Customer Cancels Bush Hogging Job

What if a customer cancels?

I recently took a 10 ac job and the customer canceled after 80% of the work was done. Was it 80% of the fields to be mowed? No, it was 80% of the total work because we did the slow difficult part before the customer canceled and hired another bush-hogging business. Unfortunately, this person was hired before discussing the situation with me and coming to an agreement on the final fee owed. Her position was very unrealistic and it was evident she knew nothing about the cost of operating a bush-hogging business or the nature of the work. To her, I might as well have been doing hand mower work in her mind.

Customer Cancels – Lessons Learned?

This is a pretty interesting situation. I’m not going to rehash the video because it explains the situation before knowing what she would eventually offer to pay and her justification. The short version is that she tried to pay us a ridiculously low amount for the time, effort, and expenses to complete 95% of the most difficult work. I could have easily taken the money and lost money on the job but since I was curious about my legal options, I decided to embark on a journey to understand the process of filing a lien and going to small claims court.

Legal Options

I’m just a guy who works hard and expects to be paid for the time, expense, and service provided. When that doesn’t happen, what options are there? As a layperson, I decided to start with filing a lien on her property. I hoped this process would be enough to get her to pay but it wasn’t.

Filing a lien turned out to be quite easy and is done through the Clerk of Court. It is a two-step process in Florida, sending the other party a letter with a notice of intent to lien and then filing the lien itself. The notice is intended to give the owner a chance to resolve the issue before a lien is placed on the property. A lien can lead to the forfeiture of the property or sale at auction. From what I understand, the home could be sold at auction to satisfy a $200 lien. I’m no lawyer, but it seems this is possible.

When the lien didn’t work I decided to move forward with small claims court. What I learned was it is an easy process and not very expensive. I hated to go this route and it is the first time in over 20 years in business that I have taken a customer to SCC but this situation was just egregious enough that it warranted the time and money. I sent the customer a copy of the form to give her one more chance to make things right and she declined. As of this blog, the customer is being served and a court date is set. Finding a process server was easy to do online and only cost $75. I uploaded the court docs to the process servers website and they will do the rest. The next step is an online meeting with a mediator to try and settle the situation before it makes it in front of a judge.

Service Contracts

Prior to this incident I did work on a handshake. It was a bit of being lazy and not doing more expensive jobs where there was as much to lose. After the customer cancels, I immediately created a digital estimate and service agreement which is signed online.

Check back to learn how this unfolds. Click here to see the conclusion.

House Before and After house
House Before and after front area