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$200 worth a lawsuit? Non-paying customer...
Old 11-27-2007, 09:35 AM   #1
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$200 worth a lawsuit? Non-paying customer...

well, the last time I had a non-payer, you all convinced me not to pursue the $100.


Now I have a customer (lawn care) who owes us $200. She 'left it on the porch' and we 'never came to get it' so she is now avoiding us. Of course, she never left the $$ out, and I've only talked to her a few times and she says shes putting it in the mail etc etc


So I visited her home today, and spoke with husband. He said the same thing she did "Umm...we left u a check for 3 weeks and you never picked it up". me: "Can I have another check then, since it was lost??" him "no"

Obviously my calls, emails, letters, and visits are going nowhere.


For $40 I can file in small claims court. With a winning judgement (I have a signed contract, can show her previous monthly payment amounts/checks etc) it costs $40 to place a lien on the property. In doing so, the court automatically puts it on her credit report. The home is in her name, as is the contract, her emails to me, etc


Is it worth $80 and some time (im very slow right now!!) to try to collect $200? If anything, I think it'd be a good learning experience for 'the big one' im sure is coming my way some day!! IF she ever sells the home, we'd be in line to get paid...and it seems she had good credit, so I'd love to trash that! And MAYBE, she'd pay along the way

Whaddaya think??
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Old 11-27-2007, 09:44 AM   #2
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It's probably worth it since you're slow right now. And as you said, good experience for the big one.

Maybe first call your client and tell them what you're going to do; court, credit report, lien on her house, etc. If they don't pay immediately, then proceed. You've tried to work with them and they haven't responded accordingly.

You don't have much money to lose on this, even with court costs.
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Old 11-27-2007, 09:51 AM   #3
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I would send them a "Final" letter explaining if you have not received payment in full by a specific date, you will take legal action to collect the amount owed plus all related expenses including legal fees and filing fees.

Also, some states will accrue a monthly interest charge whether or not you stated an interest charge on your original invoice for late payments. I believe Massachusetts, for example, gives you minimum 1% per month (12% per year), or a higher rate if so stated on your original invoice.
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Old 11-27-2007, 11:29 AM   #4
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Do it...

You should win easily and you get all your filing fees in addition to the judgement... since they 'say' they can pay you would get it all.

Also, you can place a lien on their property.. and if it was Texas send out the Sheriff to collect some property for them to sell to pay it off.. (at least you could many years ago)....
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Old 11-27-2007, 11:48 AM   #5
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You sound like an excellent customer for one of those prepaid legal services. They'd write a nice lawyer letter and send it on your behalf. Looks like they're between $30/mo to $75/mo depending on the size of your business and the coverage of the "policy".

You get a couple of these deadbeats a year, and it'd pay for itself. Plus you'd get plenty of free phone advice on basic legal matters.
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Old 11-27-2007, 12:14 PM   #6
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Thanks for the input guys! Im glad this thread sleanin' towards filign the suit...last time you all convinced me not to



i just sent her final letter today, actually. explains my intentions, provides her all of my documentation etc....in good faith...so she knows i have a slam dunk case. im giving her a week to pay, then im filing. i talked to the courts and its really easy to file the lien on her house, provided i win the case



i may look into the prepaid legal...like mentioned, it should pay for itself


thanks
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Old 11-27-2007, 12:35 PM   #7
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Fed, if you when the case the Sheriff can also remove personal property such as cars to satisfy the money owed. Doesn't have to be a lien against the house which could sit for years.
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Old 11-27-2007, 01:52 PM   #8
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Fed,
I say go for it. First tell them you plans and ask them for the money. If they don't pay go to court.
Another tactic might be to start fresh and ask them "Did I do something where you don't think I should get paid for the service or do you have some financial problems where we could make some arangement for you to pay me over time?" Just a thought.
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Old 11-27-2007, 06:21 PM   #9
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Fed, if you when the case the Sheriff can also remove personal property such as cars to satisfy the money owed. Doesn't have to be a lien against the house which could sit for years.
Absolutely. To get your money out of a lien on the house either you need to foreclose (a very expensive proposition) or wait for the house to be sold. If you get a judgment and order of attachment, you can take something that they really need (like a car), where they will have to fork over real cash to get it back. (this depends on your own state law, so you should do the research yourself)
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Old 11-27-2007, 08:48 PM   #10
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All of this sounds so complicated.

I'd just send them the demand letter and if that didnt work, I'd light their lawn on fire.***

Just a simple direct repossession.


*** Note, this is just humor, not a recommendation or suggested course of action. Please see my standard disclaimer for further information.
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Old 11-28-2007, 06:35 PM   #11
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Once you see the court appointed payment plan (something like a dollar/month for a decade); you'll realize you're wasting your time.

Once chased a contractor for 12k (walked with a deposit) ... court appointed payments would take 5 years for him to pay. Decided to have him teardown and rebuild a porch 2 years into the payment plan.

Hopefully, they be scared into paying the $200 (before court)... then you'll come out ahead. Good luck!
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Old 11-29-2007, 07:50 AM   #12
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Once you see the court appointed payment plan (something like a dollar/month for a decade); you'll realize you're wasting your time.

Once chased a contractor for 12k (walked with a deposit) ... court appointed payments would take 5 years for him to pay. Decided to have him teardown and rebuild a porch 2 years into the payment plan.

Hopefully, they be scared into paying the $200 (before court)... then you'll come out ahead. Good luck!

sooo...you let a guy who stole $12000 from you work on your home 2 yrs later?
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Old 11-29-2007, 08:36 AM   #13
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The porch job was a rental ... the contractor had been with me for years; just fell into hard times and couldn't catch-up with his spending habits. That's what the court process is for. Did a nice job on the porch. Problem with the court appointed payments is that it forces a LONG term relationship with someone you would just assume have OUT of your life. Needless to say I moved on to other contractors when he was done.

A freind had his car vandalized by some deadbeat on a crime spree ... police catch him. Courts make him pay restitution ... $1 per MONTH per vehicle. In protest, my buddy throws the checks away ... "Let'em spend $5 triing to figure out where the checks are going."
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Old 11-29-2007, 06:08 PM   #14
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you could try telling them that since they arent paying you then you are writing off the debt and sending a 1099 to the irs for the amount in their name . it typically applys to loans but heck try it any way
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Old 11-29-2007, 07:08 PM   #15
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I have sued once for a faulty concrete job on a driveway. The slope was such that water ran into my garage. I won in court. Didnít matter. The contractor declared bankruptcy and didnít pay. The cost was about $3 K. Not worth my time. The legal system does not protect from small losses like this. The overhead of collecting makes it not worth it. Two hundred dollars, not worth the effort. Even though it seems like they should pay.
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Old 11-29-2007, 07:38 PM   #16
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I think that we're coming along to the reason why I do all my own work on the house and cars.

I can screw it up for free and then fix it afterwards, rather than paying someone else to not do it, do a bad job, or do a bad job and hide it from me until its worse.

Throw in the 3-5 hours of startup time getting someone on the phone, to come over and give you a quote, and for the first time or two they stand you up when they're supposed to be working and you're well ahead.
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