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Advice for letting go?

Started by Geech, October 27, 2010, 07:32:46 pm

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"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power" - Abraham Lincoln


Thank you all for the good advice.  I apologize for the disappearing act, but I ran into some health problems that took me out of commission for a couple weeks.  Nothing like losing the ability to work when you're already talking about being stiffed ;)

I've been looking into the Mechanic's Lien and plan on following through with it at least.  I'll have to do some investigation on debt collectors as well moving forward.  Sadly, that boat is most likely going to become a part of the guy's lawn ornaments some day with the rest of his "forgotten" vehicles that litter his lawn on his country property.

Seeing as how he insisted on paying cash, claimed to not have a checking account or credit card when I said I preferred something with a little more traceability for such a large transaction, I'm going to assume a debt collector would not get very far with him.  Its not small change I'm out, somewhere to the tune of $1400 for the contracted work and about $2000 total when you factor in the "above and beyond" work that was added during the job.  I'm by far not a rich man, nor am I small in stature, easily threatened, or easy to take advantage, but when I was in full swing of the busy season I thought it made more sense to just let it go away quietly because the production I'd lose fighting him in my already hectic schedule would prove to cost more than I'd earn.   Spending more than 1-2 days on this guy would make his $1400 debt double due to being the one man show who can't work on other jobs and fight to get paid on an old one at the same time.  With no guarantee, I decided to focus on my good customers who were patiently waiting for my services.

I have this terrible habit of obsessing on negative things I guess, and I wanted to not do it with this issue but here we are 6 months later and the thought of it or driving near his street churns it up again.  I was satisfied with the profit I did collect despite the non-payment right up to when he tried to weasel all of his money back from me by claiming poor work after accepting the boat 4 months earlier with never a complaint or request for a repair to anything sold. 

Simply put, days before picking up / accepting the finished job he found out his very beloved 12 year old dog had bad cancer.  Fast forward a few months and he called first telling me he spent $8000 trying to keep the pooch alive but lost.  I knew what that dog meant to him, so I wasn't shocked when he vanished with a balance due and I honestly thought he'd be showing up any day to bring that last payment but days turned into weeks, etc.  Next he tried to pick apart every single aspect of the job stating he heard "I offer a 100% money back guarantee" from someone which I do on my boat covers - if I can't satisfy the pickiest customer, I'll unsnap the canvas, take it back, and hand over their deposit which of course I've never had to do.  But we're talking about a 19' cuddy cabin whose only original piece of interior that remained after the job was the plastic shell from the captain's chair due to rot so I couldn't exactly roll over and let him use a loophole.   His arguments were that because he let the boat sit for something like 8 weeks and pink mold formed inside was somehow my fault or the hours he spent trying to find flaws to bitch about (the stripe on the port side seat is 1/8" wider than the one on the starboard side he claimed as one reason for asking for his money back) which was clearly his way of trying to recoop his losses on his poor dog.  I'm sympathetic more than most when it comes to pets, but not to the point of losing my own house!



Between the above customer and the customer from hell I wrote about earlier this year with the houseboat enclosure, I have two jobs in the history of my company that have not gone smoothly and refuse to go away despite resolution on each.  Of course I'm referring to the d-bag customer who felt he he knew more than me about canvas and my stupidity for not taking all of your advice of "I don't care what it costs, run Greg - you don't want this guy as a customer." In the three boating seasons that have passed since I opened my doors, I've had the pleasure of service around 325+ different customers, resulting in 325+ very satisfied customers to the best of my knowledge. 85-90% of my business is from referrals so I must be doing something right I imagine, and yet I spend my time focusing on two insatiable con-artist customers when I take a snapshot of my successes and failures.

