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Question Customer refuses to pay, can I take his graphics down?

Discussion in 'General Signmaking Topics' started by HecklnDecalr, Mar 6, 2019.

  1. We recently put up $5000 worth of interior wall and window graphics @ Orange theory fitness in Saskatoon, Canada. They were happy with everything but have decided to just ignore our attempts to get paid. And yes I know, we should have gotten a deposit on the job, which we usually do. Long story, but we got the job through a customer that we trust and have dealt with for years so we trusted by association. Bad move.
    So I guess I have 2 questions.

    Can I take some or all of the graphics down? Can I threaten to take them down or what are my options if any?

    And also, how do you all collect on your onsite install jobs? We usually do take a deposit, but how do you collect the remaining balance? Some customers have been a real pain in the *** to collect from after the fact. I can't really have my installers collect it as everyone pays with credit, debit or e-transfer now, or do you set your installers up to receive payment by credit card?

    Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!
     
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  2. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Once they are installed they belong to whomever owns the walls or rents them. You no longer own them, once they are out of your grasp. It now becomes a civil matter and you need to bring the law into it. It's not normal for anyone to trust for $5,000, but that's your decision. If you even threaten to take them down, they will play right into your bluff, because they probably know you can't and could be arrested on the spot for many illegal actions, which I think are pretty much the same up there as down here. Put all your paperwork together and contact a lawyer and take it to court. Unless you can strong-arm them, you are gonna hafta either just eat it or sit tight for a long wait.
     
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  3. Yeah, that's kinda what I figured. The job started out as a wall graphics and then just kept growing. If i would have know it was getting that big I would have told my account manager to get some cash.

    What about the onsite collection question though? What do you do in regards to that Gino?
     
  4. Dan360

    Dan360 Member

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    Our installers don't deal with any payments. We don't do any work until we get a deposit and then the rest is invoiced.

    As far as options, I mean sure you could threaten to take it down but I don't think you actually can. Everything I've read about a contractor taking down any work always seemed to work out worse for both parties. $5000 I think isn't going to be worth taking it to court, but I would still get legal council about how to handle it if you choose to pursue. It's unfortunate, but our experience is that there are many laws to protect big business with these types of issues but not many for the smaller jobs. We've had to significantly cut the price of a similar job for a customer that refused to pay because he said it wasn't what he wanted but it was exactly what we talked to him about. It was better than nothing and basically covered our costs for materials.
     
  5. Billct2

    Billct2 Major Contributor

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    no
     
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  6. I started taking deposits on every job for every customer besides our largest 5 or 10 a couple years ago. It has cut our delinquent receivables in more than half. The issues we still have seem to be with collecting the remaining balance on install jobs.
     
  7. JTBoh

    JTBoh I sell signage and signage accessories.

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    OTF is a franchise, and should be governed by a set of guidelines issued by the home office. Maybe call them and bring up the fact that one of their franchisees is reneging on payment... they might be bound to pay per their contract with home office.

    OTF also has graphics guidelines, and if you have evidence that they were installed correctly, corporate might be on your side.

    Might keep you out of court if Corporate OTF comes knockin.
     
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  8. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Rarely ever do on-site collections. If we're lettering a door and some windows for a first-timer or putting up a sign, first a deposit was received and it's made quite known the balance will be due immediately. They'll either give the guys a check or it is mailed out when the job is completed. We treat due immediately... as, within 10 days.

    In about 47 years of doing this, less than a handful of people have tried this on me..... and one was a friend who was down on his luck, but pretended everything was honky-dory. Made for a very tough collection, but I had a sheriff with me to collect. We have small claims courts down here, not sure what they're called up there and to a certain amount, you can go through them. Not sure what the amount is, but I think $5,000 will still fly with that. Have all of your paperwork in tip top order, photos, e-mails, phone calls and whatever else you have, to show you did your job. The only thing is..... which is tough to get used to...... if you normally do business by getting deposits and whatnot, why did YOU break your own policy ?? See, they can say you broke your own way of doing business, so there's no real reason for them to listen to you now and can hold out for a long time. It's dumb, but it works.
     
  9. Dan360

    Dan360 Member

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    It's tough, a couple years ago we started a policy where we would bill parts of a job for newer clients as they get completed before we proceed with the next things.

    JT does bring up a good point, you may have better luck with corporate.
     

  10. We have all their guidelines and everything is installed correctly. I tried finding OTF's corporate contact info but they seem to want to direct you elsewhere. I figured that was my best bet on getting paid was talking to the big guns and letting them know their franchise is making them look bad.
     
