View Full Version : Customer unhappy with cleanup

Grass Stain
04-02-2002, 11:01 AM
Hey guys, I have always had the philosophy that the customer is always right, but sometimes that is just hard to swallow. I had a lady call me last week that was 101 years of age and she wanted her lawn raked and cleaned up. She was hard of hearing and almost hung up on me when I asked her for her address because she thought I said that I didn't want to do it. Of course she said she wanted it done "as soon as possible" so a crew could come in and mow her lawn. Well, I told her I would come in and look at it and thought I might be able to take on her lawn as an account also. So I looked over the lawn and it was small, but was full of sticks and leaves. So I told her it would be $20 and I could do it that evening. I knew I wasn't charging her enough, and I made the mistake of giving in since she was 101...guess I felt sorry for her(big mistake). At any rate, I have commercial equipment for mowing, but none for lawn clean-ups, so I used a rake, bags, and my hands. I feel I did a nice job and it looked 100% better than when I started. Her lawn is in poor shape anyway. Yesterday a I received a letter(not a phone call) from her saying she was very unhappy with the service and even asked me what kind of rake I used. She said she didn't have that kind of money to throw away. It made me irate in a way because I carted off 9 large trash sacks full of leaves and sticks from her yard. I drove by this morning to take a good look at it again, and it looks fine to me. I am going to talk with her today. I have not cashed the check, should I give it back, or how would you approach this? I won't make this mistake again. Sorry this post was so long, I was just a little iritated. Thanks for reading.

04-02-2002, 11:11 AM
for twenty bucks she should be kissing you a$$, if she would complain about than she would complian about anything, unless you did a crapy job, but you said you hauled nine bags off. It has got to look somewhat better. yes i would cash the check because she should have said she was not happy with work before you had left her house. That is my opinion.:angry:

bubble boy
04-02-2002, 11:22 AM
first cash the chq.

then raise your prices a lot.

i'm figuring best case scenerio-10 min. drive time. 5min. per bag if your lightning quick, leave the bags there. 5 min to invoice, etc.

ignoring bags cost, taxes thats $20/hr.

and thats being REALLY conservative.

04-02-2002, 11:24 AM
yeah , I'm curious as to how long it took you to do this cleanup , had to be at least a 2hr job ? Should have gotten like $100.00 for that to allow for compensation of headaches .....

04-02-2002, 11:36 AM
I was talking to a friend once and he said when he was a kid he and a friend ( this had to be in the 70's or so) were mowing for an old old guy and it took them like 6 or 7 hours and when they were done the guy only gave them a quarter a peice. just 25 cents! my friend then said that the old guy wasn't playing with all the cards a person should have and that in that guys day, 25 cents a day was alright... he understood and didn't complain cause this guy couldn't do it himself and had no one to do it for him, my friend and his buddy did it to be nice, but i'm saying that some old people just simply aren't UP TO DATE!
something to ponder...

Grass Stain
04-02-2002, 12:18 PM
This job took me 1 hour and 35 minutes and I actually quoted her $20 an hour, but just charged her $20 anyway. Yes, I should have charged her more and it is my fault for not. I learned my lesson. But, we have to watch what we charge in this part of the country because it is a lower income area and a rural area to boot. I mow in three cities within a 15 mile radius and the largest is a population of about 20,000 or so. If you price too high, you will price yourself out of business. The scrubs do a number on us here. Thanks for the ideas! She didn't look at the lawn before I left, but evidently she looked at it the next day. As I said, I am going to have a talk with her this afternoon to hopefully get this ironed out. She did say in the letter that she wanted me to fix the problem( After looking at it this morning, I honestly don't know what the problem is) and that if not, she wouldn't recommend me to anyone else. Oh boy...

04-02-2002, 12:38 PM
Hi Grass stain,

You are learning a valuable lesson in regards to elderly folks, THEY CAN BE A PITA. You have every right to cash that check to offset your losses that you have incured, and yes you did loose money, you would of been better off not doing the job and watching the three stooges on TV or something like that. I used to deal with customers like that and found it a real pain...... Nowdays if I talk to a customer that even sounds like they are elderly and hard of hearing...... Forget it, I'll bid the job real high just so they DON"T call me back. Let some scrub deal with those folks. A lot of those elderly folks don't have a clue what are cost nowdays, but many of them don't have a problem spending $40 grand for a cadillac or Buick.;)

04-02-2002, 01:46 PM
Proline32 is right on the money! I have a lot of those types in my area too. They are hard to deal with, but sometimes are the only game in town. My strategy is to be absolutely up-front with them and only do exactly what they are paying for. If you don't watch out they get you to throw in some "favors" for the price.

