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I'm a licensed, insured and bonded contractor. So, my insurance is protected my customer properties, and my bond is protected them from getting rip-off. Then who is protecting me from getting rip off by my customers? I've been in the landscaping business for 7 years. Most of my works are came from referral and I have no problem with getting pay. Until a stranger found me on the net and decided not pay by accusing that I removed her plants by mistaken. However, if I have damaged her property, should she get compensated by my insurance instead of completely ripping me off. Let me hear from you guys.

Landscaper
www.envisionlandscaping.com

Rip-off By The Customer Follow up

Thank's a lot you guys for your inputs. By email, I actually told that lady to pay me or I will file with the State to put a lien on her property. She did not reply. 5 days later I sent another email to ask her to response to my invoice, whether she is going to pay me or not. I also asked her to send me the amount that I own her for the missing plants. I did not get her reply either. I did not tell her in the begining that I carry liability insurance, because I afraid that she may accuse me for a bigger one. Infact, I never tell my customers ahead that I carry liability insurance, unless they ask. I sent her an email and told her, if I have damaged her property, my insurance would compensate her instead of refusing paying me. I also gave her my insurance address and phone#. So far, I haven't heard from her either. Next, I take PipeGuy's advice, to send her my invoice by register mail, so she can't making excuse that she did not receive it. The amount she owns me is $1000, it's not a lot, but it hurt me most is I paid $700 from my own pocket for the materials, And madly, I really hate people who ripp-off others. I have several cliens who own their law firm, they would help me by send her a threaten letter or something, maybe the power of an Attorney could help? What about a Collection Agency? I need to know this for future protection.
People told me that contractors are protected by State of Washington. However, contractors still get rib-off around here. I'll follow up later if I get something new.
Thank's again you guys
Landscaper
 

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I would threaten her with putting a mechanics lien against her house if she wants to act like a crook.

Nice wordy contracts and signed change orders have a tendency to keep everybodies memory from fading during the job.
 

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Yup, and there are people who are out there who live to rip people off. The more experience you have, the more you avoid them, or learn to adjust contracts to prepare for such an occurance.
 

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Mike Finley said:
I would threaten her with putting a mechanics lien against her house if she wants to act like a crook.
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If you threaten she will pay you, trust me. :Thumbs:
 

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Yup, some people will fold like a cheap area rug.
 

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landscaper said:
Then who is protecting me from getting rip off by my customers?
You and whatever contract you might have with the customer (a contract doesn't neccesarily have to be written but that's going to be the best).

landscaper said:
and decided not pay by accusing that I removed her plants by mistaken.
If her accusation is false, immediately send her a one page letter demanding payment in the amount, form and manner that you agreed upon. Go to the post office and send the letter "registered" with "return receipt requested".
The letter should also tell her of your intent to lien her preperty if she does not pay. Unfortuanately, a lien really doesn't do much for you until she wants to sell or borrow against her house.
The letter SHOULD NOT address, or even mention, any false claims that she's making. If she has made claims of damage that are justified then the letter should also list them specifically and ask her to please tell you within 48 hours what steps will resolve the problem to her satisfaction - what would she like done to fix the damage?

landscaper said:
if I have damaged her property, should she get compensated by my insurance instead of completely ripping me off
If you damaged her property then you should ask her to please tell you within 48 hours what steps will resolve the problem to her satisfaction - what would she like done to fix the damage? If those steps aren't reasonable (she wants you to do much more than fix the problem) then you'll have to determine what your "legal" rights are (turn it over to insurance, file suit, file a lien, etc.)

If this customer is an a__ho_e and is just trying to rip you off, don't waste your time trying to reason with her. Send her the letter now and call her 2 and 3 times a day demanding payment.
 

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There are many laws in many states protecting the contractor. First off her choice to not pay is not her choice. It's the courts, if it goes that far. Scum bag home owners know that in most cases it's cheaper for you to write off the bad debt than it is to persue court.

