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NoN-Paying commercial lot

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by silvetouch, Apr 11, 2006.

  1. silvetouch

    silvetouch Senior Member
    Messages: 336

    :realmad: :angry: OK,,,, i need some advice....
    We were taking care of a banks plowing for 2004/2005 season and then they signed again for 05/06. then end of novemeber they decided to give us their 30 days notice that they won't need our services anymore. So, we continued to service them for the next 30days almost til the end of december.
    now we had a couple decent size snowfalls in there and quite a few saltings. After the 30 days was up, we sent them a bill for that month. Our contract states that all balances are due immediately when the contract is up when it is canceled. Not only did they wait a week and a 1/2 to send in a check. It was $1,300 short of the amount due along with a lists of charges they "feel" they shouldn't have to pay. It listed dates and services and the reason not paying is "services not authorized or approved". I called and they said that if it didn't snow, then we shouldn't have salted. #1 -- i pulled my weather reports for those days and there was anywhere from a trace to .3" of precipitation on those days AND it was just after the big snow storms (=large piles of snow in the parking lots) and the temperatures were going well above freezing during the day and then re-freezing at night. Now, this is a bank. that means they are 24 hours; meaning they have a 24/hour atm, they have after hours drop off deposits, they have cleaning crews in the middle of the night, etc etc. Therefore, we salted on those days.

    Anyway, we've been going around in circles relaying messages to the bank president and she talks to the board, and the bank president gets back to me, etc etc. They have offereved me a couple hundred dollars to settle and i said no way. We provided services, not excessively, but when it was slippery. They didn't call and complain the next day when there was salt in the lot, they called when they got the bill for an above average snowy december. Now, i'm not out to screw anybody or anything, but i've spent a great deal of time over the past 2 months driving back and forth to the bank to meet with this lady, calling on the phone back and forth trying to resolve this. My contract has the collection clause that states that we are entitled to reasonable costs , expenses, collection and attorney fees incurred in collecting money owed per this contract.
    They will be contacting me within the next few days to let me know if they will be paying or not. If not, what are my options as far additional fees for collecting for my time or do i have to hire an attorney? Again, i'm not trying to get "extra money", just money for this sh!t load of time and effort i've spent driving and talking to these people.
    Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Mick

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

    Is it going to be worth it to you for the hassle involved if you hire a lawyer and take this to court? Or going to Small Claims Court if that is an avenue? It sounds like you're doing all the calling and discussing, etc, yourself rather than rather than this going through a "board". If so, to you this is personal rather than from their perspective, which is "just business". So, to you this is causing an emotional reaction and you're getting upset, losing sleep and going gray but they are sleeping and eating just fine since it's not affecting their billfold at all. They have lawyers on staff or hired through the bank - you have to pay a lawyer out of your pocket. For them, there is no personal expense for court costs and they don't lose a day's income for a court appearance. If they "lose", it doesn't't affect them personally, either.

    So, decide how much this is worth to you. Be as impersonal and professional as possible. The first step is to hire someone to handle the details for you. Whether it's a bill collector or a lawyer, turn it over to them and have them give you a periodic progress report. Then go on to other, more productive, pursuits.
  3. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    Either take their offer and write the rest off, or be prepared to spend 1,300 chasing 1,300. Be sure to tell this story to anyone with a snowplow that might consider servicing this contract. If they do you they'll do them to!
    If you want to chase the money, Start with the bank regulating authority for your state. If you have dotted all the eyes, and crossed all the t's in your contract, and have all the documentation, cry foul to the state banking commissioner. Threaten to turn them over to a collection agency, or take them to small claims court.
    As Mick said "Be as impersonal and professional as possible." Stop letting this eat at you it's only 1,300, or less if you take their offer.
  4. norrod

    norrod Senior Member
    Messages: 113

    You might consider paying a lawyer a small fee to generate a letter of dunning on your behalf.

    Have the letter explain that pursuant to the contract between our client (that's you) and the customer (the bank), we are asking that (customer) immediately act in good faith, and settle this matter now by making payment on the amount due.

    Any futher attempts to collect this sum will increase the liability on your part for all future costs incurred from litigation costs and late penalty fees.

    I have done it, it worked for me. It's like grabbing them by the shirt collar :)
  5. silvetouch

    silvetouch Senior Member
    Messages: 336

    Thanks for all of your replies.
    I haven't heard back from the lady at the bank, which i think i mis-spoke myself before. It is actually a credit union in which the board is elected by its members and they serve on a volunteer basis, meaning they don't get paid. From what i've been hearing through the grapevine is that the credit union went over there monthly budget again that month, and that is 1 of the main reason for there dispute. As far as an attorney writing a letter for me. I've had an attorney review my letters before, and they have said that they get the point across; and i've had success with them in the past.

    As far as it being worth a day of my time for the $1300. I think it is.
    I believe the maximum amount to be charged here in Small Claims court is $5,000. Does any1 know what is reasonable to charge for my time spent in this ordeal? I know i can't charge what an attorney would charge.

