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  1. #1
    ContractorJaxFL is offline Junior Member
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    Jan 2008
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    Angry Client put stop payment on a check for work already completed

    What is the name of your state? FL

    Sorry for the long post but we need some serious advice which is greatly appreciated!

    We gave our client a quotation in October and she accepted to have the work done right after Christmas. She paid the down payment per check (mostly used to buy materials) and we performed the work on thursday - installation of approximately 180 linear feet of aluminum gutters all around her house. After she inspected the work she gave us the final payment check as agreed upon in our quotation "final payment is due upon satisfactory completion of the work". The first check was for $700 and the second one for $480.

    She called saturday and said that she was not happy with the work and we suggested to come out on monday to fix what they thought was wrong with the gutters. Her roommate called also a little bit later and DEMANDED that we came out the same day (saturday) to fix the gutters RIGHT THEN OR ELSE - she was very rude. We bought more material and fixed only a small section because it was getting dark. Aluminum gutters are different from PVC gutters which are angled already, aluminum gutters are very hard to install perfectly level. We also pointed out BEFORE we started the job that there would be seams and that we would seal those. Both women agreed to that and didn't seem to have any problem with the seams. While we were performing the repair, 3 guys were constanly around us and acted very intimidating and pointed out issues we were going to address later. We said that the homeowners needed to take a look at the work and let us know on sunday during the day how they liked the section we fixed and we would come back out on monday to do the rest of the gutters the same way.

    They never called us on sunday. We called back on monday and the demanding one of the two women said that they wanted a FULL REFUND of the money for the whole job (including the money for the materials - adding up to around $650). We suggested to get together face to face to resolve the issues they are having.

    This morning the nicer woman called and we set up a time to meet. Later in the morning the demanding woman calls and threatens to take us to court if we would not agree to their demands, a whole refund. Tonight we met for coffee with the nicer of the two women and we suggested to her to come out and redo the work completely. She said that she was not going for that and that she had lost confidence in us completely. All of a sudden the demanding woman shows up and gets very hostile with us. Again, she threatens to take us to court and to destroy our good reputation if her demands would not be met.

    She also mentioned that she put a stop payment on the second check (she only mentioned the second check, we don't know if she also put a stop payment on the first one which we used for the materials). So that means that we are going into the hole with our bank and that the money we paid to our workers is out the door as well.

    Did they breach the contract and what legal consequences follow? Can we take them to court for non-payment for services performed? We offered (free of charge of course) remedy of the issues the clients have with the performed work numerous times but they simply declined - we feel that we have done what we possibly could to fulfill our end of the contract and to resolve the issues. Do they have a legal leg to stand on by threatening to take us to court? The mean woman also mentioned that she is considering to have someone else take down the gutters for $7 per linear foot and bill us for that work even though we offered to take down the gutters for free - can she do that?

    Thanks for any advice!!
    Last edited by ContractorJaxFL; 01-04-2008 at 06:56 AM.
  2. #2
    RuGa is offline Member
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    Nov 2007
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    114

    Stop payment..

    A check is a legal instrument! By their giving you the final check, they implicitly agreed that the work was completed. Their 'stop-payment' on the second check is 'fraud' and highly illegal. I would let them know that you will be filing a Police Report (regarding the 'Stop Payment check) and get all your papers and affairs together and go see a lawyer regarding a lawsuit against them.
    I know of NO State which allows a 'stop-payment' for goods or services already rendered.
    DO NOT under any circumstances let go of those checks!! Contact your bank, let them know the issue and ask them to please keep the checks (and/or photocopies) as evidence.
    In the future make sure part of your accounting practice includes copies of any checks received (if you don't already) as proof of contracts**************
    Also, in the beautiful State of Florida you should be able to place a lien against said property for the amount which they stopped payment on. This has two effects, one being that said property can NOT be sold without paying the liens on said property and two, affects the credit rating of said property owner....
    Last edited by RuGa; 01-07-2008 at 06:08 PM.
  3. #3
    BL
    BL is offline Senior Member
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    Double post :

    [url]http://forum.freeadvice.com/showthread.php?t=388788[/url]
  4. #4
    ContractorJaxFL is offline Junior Member
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    Jan 2008
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    New Developments

    Sorry for the long post but a lot of things have happened since I posted the last time.

