Right now one of my biggest customers is a property manager. When we first met, he liked my truck, service, the whole enchilada. I told him I get paid upon completion of the job, no "billing". After doing an emergency repair on one of his properties, he let me know he had to make a special trip to the accountants office to get a check; they usually do bills twice a month. In an effort to get more business from him, I told him that I could deal with that to make his life easier. At first, the payments came in a fast timely manner. Then, he started using my service a lot. Great, right? That's when things changed. One of his properties is an older condo on the beach. He gets a call from one or more tenants claiming there's water all over the floor, carpet's soaked, not sure where it's coming from. He call's me, I go there and find the problem. CI stacks and waste pipes are breaking open, 20+ year old heaters are going, 18 year old dishwashers leaking, etc. If the problem turns out to be a main stack, it winds up being the associations bill. Sometimes it pushes over a month, but I do get paid for it. If it's determined to be an owner's bill, I give him(the property manager) the bill and he passes it on to the owner. This is where it gets ugly. Guess what? Sometimes the owners are slow to pay or disagree that they should have to pay. I don't want to (and feel I shouldn't have to) go after the owners for the money as they were not the ones who called me. On one bill that a woman refused to pay last year, I pressed him about it, and he said, "I don't know what to tell you Rich, I do work for these people.." That really pissed me off. Came to find out, he rented this particular woman's unit out for her, so he really did work for her directly. I got paid from her after 8 months and threatening a collection agency. Last summer, I sent what I thought was a professional letter reminding him of our payment policy and that we were having some trouble collecting certain payments. He hit the roof and said that if he got another letter like that again, he would never use us. Times are tough and we are a small company, but we hoped he got the message. Now, we are in the busy season and I'm back to giving him the same bills months overdue. I have one bill from May of last year, it's only $180, but I've submitted it at least 6 times and have yet to be paid. Another bill for over $1700 from November. What would you do? If I push the issue, we could lose him and his referrals (he does refer us a lot). Losing this customer would mean having to acquire more business to make up for the loss. It's the principal that drive's me crazy; I love plumbing, but I have better things to do than keeping track of and chasing down old bills. Love to hear your input and opinions..
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