I was contacted by a customer on July 19th to do a painting job for her and her husband. I believe I went to their home to do an estimation between July 19th and July 22nd (July 22nd the estimate was sent via email). They accepted the estimate and we started to talk about when to start the project. They insisted that the job was not urgent and that as long as it was done "before October" they would be fine because they wanted to sell their home. So I was able to get them scheduled the first week of August with no expectation of an end date but obviously I had other jobs I needed to work on too. So I had planned on blocking off two weeks just to be safe. In addition to paint their home, they wanted some medium skill level drywall work done, a temporary wall removed and possibly wanted their hardwood sanded and refinished. We settled on $2,500 on the price with me paying up to $200 for paint and materials. I also asked for deposit before starting work.
This should probably be stated before I go further but I am brand new to the business side of us all this (contracts, taking payments, etc) so I was extremely naive and am just an overall nice person to begin with so this all hurt me in the end. I had to chase them down for the deposit and ultiamtely asked for $1,500 midway through the project which they gave me payment for. I was worried at this point they were screwing with me but the check cleared. Well, long story short, I ended up paying for almost $600 in materials (another long story and their fault) and they ended up owing me $2,500 at the end of the project (without the extra material cost). Midway through they added two additional projects totaling $1,500 which accounts for the total $2,500 owed. I have text messages, emails, and even photographs on the last day of the project.
They are claiming I caused over $2000 worth of damage to their home which is literally impossible with the work I did. Unless I took a can of paint and decided to pour it all over their furniture (which was covered anyway) this just isn't reasonable. I am planning on filing with conciliation court here in Minnesota today but wanted to check in with Thumbtack first. I just assumed that you guys don't do anything in regards to non-payment because I'm sure it happens a lot. But in case there's something you can do, I wanted to make sure I asked first. Maybe customers check "ok" to some contractual stipulation for using your service, I don't know.
The reason I decided to take this long was because I'm just beginning to get hit with the severe financial consequences of them not paying. I honestly couldn't handle the failure of my business financially plus try to take someone to court. Emotionally, I just wanted to be done with it all. I knew this was it, you don't really come back from $2,500 non payment of a job as a new business.
Before them, I had a ton of great customers that I was looking forward to working with for years and loved the work I did. After this job, I was in complete financial ruin and my body no longer could handle the workload. I went from excitement and hope in a new career choice to complete financial ruin and emotional devastation. With covid and what it already took from my life, I wasn't prepared emotionally for what this was going to do to me.
It took 12 days total with weekend days, I made only $900 profit (plus I brought another person in when I realized I was being messed with), had to cancel the job I had scheduled after it ($3,600 loss in revenue) and had to quit on the job that I ended up getting right after because my body started to fall apart (mostly due to the length of this ten day job, had no rest between days). Not to mention I can't do this type of work anymore and my business was done financially after this. The government or some type of organization really needs to have better protections in place for both customers and contractors. Something like this shouldn't even be possible in my opinion but it sounds like it is and that it happens every single day. I know the whole lien process is there but in my opinion its silly and rarely helps a contractor.
Worse part: they just sold their house a week ago for $300,000 more than what they paid for it
Thanks for any advice or help you can provide.