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View Full Version : Pita client complains about bill, wants reduction,your thoughts?


FLAhaulboy
01-13-2010, 08:34 PM
Okay, client wants me to reduce final bill re a landscaping job at their home & local business. I'll break it down somewhat-prices are NOT exact figures:

1) Home total: $2,206.00

Labor: 75. per hr ($1,182.55) (16 hrs)
Materials: $609.00
Pkup/Delivery, Haul away debris: 540.00

Ripped out existing beds, tilled, installed plants, trimmed bushes, installed loose rock in one area, wheel burrowed rock/mulch to areas, hauled away debris etc.

2) Business total: $990.00

Labor: 512.00 (7.40 hrs)
Pkup/delivery, haul away debris:$300.00
Materials: $188.00

Cleaned beds, trimmed trees, raked up big leaves, installed mulch, hauled away huge pile of debris, etc
-----

Okay, the client "wants" a reduction on the total of bill-$3,197.57. I spoke with the client today (payment overdue past (90) days). Of course, I called and left a voice message telling her I was turning it over to a "collection agency" on Monday! Hence the quick call back. :laugh:

Yeah, I know I shouldn't of let three months drag by but I got busy & it was a repeat client whom I knew and trusted.

My question, How much should I knock off of the bill, IF I choose to do so? Before you answer, consider this, I donated to their yard about $300 worth of plants "free" from my little stockpile nursery. The client knew I was giving her the plants for free. She tells me "today", her neighbors did not like these plants! WTF? Screw the neighbors & besides the client "liked" them after being installed :hammerhead:

If I turn it over to collections, they may dispute it for whatever made up reason(s). I could take them small claims court but it is like a (2-3) month process. I'm thinking I should just slice the price maybe down to $2,600.00 or?

But then I think of all that hard work I did & I get angry! These folks are "loaded" with cash & are bitching & I'm mad. I did take after completion photos but not before I started. The only thing I can reduce, are my hours & mics fees which are not a
lot here.

Anybody have any thoughts? I'm getting angrier when I think about it! Thanks.

White Gardens
01-13-2010, 08:41 PM
I need pics. I'd like to see the final results.

Otherwise you are in a good ball-park for pricing.

Greg78
01-13-2010, 08:43 PM
Your prices seem ok may be a bit high on hauling away, but you didn't say how many loads...

A couple of questions.

1. What is their reason for wanting a reduction?
2. Did they know the price before hand?
3. Signed contract or estimate?
4. Deposit?

sehitchman
01-13-2010, 08:54 PM
I say, take a day or two to think about it. I always want to make a seat of the pants decision on these things and usually it gets clearer after a day or two.

I think times are hard for everyone these days. These folks just seem like everyone else who are trying to get goods and service for little to nothing. Shoot, last week, I negotiated a discount at Best Buy, who'd have thought.

The risk you run, is to alienate them for all future business by holding to your price, or will they loose respect for you if you give them a discount.

I was once told that "a discount is a rebate for an overcharge". Don't want them thinking that all future work can be discounted. You are between a rock and a hard place. I think it is time to sit down with them and discuss this. I've always found that asking the question "what do you think is fair"? Perhaps they only want a hundred or so.

albhb3
01-13-2010, 08:57 PM
tell her to go ef herself!;)

GrazerZ
01-13-2010, 09:11 PM
I think you have a couple choices.
1. Stand your ground. collections and court.
2. Give her a discount. I would only consider doing this if you think that by doing it you would retain her as a customer. let her know that you would do it in good faith to help her out. and then just get your money over time by pricing all work for her with what we call a PBC Pain in the Butt Charge usally between 15 to 30% depending on degree of pain she is.
Some customers like to play lets make a deal with ya. From your prices I would say if you are getting $75.00 per hr for installation, your work should leave her with a nothing less than screaming in joy over your work.:)

Premier landscaping south
01-13-2010, 09:27 PM
Your prices seem ok may be a bit high on hauling away, but you didn't say how many loads...

A couple of questions.

1. What is their reason for wanting a reduction?
2. Did they know the price before hand?
3. Signed contract or estimate?
4. Deposit?