Grass Stain
04-03-2002, 03:27 PM
Well, I went back and talked with the lady last night. She didn't answer when I knocked so I kindly picked up a few "dead" catalpa tree beans that had fallen to the ground since my cleanup. Eventually she came to the door and pointed out that she didn't mean to write a nasty letter but she had wanted me to to rake an area that I didn't think she owned. She came outside and pointed out an area that she said I missed. It was an area about 60-70 ft. long, about 3 feet or so wide, and about 1.5 ft. stack of leaves all the way down. But, the kicker is, this area looker like her neighbors property because her neighbor's garage sits out even farther than these leaves! I didn't know til last night that the neighbors had built the garage on this lady's property, so those leaves were actually my responisbility, eventhough they were closer to the neighbors house. She said the rest of the yard looked great, but that was what she was concerned with....I thought no problem, I'll just clean these up and she had offered to pay more money anyway. So I went backover her yard and then cleaned up this area too...about an hour's worth of work. I went in when I was finished and told her that if I could take her on as a lawn account, I wouldn't charge her for my services. That area was not in the estimate...had it been, I would have charged her at least $10 more. Anyway, she didn't act like she wanted me and I said otherwise I will have to charge $10 for my time and she got mad, eventhough she had offered to pay me before! She pulled out a five and I wouldn't take it. She told me I was slow, and that I charged too much. And she said maybe she shouldn't have ran her last crew off because they only charged her $17 for the lawn mowing and $17 for cleanups and I said, "Maybe you shouldn't have because I can't work for that and still provide my customers with high quality service." I then said, "Good luck in finding your next crew and have a good evening. I apologize for any misunderstanding." and I left. I was kinda irritated, but then I realized she got a hell of a deal and I was calm and nice and offered what I could to her...if that wasn't good enough, then I don't need her as a client. Thanks for listening to me whine! lol

04-03-2002, 03:41 PM
Did you put the leavs back? Let her find someone ELSE to do ot for "ten bucks" or better yet, five. It sounds to me like she's just a miserable person, who isn't happy unless she's spreading misery to others.

04-03-2002, 04:20 PM
After all the grief this lady gave you, I'm surprised that you were still interested in getting the mowing account. Consider yourself fortunate that you don't have to deal with this lady anymore.


04-03-2002, 06:02 PM
Some people really make me upset. This is one of those people. You did more than what was required and sounds like you did an exceptional job. I would cash the check and then go by and see what she is talking about. Get your money first since you did all the work. :blob2:

04-03-2002, 06:17 PM
Originally posted by Grass Stain
I learned my lesson. But, we have to watch what we charge in this part of the country because it is a lower income area and a rural area to boot. If you price too high, you will price yourself out of business. The scrubs do a number on us here.

Sorry to be rude, but I think YOU are the SCRUB here Grass Stain! I dont care how depressed your area is, the prices that you are charging are WAY too low, and your only hurting yourself in the end. This should have been a $100 job or 3 hrs worth anyway. If she cant afford it, thats what Family is for, let them deal with thier 101 (really? That old!?) year old Great grandmothers finances.

Sorry to come off so hard, just that I see so many peolpe throwing the "SCRUB" word around, and fail to realize that they just may be one!

Sam Grinold
04-03-2002, 08:37 PM
There is no way this story can be true. I can not imagine this and i have dealt with some Hags now and again but never anything this bad. All for twenty bucks?

04-03-2002, 09:00 PM
Couple years ago, I got a call for one of my first spring cleanups. I didn't have alot of experience bidding these, and they still can be tough, because some tasks look easy on the surface. (Be sure to bid safely, there's always others out there and your time should be worth quite a bit) It was a small yard, she wanted a few twigs and a few leaves raked up around a tree. I bid $40, for a little over an hours work. That seemed an alright price, but I learned theres a alot more money when you ask/look for it.
Anyways I get done and ask for my money. She kept beating around the bush about my work. I had half a truck of debris in the back and she started complaining about a leaf scattered every 15'. Very meticolous work to remove... She wouldn't show me any money, and I hate to get on the offensive with a customer, but the customer is not always right, but the money should be. I had to stop being friendly (but I was still professional) and that got her think'n to do the right thing. I was a few steps from getting in my truck and dumping my load right there back in a pile... I too had hoped to gain another lawn customer, but I ran. Customers like this are not worth the money, time, or the friction :blob3:

04-03-2002, 11:25 PM
Originally posted by Grass Stain
At any rate, I have commercial equipment for mowing, but none for lawn clean-ups, so I used a rake, bags, and my hands.

Took you 3 hrs without proper equipment & you charged $20. Would likely have taken you 20 min. with proper equipment. In order to compete with an LCO who has proper equipment you lowered you hourly to compensate. If you are in a depressed area $60 per hr. for clean-ups, which is what $20 at 20 min would be, would almost be reasonable.
Good job for recognising you are less efficient than you could be & for your professional, courteous manner with the customer.

04-04-2002, 12:52 AM
Keeping your prices low is a bunch of crock..... if your gonna charge only $20.00 for a clean up then you would be far better off flipping burgers at wendy's or cleaning toilets at the local homeless shelter for minimum wage, you would actually make money there. You spent money for those trash bags that you used to haul off the debris, that was probably $2.00,
what about gas for your truck, I'm not trying to be mean, but your killing yourself and maybe you don't realise it. If this is your only source of income you are in trouble, You are going after the wrong customers..... If your area won't properly support your type of business you should either move to a more prosperous area, or find other type of work. By you keeping your prices low, NOBODY in your area benefits.

