Non paying customer

Discussion in 'Builders' Talk' started by m x, Oct 17, 2009.

  1. m x

    m x New Member

    Hello chaps, just thought I'd pick your collective brains.

    For the first time in my self employed history I am having trouble collecting on an invoice.

    A bit of background-

    Turn up on day one to supply and install 2 x worktops and new kitchen tap. After cutting down both tops the customer tells me that they were not the tops she had chosen from my brochure. I was certain they were, but what can I do?? I refit the old tops i had taken out and go back to supplier and amazingly they give me a refund minus about £20.
    I'm happy cutting my losses there and never going back to the job.

    A few days later she emails me asking if I can go back and supply and fit tops she identified in her email. Ok I cant go wrong here then I thought......mistake!

    I turn up the next week, she goes out for the morning and I procede to fit the tops and new tap- onto her existing sink. She comes back that aft and immediately says this wasn't the kind of tap she wanted don't I carry a selection in my van? ( We had discussed the tap for several minuites on my intial visit and agreed on a particular kind - she totally denied having this conversation )


    So at this point all im wanting to do is get finished get payed and get out so I tell her I will deduct the price of the tap. She says fine.

    After I complete my agreed works (11 hours) I leave everything spot on, realising she can be difficult to please, I give her my invoice and she simply says thanks.
    I ask her what she intends to do about paying me and she just tells me she will forward to my address.

    This is the first time I have ever left a job without being payed there and then.

    Phone call 1 week later and leave a message, she emails telling me she legally has 30 days to settle this invoice but not to worry she will be paying me in full within 2weeks. Well she didn't and I have now let the 30 days pass, no payment. Tried phoning her, no answer, leave messages, no reply.

    The invoice is just under £500 but as we all know its coming up to the silly season and the kids need new shoes. Plus I am already about £280 out of pocket.

    I can't go round as I feel this will exacerbate matters greatly.

    So what would you guys do next?

    Sorry this was a long winded one?

    Thanks David
  2. Mr GrimNasty

    Mr GrimNasty Active Member

    If you search this forum and Google for 'small claims court', 'money claim online' it has been covered many times. Above all remain reasonable and non-threatening.
    There is no quick solution, except bizarrely sending the wife around to plead poverty has been reported to work several times! You could try the police - obtaining goods/services by deception - if that law is still current.
  3. audi-evo

    audi-evo Active Member

    straight to court or use a debt recovery agency.
    Or my fav............. get a roll of lining paper from b+q, cover your van with it and write on how much she owes and you can't get paid the park up outside her house ;)
  4. Macbeth

    Macbeth New Member

    m x, if the situation is exactly as you say - and I don't doubt it is - then it's an 'open and shut' case. You will win with a small claims - no question. So get that started right away. You have an email from her stating she would pay up - simple as. She also had enough time before sending that email to say she wasn't happy - she didn't.

    I'd email her now saying that you WILL - without further notice - begin a small claims against her on, say, Monday 19th. Tell her it's a case you simply cannot lose; she made no complaint about the finished work, she promised in an email (of which you have a copy) she'd pay within 2 weeks, you have been more than reasonable about her unreasonable demands... Tell her you will have no qualms about going further if she hesitates to pay after you win, including having bailiffs sent round. She will also end up with a CCJ against her which will damage her future credit.

    Obviously you should moderate the content of the above to suit the situation... :)

    Every chance she'll pay up either right away or when the first legal papers fall on her mat - hopefully the former.

    Yes, the cash would be handy right now, but if she doesn't cough up then set it all in motion and don't worry about it. Get on with your life while this sorts itself out.

    There's a thread on the Sparkys' forum about a successful claim made this way. It did take a few months, but it achieved the desired result.

    AFTER you win and/or get your money, plan a nice, er, response...

    (If you'd rather try sorting it out yourself first, some people react quite 'well' to embarrassment - go round to their house VERY regularly whenever you are near and knock loudly on their door, holding an obvious invoice in your hand. Best results are achieved when they are out - so a neighb asks what you want...)
  5. Welshmally

    Welshmally New Member

    Non-payers like this REALLY p155 me off. You guys are having a tough enough time without this sort of carp. Embarrass her into it, I say.

    Good luck.
  6. Mr GrimNasty

    Mr GrimNasty Active Member

    Sadly DA, sorry MacBethany, 'embarrassing' people results in a visit from the police and a charge of harassment these days.
  7. Removed 4

    Removed 4 New Member

    Hello chaps, just thought I'd pick your collective brains.

    Collective brains indeed! What do you think this is - The CO-OP, or summat?
  8. paddyodoors

    paddyodoors New Member

    y dont u go back tonight and paint her house green all the neighbours will find out shes a wrong un
  9. JarraMag

    JarraMag New Member

    Never been in a situation like this. Although I did work for someone who decided she wasnt happy with the price we agreed on before I started the job, yet she waited till the 2nd day to tell me. After I done a full days work! I had done previous work for her, no problem and she had more work lined up for me which I was willing to do cheap because of the situation she was in. But I decided to take the money she was willing to pay, £50 short of what we originally agreed and left it at that. Stupid really but at the time I couldnt be bothered with the hassle!

