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I agree, and sometimes it helps to lay on additional stress (within the limits of the law and good business practices).

I have found that when trying to collect money, the fax machine is your best friend. When you send an email, letter or make a phone call, it is easy to ignore the attempt to collect. But when you send a fax invariably all the office is aware of the contents.

I recall back in the 1980s I had a picture framing studio/portrait photography studio on the north shore of Long Island. My customer was a Neurosurgeon living in a multi-million dollar home in Sands Point. I was certain he would pay his bill (about $1,500.00 or about $4,400.00 in 2021 funds).

I had been sending him notices for 3 or 4 months and making calls to his home and he was ignoring me.

I was able to find out that his medical practice shared an office with four other doctors. I sent the dunning notices by fax to his office. That got his attention.

He called me right back screaming that he would sue me. I said that sending requests for payment for valid invoices was not an actionable act. I would send additional faxes once a week until I got paid.

The check arrived that week.

I embarrassed him in front of his colleagues. That was his soft underbelly.

Everyone has a soft underbelly. I had a lawyer who refused to pay. He wrote that I would have to sue him to collect. And that I would have to hire a lawyer and he was already a lawyer. That this was a losing proposition for me.

I think he used this tactic often.

I wrote back, that unless I was paid in full within the week I would forward his letter to the American Bar Association for discipline. I also got paid here. I found his soft underbelly.

Good luck.

Remember that a fax machine is your best friend when trying to collect money. But remain civil at all times. You want to give the appearance that you are the good guy and he is the bad guy.
Who has fax machines these days??
 

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there's a certain type of person who is stressed out and miserable and misery likes company. most people dont have the stones to steal a paint job, they just want people to feel what they are feeling. i know this, i dont think they know i know this, so that's were i get the advantage. i give them a week of not bugging them to feed their ego thats telling them "i dont have to pay right away", giving them a small victory. after a week i apply patient polite pressure touching base in a nice way every 5 or so days but never letting them know im worried, i dont play into their game because it might get them off and they will want to play more, try not to break frame. The types to play these games have delicate egos, dont bruise them or they might lash out and make you wait longer. applying patient delicate pressure after giving them some time for a small win is the best route ive found. then after about a month ill start leaving large caliber rounds on their front step
 

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there's a certain type of person who is stressed out and miserable and misery likes company. most people dont have the stones to steal a paint job, they just want people to feel what they are feeling. i know this, i dont think they know i know this, so that's were i get the advantage. i give them a week of not bugging them to feed their ego thats telling them "i dont have to pay right away", giving them a small victory. after a week i apply patient polite pressure touching base in a nice way every 5 or so days but never letting them know im worried, i dont play into their game because it might get them off and they will want to play more, try not to break frame. The types to play these games have delicate egos, dont bruise them or they might lash out and make you wait longer. applying patient delicate pressure after giving them some time for a small win is the best route ive found. then after about a month ill start leaving large caliber rounds on their front step
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Contractor and accomplice arrested w/pending felony criminal mischief & burglary charges for repossessing & destroying a finished bath tile installation which contractor claimed was his property due to client not paying final invoice. Video in link below shows contractor w/sledgehammer in hand breaking up tiled bath walls & floors.


Edit: In the OP’s case, accessing the house without permission and defacing the paint, although having a key, would likely result in a criminal trespass charge, in addition to a criminal mischief charge for defacing the homeowner’s property, whether or not they paid for it.
 

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I only ever had a very few clients refuse to pay me. I told one they had one hour to meet me at the job site or I was going to use high loss spray lacquer to take the job back. When he sounded confused I told him every surface I had painted was going to be repainted with the spray "Cheap B**tard wouldn't pay." I said good luck getting another painter to redo the work and I'd be only to happy to heve you take me through the courts! The guy made it, with cash and just barely on time. He asked, "Aren't you going to count it?" I said, "Nope, you'd be a fool to short me, I can always come back!" (it was all there.) Ah, I was such a ruckus Btch in my 20's. I also once threatened to wash a man's Mercedes Benz with muriatic acid (AKA: Hydrochloric Acid). He threatened to call the police and I said "I wish you would, they wouldn't come for me." He had written me a bunch of bad checks and gave my supplier a bad credit card. The cops told me all the crap he'd managed to walk from and didn't give a hoot. I got paid after he started screaming "I got money! I got money!" I said "Great, give some to me and you'll still have a car!". All other times I just put contractors liens on properties or hauled them into court. BUT I DO NOT RECOMMEND MY YOUTHFUL COLLECTION METHODS!!! I did know how to pick my spots, so to speak.
 

