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  1. #1
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    Default Client stiffing me

    Anyone have a good letter or advice for starting legal proceedings against a client who won't pay? Surprisingly, this is the first time I have had to do this, even though I accept personal checks (his bounced and he's been making excuses ever since).
    I do not have an attorney because I've never needed one.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    John, I chased a toad of a client around for almost one year trying to collect. http://www.inspectionnews.net/home_i...ck-writer.html It was the same deal as you. He wrote a check but it bounced. I got him on the phone one time but after that, he stopped answering the phone and he didn't reply to any voicemails, e-mails, or letters. I went to the police in the area and they did nothing. Joe Haggerty on here ended up telling me about the Pennsylvania Bad Check Restitution program. I went through the Chester county division, filed all the paperwork they asked for, and ended up with a a couple checks for the full amount I was looking to recover, plus another $15 (I don't know how but I didn't question it). The toad was put on a payment program so I got all my money back in a couple installments.

    This is your best route to take to get your money John. I wouldn't bother with anything like small claims court either. The client probably wouldn't show and you'd still have to chase him to collect money even after you win a judgement. Losers like your client and the toad I had do this stuff on a regular basis and will only respond and payup if they have a proverbial gun to their head.

    How long ago did your inspection take place? When I filed my case with the program, you had to have all paperwork to them within 10 months of the date of the stiffing. After 10 months, I would have been SOL.

    Last edited by Nick Ostrowski; 11-08-2012 at 07:28 AM.
    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    Thanks Nick.
    I suppose this might be complicated by the fact that this guy is Canadian, and, yes, I was stupid/naive enough to accept a (business) check drawn on a Canadian bank. It took forever to process and then eventually be returned for insufficient funds.
    I'll definitely look into the Pennsylvania Bad Check Restitution program.
    I'm well within the 10 months.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    Assuming he bought the house and moved into the area, what's his address? We can get a posse together and go pay him a visit.

    If he now lives in the area, I assume the program should still apply.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    I had a client leave while I was under a house. $500 lost. I tried for a while to contact her but it was useless. So I just gave up. The time I was spending on it was only adding to the total lost revenue of that job anyhow. Karma will be her foe.

    The MAZZA INSPECTION GROUP
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  6. #6
    TSlocum's Avatar
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    As long as you have a contract and the canceled check I would look into small claims court. I've done this before for other things.

    One client I sent a registered letter informing them that if payment was not received in so many days that I would then file a small claims lawsuit. Then also inform them that they would be liable for your time as well as all court costs.

    In my case, they did not show up and the judge ruled in my favor. With a contract, there is no way a judge should rule against you. Then an order was sent out and the people paid the whole amount with fees. Judgement ruling included the fees since I listed all them in the filing.

    Some issues could arise, you don't know where they live... or they don't accept your registered letter. Also, small claims in your state could work differently.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    I think this might have gotten his attention:

    Pennsylvania's Bad Check Statute

    It is a crime in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to pass a check for the payment of money, knowing that it will not be honored by the underlying bank. For purposes of Pennsylvania's bad check statute, a person tendering a check is presumed to know that the check will not be paid if payment was refused either because the issuer had no account with the bank at the time the check was issued, i.e., a check issued on a closed account; or payment was refused by the bank for lack of funds within 30 days, and the person issuing the check fails to make good on it within 10 days after receiving notice of insufficient funds.


    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    John, did you send this info to him?

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    John, did you send this info to him?
    Yes, I did, and he rather rapidly replied that he would send a postal money order.
    Still, I'm not holding my breath.

    I checked into the Bad Check Restitution Program but there doesn't seem to be one in Philadelphia. I emailed the District Attorney's office asking about it and they replied "Please contact your local police". Not the most helpful response, is it?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    Hi John,

    This can happen from time to time.
    I suggest you take them to small claims court. It worked for me on a few occasions.

    People buying houses typically have some sort of fiscal responsibility and in the end tend to belly up to the bar. Threatened with a court date they usually give in.

    If they don't show up, they default and you can get a warrant for their arrest. Not a very complicated process, just takes determination. If this person ever returns to your area and you find out, you can get him sent to jail.

    I say -- go for it. I hate being stiffed! It's NOT the MONEY - It's the principle. And it is very satisfying to know that this stiff could have a warrant on his head.

    You should also talk to the realtor and pick their brain for more information about them. lot's of options there. Send me an email if you wish to talk more.

    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
    www.midcapehomeinspection.com

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Yes, I did, and he rather rapidly replied that he would send a postal money order.
    Still, I'm not holding my breath.

    I checked into the Bad Check Restitution Program but there doesn't seem to be one in Philadelphia. I emailed the District Attorney's office asking about it and they replied "Please contact your local police". Not the most helpful response, is it?
    Any chance the program from a neighboring county would be willing to take it on? Hopefully the toad actually did get a scare and is going to cough up the money. On an unrelated month, how is this month going for you John? Things have slowed down quite a bit but I'm guessing hurricane Sandy threw a temporary wrench into people's house buying.

    For me, it's about the principle AND the money. I refuse to let anybody get over on me.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  12. #12

    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    Small claims is weak. Hard to enforce.

