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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Contractor won't pay.

    I was working for a contractor for 14 months. I serviced his clients and they were all very pleased with my work.
    I'm sure he was getting paid.
    In August he was 90 days behind on my timesheet payments. He kept telling me the check was in the mail and out of good faith I finished up with the clients I was working with assuming he would pay me soon. I began getting my own clients to pay the bills after the first 30 days. Now he owes me $9,282 but will not return my calls, email and avoids me all together. I think he was angry with me for getting my own clients.
    I looked into small claims but the max is $7500 and I can't sue twice on the same contract. I'll lose 1782 if he pays me at all.
    I've spoken with the clients and they have paid Clientworks for the work I did. I have never been told why he will not pay me and his clients where wondering when I was coming back. My contract states 15 day net.

    I have not retaliated though allot of my friends say I should bring him down.

    Is it worth going to civil court for a year just out of principle?


    I've been very patient but my family has sufferd.

    What makes people do things like this?
    What would you do?

    Thanks,

    Daniel
    Last edited by raiched; Nov 29, 2006 at 20:49.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Evangelist Unit7285's Avatar
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    I think you need to edit your post to delete the name and company name of the guy you're complaining about. Make it more general, as this isn't a 'name and shame' forum.

    Paul

  3. #3
    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Sigh.

    Why does it surprise anyone when people do things like this?

    First, if your contract says 15 days net, why'd you let him get so far into arrears? When a payment's late, you stop working until the bill's paid. End of story. You don't keep working and racking up unpaid back charges. Do that, and you'll likely never be paid.

    Second, as long as you're not lifting clients off this guy (and assuming you haven't signed some sort of brain dead noncompete agreement), it's not the slightest bit his business that you've taken on other clients. There's no reason for him to even know.

    So to answer your question about why people like him do this: because folks like you let them. No one forced you to work with the guy; there was probably every indication that a problem was coming; when the problem became obvious, you kept working. Only now that he's 90 days in arrears (six times your payment term), are you looking into taking action. I'm sorry your family is suffering for it, but it should never have gone this far.

    At over nine grand, you can't just write it off. That's stoned. I'd take it up with a good collection agency, and then consider legal action if that doesn't work. I also sincerely hope for your sake that your contract is rock solid and that you have complete records of everything. If you do, go to war - it'll likely be paid before it goes to court.

    If you can't back it up, or your contract is a joke, you may be screwed. Take it as a learning experience, and don't make the same mistakes again.

    Oh - and I agree, edit out the names. Bad business.

  4. #4
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Does the contract have an arbitration clause? That can save tons of time and money.

    Also, WHY isn't the contractor paying you? Without knowing this information, it's hard to know how to proceed. Maybe he's broke, in some kind of trouble, etc. Maybe you can make a payment plan that might ultimately be easier than taking him on in court. Or, maybe he's just screwing you and you shouldn't waste more time waiting.

    Another idea might be to take him to small claims, and just claim $7500 in damages. Is it legal to reduce your claim just to get in to small claims? I don't know
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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  5. #5
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    Unhappy Bad business is right. Live and learn

    Thanks for the reply. I have removed his name as suggested.
    Right Robert, I did let it go to far and now I'm screwed! I thought we had a great relationship and kept working in good faith. I called small claims today and they did say I can sue for the $7500 but I cannot make another claim on the same contract for the rest he owes. I also called and filed a claim with the better business in the hopes that we can go to arbitration.I'm still waiting on them.
    I do have a contract and all my time sheets with a 2k check stating that it was an advance on the total. That should get me pretty far.
    As far as to why he just 'let me go' I can't be sure. He just stopped communicating with me all together. His management skills had gotten him into trouble with a few clients and with all the clients I was working for telling him what a great job I was doing I have to assume that he felt threatened. I would never have taken his clients away but now I'm going to be his biggest competitor. I'm done waiting so first thing tomorrow morning I will contact a good collection agency and then small claims.

    Bad business is right. Live and learn

    Your comments are appreciated
    Last edited by raiched; Nov 29, 2006 at 21:12. Reason: Get the names right.

  6. #6
    Webwellwisher Robert Warren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raiched
    I would never have taken his clients away but now I'm going to be his biggest competitor. I'm done waiting so first thing tomorrow morning I will contact a good collection agency and then small claims.
    At the risk of sounding like a bloodthirsty, kill-or-be-killed SOB, that's exactly what I would do. I'd start by collating and evaluating all my contracts and invoices and records. If you've never had an attorney look over the contract, now's a good time to do that. Make sure you have a detailed, crystal-clear assessment of what legal and financial risks you face before taking the next step. Don't make any moves until you know for sure where your vulnerabilities are. I assure you - no matter how well you think you're covered, you have weaknesses somewhere. There are always risks.

    Then, like I said, I'd start with a good collection agency. If 60-90 days pass without any positive results, I'd go legal. I'd keep it in small claims, if at all possible; a good attorney in civil circuit will cost you a small fortune. Like I said, though, I doubt it'll get that far. Most likely, he can't afford to pay your bill. He'll want to negotiate things with you and the collector.

    Finally - unless payment happened fast and very graciously - I'd then make it a point of personal honor to (legally) do everything in my competitive power to put him out of business. I'd work, for years if necessary, to edge out his markets and undercut his ability to win new business. I'd ensure that ultimately, as he finally closed his doors in frustration, his last thought would be that maybe he shouldn't have screwed me. And then I'd gleefully dance on his financial grave, singing songs of a battle well won over a carafe of fine wine. There's more than one way to take money out of a pocket.

    Of course, though, I'm a jerk. I take that sort of thing personally, and I tend to nurse grudges.. I find them quite motivating at times.

  7. #7
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    I agree with Robert in as much as you should have never let him run up a debt of over 9k. What I would do is get in contact with him and agree for him to pay you what he can afford to pay on a weekly or monthly basis. When the amount is less than 7500 take him to small claims court for the rest.

  8. #8
    King of Paralysis by Analysis bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by raiched
    I called small claims today and they did say I can sue for the $7500 but I cannot make another claim on the same contract for the rest he owes.
    100% of $7500 is better than 0% of $9282.

    It's time to play hardball, this isn't a $20 banner design job you got stiffed on.

    Take him to court, win your judgement, then steal all his clients by letting them know he stiffed you (it's a legal fact once you win your case, so no fear of libel/slander) and suggesting they hire you as they a) like your work, b) have to be careful when dealing with conmen like this guy.

    You can then dance on his grave or not, that part is up to you.

  9. #9
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    I agree with Robert and tke71709 and especially with Robert's statement:
    When a payment's late, you stop working until the bill's paid. End of story. You don't keep working and racking up unpaid back charges. Do that, and you'll likely never be paid.
    I'm glad you also agree with that one Daniel! It will save you a lot of grief in the future.

    Ethics are always a high priority with me and also with Robert and tke71709 (from what I see they have posted in other threads).

    However, if clients have been calling and asking where you have been, I would certainly tell them that you are available to them - that you have seceded from your previous union and are now flying under your own flag. You needn't go into detail about the whys and wherefores, but, if I were you, I would do everything I could to build my business beyond that of the deadbeat who hasn't paid you.

    As far as finding out why he hasn't paid you, to my way of thinking, that is information he should have freely offered to you, if he has a valid reason. Don't let other put you on a guilt trip about what you should do to amicably resolve the issue. Do what you need to do to build your empire. It's obvious that the contractor is building his on your back.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown


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