Grass Stain
04-04-2002, 06:03 PM
Ok, for all you know it all lawn boys that saw it fit to put me down...I could probably buy you. First of all I do this on the side because I love caring for lawns and always have. We own another successful business and I would guess that our bank account is a lot fatter than yours. I also own a successful multi-car drag racing operation and did I mention I am financially set for life. This lawn service is my therapy. If you think it is so easy to bid what you think it is worth, then you get your butt down here and do it, because your prices will drive you out of business and I promise you that. And I'll stand back and laugh and say..."Now, that was a crock when you try to prove me otherwise!" Thanks to those who offered good advice. I really do appreciate it. I wasn't trying to be arrogant by what I said above, but it seems pretty easy for some of you to sit behind a computer and speak your mind. :blob2:

04-04-2002, 06:16 PM
Grass Stain

Take your therapy and go mow the Racetrack or rake leaves under the bleachers. :mad: But, PLEASE DON'T come here to brag about your bank account one minute, and then complain about the tight wad crazy old Lady stiffing you for $5 the next. If this is your hobby, then why even charge her? :confused:

Most of us here support families on our incomes, and by you going out and lowballing or scrubbing for pennies on the dollar, does nothing but bring the whole LCO business down to your level.

This is not my Hobby, or Therapy, its my livelihood. I, unlike yourself am NOT independently wealthy and "set for life".

It is easy to sit behind the computer and speak my mind


bubble boy
04-04-2002, 06:41 PM
Originally posted by Grass Stain
Ok, for all you know it all lawn boys that saw it fit to put me down...I could probably buy you.

really...besides me what else could you buy with that 20 large?

you have admitted yourself the price was out of whack. i don't see why you are now being defensive.:rolleyes:

04-04-2002, 08:23 PM
I'm not trying to be arrogant, I'm just telling you what any Good CPA would tell his client if it were the same situation....

I got this same story from my CPA three years ago when I started out and I thought I would be a nice guy and only charge $20.00 or so to do a job, My accountant set me straight and told me the same thing, Why bother doing a job just to loose money, I would of been better off working at wendy's flipping burgers, having half of my SSI paid, and getting a paid vacation and sick leave. If you have another business that is so sucessful, then why pray tell do you even bother to clean up yards at such a cheap rate, surely you must feel your time is worth more than $20.00 And for your info, I would not bother comming down thier and trying to bid prices at my rates it would be a waste of my time to work for so little ..... As I have said Find work in an area that is more prosperous and move there. It's the american way.

04-04-2002, 08:29 PM
A cleanup for 20 bucks that took 1 hr. 35 min.???!!!! I'm sorry but, you need to raise your prices a TON! a clean-up for $20.00 should only take 15-20 minutes,,,but i dont think most of us would do a $20.00 clean-up period. The least expensive clean-up i ever had was for $45.00 and it took about 25 minutes.. but thats with all the right equipment...

the point man
04-04-2002, 08:56 PM
Grass Stain,

Your second follow-up post was one of, if not THE rudest I have
ever seen on this site. Not one of us gives a damn whether you
can buy us or whether your dad can beat up our dad. You asked
for opinions and you got 'em. I've never responded to someone's
post out of anger, but that really p****d me off. I know some of
us can be tactless or a little rough around the edges when giving
his opinions, but you did ask.

04-04-2002, 09:02 PM
I must have missed something but didn't this thread start off by stain saying that the customer was not happy with his work and later saying that he had not done all the property and finalized with the lady not paying the bill.

If you are so well off with another business you sound like you have missed the ball on being an LCO.

Obviously you didn't walk the property with the customer, you lowered your prices to meet the customer needs whether imposed or not and you did not follow up during payment to ensure that the customer was satisfied with the work done.

Something is amiss dear Watson.......

bubble boy
04-04-2002, 09:15 PM
well, what's amiss is elementary, dear watson.

as in missing elementary logic...


Grass Stain
04-05-2002, 11:38 AM
First of all, I spoke my mind out of anger yesterday. I apologize for ranting, but I do not apologize to those of you who think you are Gods of lawnservice and completely blasted me for the business decision I made that affected me and me only. I admitted I undercharged her, but this lady was 101 years of age and I could not walk the lawn with her because she can't hardly walk. And, after making the mistake on the lawn cleanup, she told me what the last crew charged her and I said you better call them back then because I can't work for that. And whoever posted about the racetrack, for your information, I have that account too and I am very good friends with the owner. I took on yet another account yesterday evening and it also involved a spring cleanup and I made sure not to make the same mistake as I had with the first cleanup of the season. Yes maybe my post was rude, but so were some of you. Some of you people think your poop doesn't stink. This is my last post on lawnsite.com, as I don't need your negative advice and I don't need to listen to people speak their mind and put me down because they can hide behind their computer. Again, thank you to those who offered positive advice.