Look at question #2

Did you agree on a price before the work was to be done?

I would have gave the client a detailed estimate before the job and collected a down payment, but that is me. If an estimate was given then I would have hard time reducing the price. Not knowing if the customer was clear on the final price is crucial in a case like this.

LushGreenLawn
01-13-2010, 10:28 PM
I do not offer a discount unless I make a mistake that cannot be fixed after the fact, and that is rare.

If there is no reason for a discount, I would stand my ground, and threaten to follow through with collections. Otherwise, you have no price integrity.

greendoctor
01-13-2010, 11:56 PM
Unless I screwed up a job, there are no discounts. A discount means you priced the job too high. This is why I always give a written estimate that has to be signed by both husband and wife. Then there is the fine print on the bottom of my service agreement that both husband and wife must sign. Past due invoices are subject to administrative fees and collection. With that signed, I have full recourse if someone skips out on paying.

scagrider22
01-14-2010, 12:00 AM
No way would I offer a discount after 90 days or ever, they were ok with the price when you did the job so you might as well wait another 90 days taking it to court if they dont pay up on the full amount. This is why why I take a 50% deposit to start any landscape job and the other 50% is due on the day of completion, it has worked out great with no problems and the customers dont mind but I do bill monthly for maintenence.

QualityLawnCare4u
01-14-2010, 12:24 AM
I absolutely will not cut a bill. If I give them a price that is what it will be. I feel like if I cut it, its like saying I was overcharging them to start with. Do you think the water, electric, or gas companies will cut our bill:nono:

FLAhaulboy
01-14-2010, 12:59 PM
$75 might seem high but I really hustle when working and I am an expert with 20+ yrs of experience. I explained that I do not clear $75 per hr & that I operate a business-there are other costs involved, etc, So the client is getting their money's worth I think. In reality, I am probably doing the work of (2) men vs (1) man.

I did not take a deposit because she was a repeater, A client I trusted. I will have to re think that position on future work.

Waiting 3 months to complain & only AFTER I was the one who "called" her, pisses me off. She said the free plants didnt grow right or look good later on but this is the type of client that isn't interested in taking care of plant(s) after installation. I reminded her the plants were "free" & cost her nothing & that they required care. Ignoring a plant in hot humid Florida weather is a no no! I explained all the details of "aftercare".

She told me a neighbor bordering the back of her business, complained that I threw debris into her yard! WTF! I don't do this kind of crap but to hear about it 3 months later, Is senseless & rude. Kind of hard to address an issue months later! I did clean out a fence line on the clients side & maybe the neighbor didnt like looking at an ugly building? Who knows.

If I reduce the bill, will she ever hire me again? I doubt it and I would not want to ever work for her again either because of the rip off scam being pulled here. I could understand if $ was tight for the client & she needed to pay in installments but that is not the case here.

I hesitate to reduce the bill because these were hard labor hrs. I had to wheel barrow in loose 2" river rock, mulch, up a steep incline driveway because it was to steep to back in a trailer loaded with materials. Fast hard hours because I push myself. I dont diddle daddle!

I would of addressed ANY complaints had I known about them because my local reputation is at stake, but to bring up any complaints 3 months later, brings the client's reputation into play here, of being dishonest, using complaints as a plod to try and get a reduction on the final bill. This kind of BS tees me off & I am more inclined to tell her to pay up NOW along with the threat on turning it over to collections & hurt her credit rating, which is why she returned my call in the first place!

I will think on it some more & I appreciate everyone's advice given here.

JNyz
01-14-2010, 03:31 PM
You need to stick to your guns here. She might of negotiated with others contractors who did work on her property before and thinks she can do it to you. Set up a meeting with her and go over the bill one last time. If she does not want to pay the
entire bill you must take it to the next level.

MarkintheGarden
01-14-2010, 03:42 PM
The price is the price so no it cannot be discounted or reduced.

I would first apologize for not handling all of this sooner, when we drop the ball, we need to admit it. Then, I would ask my customer if there is anything that I can do to get paid and make the customer happy. Go from there and see if you cannot patch this up with diplomacy.

