SEND BEN: Jacksonville business vs. customer big problem in small claims court

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Small Claims Court is often an option when you’ve been wronged but collecting on that small claim can be a big problem. Action News Jax Investigates your rights and what recourse you have.

It has been for Doris Page. She is still steamed over a stove she said she purchased four years ago but never received. “Once you give someone cash there’s no getting it back,” she said.


Page claims she bought a stove from Carver’s Appliance in 2019. She showed Action News Jax Investigator Ben Becker a receipt that shows $125 for the stove and $60 for delivery. She purchased the stove for her rental unit because the old one wasn’t working.

But when the owner of the store, William Carver went to her place, he discovered her breaker was broken. Page also showed Becker a receipt for the part Carver purchased at Lowes. He fixed the breaker.

But according to Page, Carver kept the stove, believing the $185 should be his payment for his work on the breaker. Page disagreed, “He said, ‘Well sue me.” So, she did.

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Page took Carver to Small Claims Court where a person can sue someone for up to $5,000.

Page won the final judgement of $185 for the stove and delivery, plus $134 for court costs, and 6.3% interest.

Carver didn’t show up to court. He said he didn’t have time and did nothing wrong. Becker asked if he felt like he owed Page anything and he replied, “Absolutely zero.” “I’m not giving her money back. I fixed her stove,” he continued, “I’m not giving her a dime.”

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Becker asked, “Despite the court order?” He replied, “I don’t care. I would have gone to court and won money.” But he did not go.

According to the Duval County clerk of court, there have been 9,036 small claims court cases since 2020. But it’s unclear how many have been resolved, raising the question, “Is there a big problem with Small Claims Court?”

Dale Carson is the Action News Jax law and safety expert. He said Small Claims Court is not as effective as it could be. “Many people live off the books, so to speak, in a way you can’t identify where liquid assets are.”

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Page sent her case to collections but still has nothing to show for it. Next step would be to put a lien on something Carver owns, but at this point, Page is still undecided. For her, it’s not just about the money, it’s the principal. “I bought something and didn’t get it. I guess I’m old like that.” Becker replied laughing, “Me too.”

Page has one other point of contention. She said she offered Carver $90 for the repair once she realized the stove wasn’t the problem. He claims it was just $20.

Dale Carson said, get everything in writing before a service is done to protect yourself. He also said even if you think you didn’t do anything wrong, like Carver, you should always show up in court because there will likely be a judgement against you. And because of accrued interest, the small claim can become a large amount of money.