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Deadbeat customer problem, HELP!

3490 Views 14 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  hungry4knowhow
A few months ago I was called by a new customer that was recommended by an established client to do some upgrades to a new house that she bought.
The job was to install new flooring and paint the interior. I wrote out a contract and was paid for the jobs which the client was extremely happy for the the quality of workmanship and the relatively fast completion date. Client paid and all was good.
Then the client wanted two bathrooms remodeled in which we were happy to do for her. we estimated the jobs and we agreed on the price. We pulled permits and I submitted a design in which she was very happy about. The client brought her own licensed plumber in which she paid directly and I brought my own licensed electrician in which she also paid directly. In the interim of the job things were going very well despite the usual delays of waiting for tile, waiting for the inspector and coordinating the plumber and electrician. My job as a GC was to (as we all do) was to oversee the job and make sure things go smoothly while at the same time juggle a half dozen other jobs in the area. Unfortunately my daughter at the time was diagnosed with melanoma cancer and needed treatment. I explained this to the customer in that I need to take time off to handle this but assured her that if need be my guys can pop in from time to time and do the work. She indicated that I "should take as much time as you need and our prayer are always with you and your daughter". All this time Mrs. X was happy the way the job progressed. After 2 weeks I came in full force and completed the job. Mrs. X's Daughter who was paying the bills (Miss Z) indicated in an email that when the job is done and all the inspections are approved we will pay you the balance of $3500.
A week before we completed the job Mrs. X dropped a bombshell (without explanation) and told me that in 30 years and moving 20 times I was the worst contractor she ever dealt with????? I was floored since I have always run a ligitamate customer oriented service to my clients and never heard that said about me, in fact quite the contrary.
When the inspections were done and she was very happy with the outcome I asked her again, I don't know why you have something against me but I know you're happy with the bathrooms (btw she LOVED my workers), can we work again for you in the future? She said NO. So I said OooKaaay...
When my electrician came in to collect his fee he asked her about me and she said "I don't like Marshall because he's never here and only comes in when he asks for money".
I went nuts on this because I break a $13,000 job into five progress payment specifically not to get hurt on the last payment. The last payment I received a month ago. The inspections were approved, we cleaned up and removed debris and did the "extras". Now 2 weeks later both mrs. x and miss.z do not answer phone calls or emails...(am I being punished for asking for money?)
My problem is I did not make a contract for this job, however I have paperwork, plans, emails on agreements of price and progress payments, etc.
I have never really gotten stiffed before but I need advice on how to proceed. Should I call the police and give them a visit, send a registered letter, knock on her door, send a letter about threatening to file a mechanics lein, file a lein, etc. I'm not a nasty guy and i realize that i can't save this relationship for future work but I paid my subs already and I'd like to move on and finish this professionlly.
Sorry for the long post but I need guidance here.

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Do you want to go to court and maybe split the difference (you have a hardship, some paperwork and emails; she has verbal-agreement-differences and probably a minor schedule b*tch)? or just eat the final payment? She said she'd pay once you were inspected and cleaned up, and you did, so you could offer to split the final billing amount?
I'd try the latter, and if she resists too much, just absolve her of further payments (swear all you like in your office while writing) in writing, snail mail. Sounds like she owes you $3,500? Fairly cheap schooling for the Always Write a Contract lesson. In Mass. here you have to write a contract for a job that size. I would not apologize if you did nothing wrong, just say you wish it could have worked out better and move on.

If you had a contract that you had fulfilled, then you could expect it to be honored in court. Without it, it's a gamble. The end of your sentence that says "...and juggle six other jobs..." makes me wonder if you do feel you shirked her job a bit.
Sometimes life deals you a hit (I'm sorry about your daughter) and you reel from the blow. This sounds like one of those times. By 2019 you won't think of it more than once or twice a year (that's how long it took me).
1 - 1 of 15 Posts
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