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#155519 - 01/12/05 10:11 PM Customer problems  
Joey D  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 259
Arlington MA U.S.
I have a new house job that total cost was $29,000. Contract was for 50% deposit before work started and 30% at rough and last 20% at final. Customer gives $5000 deposit and says I will give you the rest next week. 4 weeks go by no pay customer calls when you going to start when you going to start. I go down to meet with him and collect the remanding deposit. Customer says you didn't do anything so I am not paying. I have 5 days time on the job and $2000 in stock on job some of it installed. I also have endless phone calls about what should I do here how about these lights, should I change this, typical pain in the rear customer. Not a problem as I know him and factored in the extra time he would require in the form of a higher price. Anyways customer gets very mad about the job while we are talking and so am I, we are at the point of yelling at each other. Customer grabs me in a bear hug and pushes me up against a car. At this point I am stuned as he is an older guy but I break his grip loose and remind him I will hurt him bad if he doesn't back down so he does and I leave. I went by the local police dept to explain to see what I should do. They tell me I can let it go or file charges in court. I don't want to file anything but I am not doing work for this guy anymore. I am willing to cut my loses at this point as I don't feel I am out anything due to the 5 g deposit. How do I end my deal with this guy?


Business, Office, Estimating, Legal:

#155520 - 01/12/05 11:30 PM Re: Customer problems  
Active 1  Offline
Member
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 687
Grayslake IL, USA
Joey,

You make a very good case for requiring a big deposit up front. Can't imagin collecting from him after it's done.

I have never seen a customer try to get physical over a dispute.

I would send him a letter signature required like this.

Your Co. will not be providing any more work for him for the below reasons:

1. He defaulted on the agreement by failing to provide the agreed amount weeks past when the the money was to be paid.

2. Your Co. made many efforts to collect the $$$ with no payment recieved.

3. On this date and time the SOB in anger over... physicly attacked Joey of our Co.. This incident was reported on (date & time) to the .... police dept..

Enclosed are the final totals for amounts due for the project at ....... The remaining ballance due comes to $650. Please pay the balance promptly. Otherwise assalt charges will be filed in cort, a lien will be filed on the property, and the account will be turned over to our collection agency.

Then on page 2 give hime a price breakdown where he still owes you a little $$$. Not enough where it will be worth the trouble of another attorny.

Something like:
-Did this work
-Met HO these times
-Job material return charges
-Rescheduling Fees

The idea being if you say he still owes $$ he will probibly just disipear. You want to hold something above his head otherwise he'll be demanding a refund. Don't persue anything just forget about it. If he wants to fight it then you might reach an agreement of both walking away. It just give you something to negociate with. I don't know what the chances are but he might realize he screw up and send a check to get rid of you.

Note: Just an idea. Customer relations are not my specialty. If your worried about things spend a little for an attorny to chear you up.

Tom




[This message has been edited by Active 1 (edited 01-12-2005).]


#155521 - 01/13/05 08:02 AM Re: Customer problems  
Joey D  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 259
Arlington MA U.S.
Tom, Thanks for the info. It sounds like thats how it should be handled.


#155522 - 01/13/05 01:14 PM Re: Customer problems  
hbiss  Offline
Member
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 886
Hawthorne, NY USA
Tom gave you excellent advice. In the future to make things a little easier, I would include boiler plate fine print on the back of your contract spelling out exactly what will happen if the customer defaults or cancels. This way there are no misunderstandings and if it goes to court you can defend your damages and charges. I would get very specific and cover all circumstances. Mike Holt has a sample contract that even includes permission to enter the premises legally for the purpose of repossessing material and tools. "It is understood that Your Company Name shall have the authorization to enter upon owner/contractor property for the purpose of repossessing material and equipment whether or not installed without liability to owner/contractor for trespass or any other reason.

This is kind of controversial because in most states I believe you need a court order to reposses. Even so, by agreeing to this the customer paves the way for this to happen if necessary. I would run all of what you propose to write past your attorney anyway.

Above where the customer signs you put in bold type "By signing this contract customer affirms that they have read and agree to the terms and conditions on both sides of this contract".

Unfortunately it seems like more and more customers think like this and are out to screw you. The days of a handshake are gone and you have to do everything in writing from the get go to protect yourself.

-Hal


#155523 - 01/14/05 02:36 PM Re: Customer problems  
Dave55  Offline
Member
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 697
Crystal Lake, Illinois, USA
Forget about going back to the job for materials, but your supplier may help with a lein on the property. I'd say the guy owes you $1,000 or more and a strongly worded collection letter is in order. I'd also consider including in the letter that if anyone else completes your contract he will still owe you for the completion of the contract. In other words, his project is on hold until he settles with you, and he is the problem. If he had come up with the advance the project would have progressed smoothly. Because of the battery (you really should charged him) you can't be near him without a police officer. Document everything and when you invoice, include every minute of your time, including meetings, phone, suppliers,time with police, etc. Consider seeing a lawyer & add those fees in as collection fees. A letter from your lawyer will let him know you're not backing down & he won't have a shot in **** of getting anything from you. A lawyer may be able to do a lein for a few hundred dollars, and give you some good advice also.

Dave


#155524 - 01/14/05 04:00 PM Re: Customer problems  
hbiss  Offline
Member
Joined: Dec 2003
Posts: 886
Hawthorne, NY USA
Forget about going back to the job for materials

I wouldn't either especially in this case. He bought them as far as I'm concerned.

My point with the contract is one that is specific and strongly worded will put the customer on notice from the very beginning that you won't tolerate any crap from them. Honest customers won't have a problem but it will tend to scare ones like this off once they realize that you aren't an easy mark.

-Hal


#155525 - 01/14/05 06:56 PM Re: Customer problems  
golf junkie  Offline
Member
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 507
York, NE
See your lawyer before you send him anything in writing.


#155526 - 01/14/05 08:04 PM Re: Customer problems  
luckyshadow  Offline
Member
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 305
Maryland USA
What about your permit ? Don't release it and that will tie up the job. No one elese can work on your permit and nobody can pull another one for that job, just be sure to notify the inspector


#155527 - 01/15/05 10:06 PM Re: Customer problems  
LK  Offline
Member
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,429
New Jersey
Good advice,
Quote:
"See your lawyer before you send him anything in writing."
Your best dollar spent, getting legal advice,considering the cost of the job, and it gives a third part, a chance to look at the situation.

And keep your building department updated.
With a contract, and a permit, you have two things going for you.


#155528 - 01/16/05 02:32 PM Re: Customer problems  
Joey D  Offline
Member
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 259
Arlington MA U.S.
I am meeting with the lawyer on monday. Hope it turns out like I want it to.
As far as the permit is concerned, should I keep it active to hold the job up or close it down?


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