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I recently was called out on a sunday evening to do a after hours urgent service call. The owner of a Rental property called me and told me the main sewer line was clogged, and his tenants were complaining. After discussing my rates, i offered him to wait until monday morning to get a better rate. He said to go ahead and work on it at the sunday rate. I loaded both of my snakes, a electric eel mainline machine, and my rigid k380 mini rooter. I showed up at 5pm and found a very old cast iron pipe under a very old house. I set up and started snaking with the eel, and flushing the pipe. The stoppage started at about 35 feet in. I worked it and worked it, farther and farther. 2.5 hours later it was too dark for me to continue and my light was broke so I stopped and Rolled up my equipment and was going to continue in the morning at the standard hourly rate. The tenant was going to deal with it through the nite. I called the owner and notified him that the stoppage still existed and would need more work. He agreed to come back and finish the following morning. I came back the next morning set up again and attacked the stoppage again. I found roots had invaded the old CI pipe and debri was compacted in the line for about 40 feet. After several retrievals of the cable and the cleaning of the C cutter (roots,tampons, condoms, and other vile items) i finally got it to POP and cleared the line, i chased it a couple times and flushed it. It was open. I loaded up my tools and wrote up the bill for the 5.5 hrs of total work. I charge hourly labor and a hourly equipment charge. I also charge a after hours overtime rate. The bill was a total of $720.00. I notified the tenant and the owner that the line was cleared. Both were thankfull. I tried to meet with the owner immediately after and he asked me to send him the bill. Normally I collect after every job, cash or check, but the owner was unavailable. So i sent the bill right away. 10 days later i still do not have the payment, so i call him and he says I charged him too much and complained that he called other companies and they would not have charged him that much. He said he would pay but he wasnt happy with how long it took and how much it cost. Now its been 2 weeks, and i fear he isnt going to pay. This is the first no pay in 5 years of honest work. I hate to have to file a mechanics lien, and then a lawsuit. What a waste of time. This sucks. And i was depending on that payment to cover bills. License, bond, insurance, fuel, labor, all of this is costly, and to not be paid is a drag.:furious:
 

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There should be a inscribed 3 word charm on your invoices "Payment Upon Completion" and when that invoice was sent, there should be a 10 day ticker on it. "Payment is due within 10 days of reciept" with making sure the date is associated with that statement. Giving a day or so is acceptable.



You however are in a gray area here of whether or not the equipment you used was sufficient enough/capable to perform the work duties.


If you pulled a full garbage bag of roots and debri from that drain, that's one thing...

but if you was using equipment that was short pruning the entire way and then finally cleared the drain, that's entirely another scenario.


Most if not all drain cleaning jobs I can bang open in less than 50 minutes. If I don't, specific to the job in question whether it be a kitchen sink line trying to trail a vent or a main drain with inadequate/improper access to the line, then it will usually go past that hour.


I'm not saying you didn't work/earn your pay on that job, but that much time involving a drain line that wasn't misaligned or collapsed better of produced a massive pile of roots for the property owner to witness as proof of its existence.


Might want to review the scenario and decide if NOT contacting the property owner after that initial first hour and explain---give options to him and explain the charges if and what he wants you to do at that point.


Remember that a absent property owner they want to know the play by play whenever possible. You are the lifeline to words to know what they are spending.
 

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i second everything dunbar said, good points. also, i can see how the landlord would be upset paying overtime rates if the problem wasn't corrected at night. why pay extra at night if you just have to come back in the morning. i don't know if he thought or said this, i'm just playing devil's advocate.

at the last place i worked the rule was 2 hours and you better have a good reason for why it's taking so long. at that point you should have either a plan that involves something other than snaking or be in the process of pulling a full tree back.

we would also try to get a c.c. number before heading out at night. just in case they cancelled or didn't want to pay in the end. my current employer, even though they are a franchise and should be more "together", doesn't seem to have any policies regarding these issues.








paul
 

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Welcome to your property owner's world. You are one in a long list of folks that he's called over the years, I'm willing to bet. I'm also willing to bet he has said the same thing to every one of them.

Call him and ask him what he thinks a fair price is. If he gives you a reasonable price, get a credit card number, or better yet, get a check.

