Consider your customer’s point of view before filing in small claims court

judgeI recently received a telephone call from a pool technician who told me that he had been terminated from a residential pool account.  He explained that he had the customer for over 5 years .  Now the customer is very angry and refuses to pay for the last month of service.  He called me for some detailed advice on how best to win his case in small claims court for the unpaid fees.

Rather than discuss the details of the small claim court procedure, I asked this pool tech to put himself in the shoes of his former customer.  Why, for example, did he think he was fired?  Had the customer previously complained of an unresolved issue?  Had the customer complained about services they didn’t think were properly performed?

All too often pool techs go to court without considering the possible reason for the customer’s refusal to pay.  Customers frequently file cross-complaints in response to the pool tech’s lawsuit, often for thousands of dollars for damage to plaster, equipment or other alleged damages.  They sometimes never even consider that the customer’s claim for damage might not be covered by insurance.

It’s tough to admit that one’s service was sub-standard, but failure to look at the situation from the customer’s point of view could end up costing far more than the last month’s unpaid bill if the judge believes your former customer.

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