How do I end regular (but non-contracted) service with a client that has falsely accused us of theft?

I own a cleaning company and have been accused by a client of setting up a burglary in their home. They (the husband ) have also threatened us with violence “if their things are not returned in 24 hours”. I work hard to develop real relationships with my clients (the wife here) and am very sad about these events. My company and employees have absolutely nothing to do with their burglary but we obviously cannot continue to clean their home now. Should I send a brief email canceling service “due to circumstances”? do nothing, or what? They also owe us money, how should that be handled?

Asked on July 25, 2012 under Business Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

1) If there is no written contract specifying that you will provide service for a given period of time, you can end the service at any time on notice--just as they could end the service (stop using you) at any time on notice. Written notice, sent some way you can prove delivery (including fax and email) is generaly best; better is to send it multiple ways (e.g. email and certified mail with return receipt).

2) If they prepaid for service you have not provided, you would need to return any unused amounts.

3) If they owe you money for service done, you could sue them for the money. Whether you should do that, or should forgive the debt, depends on your sense of what is the best practical decision to make under the circumstances. One option is to try to settle--offer to foregive the debt in exchange for a signed agreement releasing you, your company, and your employees from any liability (e.g. agreeing to not sue you or take any other legal action).


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