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  11. unclebun

    unclebun Active Member

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    Here we can file a mechanic's lien against the entire property, but I think your province doesn't have such a law.
     
  12. unclebun

    unclebun Active Member

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    $5000 of work is enough that it's worth the cost to consult an attorney, and it's also enough to be worth using a collection agency.
     
  13. 2B

    2B Moderator

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    take the below as is and NOT legally binding.
    Threating NEVER has a good ending.
    • Claim there are "safety concerns" with the signage and can only be repaired off-site.
      • At this point you have the product back in hand and can hold until payment is made in FULL

    We have also used if payment is due and unless received by XXX date this account will be turned over to debt collection as well as listing the added amount for being turned into collections.
    Usually, when they see added cost for collections, they pay ASAP
     
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  14. Well we have a collection agency we use. We have only used them a handful of times though. Would prefer not to have to do that but we may have to.
     
  15. Brandon708

    Brandon708 Very Active Member

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    Not much you can do because it is on their property indoors.

    What I would do in this case is email them a warning if the invoice is not paid in X amount of days a Mechanics Lien will be put on the property.

    If they don't respond or pay then call a lawyer to place a Mechanics Lien on their property.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanic's_lien

    **** Just noticed that you are in Canada. They may have something like a Mechanics Lean so it would be looking in to.

    Something like this happened to me with a customer and their window lettering. He owed me like $700 for 2 YEARS! I finally got fed up after giving up and called him and said if the bill wasn't paid I would remove the lettering. His response was "You cant do that! It's against the law" I replied that I didn't care and he would have to do what he as to do. The next day he paid his bill.
     
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  16. Gino

    Gino Premium Subscriber

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    Hopefully, your invoice has some kinda collection fees written in the fine print, if needed, but if you wanna get out of this cheaply and get your point across, create a 'Letter of Demand'. The few occasions I used it, it worked like I had a gun to their head. No lie. No lawyers, no courts no nothing. Just word it correctly and you will get all of your money. Only once did it not work and the guy went to jail. 4 years he was there. We eventually got paid, but were the only company to get paid due to his scam efforts. All the other companies hadda write it off, but we got paid.

    :wavingflag: I showed our lawyer this letter one time and he said, it was written better than any letter he's ever seen. He said, don't let others know about this, or you'll put me outta work.​
     
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  17. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    Depending on the jurisdiction, that certainly isn't binding. Here, if you want to have the legal ability to repo, it must be spelled out in the contract as a repo. Can't use "colorful" language to disguise what it is.

    Over the years, I've seen email siggies with "emergency repairs" and the like.

    Some jurisdictions here have $5k for small claims, some go up to $10k. Have no idea on things are up there.

    What to do in situations like this, should already be spelled out in your contract. How it's spelled out will depend on the jurisdiction. Without having it in the contract, it's much harder more often the not to get your money back. Usually there are steps that one has to take (so much time with x amount of communication before the next step is taken, then the same thing for the next step etc.

    Always try to bluff as a hail mary, but no promises on that (well no promises on any of this really, can only protect yourself as much as you can).
     
  18. TimToad

    TimToad Very Active Member

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    What are the small claims court limitations on civil suits in Canada?

    It's usually $10,000 or less down here.

    Do you at least have some signed proofs, contracts, emails with approvals, etc.?

    Do have photos of ALL the completed work involved?

    Are they using photos of the gym with your work in it on social media or in advertising? Get screenshots of everything.

    A fitness club runs on membership. A couple well planned ( non defamatory messaged ) placards and a few picketers out front ( but off their property ) at the busiest time of the day for them is both legal and will get their attention. Before doing that, I'd have your attorney send them a demand for payment with a short deadline for full payment and threat of legal action.
     

  19. We get everything in writing. Account managers are not allowed to proceed with work unless we get a written approval. We have pics of all of the completed graphics.

    I think our 1st line of attack is going to be contacting headquarters and making sure the local owner knows that we have contacted them. We will let them know we are not impressed and that we want to warn other people and businesses of the owners shady dealings. I hope that will be enough to get them to pressure the owner into paying up

    2nd we will send them to collections if we have to. We don't have time for court. We would lose more money than we would gain just from potential lost work from not being here.

    Thanks for the input everyone. Much appreciated!
     
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  20. Dan360

    Dan360 Member

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    I believe small claims limits were increased throughout Canada, pretty sure it's 25k in Ontario now, should be similar in Saskatchewan.

    It doesn't cost that much to get a judgement (couple hundred I think not including lawyer fees), but then you have to go about enforcing it which is through a separate court. It can be a lengthy and painful process. I would always try to work things out before it comes to that.
     
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