I recently had ServPro come and help with some water in my basement. After the job was done, they had charged me waaay more than they should have, so I asked them to fix a few things on the bill. We've been going back and forth for a few months now, and they have agreed to remove several charges from the bill. However, In their most recent email they told me that I have to accept what they're charging me as is, and if I don't, they'll send me to collections, except some of the things they've taken off the bill will be added back on when they send it to collections.

My question is: Are they allowed add things back onto my bill that we've already agreed shouldn't have been on the bill, and then send that to collections? I still have other disputes with the bill that I'd like to discuss, but I don't want to get sent to collections just for asking


2 Answers 2



You asked for work to be done in the expectation you would have to pay for it and they did the work - that’s a legally binding contract.

It appears that you did not agree on a price and possibly not on a time for making payment. If that is so, you agreed to pay a reasonable price in a reasonable time.

They have issued an invoice stating what and when they believe is reasonable. You dispute parts of that invoice. That’s fine, people are allowed to have disputes. You have paid the undisputed amount I hope?

Notwithstanding, your negotiations with the other party can go back and forth and things can be put on and taken off the table. But you don’t have a deal until you have a deal. At any time, either party can walk away and assert their rights. Or make a take it or leave it offer, commonly called playing hardball.

Since it is undisputed that you owe them something, they can refer the debt to “collections (be that internal or an external debt collector). You should pay the undisputed amount immediately and you can continue to dispute the remainder. They will make a deal, initiate legal action, or let the matter die.

  • I don't agree. As long as you don't pay, "meet in the middle" more or less equals "pay the amount I think is right". Once you pay the undisputed amount, "meet in the middle" means "pay half the disputed amount". So it's a loss of position for you! And it won't slow down collection activities because they'll just send the disputed amount for collections. Dec 10, 2021 at 4:19
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica you can use that as a negotiation tactic if you like but it does put you in an adverse position legally.
    – Dale M
    Dec 10, 2021 at 4:50
  • I'm presuming you're in active negotiations. If you stop negotiating and tell them to sue you, then I agree - having paid the undisputed amount reduces the incentive to go after you for the remainder. Dec 10, 2021 at 4:56
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica the issue that you face is this. Assume the debt is $11 million and the dispute is over $1 million. You negotiate for 3 months and then they break down and they sue. Win or lose over the disputed amount, you are going to owe them judgement interest (which is often punitive) on the $10 million from day dot.
    – Dale M
    Dec 10, 2021 at 5:03

Yes, absolutely. The whole thing is a negotiation.

They sent a bill. They believe it is right and the whole of their claim on you.

You think it's wrong and think it's "waaaay" too high.

But it sounds like that's not what you told them, you picked and pecked at a few things you didn't like, even though you were discontent/disgruntled with a great deal more, because of a lack of confidence on your part. They conceded the things you asked for, as an offering to settlement. And then you thought "Well gosh, I could've asked for more". And you're now doing so, and they're not having it.

That was a blunder on your part. If you thought it was "waaaay" too high, you should have opened with "this is waaaay too high" and clearly stated your basis for believing so, and stuck to your guns.

I mean, you can still do it; it's a negotiation, you can do anything you want, including tear them up on social media (or threaten to do the same). But you definitely hurt your case by not coming right out of the gate with all your objections.

At the end of the day, it's about $$$ (for them)

... and not "what is right". Their concession of those charges wasn't an admission of billing error, it was a settlement offer. They can withdraw it at any time or you can refuse to pay timely. Either way, the negotiation has failed, and you are back to square one. Which is why they can take the full amount to collections. It is exactly as crass as this:

"I don't like the bill and I'll pay 60%".
"I could pay 65%".
"We could accept 75%".
"Meet me halfway. 70%."

I know you say "there's a principle to the thing" -- to them, there isn't. They have payroll to make and suppliers to pay.

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