Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

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Latest post 01-05-2011 1:10 PM by Drew. 20 replies.
  • 12-30-2010 9:33 PM

    • JillC
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 12-26-2009
    • NJ
    • Posts 13

    Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

    I have a client who hired me to do a second website for him. Site was complete the week of 12/5 and was on a test server so he can view it live. On 12/8 I emailed him that I will set the site live upon remittance of the final payment of 2250 - it also states this in our initial proposal and was verbally told to him - but he thinks I am wrong to expect payment before the site is set live on his hosting account.

    I received a check though on 12/13/10 - it was post dated for 12/15 - but I set his site live on his server on 12/14/10 out of good faith.

    Then he asks me to do 2 addiitonal pieces of work that were NOT contracted for....and I told him straight out I would not interested in helping him with those issues since he was diificult and demeaning to work with.

    Several nasty emails were sent on his part - with mine remaining professional. Verbal abuse was received via phone (my husband was witness to this)

    Today I go to use my debit card and find out my account was overdrawn....

    Turns out he put a stop payment on his check on 12/15/10. A day after the site went live on HIS server.

    He also had has admin change ALL relevant passwords so I have no access to anything.

    I called him today to only be met with verbal assaults and attacks.

    So he has a brand new site - I am out 2250.

    He is in PA and I am in NJ.

    What recourse do I have? He stopped payment because I did not want to do any ADDITIONAL work for him....he is a hateful person....but the way I see it he is committing fraud since the stop payment was issued the day after the site launched....is this correct?

    Any advice is GREATLY appreciated....I need to figure out how to handle this.....whether I give in and let him win and do mor work for free or if I push and get my money for the work that was done....

    Thank you so much!

  • 12-30-2010 9:54 PM In reply to

    Re: Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

    Your recourse is to sue on the contract.

  • 12-30-2010 10:02 PM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
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    Re: Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

    Laymans take-- only a few clues.

    1. A postdated check does not generally fall under either states bad check laws--no help there.

    2. Some cute operators issue post dated checks then stop payments on accounts which never had enough funds to cover the check in first place--seeking to side step badcheck charges .

       Me, I'd contact issuing bank tomorrow and sort out if account has enough funds to cover check in first place (W/O giving check number--I've routinely be able to secure  such information a to IFa check of about $2247.50   would clear )

    I'm suprised a seasoned programmer doesn't have a backdoor access to program or some secret timeout feature you needed to reset after confirmed payment  . Find a 14 year old hacker who can get in?

    You probably need to sue in PA--but that is problematic as small claims (DJ)  , assuming you win, are hyper easy for the defendant to appeal to common pleas as a complete do over.

    Do youoperate as an individual or a corporation? As a corporation you probably need counsel to represent you at any level.



  • 12-30-2010 10:16 PM In reply to

    • JillC
      Consumer
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    • NJ
    • Posts 13

    Re: Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

    Thanks Drew - you know what I never really had a need to do the backdoor entry method...I have had great clients from day one - in all the years I have been doing this I have only had one other person screw me and I have a judgement against him....circumstances were a bit different...and that was in state....I am not thrilled about having to sue in NJ.....I was hoping this could be viewed as fraud and I can take a different action....

     

  • 12-30-2010 10:17 PM In reply to

    • Drew
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    Re: Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

    Next time in your contract be sure to specify NJ jurisdiction. (perhaps you did?)

    That said, I'm NOT up on jurisdiction and service details for NJ--but you need to dig deeper.

    1. NJ small claims is up to $2000--and FAR  better to fight on home turf if possible.

    2  NJ probably has jurisdiction over a contract executed in NJ or is substantially all the work was performed in  

        NJ.

    3. It may be possible to properly serve for NJ  a nonresident in his home state of PA



  • 12-30-2010 10:24 PM In reply to

    • JillC
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 12-26-2009
    • NJ
    • Posts 13

    Re: Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

    I will have to find out if that is the case....honestly I did not even think of that...and I will update my contract to specify that- that is a great point.....the thing that makes me so angry is the he stopped payment the day AFTER the site launched....

    but then several days later asked me to do more work knowing he ALREADY stopped payment on the check......just amazes me that these people can do this.....I am just reviewing all my options....I dont really want to do court----I already have one judgement that I will never collect...and it was a lot of work for nothing.....

    I was really hoping this could look like he was purposely looking at committing fraud because of the dates......thanks so much for your thoughts though...the jurisdiction thing is a big help!

  • 12-31-2010 12:26 AM In reply to

    • LG81
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    Re: Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

    JillC:

    I was really hoping this could look like he was purposely looking at committing fraud because of the dates......thanks so much for your thoughts though...the jurisdiction thing is a big help!

    I could be completely wrong, but the date issues could show an intent to commit fraud.  However, Drew is correct that most states will not handle bad check pursuits if the payee accepts post-dated checks.  Plus, from what I've seen, bad check laws (in terms of things like resititution in lieu of prosecution, which is quite appealing to a ***) are quite limited in terms of dollar amounts.  Your best bet is to go after the guy for breaching the contract.