GrazerZ
01-14-2010, 06:09 PM
Seems I touched a nerve. I understand how you feel, been there. If you quoted and she agreed Its probably best to stick to your guns. It will become a habit I assure you.

rob7233
01-17-2010, 03:42 PM
First, any issues with the work? Ask why they haven't paid this agreed to bill in the last 90 days. Also ask why you should be inclined to offer a discount after they have been delinquent. Why haven't they contacted you earlier about it?

Ask her if you were to give a discount, would she be willing to pay the bill in full with cash IMMEDIATELY (LIKE Right now!). Of course, her next response will be: "that depends on the amount you are willing to discount". Ask her she would be willing AND able to do that? Then you say that you'd rather not offer one at all BUT you "might" be willing to offer a bigger discount for a quick and hassle free resolution. The more time spent discussing, the smaller the discount becomes and she risks the total retraction of the discount offer and collection action. Give her a max allowable discount for immediate cash payment and and start taking it back with each objection they give! Tell her she might want to think about any of her response first before answering. The affluent clients often want more, even after they sign and agree. You're being tested. It's your call but don't bite your nose.... Good luck and let us know what happens.

Henry
01-17-2010, 04:08 PM
Tell her this: Pay the original amount in full today and I'll gladly discount the interest and late fee.

IntegrityGuy
01-17-2010, 04:13 PM
If you gave her an estimate around the final price you shouldnt lower the price. at the most you could wave the late fee if she pays bill in cash. but if your afraid they would win in court then i say...

best thing to do is to ask what they thought the bill was going to be.

if they say like 2000$ then say ill split what left over down the middle

so if 1100's left over she owes you 2550$

lukemelo216
01-17-2010, 04:21 PM
Reading this i see no complaints at the business side of it, just at her home. Or were the plants installed in both locations? As stated stick to your guns. In the future when you get these jobs, make sure you have a contract in which you recieve x amount down and state a complaint clause. Mine is 45 days after the last day of work claims will be accepted. Doesnt mean a solution will be reached or something will change. File a claim does it get resolved not always, but I try too. and if I dont I make sure to clearly explain as to why I wont resolve the issue. And the main way to do this, is have a good contract typed up by a lawyer covering your a$$ from every angle.

topsites
01-17-2010, 04:37 PM
At $75 an hour labor I don't see why you're the one complaining,
maybe your client's loaded but talk about the kettle calling the pot black.

$75 might seem high but I am an expert with 20+ yrs of experience.

Yeah sure you are, if you've got that many years of experience why are you here asking such a basic question?
Makes you come off like someone who is just starting out, but certainly not 20+ years of owning your business.

Or maybe you're an expert con artist who's been playing the game since the day you were born, that I'll buy.

Mahoney3223
01-17-2010, 05:02 PM
Discount for cash payment maybe...maybe knock off 5%??? just a thought

bulldogg
01-17-2010, 07:22 PM
At $75 an hour labor I don't see why you're the one complaining,
maybe your client's loaded but talk about the kettle calling the pot black.



Yeah sure you are, if you've got that many years of experience why are you here asking such a basic question?
Makes you come off like someone who is just starting out, but certainly not 20+ years of owning your business.

Or maybe you're an expert con artist who's been playing the game since the day you were born, that I'll buy.


wow, did he do something to piss you off ?

OrganicsMaine
01-17-2010, 07:52 PM
No way would I discount anything. If this is a REALLY good account, I would call them and say you need to give me half of the balance up front and then give them 3 months to pay the balance.

If that isn't good enough, see you in court.

Keep your cool and be professional at all times. Just because it LOOKS like they have money, doesn't mean squat. Try and work with them....it is on you that you didn't follow up and send statements....really it is on you for not collecting when the job was done. Also, if you are getting $75/mhr that is extremely high...at least in my area. I am at $40 and I am at the top of the scale here. Now that $40 is only for labor....if there was a tractor or equip. involved, then $75 is more realistic.

