Trouble getting paid for handyman work

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archer_oldie
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Trouble getting paid for handyman work

Post by archer_oldie » Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:46 am

Hi folks:

Are there any handymen with their own business on here that can advise the best way forward for me.

A customer is refusing to pay my invoice that is less than the estimate I gave her. I replaced 4 sections of worktop in a kitchen including removing the old sink and refitting the same one again. She says a joiner says it wouldn't have taken him as long as I did, although again my labour time was less than the estimate. I know that professional joiners are quicker than me that's why I charge less than they do, around 1/2 their rate. I charge £20/hour. We have been communicating over facebook messenger which is how she wanted the estimate and invoice sent. I have all the messenger conversation where she never complained about the estimate costs. I've paid out £300 on materials up front. She claims she never had the invoice on messenger so I emailed it to her after a week.

Has anyone ever taken a customer like this to the small claims court, whats the process, is it easy or what ..


Thanks for any advice

Ian
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Re: Trouble getting paid for handyman work

Post by Ktuludays » Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:27 am

archer_oldie wrote:Hi folks:

Are there any handymen with their own business on here that can advise the best way forward for me.

A customer is refusing to pay my invoice that is less than the estimate I gave her. I replaced 4 sections of worktop in a kitchen including removing the old sink and refitting the same one again. She says a joiner says it wouldn't have taken him as long as I did, although again my labour time was less than the estimate. I know that professional joiners are quicker than me that's why I charge less than they do, around 1/2 their rate. I charge £20/hour. We have been communicating over facebook messenger which is how she wanted the estimate and invoice sent. I have all the messenger conversation where she never complained about the estimate costs. I've paid out £300 on materials up front. She claims she never had the invoice on messenger so I emailed it to her after a week.

Has anyone ever taken a customer like this to the small claims court, whats the process, is it easy or what ..


Thanks for any advice

Ian
That's awful and thankfully something I've not had to deal with yet. I charge the same as you and often come in under estimate.

It sounds like the customer is chancing her arm. From what I've read previously small claims is approximately £100 and if you win the customer has to pay it. Don't quote me on that though.

If you've done a good job as the customer wanted then it's irrelevant how long it would have taken a qualified joiner. Did the joiner give her a price for him to have done it, like you say, they would have cost more even if quicker.

I hope you get it resolved quickly, don't lose your rag and be factual in any correspondence.

Rob

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Re: Trouble getting paid for handyman work

Post by Rorschach » Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:46 am

She is trying it on. A simple letter giving her a deadline for a payment, after which it will go to the small claims court should give her a push. Avoid getting into arguments. The small claims process is very simple and she will have to pay fees if you win.
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Re: Trouble getting paid for handyman work

Post by dewaltdisney » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:04 am

In law you have followed the contract process in providing an estimate, she has accepted forming a contract, the work has been carried out under estimate price so the only argument is about whether you have done the job and it is to a reasonable standard. If you send her a letter before action warning her of your intent to take a county court action against her and if there is no response then it is quite straight forward to seek a judgement order by doing it yourself, you do not need a solicitor. have a look at the forms online, start here https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money.

Good luck

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Re: Trouble getting paid for handyman work

Post by Kev888 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:38 am

Thats awful. The time for second estimates (if in fact she even has one now) was before she chose to agree on yours, not after.

I can't speak from commercial handyman perspective, but from other experience I agree with the above. Don't be drawn into an irrelevant side-tracking argument; unless you've volunteered otherwise, you are not obliged to be as fast or cheap as someone else, just to be honest in your own estimate - which the customer is then completely free to take or not. It sounds like you have more than honoured that, and that she hasn't questioned the quality of your work either.

Even if she's being naive and genuinely feels hard done, then I think she'd need to show that you were essentially conning her to get anywhere with that (not just a bit more lengthy than some other competitor). Though not getting the invoice sounds a bit fishy, I would guess she may be trying various things on. Is evidence of her agreement clear?
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Re: Trouble getting paid for handyman work

Post by Bob225 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 12:08 pm

No. 1 rule - don't do business over Facebook or any social media - Did you Quote or give her a estimate for the work ?

If it was a estimate and you come in under that cost the issue is hers, deliver a physical letter/invoice not by electronic methods, did you state how long it would take ?

