When can a bill go to collection?

I live in Colorado. In May 2015 I engaged home cleaning services for a one-time job (a move-out cleaning). The owner of the business was on-site and estimated the job at $200-250. I approved the work.

I was then sent an invoice for nearly double - $450 - and contacted the owner of the business and indicated that the amount was far above his estimate, and that I would pay the agreed amount ($250). He replied (via text): "I don't want anything from you. I'm busy - leave me alone". I never again received any other invoices, notices, or any correspondence of any kind.

6 months later (December '15) he has told a mutual acquaintence that he intends to hand the bill over for collection.

Can they do this?

Reply from DebtCollectionAnswers.com

We're not lawyers and written statutes don't address every type of scenario that arise between individuals and businesses, but generally someone can turn a delinquent debt over to collections. If you had paid the agreed upon amount, it would be hard to see how that would be worth it for him (the collection agency would want its cut and he'd hardly get anything once they did). But since you didn't pay anything, it's possible they could.

Is this a regular above the board business? If so, you could try sending him a check or money order for the agreed upon amount and state something to the effect that you are paying him the maximum agreed upon price for his services. (And keep a copy for your records.) Or you could try to split the different: perhaps the job took him much longer than expected, and so you pay him the difference.

If this is a legitimate business and tries to pursue it you could always try going to small claims court or complaining online at sites like Yelp, BBB, etc.

While it sounds like he handled it poorly, you definitely don't want a collection account on your credit report even for a small amount if you can avoid it.

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