Anyway, act like you are understanding and are willing to work with them, but only to a point. First try and get all of your money now. The BS complaints are just that. If they CAN'T pay you now, then offer them the payment plan, and if that is no good, then you have no choice. Remember, their reputation is at risk as well.

Good luck.

rob7233
01-17-2010, 08:29 PM
Enough of this harping on about the hourly rate. It doesn't matter what he charges. I am hoping he gave an estimate and he had a agreed to and signed workorder. He already stated he did other work for her in the past, so the client is quite familiar with his rates whatever they may be. He may have 20 years+ experience but from the sound of it maybe not as a business owner.
I don't know.

Did he cover his backside and have the appropriate documentation for collection and/or court? Still, we have some unanswered questions of what exactly happened as far as communication and paperwork. Always, collect the deposit up front. This would have been especially easy since he already had a good rapport with this client. The $$ up front as a deposit prevents a lot of hassle & bleeding later! However, the question now is, how should he move forward?

The way I see it- a Max discount would be(MAYBE) $350.00 for immediate cash in full. You know FLAhaulboy, you let her go way too long without progressive collection action! Call her bluff and see if she is willing and able to pay right now. That way, you'll find out what the true objection was to not paying you promptly and you can go from there. :weightlifter:

A couple of questions we still need answered.......

1. What is their reason for wanting a reduction?
2. Did they know the price before hand?
3. Signed contract or estimate?
4. Deposit?

lazyike
01-17-2010, 09:21 PM
LOL I wonder what their reaction would be if you lets say, came over when they were having a party and dig out two trees or shrubs ( that you put in) and carried them to your truck like you were taking them from your nusery stock......

I can hear the conversation... Sir what are you doing? Oh I just sold these two trees to a client. But, those are my trees!!! Not anymore REPOSITION!!!!! By the way have a Happy bafitsma (sp) and good luck with the tip clip...... LOL

bulldogg
01-17-2010, 09:32 PM
payupnow thats funny. reposses your plants and materials. Hell the banks can do it, we can too !!!

Greg78
01-17-2010, 09:39 PM
A couple of questions we still need answered.......

1. What is their reason for wanting a reduction?
2. Did they know the price before hand?
3. Signed contract or estimate?
4. Deposit?

Yeah no kidding they were asked in the 3rd post of the thread. Come on OP lets see the answers.

There's more to the story than being told.

THC
01-17-2010, 11:07 PM
Don't forget the pictures too...

FLAhaulboy
01-17-2010, 11:13 PM
At $75 an hour labor I don't see why you're the one complaining,
maybe your client's loaded but talk about the kettle calling the pot black.



Yeah sure you are, if you've got that many years of experience why are you here asking such a basic question?
Makes you come off like someone who is just starting out, but certainly not 20+ years of owning your business.

Or maybe you're an expert con artist who's been playing the game since the day you were born, that I'll buy.
---------

Whats the difference between your 16,083 posts vs my 145 posts?

Answer: A lot of HOT AIR!

If I was one of those bully kids who repeatedly took your ball away from you, Please accept my humble apology :hammerhead:

DuallyVette
01-17-2010, 11:50 PM
Hey..don't beat up on Topsites. After 20 years of experience, you'd be giving advice instead of asking for it.

Here's what I'd do...little fellow:
1) Go SEE the client in person.
2) Ask the client what she would consider the proper amount. ( If you ask a person what it will take to make something right...they usually will be reasonable, and actually want less of your money than you assumed.
3) Ask her WHY, she thinks the invoice is too high. Listen to her reply.

After reading this post. I'm guessing that you are working solo. It seem odd, that this is a repeat customer, and that this customer has paid your rates before. Otherwise, she wouldn't be surprised by your bill

You spoke of HARD work, pushing a wheelbarrow of stones uphill, and that you're a hard worker.
Sometimes pushing a wheelbarrow uphill is the only way, but isn't very efficient. A $75 per hour guy would use a Dingo and be through is 1/4 the time. When an employee asks me why he's only getting $12 an hour, and I'm charging $70 an hour, I explain that he's worth $12 until I put a $12,000 mower or loader, under his ass and all other related business expenses and training.