She either pays it or you remove goods that haven't been paid for, usually a letter of intent of court proceedings will see them pay up
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Re: Trouble getting paid for handyman work

Post by wine~o » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:20 pm

All good advice above. Never had a problem with refusing to pay, just one late (by a month)

Send a letter recorded delivery. summat like

"dear customer,

you asked me to estimate for a job(be specific) on (insert date)

I provided an estimate for (specific job) on (insert date)

You accepted my quote on (insert date)

I started said work on (insert date) and completed said work on (insert date)

I invoiced you on (insert date)

Payment is now overdue.

If payment has not been received by myself by (insert date) allow say 2 weeks from the date you expect the letter to arrive

Then I shall issue court proceedings against you.

signed

Keep a copy of the letter. (hard copy)
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Re: Trouble getting paid for handyman work

Post by steviejoiner74 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 8:16 pm

As an aside,you must live in a nice area if handymen can charge 20 quid an hour!
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Re: Trouble getting paid for handyman work

Post by Ktuludays » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:53 pm

steviejoiner74 wrote:As an aside,you must live in a nice area if handymen can charge 20 quid an hour!
I do and most of my customer's think I offer good value at that.

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Re: Trouble getting paid for handyman work

Post by ayjay » Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:02 pm

steviejoiner74 wrote:As an aside,you must live in a nice area if handymen can charge 20 quid an hour!
I'm more interested in the chippies getting double that!

Not round here they don't.

I'd consider coming out of retirement for a few weeks now and then at that rate.
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Re: Trouble getting paid for handyman work

Post by steviejoiner74 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:51 am

ayjay wrote:
steviejoiner74 wrote:As an aside,you must live in a nice area if handymen can charge 20 quid an hour!
I'm more interested in the chippies getting double that!

Not round here they don't.

I'd consider coming out of retirement for a few weeks now and then at that rate.
Yeah I know!!
Just shows you what different areas can charge tho,I’ve never heard of handymen getting 20 quid an hour tho(good luck to them) they would get about a tenner an hour in my area.
Most chippies in my area don’t get 20 quid an hour either.
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Re: Trouble getting paid for handyman work

Post by toolbox » Sat Apr 14, 2018 9:02 am

What the rates are really is of no importance (unless you are charging the same rate as Solicitors :lol: ) you gave an estimate then came in under budget.
As suggested stop arguing about it by text and get a letter sent signed for delivery saying you will proceed to claims court if not paid in a given time.
Try to download paper copies of any text messages for later use in court paperwork.
I worked as a handyman for quite a few years. I never worked at day rate I estimated the job on an hourly rate and then quoted a price for the job based on that.
That way if it goes well great, but if you need to leave early or start late one day there are no comebacks on the time spent, if you do run over you just accept it.

Every job "you earn or you learn" if you are lucky you do both! :wink:
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Re: Trouble getting paid for handyman work

Post by Dave54 » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:05 am

Funny how they always know someone who could do it in "less time" and / or for "less money" after the job is finished.
Don't know about the £40 rate for joiners though.
Anyway as already said, keep copies of all correspondence, screenshots off the phone, or even photos if nothing better.
Don't use things like messenger for business. Use either email, or snail mail. Get a reply or a signed piece of paper. Keep all correspondence as a matter of course.
Any argument about how you communicate from customer, "I want to communicate via tin cans and string" that's not how you do business.

Send them a letter like wine~o suggests above. That should show you mean to get paid.
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Re: Trouble getting paid for handyman work

Post by Argyll » Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:17 am

Do you have any evidence she was happy with your work after the job was finished?

The reason I ask is if you take her to the small claims court she may say she was unsatisfied with your work and that's the reason she won't pay. That then will be a different story. That's the excuse many give to either not pay or get a discount on the price.
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Re: Trouble getting paid for handyman work

Post by wine~o » Sat Apr 14, 2018 4:56 pm

Argyll wrote:Do you have any evidence she was happy with your work after the job was finished?
So far as I can tell this hasn't been raised as a reason for withholding payment yet. If it's only raised after receipt of the letter threatening court action it'll probably count in favour of the OP...

steviejoiner74 wrote:As an aside,you must live in a nice area if handymen can charge 20 quid an hour!
Well I charge £30 first hour and £20 per subsequent hour, (less for pensioners) Minimum charge even for a 30 minute job is £ 30 (plus parts).

I do occasionally make an exception to the minimum charge though. Went to one customer last year with an iffy flush valve. I fully expected to be there 2 hours removing the cistern, installing replacement valve and CC kit.

Took the lid off the cistern and could see the issue straight away. The plastic nut that holds the push button in place had fallen off and was wedged under the valve holding it open, removed it put the nut back on and was out the door in under 5 minutes including accepting a tenner (I felt embarrassed charging that much...)
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