    I guess my main question i need to know now is, legally, who makes the call on when salt is to be applied. Our contract states that it is applied after every plowing and/or if icy or slippery conditions are present. We also have a clause included for people who don't want salt-- it states that "if a customer does not want salting service, then they must request a salt decline form. It is the responsibility of the customer to request this form. If such form is not requested, then salt shall be applied at the quoted price above".
    Thanks again to everyone!
  6. Mick

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

    Check the laws in your state pertaining to Small Claims, but I don't think you'll be able to charge for your time spent on this. As far as your question, go by the contract which, presumably, they signed. If you provided a good or service according to the agreement, charge for it. If you provided it and didn't get paid for it, claim it in the Small Claims case. If nothing else, it demonstrates a good faith attempt to collect. If you don't collect, then claim it as deduction on your taxes for this year. But first, try to work it out with the credit union rep. The fact that they went over their budget or are volunteers is irrelevant to you, although they may need to meet to appropriate additional funds. But in the end, you should still get everything due to you. Honestly, this simply isn't a big enough amount for them to worry about. It may be significant to you (and would be to me, too) but for them, realize they likely deal in the millions of dollars and have bigger things to worry about than getting the plow guy paid. Besides, it's not their money; they're not personally benefitting by shortchanging you. So, just charge appropriately, be prepared to justify the charges and be prepared to wait until the board can authorize the payment. Threatening court action really won't help anything.
  7. scottL

    scottL PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,613

    File In small claims court. Have all your papers showing your case - clearly. What should happen next is the credit union gets their summons to appear. Because they are incorporated they have to hir a lawyer to show up in court which will cost them more money. Check your states small claim rules but, it should be a minor fee, a forum and then show up to have a judge hear your case.
  8. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    how do you think this could be deducted, beyond perhaps the cost of material?
  9. Mick

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

  10. PSDF350

    PSDF350 Senior Member
    Messages: 577

    A letter with a attorneys letter head can do small wonders. You both may say same thing. But theres will get there attention.
  11. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    If I understand it correctly this could only be written off if it was previously declared as income in the accrual method. Am I missing something?
  12. Mick

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

    I think so, but check with a tax advisor. As I've said many times, I'm not one.
  13. Turfmower

    Turfmower Senior Member
    Messages: 376

    Write a letter saying If bill isn't payed in full 30 day. You will fill small claims. They are a corporation they will have to hire lawyer, they won't want their name in the news paper. Chances are they will pay to make it disappear. If they don't It will cost you $25 to file and few hours in court. If you have a few non payers you can do them all in one day.
  14. SkykingHD

    SkykingHD Senior Member
    Messages: 368

    file suit

    The credit union would go after you for $1300.00. The credit union would put you into collection and issue a bad credit report in a heart beat if you didn't pay as per the agreement. The credit union had a contract with you and they should abide by it.

    Take them to task. If your bills are accurate what does the credit union base there non payment on? Their atty will see the same thing and probably advise them to pay.

    The other part of problem the credit union canceling mid season needs addressed also. You committed equipment and man power for that season. Their unwillingness to abide by the contract cost you money. Did they find a brother in law that could remove the snow? This sounds like an inside family job to me. Agreements are to be abided by. There are 2 sides to every agreement. What you are to provide and what they are to provide. Both need to read and perform.

  15. basher

    basher PlowSite Fanatic
    from 19707
    Messages: 8,993

    If you are a corporation you have to hire a lawyer. I'd bet they have general consul of staff, or at least retainer. You can request a form from the state (at least in DE) enabling you to represent yourself.
    Also, you can file in small claims court but they can request a change of venue and move it to Superior court. Whole new ball game, including maybe days vs hours in court waiting before your case appears on the docket. Brush up on your contract law.
    Why would their name be in the paper?
    Good luck pursuing this debt, But remember threating to take someone to court if they don't preform and a failure to do so is in itself prosecutable. So if you but the intent to sue in writing, you must proceed if they fail to perform.
  16. bingermann

    bingermann Member
    Messages: 31

    Collection Agencies

    Collection agencies can be very effective. They do not charge for their services if they do not collect anything. They usually take 20-30% of the recovered funds as payment. No headache for you and they do all the trash talk.
  17. jbone

    jbone Senior Member
    Messages: 154

    you could hire a collection agency or you can do the work your self, do a google search fo rthe "fair debt collections act". It basically describes to you how you can go about collecting the money yourself. I havent done it myself but there is some paper work you can fill out with the courts, as soon as it goes through the processes, a "lien" will be placed on the bank by the court. If that happens the bank cannot make any monetary transactions until the debt has been paid to you. although they usually wont give you extra money for the time you spent you can collect for lawyers fees, collection agency fees, court paperwork fees, etc. hope its not too late and I hope this helps,

    p.s. give em hell!!