    We sent an email and a certified letter (received by our client on January 12th 2008) regarding Florida statute 832.041 and requested payment in full in the amount of $480 plus a $40 bounced check charge within 30 days for the total amount of $520.

    On January 22nd 2008 our client filed a Small Claims suit in Clay County against us, requesting a full refund ($700.00 - initial down payment check for material costs) plus court costs.

    We filed a counter suit as entitled by Florida Statute 68.065 Actions to collect worthless checks, drafts, or orders of payment. We are seeking $480.00 for the original final check, signifying her implicit acceptance of work completed, a $40 dishonored check fee and $1,440 which is 3 times the amount of the original check as entitled by above statute for a total of $1960.00.

    The pretrial court date for the original small claims court case was set for Tuesday, March 4th 2008 at 1.00 pm. We were represented by both owners. The plaintiff failed to appear. On Wednesday, March 5th 2008 the client filed a motion to set aside dismissal and reset pretrial, her reasons why she was not present on the court date was that she mixed up dates with another court case she has pending in another FL county. She asked the court to be sympathetic to her anxiety and requested to reset pretrial in this case.

    We received an order setting final hearing for Wednesday, April 2nd 2008. In this letter dated March 10th 2008 it is ordered and adjudged that 1. The Plaintiff’s Complaint is dismissed and 2. A trial on the Defendant’s Counterclaim is scheduled for April 2nd 2008.

    On monday March 17th we received a letter from the Better Business Bureau, stating that our client has filed a complaint against us.

    Today we received a letter from the court stating that her motion was granted by the court and that the court reset trial to April 2nd 2008. We think that this is totally unacceptable but don't know how to proceed and if there is anything we can do. She didn't show up for her own case and now she's getting another chance to present her case.

    We have done many gutter installation jobs in the past and none of our clients ever had a problem with any of our work. We have a 4.79 out of 5.00 rating on ServiceMagic where we get some of our leads from which is one of the highest ratings any of the Home Improvement companies on ServiceMagic has. We think that this claim with the Better Business Bureau is completely unjustified. We always take great pride in our work and often go “the extra mile” to complete every job to our client’s full satisfaction.

    The client states in the BBB claim that we are “angry” because we have not received full payment”, the client “is disappointed that we won’t even acknowledge a poor job” and that she wants an apology and refund. She also states that “Communications were cordial, then strained, now they are broken.”

    We are not exactly sure what the client expects from us in regards to communication after she put stop payment on the final check, then tried to post a rating of 0.00 for the gutter installation (which was not part of the original service request in the first place) on ServiceMagic’s website (which they immediately rejected because of the substantial difference to all our other ratings from other clients), then filed a claim with the Small Claims court and then filed another claim with the BBB (we think she did this in retalliation to the court dismissing her claim because it was before the court granted her motion).

    The client is trying everything to ruin our good reputation. We have every intention now to sue her for defamation of character but we also know that we will have to present a lot of proof that has been badmouthing us. She has wasted a lot of our time and she also cost us additional money for the day we had to take off work to go to court (and where she failed to appear). We have done everything in our power to ethically resolve the issue while she was in no way, shape or form cooperative. The client continued to insist on a unjustified full refund. We believe that she wants the gutters and the work performed for free.

    Questions:
    1. How can we proceed about getting her case dismissed because she didn't show up, the judge dismissed her case before and now basically gave her another chance because of totally stupid reasons* which would have not been granted to us if we tried to reset trial and didn't show up, the case would have been dismissed.

    *("I apologize to the court. I mixed up the date for pretrial in this case for another case # in another county. My son died last year and the young man responsible for his death is charged with DUI manslaughter. His court times for arraignment, bond and pretrial keep changing. Please be sympathetic to my grief and anxiety during this difficult time. I request that you reset pretrial in this case").

    2. How can we proceed about filing a case for defamation of character? What would an appropriate amount to sue her for be in our case?

    3. Can we despite the pending court case put a lien on her house? Would the amount be the initial $480 plus $40 for the check she put a stop payment on?
  5. #5
    BL
    BL is offline Senior Member
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    Courts can re-set cases , as you found out .

    Go ahead with the new date , and present your case .

    If you prevail , send a copy of the court order to the BBB .

    BBB will rate your service accordingly .

    Unless you prevail and you can prove that you've lost substantial work , by the client's actions , you won't end up with anything .

    You even state your record and rating are good to near perfect .

    I doubt one incident will mare that .

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