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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
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Experience:  Attorney experienced in commercial litigation.
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We are in a (currently unofficial) dispute with a pool cleaning

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We are in a (currently unofficial) dispute with a pool cleaning company.

We had successful service for about 12 months and paid regularly (which we can prove). We missed one payment but were never invoiced (reminded) or told that our service was cancelled. We then resumed payments for 6 months, assuming that service was continuing. However when contacting the owner 6 months later (as we were about to take the pool cover off) he stated that he had cancelled us long ago (he verbally admitted no service) BUT since we could provide evidence that we had paid for 6 months worth (cleared checks), he would provide some service without additional charge.

The owner's brother took over responsibility about 2 months ago and is claiming that we did in fact receive service for those 6 months and that we now owe them payment for recent work.

We have never been officially invoiced for any of the work. We feel that it is unlikely that we owe but more likely that they still owe us - although we are happy to let it go at this point. However the owner's brother, rather than providing us with a clear description of debt has just informed us, unofficially (via text) that he has placed a lien against our home. Possibly upset by the complaint we filed with the Better Business Bureau - note this company has 2 complaints against it and is rated F.

I would like to know what our smartest option is at this point. We would like to avoid court and high legal expenses (probably not a popular thing to say I know). Would neighbor/friend affidavits about the state of the pool and proof of payments qualify as sufficient evidence to call his bluff and place a lien against his business, so discouraging him from his strike against us?

Any other advice?
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

if you have proof that you made payments and there is proof no service was performed on the pool from your neighbor who can attest to the condition of the pool when you opened it and that it should not have been in that condition then this would be grounds to go to small claims court, since you cannot legally place a lien against his business without a court judgment in your favor. He knows you legally cannot place a lien against his business without suing him.

You can sue in small claims without an attorney, I know you said you do not want to sue, but there are not really high legal costs of suing in small claims.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If we have never been invoiced for service, on what basis can this business claim a debt from us? I'm thinking of the two months which the owner's brother had been "working off" some of the debt and claims that the effort is equivalent to what we had paid in the 6 months previously?


I'm asking this because I have not been presented with a bill and would rather have time to know what he would claim in court.


How can he quantify a debt owed? Is there any way for us to force him to do this before we go to court - either to sue him or to be sued by him?


We can prove what we paid for 6 months and the state of the pool when the cover was taken off but surely he has to prove what service he provided. Doesn't he?

Thank you for your response.

He would have to prove the value of the two months of service which he would do by providing you a list of work he performed in that 2 months. The charges have to be reasonable and customary in the industry for that work, he cannot just make up whatever he wants to charge you.

You need to send him a written demand informing him he is in breach of contract and demanding your money from the 6 months of payments returned as well as proof of any work he claimed he did towards that in the 2 months and an invoice describing that work done.

Of course he has to prove the value and amount of work done in court to try to offset that amount against the 6 months you paid for no service.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you so much for your advice so far. Would you be able to point me in the direction of a template/format for such a demand letter? I'm not asking for you to write it (or even review it once written) - just a starting point.


Question - the only evidence of "contract" would be the cleared checks - there was no piece of paper for those 6 months. Also we have lost copies of the comments sheets he left with us for the last 2 months work which would describe what he said they did at the time and what they were asking us to do. If they choose to produce fraudulent copies of records of work not really done, can we defend against that?

Thank you for your response.

These demand letters are written from scratch based on each specific situation. The fact you paid for 6 months and have proof of those payments, you can establish your contract. Here are some Sample Demand Letters.

You would have to demand he provide you copies of the 2 months invoices and you can demand that in your letter. If it has to go to court you can serve him a request for production to receive it. However, it is unlikely he will prove 6 months of charges in 2 months and you can dispute the amount of any charges even if he tries to use a phony invoice by using a local pool expert (likely one of his competitors would love to testify) to state what the reasonable charges are for the work he alleged he performed.
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