Langley small business owner Susan Kovecses said she ended up cleaning the Walnut Grove Boston Pizza for free, for six months (Dan Ferguson Langley Advance Times)

VIDEO: How a Langley small business owner ended up working six months for free

Take a close look and get references before you sign a contract, she advises other business owners

Langley small business owner Susan Kovecses says she is owed thousands of dollars for months of unpaid work cleaning a Walnut Grove restaurant.

“I’m a single mom with two kids and this was the largest contract I had,” said Kovecses, owner of “Nooks and Cranny’s Cleaning Corp.”

She told the Langley Advance Times that after several months of unpaid invoices, when she tried to get paid, the owner of the Walnut Grove Boston Pizza restaurant told her the dispute was between her and Crown First, the company that sold her the cleaning contract, not his restaurant.

When she bought the contract for the restaurant from Crown First, Kovecses said she was under the impression she would be billing the restaurant directly.

She said she agreed to pay Crown $4,000 plus fees over the first two months, after which she would start being paid.

After submitting invoices for her third month of work, Kovecses said she was “shocked” to learn the restaurant was paying Crown First.

Koveceses said she tried to be “patient and understanding” and kept on working while she attempted to negotiate with the restaurant and Crown First.

She estimates she spent six months working seven-day weeks from 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. before she finally walked away in January.

“You know what gets me?” Kovecses fumed.

“I did a good job. I worked really, really hard, I did extras [that I didn’t bill for].”

By then, Kovecses said she had tried to negotiate a contract with Boston Pizza where she would be paid directly, and she had also made attempts to get the money owed from Crown First, all to no avail.

“I wasn’t getting a reply or response in any way, shape or form,” Kovecses added.

She estimates she is out about $19,000.

Kovecses said she went public with her story to alert other business owners of the need to take a close look at their contracts and require references “because if you work, you should be paid, it’s that simple.”

The owner of the Walnut Grove Boston Pizza directed requests for comment to Crown First.

“My contract is with Crown,” owner Richard Petty responded.

Crown First owner Chris Allan Borse did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: B.C. provincial court to reduce operations

READ ALSO: B.C.’s online small claims court a world first

Kovecses said she is considering suing for the money in small claims court, but that is unlikely to be heard any time soon.

The Provincial Court of B.C. has cut back its operations in light of the continuing spread of COVID-19 and all small claims settlements or trial conferences scheduled between March 16th and May 4th were postponed.

Only “urgent” small claims matters will be heard, the court said.

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