Isobel
01-18-2010, 12:20 AM
Right off I'd say it doesn't matter what the prices were. If these prices were agreed to beforehand, then the client needs to pay. If the client doesn't like some of the agreed to plant material you, and told you right away, you should take care of those issues first and then ask for full payment.

However, if the client doesn't like some of the plant material and is using it as a ploy to not pay her bill, then its a different matter. At that point you should refer back to your contract--where i'd hope you have a paragraph outlining the amount of time the client has to bring up dissatisfaction.

Either way my feeling is you should hold fast on your contract and agreed upon final price. If you start cutting prices now due to her pressure it will snowball and you'll never get a fair price. Be prepared to take her to court.

sdk1959
01-18-2010, 12:26 AM
When an employee asks me why he's only getting $12 an hour, and I'm charging $70 an hour, I explain that he's worth $12 until I put a $12,000 mower or loader, under his ass and all other related business expenses and training.

I LOVE that line!!!! Because it is so true to thier thinking!

Only thing I would change would be "under your sorry ass". :laugh:

DuallyVette
01-18-2010, 06:31 PM
Hey..don't beat up on Topsites. After 20 years of experience, you'd be giving advice instead of asking for it.

Here's what I'd do...little fellow:
1) Go SEE the client in person.
2) Ask the client what she would consider the proper amount. ( If you ask a person what it will take to make something right...they usually will be reasonable, and actually want less of your money than you assumed.
3) Ask her WHY, she thinks the invoice is too high. Listen to her reply.

After reading this post. I'm guessing that you are working solo. It seem odd, that this is a repeat customer, and that this customer has paid your rates before. Otherwise, she wouldn't be surprised by your bill

You spoke of HARD work, pushing a wheelbarrow of stones uphill, and that you're a hard worker.
Sometimes pushing a wheelbarrow uphill is the only way, but isn't very efficient. A $75 per hour guy would use a Dingo and be through is 1/4 the time. When an employee asks me why he's only getting $12 an hour, and I'm charging $70 an hour, I explain that he's worth $12 until I put a $12,000 mower or loader, under his ass and all other related business expenses and training.


I agree with everyone that say's you should hold them to the contract price...BUT... If you go to court, you get a judgement. You can't deposit a judgement into your bank account. In life you win some and you lose some. Something you do what you need to do to settle a dispute, and go on with your life.

I think we've been mislead by the op to some degree.

iamthelawnman
01-21-2010, 09:49 AM
if it was me i would go to her house and start digging up all the plants. some times you have to be the repo man.....

ED'S LAWNCARE
01-23-2010, 06:08 PM
Op.....please reply to the question Did you give an estimate before hand? If so demand your money. If not you are a fool. Plain and simple.

Greg78
01-23-2010, 06:11 PM
Op.....please reply to the question Did you give an estimate before hand? If so demand your money. If not you are a fool. Plain and simple.

He won't reply to that question. I asked it in the 3rd post of the thread. :rolleyes::confused::nono::hammerhead::dizzy::waving:

Ramairfreak98ss
01-23-2010, 06:14 PM
tell her to go ef herself!;)yep, sounds like a cheapa$$.. she just needs to pay

Tell her her reduction will be no penalty late fees for 3 mo past due.

ASCLS
01-24-2010, 03:34 PM
get a signed contract all the time!!!!

Hoy landscaping
01-24-2010, 05:38 PM
hold strong. it really pissed me off when rich sunsa bitches fight over prices. your out there busting your ass and making there property look good and they have the audacity to get mad over a small price.

WILLIAMS
01-25-2010, 02:19 PM
Some rich people are the worse to do work for, they are rich because they hold on to every penny, go after this client, after 90 days and she has not paid you, you do not need her, you are not running a charity!

MOWITALL
01-27-2010, 09:04 PM
I have read some really good advice on here. I wish I could have had this same thread a long time ago. If all else fails and I don't think anyone mentioned this yet... You oughta march into your local city office and file a lien.

pjnlandscape
01-27-2010, 09:31 PM
If it was me, i would professionally explain the costs that are put on your shoulders that are not in the price. AKA "use a sob story"

Big Bad Bob
04-21-2010, 01:00 PM
---------

Whats the difference between your 16,083 posts vs my 145 posts?