I'd send her a polite yet straight forward letter stating that is payment is not received within 7 days a mechanics lien will be placed on her property. Also explain that all collection costs will be her responsibility and she will owe you more after you persue foreclosure of her property.

In IL you can foreclose a lien and get judgement in the courts.

Also remember scum bags have rights too. In IL calling more than twice a week and the scum bag can sue me. Actually I rephrase, the law is stated as more than two contacts a week. THis means I can call once and send one letter. Or I can ring her bell once and call her once. Why does the government protect scum bags? I should at least be able to throw a brick through her window when ever I drive bye.
 

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Grumpy is on the money. Down here we call it a 'backdoor'.
The threat of a lein will usually cool their jets.
Try to keep an attorney in your back pocket through tradeouts. I've had the same ones for almost 15 yrs. Just having them write a letter can produce miracles.
 

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I'm seriously considering PAYING a lawyer to take me to the court house and teach me how to file a mechanics lien. Reason: A lawyer will charge a minimum of $500 to file for me, and I know the filing fee is about $50.

Some customers have stiffed me on extras like rotten wood replacement, even though it says in the contract they have to pay for rotten wood replacement. They know it would cost me more to write off the bad debt than persue the courts for the $200. They also know the worst I will do is invalidate their warranty and wish evil things to happen to them.

What will their suprise be when they get liened for $200... And I will do it just out of principal :) The courthouse I pass by at least 5 times a week and for $50 and an hour of my time I will consider it time well spent!
 

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I totally understand the situation !!! These forms are available at the courthouse and the instructions for filing as well, But for busy people like alot of us working business owners I just found these people at www.mechanicslien.com

If it sounds good, try em out and let me know.
 

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With all respect, I would never suggest anybody use that website for lien work. Filing a lien on the surface seems difficult and others are simply getting rich for supporting this myth. In the very worst, consider a local attorney with the understanding that you want him to file this lien and show you the process. However realize they don't like to show you how they are basically charging you $400 for something you will probably equate to being charged $400 for him to show you how to get license plates for your car with the DMV.

Everyone should know that 95% of mechanics liens fall off the property within 6 months because they cannot be cured, either because the contractor didn't set himself up from the beginning of the job correctly, or more likely the property is lien able, but because of typical circumstances there is nothing to benefit from. Essentially you are clouding their title, in best case you want to foreclose and own the home, but that is a rarity.

For the contractor the real power of the lien is based on the average homeowners lack of understanding of how weak mechanics liens truly are. Your goal will be the lien filing scaring the homeowner back to the bargaining table and allowing you to resolve the matter, not trying to cure the actual lien.

The threat of the lien, or the Lien with Notice of Intent to File a Lien document usually is the only step you need to file in order to see if you are going to actually get any results. This is something you simply file with the county clerk, by handing it to him and usually paying a small fee ($5-$25)
So you really may be wasting your money for all the services these lawyers and online services want to charge you which will usually be the complete service whether you need it or not, them fully knowing you will never use any of what you are paying for and even if you try, only having a 1 out of a 100 chance of being successful.

A company like http://www.bradfordpublishing.com has downloadable step by step guidelines that will take you through the steps of filling a mechanic's lien using your states guidelines and process. They also contain a document that explains your rights. The whole thing usually costs under $30. Don't wait too long; most states have a window of opportunity that closes the longer you wait, usually up to 90 days.

I would recommend every contractor get familiar with the exact details of the lien process for his state. You can work for years thinking that you will always have a mechanics lien to fall back upon if you get screwed, but only knowing the process ahead of time will ensure that you are doing what is required to be able to actually enforce the lien and give it teeth if you ever actually need to.
 

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Very Good Advice !!! Thank you for the input.

I posted the site thinking it was a good thing I found, guess not. In my course of business this has not been an issue as of yet for me. I expect it will come up eventually.
 