    Anyways... Am I right in thinking that when it go's to a small claims court and the client is forced to pay the money, aren't they allowed to pay in installments. Like £1 a month if they push it?

    This isnt what you want either. So I would send the email like someone mentioned above, stating that withing 7 days if you have not received payment you will be applying to a small claims court. 7 days and a small claims threat might just be enough to get your money.

    Good luck either way, let us know how it turns out.
  10. Macbeth

    Macbeth New Member

    Mr Grim, no doubt that can happen in some situations, but realistically it would take someone with a brass neck to phone the cops just because you turn up and ask for the money you've been promised "I have a copy of her email here - she promised to pay so I'm just saving her a stamp." I know the Daily Mail loves to find - and splash over the front page - any instance of the law being an ***, but I'd expect the friendly bobby who turns up to see this situation as it really is - and hopefully say "for pity's sakes, luv, pay the man..."

    The small claims court will simply find who is liable. They will then tell the 'lady' to pay up. If she pleads poverty, I understand she needs to give pretty good proof that she can't afford it. Sometimes the court will agree an instalment plan in these circumstances...

    HOWEVER, it is an equally simple step to then take out an injunction (or whatever it's called) against the person and, if needed, ultimately have the bailiffs sent in to take goods to the value you're owed. Very unlikely it'll come to this unless she really is skint.

    It's all there to use if it's needed.
  11. Mr GrimNasty

    Mr GrimNasty Active Member

    Doesn't matter how right you are - one is a civil matter and one is a criminal matter. Anyone willing to welch on a deal is going to have no qualms reporting you for harassment. Unless you make a report of deception/theft etc. the police will not be interested in the unpaid bill. These days harassment is interpreted by the Police (incorrectly) as any unwanted contact and low-life abuses this just like they do the human rights act. If the complainant says they are upset/threatened by you - that is enough. It stinks but that's how it is.
  12. Macbeth

    Macbeth New Member

    It certainly stinks in some situations - when you get bobbies who aren't switched on. Most are...

    It's when you get the 'loony' over-reaction by the odd cop that it gets into the 'paper' and Mr Angry of Tonb... gets on t'high 'orse.

    The OP turning up at his customer's house to collect the money he has proof of having been promised is not harassment. If the customer tried that one on then any sensible cop would point out the situation to her and suggest she do the right thing (by that I don't mean he 'tells' her to do it - he can't, but he'll let her know where his sensibilities and sympathies lie. He will (should) talk it out with them both - "WHY haven't you paid like you said you would?!" - and will soon get the gist of what's really going on. This is what local community bobbies do - try to resolve the issue rather than let it escalate.

    If the customer doesn't 'soften' at this (and let's be honest - most will - the vast majority are complete chancers and know when the game is up), then the OP knows exactly where he stands and will get the small claims going without hesitation.

    There are lots of 'chancers' out there, but the vast majority know when to stop.
  13. Mr GrimNasty

    Mr GrimNasty Active Member

    It's got nothing to do with one-off loony coppers, it's widespread policy - if a complainant says you are harassing them (the cause is irrelevant) that is all it takes. The Police will then tell to take substantive action through the courts and communicate through a 3rd party (i.e. solicitor) ONLY. If you approach them again you will start on the escalating consequences of warning/caution/attempted prosecution. It is only when you've reached the last option that you can present you're reasons in mitigation. You cannot contact a person that has told you not to contact them - that includes anything that might offend/embarrass/annoy them.
  14. Macbeth

    Macbeth New Member

    Then that is very sad.
  15. Mr GrimNasty

    Mr GrimNasty Active Member

  16. fitero

    fitero New Member

    Been there a couple of times over the years and i sympathize with you.The first time i ended up with a bad debt on my books but it was tax deductable,[if you go ths way,make sure you invoice them recorded delivery and keep a record of the transaction as tho'the bill was paid otherwise the IRC will not accept it as a bad debt]The next time this happened,unpaid bill£1,100,on advice i got claim forms from county court,filled them all in,photo copied them and sent them to the customer saying that in 7 days time i would file them to C.C.result,got paid.Good luck.

  17. Isn't this a case where improved communication is necessary?

    A hand written quotation simply stating the materials to be used and a price for the work to be done.

    This quote could have then have been signed by the customer stating that she had chosen the parts and agreed to your payment terms also stated on your quote!

    Then if any argument relating to materials used or payment would be a lot easier to settle and at least you have a document to back up any legal action,even if you don't give your customer a copy!
  18. zulu03

    zulu03 New Member

    Regarding harassment, chasing money which you are legally owed is actually one of 3 specific defences to harassment. You need to remain professional as to how you chase the debt, but if you do so then you are golden.
  19. Mr GrimNasty

    Mr GrimNasty Active Member

    Exactly as I said.

    But you cannot use it as a reason to harass someone and you cannot present a defence without being prosecuted first.

    And it is only a defence if you ask calmly and reasonably for the debt to be settled once or twice. After that you must use due legal process.

    If you go and demand payment every evening or persistently protest with a placard outside their house etc. etc. you WILL be found guilty of harassment.
  20. Macbeth

    Macbeth New Member

    "Exactly as I said." fnurr fnurr.

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