    You probably don't need to hear this, but never accept a post-dated check.  If you have suspicions about a client, require deposits up front before starting work.  I hope this all works out for you.

     

  • 12-31-2010 2:02 AM In reply to

    • LG81
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    Re: Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

    Please ignore my response.  I found where you posted multiple threads on the same matter.  This indicates an inability to read (including site terms).  Good luck.

  • 12-31-2010 5:04 AM In reply to

    • JillC
      Consumer
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    • Joined on 12-26-2009
    • NJ
    • Posts 13

    Re: Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

    Excuse me, where did I post this multiple times? I have never in my life done that on a forum....I find it offensive for you to tell me I have an inability to read - that was uncalled for.

  • 12-31-2010 11:51 AM In reply to

    Re: Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

    Please forgive everybody for confusing your Dec 26, 2009 post with your Dec 30,2010 post. Almost did it to me too.

    As for your current situation I think you basically have a breach of contract lawsuit. Breach of contract is easy to prove. You did the work, he didn't pay. Adding fraud to the issue is superfluous because proving it requires proving intent which is extremely difficult and, in this case, unnecessary because it wouldn't get you a penny more than you are already entitled to.

    So I think the main question is whether you can sue in NJ or have to sue in PA where the client is located. That depends on whether the NJ court has "personal jurisdiction" over the defendant. We don't know enough about your potential defendant to address that but I'll give you the following link to a legal analysis of "personal jurisdiction" in NJ which explains the concept and also addresses the internet business:

    http://www.sternslaw.com/news/internetjurisdiction-feinstein.htm

    Bottom line, though, in order to keep this from happening again I suggest you do two things:

    1 - Figure out a way to keep control of your clients' websites even after they go live so you can shut them down with a keystroke in the event of a payment default.

    2 - Make it clear in your contract that you maintain that kind of control and that payment default results in immediate shutdown.

    That kind of provision would be similiar to the repossession provision of a car loan contract and is why you can be one day late on a car payment and have your car repossessed that same day.

    You would still have the right to sue a client for breach of contract but you would have a lot more leverage toward avoiding the need for a lawsuit when the client finds he is suddenly without his website immediately after a payment default. Then you can demand a cashier's check for the revival of the site and eliminate uncollectible judgments.

     

    • The right of the people 
    • to keep and bear arms,
    • shall not be infringed.
  • 12-31-2010 12:00 PM In reply to

    • LG81
      Consumer
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    Re: Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

    JillC:

    Excuse me, where did I post this multiple times? I have never in my life done that on a forum....I find it offensive for you to tell me I have an inability to read - that was uncalled for.

    Sorry, please forgive me.  Your post from this time last year was brought back to life by a comment, and I didn't read it carefully.  I get annoyed when people violate the very basics like posting a thread multiple times, list company names, etc., but I didn't need to be rude even if you had posted it more than once (which it turns out you didn't).

     

  • 12-31-2010 5:08 PM In reply to

    Re: Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

    Yep, you can add a jurisdiction clause to your contract, but you would still incur the cost of a lawsuit and you have to collect on the judgement (which, by the way can be done by using a commission only collection agency).

    Have you considered setting up a merchant account and taking credit and debit cards? Chargebacks are possible, but you can win that fight and you don't have to collect on judgements. Also, where someone may stop payment on a check to mess with you, they would have to cancel the card once you have their payment info. There are many pros and  cons, but if you're doing biz across state lines, you probably need your own merchant account (not Paypal).

    You need to look at this whole issue, if you plan to grow your business.

  • 12-31-2010 10:44 PM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,498

    Re: Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

    Personally if the guy asked me to do additional work--I'd probably string him along---just to get access back into program and do whatever I needed to do.....



  • 01-01-2011 11:30 AM In reply to

    • JillC
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on 12-26-2009
    • NJ
    • Posts 13

    Re: Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

    Drew, that is exactly how I decided to proceed. I put my tail between my legs and said I would do the 2 things OUTSIDE of the contract that he thinks should be included - but he needs to remit payment again FIRST.

    Then I will at least have access to the site to do what I need to in case the check is yet again taken away from me....he did respond that this seemed to be a good basis and we will finalize details on Monday...

    But my concern is that he is going to dangle the new check to try and get additional work from me when I do not want to work with him...

     

  • 01-01-2011 11:34 AM In reply to

    • JillC
      Consumer
    • Not Ranked
    • Joined on 12-26-2009
    • NJ
    • Posts 13

    Re: Client Stop Payment On Check - Services WERE Rendered

    I do have a merchant account - he only wanted to pay by check though! The last client I have the judgement for payed by Paypal - I learned the hard way to never use them for service payments!!!  Thank you so much for your help!!!!

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