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The law in Minnesota states you must have this in your contract:
ATTENTION OWNERS

a. ANY PERSON OR COMPANY SUPPLYING LABOR OR MATERIALS FOR THIS IMPROVEMENT TO YOUR PROPERTY MAY FILE A LIEN AGAINST YOUR PROPERTY IF THAT PERSON OR COMPANY IS NOT PAID FOR THE CONTRIBUTIONS.
b. UNDER MINNESOTA LAW, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO PAY PERSONS WHO SUPPLIED LABOR OR MATERIALS FOR THIS IMPROVEMENT DIRECTLY AND DEDUCT THIS AMOUNT FROM OUR CONTRACT PRICE; OR WITHHOLD THE AMOUNTS DUE THEM FROM US UNTIL 120 DAYS AFTER THE COMPLETION OF THE IMPROVEMENT UNLESS WE GIVE YOU A LIEN WAIVER SIGNED BY PERSONS WHO SUPPLIED ANY LABOR OR MATERIAL FOR THE IMPROVEMENT AND WHO GAVE YOU TIMELY NOTICE.
c. In the event it becomes necessary for the CONTRACTOR to file a Mechanic’s Lien Statement because of non-payment by the OWNER of any sum required under this remodeling construction contract, then, and in that event, the OWNER shall pay in addition to all sums required there under, the cost of the preparation and filing of the Mechanic’s Lien Statement, including reasonable attorney’s fees in connection therewith, as well as all other fees and costs allowed by statute. This shall be considered as the contractor's timely notice.
 

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We have a 4 page contract not including Exibit A which states what we are going to do. If anyone is interested in seeing the legal contract I will post it.
 

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I cring when my own PROPOSALS exceed 2 pages. All the legal crap is on the back, meaning my CONTRACT is only one page, the scope of work, or exhibit A, as Gunn calls is, is one page.

You all know my opinions on this crap. I'd never sign anythign like that, and don't expect my customers to either. Then again on the flip side, I totally understand why sellers use them... We live in a F'ed up world.

Post it so I can complain some more Gunn :)
 

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Crap or not it is Legal and it is the law to show to your customer and it protects the contractor and the customer. I know contractors that use the contracts that have one page but as a law where we do business we have to show all of the legal stuff. I was not posting it to have anyone complain I was posting it as help for anyone that is having a hard time collecting their money. Just trying to help other contractors thats all. If you were in my state you would have to sign it along with the home owner by law. We feel if it is stated in bold print for all parties to see you can not screw me and I can not screw you and thats a good law as I see it. We have nothing to hide.
 

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GunnCon said:
b. UNDER MINNESOTA LAW, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO PAY PERSONS WHO SUPPLIED LABOR OR MATERIALS FOR THIS IMPROVEMENT DIRECTLY AND DEDUCT THIS AMOUNT FROM OUR CONTRACT PRICE;
Does this mean that you guys can't mark-up a subs work?
 

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You think thats bad. In Ohio you have to have not only the 3 day right to terminate yoru contract as the homeowner. And you must also have a detachable contract for the homeowner that explains how to Terminate the contract. Or else face a $25,000 dollar fine
 

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Roofer1 said:
You think thats bad. In Ohio you have to have not only the 3 day right to terminate yoru contract as the homeowner. And you must also have a detachable contract for the homeowner that explains how to Terminate the contract. Or else face a $25,000 dollar fine
Same in IL... which is GREAT!

Nobody shows that to the home owner, then I come in and say: "Oh by the way, did anyone show this to you? It's the law in IL.... What?! You mean they didn't show this to you?! <shocked and amazed>"
 

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I'm pretty sure every state has similiar requirements in regard to a 3 day cancellation policy. The FTC has a federal law called the door to door or cooling off law to protect consumers from sales made in the home. The states can adopt harsher versions but they can't void the federal version. The law is very specific, right down to the actual wording you have to have in your contracts. I will see if I can find it and post it here.
 
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