If not, explain what legal steps you can take against his property via a lien and that all non-payments are reported to the credit agencies.
 

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I hate to have to file a mechanics lien, and then a lawsuit. What a waste of time. This sucks. And i was depending on that payment to cover bills. License, bond, insurance, fuel, labor, all of this is costly, and to not be paid is a drag.:furious:
These exact words have caused me more pain in the last year than anyone really wants to hear about.

Dunbar makes a fantastic point, always make sure your side of the road is clean when in a dispute.

This last year and a half has been brutal. i was doing a ton of New Constuction work and one day someone flipped the earth off and with that checkbooks disappeared, builders bk papers started to showup, along with what checks I was getting bouncing. 11,000. worth 2 weeks back to back.

This is how I would handle it.

Now, I lein, in my state it starts with a simple notice to owner. Followed by a lein. Usually the notice will get you paid. But if not I would move forth with the lein. If these other plumbers were cheaper then why didn't this prick use them in the first place? Why, because he screwed the others before he got to you. Too many businesses blow off the cash or back down. After I file the lein I would go to the local courthouse and file a small claims suit. I filed on two last week and one has already called to offer to settle up.

Remember, from your perspective, he has a side. but so do you. Dunbar is right, but you also let him know what it would cost for Sunday labor.
 

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dido

My policy with landlords :thumbdown:is get a credit card number over the phone BEFORE I go out, they are notorious for this kind of behavior.
 

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If he doesn't want to pay you, you will have a slim chance of getting paid. In my state the laws are stacked overwhelmingly on the property owner’s side. If you try to make him pay with the courts you will lose far more hours of your life chasing down the money than it's worth. Landlords know this.

I get a CC over the phone and run it before I even go out.

I been burned a few times and taken it to court. Here's what happens: You spend 3 times as much time as the job actually took meeting with the attorney and going to court than the original job. Assuming you have jumped thru all of the legal hoops, you get this neat little piece of paper that is basically an IOU. BTW, my mother is an attorney and charged me nothing to peruse these cases and it still wasn't worth it.

Bottom line when dealing with landlords: Get a CC up front, Carry a little digital recorder (pretty inexpensive) and record all conversations with the landlord (you must tell them you are doing this is or the judge will not allow it to be placed into evidence). Get conformation in writing from the tenant and better yet the LL if he is on site before and after work. Even when doing that they can be a nightmare. :furious:I HATE landlords.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The machine i used was a electric eel mainline machine with 5/8 cable and a 3" C cutter. Should have been more than sufficient. The line was compacted for 40 feet. Yes this was the longest stoppage i have ever had to deal with. It obviously took time to chew through it. No there wasnt garbage bags full of roots, just a few large wads. Normally i clear these things in 1 -2 hours. The owner knew my rates and didnt seem to care, as long as it was being fixed. It is not my fault he had a stoppage in his rental, i was simply hired to fix it and i charge by the hour not the job on service work. Now i think i will not work for these types anymore. I thought about getting a credit card number from him, but i dont take credit card payments so it wouldnt do me much good. Now i will make a stoppage agreement form which will explain all of the problems,risks,and costs that could be incurred and will not proceed without a signed agreement from the owner with a credit card number for cases like this. I guess the no more mister nice guy attitude and a firm payment stance is my next step.
 

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Carry a little digital recorder (pretty inexpensive) and record all conversations with the landlord (you must tell them you are doing this is or the judge will not allow it to be placed into evidence).
Depends on your state. In some states you only need permission from one party to record a conversation. Other states you need permission from both parties, and a violation is actually a crime.
 

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We had a guy get us for 6,000 he said that he would file bankruptcy if we pursued it. Such a jackass....
 

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We had a guy get us for 6,000 he said that he would file bankruptcy if we pursued it. Such a jackass....
That doesn't work anymore. Bankruptcy is difficult to get. You have to show that you are really trying and just can not get along. People who are broke because they're lazy or irresponsible generally don't get bankruptcy. Or at the very least it's much more difficult then it was ten years ago.
 

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I say call his bluff. At least you'll have the satisfaction of recking his credit beyond repair for the next 5-7 years.

We had a guy get us for 6,000 he said that he would file bankruptcy if we pursued it. Such a jackass....
 
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