Businessman rues $9,000 unpaid bill

By Soli Wilson, 15 April 2019

A local businessman has warned others to be wary after he was left with a $9,000 bill that a client refused to pay. 

Sixty-seven-year-old Vaina-Lepa Tavita Nikolao – who runs a business that cleans properties, paints and cuts trees – did not wish to name the client, but said he is going public to ensure other businesses do not fall into the same trap. 

He said he has been in business for more than a decade attending to the needs of his clients, and this is the first time this has happened to him. 

“I know I will only forgive this person when he pays up his bill,” he said.

On May 11 last year he tendered his services to cut 11 big trees at the client’s residence at Alafua and charged $3,000 per tree, saying he issued a quotation for the work that needed to be done, but later on only billed him for five trees cut as a "good deed".

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“As we were discussing the job to be done last year, he told me he was going to Fiji, but will leave his son-in-law in charge. And I said okay, just deposit $200 for the petrol of the equipment and told him I will give him a good bill after.

“What do you know, he didn’t give me anything and I even had to feed his son-in-law while the work was going on, there was no deposit which made me think this person might be playing me. But when I handed the client my invoice after the work was done, he said the bill was too big,” he said.

Vaina-Lepa said he gave them a chance to pay him anything and they settled on $7000, but when he went to collect the payment towards the end of last year, he was only given $6,000.

“That same week I went to collect the money, I met up with him and he said he could only give me $6,000 which made me angry so I am taking him to court because he had only given me $6,000 out of the $15,000 that he was billed for,” he said.

Vaina-Lepa is now waiting for the Court hearing which is scheduled for May 29 where he will pursue a $9,200 claim.

“When we tried sorting out the matter outside of court they tried to threaten me with legal fees. But I was adamant to take this man to court. So I told them to meet me at court, I don’t care if I have to pay $100,000 for it,” he told Samoa Observer.

And he warned other small businesses to be cautious when dealing with such customers. 

“Business people should be careful with these kinds of people as they think they have big shot jobs, he can just push us around. But no I just want things to be right."

By Soli Wilson, 15 April 2019

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