Allowed to undo non-paid server work?

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New Member
New York City

I hope this is the correct forum...

Ok, I have a now ex-client that was constantly late in payments. I am a computer consulting and do many things in regards to computer setups and configurations. I installed and setup a server for this user after his old one kicked the bucket. We had a verbal (yes, the very fun word) agreement that in exchange for the server install/setup fees, he would take a service contract. He never did take the contract after about 4 months, so I sent an invoice for the server setup which was signed by his office manager.

He will not pay the fee.

Some of the things I set up for him, aside from the physical computer were User Accounts, FTP services, file relocation and the like. All of these are intangible services which allow him to conduct his business more efficiently. Denying these services will not stop his business however.

The question is, since he is running his business on unpaid services, am I allowed to undo any of these intangible changes legally? There is no contract. Just a signed invoice that is not paid for.

As soon as I called him out, he become very nasty. Also, I did kind of lose my temper over an email conversation when he finally said that if I fixed a problem he is having now with his WIFI connection, then I will get paid for the services rendered in the past... (sounds like blackmail to me).

Can anyone answer?
Check with a lawyer, some give free consultations. Here's what I think. I bill invoices and ours say: "If payment is not made as agreed, Sellar can remove said equipment/materials at Sellers expense." etc. If they sign it and do not pay, we send a letter (certified) that lists the number of times we tried to collect payments, messages left, and a copy of the signed invoice (with the above quote on it). In the letter we also tell them that we can take them to small claims court for not paying and sue them for theft of service (only works when signature is on paperwork though). Then, at the very least, we get a sheepish apologetic phone call and viola- money. We haven't had to take anyone to small claims court. Try this first.
There are many possible ways but Kilt Puppy's suggestion is good and least expensive. You can try it. I know you probably have learned the hard way............But never do verbal contracts. He can manipulate his staff to testify to the contrary...........
Don't interrupt/discontinue/alter the services and/or features you set up. He (in theory) could sue you for damages incurred due the loss of such features (such as loss of productivity), and (in my opinion) would have a very strong case. You're not continuing to provided a service that you are not getting paid for (like mowing the lawn once a week) and then stopping service. You have already provided the service. Your work product is not collateral. If you have emails from him documenting his acknowledgement of the debt, I would proceed with a small claims action against him.
You have a very strong case here to win in small claims court. A word of advice - don't provide any further services to this ex-client since his past history indicates that he is not very forthcoming about his payment habits/history. Just adding to the previous poster, in addition to the emails and invoice, get an affidavit from any witnesses that did help you install the server and that have purchased parts and materials for you and that have witnessed your attempts to recover moneys from this now ex-client. Good Luck!
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