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Contractor and accomplice arrested w/pending felony criminal mischief & burglary charges for repossessing & destroying a finished bath tile installation which contractor claimed was his property due to client not paying final invoice. Video in link below shows contractor w/sledgehammer in hand breaking up tiled bath walls & floors.


Edit: In the OP’s case, accessing the house without permission and defacing the paint, although having a key, would likely result in a criminal trespass charge, in addition to a criminal mischief charge for defacing the homeowner’s property, whether or not they paid for it.
They were absolutely in the wrong! HO paid most of the money up front, it is an HOs prerogative to withhold some of the money until the job is finished and approved. I'm glad they charged the AH!
 

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The owner is selling her house so the agent contacted us to get the house keys. We told the agent that we’re not giving the house keys until we get paid and explained the situation. She advised to hold onto the keys for now. If we don’t get paid tomorrow, me and my boyfriend are planning to go back and ruined the paints that we did as we’re supposed to be paid for the job that we have done and not taken for granted.
I strongly advise against that. Slap a lien on the property as it's up for sale. At the very least, you get paid when it sells!
 

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Similar story for me.

Got contacted by a realtor to do a bunch of interior painting for a guy who was selling his house to move into a McMansion he was building. Realtor had me send the bill to her and said she would get it to the guy. I didn’t get paid, didn’t get paid, didn’t get paid… Finally I contacted the realtor and she told me she had delivered the bill but money wasn’t all that important to the guy and he’d likely forgotten about the bill. WTF???

I told her money WAS important to me and then she told me she’d didn’t want to bug him about it because he was also her husband’s boss and she didn’t want to cause issues for her husband. WTF x2??? After a few choice words, I hung up and immediately called her broker. I explained things to him and he said to give him a chance to look into it. He called back about ten minutes later to tell me a check was being made out as we were speaking and would be mailed shortly. Got my check a few days later - along with the late fees as were stipulated in the contract. Needless to say, I never worked with that realtor again.

So yes, sometimes it takes a bit of creative collecting techniques to get what is yours.
I once had a Labor Union Executive do a disappearing act after his new apartment was fully painted. When all attempts to contact him failed I called his landlord. I told the landlord I was preparing to put a lien on his property so he needed to tell his new tenant to pay up. He called me back to say his lawyer told him I could not put a lien on his property because he had no contract with me. I said "You need a new lawyer! The law says I can put a lien on any property that benefited from my labor and materials." I hung up and by the end of the day had sent the landlord proof of the lien. The cheque came through the mail slot in my front door 90 minutes later. That guy's lawyer was a bluffer! He should have known I would know the liens law! The landlord should have told his tenant to pay up or face consequences. Some people just like to do things the hard way. :(
 

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I once had a Labor Union Executive do a disappearing act after his new apartment was fully painted. When all attempts to contact him failed I called his landlord. I told the landlord I was preparing to put a lien on his property so he needed to tell his new tenant to pay up. He called me back to say his lawyer told him I could not put a lien on his property because he had no contract with me. I said "You need a new lawyer! The law says I can put a lien on any property that benefited from my labor and materials." I hung up and by the end of the day had sent the landlord proof of the lien. The cheque came through the mail slot in my front door 90 minutes later. That guy's lawyer was a bluffer! He should have known I would know the liens law! The landlord should have told his tenant to pay up or face consequences. Some people just like to do things the hard way. :(
Labor union exec eh? Lucky you didn’t get a visit from members of the garment workers (shoe division) along with those from the cement workers.
 
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