Answer: A lot of HOT AIR!

If I was one of those bully kids who repeatedly took your ball away from you, Please accept my humble apology :hammerhead:

OK bully boy. :)
If you told the customer you were charging $75.00/hr for labor, you were just asking for a price revolt. Never, ever, ever tell the customer your hourly rate. They will always think you should be getting $15.00/hr. They don't care about business expenses. We aren't in a real business, remember. At least in the public eye. All those lowballers have ensured that fact.
That being said, I think she is just trying to screw you. Even good customers try that from time to time. Always remember that they ARE customers and not friends. I wouldn't come down in price and I'd let a judge tell them to payup.
How has this played out anyways?

shooterm
04-21-2010, 04:37 PM
I dont understand the billing structure with you making $75/hr. It wont make sense to anyone that asks you to breakdown the "bill". Its sounds like you used 75hr rough guestimate to cover overhead and profit. Anyways she has to pay but she'll be unhappy if SHE feels like being fleeced.

socallawndude
04-21-2010, 06:18 PM
OK bully boy. :)
If you told the customer you were charging $75.00/hr for labor, you were just asking for a price revolt. Never, ever, ever tell the customer your hourly rate. They will always think you should be getting $15.00/hr. X10...I NEVER charge an hourly rate or disclose theyre being billed as such. I bid the job and thats what it costs them, take it or leave it with no surprises

topsites
04-21-2010, 06:55 PM
wow, did he do something to piss you off ?

Hey wow I just come back around reading...
I'm sorry about that, I must have been having a really bad day,
it happens from time to time I get pissy like that, sorry again
and thanks for putting up with me.

Peace out guys

Big Bad Bob
04-21-2010, 08:20 PM
Hey wow I just come back around reading...
I'm sorry about that, I must have been having a really bad day,
it happens from time to time I get pissy like that, sorry again
and thanks for putting up with me.

Peace out guys

Remember to take your meds Top.

Fahzu
04-22-2010, 10:55 AM
Not knowing the exact details of the project, and my apologies up-front, I'd have to side with the homeowner. Unless I saw serious equipment being loaded and unloaded at my property or a crew of 3 or 4 guys performing specialized work, I'd be a little upset about paying one guy 1500 bucks to labor around my property for 2 days. These numbers sound a little high. The business project sounds a little closer to reality...but still. If the homeowner agreed to these amounts...he is an idiot and should be taken to court. If there was no agreement beforehand to these numbers, I'd cut the hourly rate and hauling rates in half and make sure you get some money (at least for your materials). File the loss to experience.

I don't think I would take it to a judge unless I had a signed contract...otherwise you are asking for trouble.

Big Bad Bob
04-22-2010, 11:07 AM
Not knowing the exact details of the project, and my apologies up-front, I'd have to side with the homeowner. Unless I saw serious equipment being loaded and unloaded at my property or a crew of 3 or 4 guys performing specialized work, I'd be a little upset about paying one guy 1500 bucks to labor around my property for 2 days. These numbers sound a little high. The business project sounds a little closer to reality...but still. If the homeowner agreed to these amounts...he is an idiot and should be taken to court. If there was no agreement beforehand to these numbers, I'd cut the hourly rate and hauling rates in half and make sure you get some money (at least for your materials). File the loss to experience.

I don't think I would take it to a judge unless I had a signed contract...otherwise you are asking for trouble.

I don't think this is really over price. I think these people agreed to something they couldn't afford and are now trying to save face by screaming "overcharge".

unkownfl
04-22-2010, 11:47 AM
First off with two different properties, I would have completed one then demanded payment or at least got half up front on both properties. No way would I do two complete jobs and not collected a red cent.

MarcSmith
04-22-2010, 01:19 PM
Flash back to January ....

shooterm
04-22-2010, 02:48 PM
Haha yah I just noticed the date that it was started. I wonder if we could get a update from the OP.