    Go to your county prosecutor with the bad check. They generally handle it pretty well. Writing a check for funds unavailable is fraud.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Ostrowski View Post
    ...On an unrelated month, how is this month going for you John? Things have slowed down quite a bit but I'm guessing hurricane Sandy threw a temporary wrench into people's house buying. ...
    Pretty slow, yep. It's a good thing money ain't everything, eh?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    Make sure you take down their drivers license number and that their current home address is on the check. You'll need their address in order to send them a registered letter which is always your first collection step. Your local county DA who handles hot checks will have a harder time collecting for you without this info.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    send aletter of intent to file lien on property--you can go on internet for free and fill outy--send it and then see what happens

    cvf


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    When they don't buy the house, your chances diminish considerably. My slimeball moved shortly after the crime. I chased him by email until I got tired of it. Snail mail was returned.
    Court works only if the slimer is available, and even then, he is not forced to pay. You, however, are obligated to pay for the filing process. That is our just society.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    I used small claims court once (no attorney allowed, unless the defendant moves it to county court). I got a judgment without any problem, but never got a nickel. I could have chased the guy down and gotten a garnishment, but after months of pursuing him, I had reached the point where the return for effort was just not worth it to me.

    A mechanic's lien might have worked except he hadn't bought the house. In fact, that was his reason for stopping payment on the check to me.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    Finally the bum sent me what he owed me by Western Union,after I pointed out to him that he had already committed a crime in Pennsylvania by not making good on a bounced check within 10 days of being notified of said bouncing.
    Case closed.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    SUCCESS!!! Congrats on not letting a loser like that screw you John and getting your money.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  20. #20

    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    Try calling the Bank (his bank) to see if they will notify you when his account has sufficient funds, then you can redeposit your check. Your bank may be able to assist you with this. If you can find out where he works you can also put some pressure on him that way.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    Quote Originally Posted by John Ghent View Post
    Try calling the Bank (his bank) to see if they will notify you when his account has sufficient funds, then you can redeposit your check. Your bank may be able to assist you with this. If you can find out where he works you can also put some pressure on him that way.
    John got his money. He said the guy sent it via Western Union.

    The problem with trying to get his bank to tell you if the account has sufficient funds is the funds might be there when you ask them but it doesn't mean they will still be there when your bank goes to extract the money. There is a lag period of up to 7 days with some banks from the point at which you deposit the check and the actual money ends up in your account.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  22. #22
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    Quote Originally Posted by John Ghent View Post
    Try calling the Bank (his bank) to see if they will notify you when his account has sufficient funds, then you can redeposit your check. Your bank may be able to assist you with this. If you can find out where he works you can also put some pressure on him that way.
    I brought a money order from a potential client (no I did not inspect yet) to chase as it was from JP Morgan. I asked them to verify that the money order was good before I deposited it or did the inspection. They said they don't do that anymore.

    Banks do not do anything today with the exception of charging everyone more fees for everything imaginable.

    A friend did not have cleared money in his account and asked someone if they could hold off on cashing the check until two days. The person agreed and even said he could date the check for that day. No pressing issue here, He did not even have the goods yet.. The fool went right to the bank (BOA) and they entered all the info into the computer and then cashed the check. This was with a date two days from that day (which you cannot post date checks). The teller read the info and cashed the check. This was even entering the check info into the computer and seeing no available funds.

    It literally states the bank is not responsible for cashing post dated checks or checking to see if there are available funds. This is right out of the banks rules of cashing or writing checks.

    I don't know what kind of crap that is but if I had ever down loaded a pic from my phone I have the letter on there. Why is it any bank I go to on this planet will not cash a check from anyone if funds are not available. This person was charge an overdraft fee to boot. This just happened last week.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    I am in the middle of a chasing bad check scenario. The agent is putting the inspection fee and the returned check fee on the closing costs list to be paid at closing. I have to wait until closing but I will get paid.


  24. #24
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    My attorney's letter:
    1) demands immediate payment or all legal remedies will apply.
    2) directs that payment go to the attorney.
    3) reminds the culprit that the agreement makes the client responsible for all costs of collection.
    4) identifies the amount owed including the $150 attorney fee for the letter.

    In other words, if the inspection fee was $350, he bills them $500. His success rate is 100% on the first letter.

    Since I have never had a culprit go to the next step, I don't know what the attorney would do if someone pressed the issue past the first letter. I bet it's interesting.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrel Hood
    My attorney's letter:
    1) demands immediate payment or all legal remedies will apply.
    2) directs that payment go to the attorney.
    3) reminds the culprit that the agreement makes the client responsible for all costs of collection.
    4) identifies the amount owed including the $150 attorney fee for the letter.
    Darrel,

    This sounds great.

    What language do you use in your contract for non payment issues (like a bad check) and to enforce client responsibility for all costs of collection.

    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
    www.midcapehomeinspection.com

  26. #26
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
    Darrel Hood Guest

    Default Re: Client stiffing me

    Ken, this is the statement the attorney cites:

    You also agree to pay all expenses incurred by DILIGENT PROPERTY SERVICES to obtain payment from you in the event that a check or other payment you paid us is invalid for any reason.



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