The freaking guy with the a-hole job in the spring I wrote about long ago sent me an early Christmas present the other day.  Here is a guy who hasn't contacted me since I completed the dreaded enclosure to his satisfaction in May other than to contract me for MORE work on his boat which I only accepted because it was simple and I needed to recoop some losses on the enclosure I basically gave him, and now is taking me to court.  He called at the end of his boating season to ask for his bimini storage boots I had completely forgotten to deliver with his enclosure (it stays up every day its on the water so he was in no hurry for them at the time and my true mistake for never delivering them), apparently I did not return his voicemail fast enough (if you recall that other story you can see why I didn't jump fast enough at calling him), and received a threatening voicemail from his buddy who contracted me for the job originally a few days later.  I said enough was enough, I knocked out his overdue items, apologized for the oversight in an email / printed letter accompanying the boxed goods I sent him after not reaching him by phone, and then proceeded to state I no longer wished to do business with him for obvious stated reasons but felt I had no choice.  Never a peep in the months that have passed since doing so, stupidly I assumed no contact meant "understood."

Two days ago, a certified letter shows up where he filed a civil suit against my business at the magistrate stating he wanted all of his $5k+ back for the job because "Inferior product. Poor quality. Refuses to come correct neccessesary repairs" (typo intentional).  I can't wait for my day in clown court over this one, I say "clown" only because I feel any process that allows anyone with the ability to hold a crayon to file a suit and waste your time requiring your attendance without any screening of validity or merit before making you show up, not to mock the people in the magistrate's office, simply the process they hate as much as I do.  I actually look forward to it.  

He's another classic example of "I used my product for 5 months without one complaint upon finally accepting it after asking you to make 10 modifications in design after the fact, but I had to pull my boat out of the water early this year for undisclosed reasons, so now I'm going to say after using it all season without a gripe that its poor quality and try to get my money back because I'm in a financial pinch most likely."  Yes, it will be a blessed appearance in our local version of People's Court.  

Some of you may recall I come from the IT industry and started this business after having a longtime dream of doing so when the "once in a lifetime, the stars are really aligned" moment presented itself.  For almost three years now I've resisted job offers as former colleagues try to pull me into their new employer's doors with some rather enticing offers that exceed what I had made / I am making now.  But no kidding, earlier in the same day the letter arrived I couldn't resist going to check out the latest opportunity to make way too much money to ignore and was considering "going part time" or even more fun, enjoyable hobby with the business because the potential deal dangled in front of me is simply too good to ignore.  Unfortunately if the offer is formally made, I can't resist making twice as much while working half as hard but I'm in my early 30's and have plenty of time to regroup and apply my lessons learned... At the very least, I'll have one hell of a toy collection for my hobby if I flip the closed sign a final time.

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read, respond, and commiserate with my fun tales of "what not to do" yet again.  I know I'm long winded at the keyboard, but I can't help it.  As always I sincerely appreciate the advice of my wiser and more experienced online support group here!

Thanks and I hope your days are less drama filled!


Hey, Greg,
Please keep us posted!



I wish you the very best in whatever you do.

Hopefully you can prevail in court and show that this jerk is a fraud.

Be sure to keep us posted.



If you are sole proprietor you will have a judgment against you personally if you lose for even $1.00 in damage. The judge will not care. If you are liable for $5,000 or $5.00 you will get a judgment against you.  Keep that in mind. And it will stay on your credit record for a long time too. Keep that in mind.

If It was me from past experience, I would see a lawyer and counter sue.

80 or 90% of lawsuit are dropped when someone counter sues. No joke. I've seen it work.

Everyone thinks they can sue with out causing any problems to them self but if you counter sue they will think oh S... Maybe we can work this out.

Good luck


Thanks everyone for the advice.  I'll most certainly look into a lawyer and possible counter sue.

I ignored this guy's negative publicity when a customer after his job told me about the name bashing he was delivering at a recent event, but this one has me rather interested in putting a sock in his mouth.

I spoke to the guy the other day and his story sounds terribly shaky.  He couldn't answer my simple questions so I stopped short of discussing if further so I didn't give him anything to prepare a case for.  What a waste of time.