Computer Technician: customer won’t come pay his bill and get his computer, can I sell it to recover my costs?

I worked very hard on the customer’s computer. The computer was infested with viruses and malware, hardrive partition errors, had a pirated Windows OS license on it (one of the reasons it was inoperable: he tried to run Vista SP1 and they caught him on a pirated license), and it was choked with pet dander and cigarette residue.

I completely cleaned the insides of the PC (including all fans, vents, heatsync), cleaned and applied new heatsync compound to his processor (it was overheating). I then spent at least 13 hours recovering all of his 300+gigs personal folders (family computer, used by 6 users), reinstalling a VALID OS and license, formatted his drives, recovered his software licenses (done prior to format) & downloaded his software (he had no cd’s for the applications) and reinstalled all of it, plus antivirus and anti-malware software, restores all of his personal folders, and imaged his drive as a clean backup for future disaster recovery.

I only charged and billed him 3 hours at $30/hour ($90), which is a heck of a deal. I charged that low because I was broke and he promised to bring me more business.

So I called and left him a voice mail message, emailed him, and cell texted him, everyday since the computer was ready for him to pick up. He hasn’t responded. Then after 2 weeks, I texted him and explained to him that I am broke and I’m about to put an ad on Craigslist to sell his PC for the un-paid debt, and NOW he texts me and gives me some sob story, but he has yet to pay me. Basically just giving me a run-around.

Now my question is this: what are the Texas laws regarding this situation, and how long must I wait before it’s legal for me to basically auction the property to recover this debt?

Another detail is that there was never a contract. I never gave him (nor was I asked for) a receipt when the customer left his PC and asked me to fix it. However, he was fully aware of the magnitude of the needed repairs, and fully aware of my hourly rate.

I welcome any answer that can be backed up with a valid source, and which considers relevant local laws and regulations. Thanks!
Ed Atun: “You’re right, it is the State Laws (Texas) that decide these matters. You, admittedly, are ignorant of these. Furthermore, since you haven’t bothered to cite a source to back up your claim, and therefore it must be assumed that your comments are arbitrary and inconsequential.”

You can not make a contract where none exists. If you had a contract that gave him 120 days to pay or you could sell, you would be covered. Which means that you need to institute that policy today.

Since you did not, you would have to go to Small Claims Court to get satisfaction. The next question is how long you have to store his item before it is considered abandoned. That would be part of your state’s laws. Probably 3-6 months.

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Ed Atun says:

You can not make a contract where none exists. If you had a contract that gave him 120 days to pay or you could sell, you would be covered. Which means that you need to institute that policy today.

Since you did not, you would have to go to Small Claims Court to get satisfaction. The next question is how long you have to store his item before it is considered abandoned. That would be part of your state’s laws. Probably 3-6 months.
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