circle your contract where it states late fees. And threaten small claims court. They will look like crap for not paying their bills in court. You might look bad for charging a church late fees, but I bet they had the money and they should have paid on time. I would charge a late fee on top of their late fee.

    Here is a side story for you.
    I'm sitting eating dinner at a resturant and having a couple beers. I get the bill and the first beer is $2.50 and the second (and third) is $3.50. I asked the waitress. She said: When I got there it was happy hour. When I ordered the other beer it wasn't so it increased in price by a dollar. Same beer, same size glass, same sitting. Two different prices!

    "Its in our computer to do it. I can't change it."

    There has to be a way we as plowers can work that priceing into our way of doing business.
  16. linckeil

    linckeil PlowSite.com Addict
    from CT
    Messages: 1,272

    its $5. are you owed it? yes. should you have been paid it? yes. is it worth your aggrevation/effort/time/postage/etc to get it? if you feel the answer is yes, then go after them. i understand the principle aspect of all this, but its about picking your battles in my opinion. to me it's not worth the effort. if it's $50, then i'd knock on their door. but to chase $5 from a PITA customer you'd rather be without........ it's your call.
  17. Sno4U

    Sno4U Senior Member
    Messages: 480

    For $5 ??!! move on! Just don't plow them next year and if you do plow them, then just "bake it in" some place and don't say nothing.
    That may lead to an ethical question, especially seeing as its a church, but they're not playing by the rules. "What goes around comes around"
  18. snowplowchick

    snowplowchick Senior Member
    Messages: 549

    If you are this bent out of shape for $5.00 you would probably be driven to the loony bin with large commercial contracts.

    I would say most pay the invoice without a problem, but most commercial contracts we have do not have provisions for interest on late payments and therefore they think they don't have to pay interest no matter how long it takes "administration" to go over the invoices.

    I bill 1.5 % interest and this adds up on large contracts (i.e. monthly from each place in excess of $20K) and we NEVER get it.

    One entity asked if they could get a discount if they paid within 10 days (4%) and they paid it always before 10 days. They are rare in this industry.

    One of our largest contracts( way into the six figures) paid in August for the snow contract and did not pay interest. This is ridiculous!

    But if we made an issue, we wouldn't have a job to go to next winter. It pays extremely well for the time, so we begrudgingly go along with it.

    We are still waiting on payments for December 07 through March 08 and hope to get paid before August this year.

    I don't think people really appreciate the ongoing costs for the equipment for the rest of the year and think we can wait for the money.

    I think you should keep sending a bill if it bothers you. Don't forget about the money owed if it is something that is going to eat you up. I can understand your frustrations but at least you did get paid. Not everyone will be able to say that after a year like this one!
  19. KGRlandscapeing

    KGRlandscapeing 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,660

    paid with in 15 days from when i bill. if i dont get it by then you get a call. if u didnt get it by chance lost in the mail whatever. you get another invoice thats if it got lost. if u got it it comes with a late with late fee added
  20. derekbroerse

    derekbroerse 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,377

    I look at it like this.

    I won't bother making a scene for less than $20, but that doesn't mean I won't write it off my income tax as a 'bad debt'. You will do a lot of chasing for that five bucks and yes it is owed to you but the more you tick the guy off, whether you are right or wrong, the more likely he is to badmouth you to potential customers... which can cost you later.

    I let a whole invoice slide for $9.63 (paid $500 up front but never bothered to pay the remaining bill since it went over his estimation) but I've never done business with him again.