View Full Version : Customer unhappy and wants to compromise on bill

09-22-2010, 12:54 PM
We did a landscape job for a lawyer downtown and hes unhappy about it. We installed sod, landscape ties, 5.5 yards of mulch, 4 yards of prosoil and edging. On top of that we removed the old sod and tilled the new soil with the old soil and picked everything up. He's unhappy because we could plant the three bushes he wanted because there was too much broken concrete mixed with the soil at the only spot he wanted them and it would take us over budget to plant them. Now hes calling me because he wants to compromise on the bill?? We charged $450 for labor and I think we way underbid it. Any ideas on what i should do?

cut level
09-22-2010, 01:01 PM
Put as much soil in that area you can plant them and tell him there is no guarantee they are gonna make it due to the soil composition.

Did you know this area was like this before you agreed to put the bushes there?

09-22-2010, 01:02 PM
yup under bid...compromise. Nope. you are not responsible for conditions you could not see(concrete)

Georgia Lawn Works LLC
09-22-2010, 01:03 PM
Did you install the bushes at all? If not refund him the labor minus and fees for product pickup, Gas ect and return the bushes. Which sounds like it would be about 30 bucks tops. If you did plant the bushes in an alternate spot and explained to him why you could not plant them in the original spot and he said that was fine then it's a done deal.

Georgia Lawn Works LLC
09-22-2010, 01:04 PM
You are not responsible for conditions you could not see(concrete)

I have to agree there. As long as you did plant them then it's a done deal pricewise.

09-22-2010, 03:26 PM
Hmmm, downtown Lawyer. I would try my best to work out a deal to his satisfaction.*trucewhiteflag*

09-22-2010, 03:35 PM
the other option would be do what he wants plant the shrub where he wants, take your money and walk away...

but Charles does bring up a good point....lawyer.....but not all lawyers are prickly...

09-22-2010, 04:12 PM
I did subtract the price for the shrubs, and i came in under budget i said it should be at least 1100 It came to 1029 total. He paid someone else to put in some flowers no shrubs. Ill put before and after pics up when I get the chance. And i have to say his secretary made things a big pain in the ass but the reason he paid someone else to put in flowers is because his sec. said were going to pay someone else to finish the job and thats his main complaint is that we didn't finish.

09-22-2010, 05:07 PM
you did not finish because the sec hired someone else to finish. not your fault, the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing...

09-26-2010, 01:45 AM
Sounds like a screwed up mess to me. I think I would tell him "here is what we did, and here is what you are paying for. Here is what we didn't do and you aren't paying for that." Some people just don't get stuff.

09-29-2010, 05:06 AM
The following clause has been one of the first sections of my contract for any job we do for the past 10 years or so. Puting this into your contracts will totally protect you from situations just like this;

2. UNFORSEEN CIRCUMSTANCES/ UNDERGROUND OBSTACLES. Prices within this proposal are firm unless there are unforeseen circumstances that result in delays or obstacles. An example of such would be if contractor begins excavating digging or trenching and finds large boulders, large tree stumps, sewer drain, a piping situation that requires a plumber, etc. If such circumstances arise contractor will notify client immediately with an evaluation and proposed change in price or work. If the obstacle deems the job unable to be completed or if client decides the cost to proceed is too prohibitive the client is responsible for labor costs incurred until that point and for any materials used that cannot be returned

Regardless, I'd find a way to compromise and leave him happy. We live in a day and age where just a few bad, unhapppy customers can really kill your reputation and cost you tons of jobs in the future. Everyone's using Angie's List, Google Local Reviews, BBB and tons of other places these days to sound off about their bad experiences. It used to be 10 years ago you could just kick a customer to the curb if they were wrong and you were right. Today, it doesn't matter if they were wrong. If you don't leave them at least somewhat happy they will sound off on places like Angie's List, leaving you with a bad reputation and pretty soon people are avoiding calling you just because a few bad reviews you got.

I do anything and everything these days to make sure we leave our customers at least happy enough so that they don't go leave us bad reviews. And the goal is to leave them so happy that they go and leave a positive review, which is usually the case.

09-29-2010, 08:21 AM
I'm not ready to jump all over the customer on this one. The whole idea of the project was to get to a nice looking landscape. Stopping short of that and giving him a bill for whatever reason was not a good idea. You have to communicate when there is a problem and have some alternative ideas to finish the job.

From the customer's point of view, this is the equivalent of hiring a painter who gives you a bill for scraping the paint and getting it all ready anf then giving a bill with the cost of the paint subtracted because it rained the day they were going to paint it.

Obviously, you could not do what the original job was without taking on a big additional expense to you, but there were many alternatives including eating the expense. You should have let him know the situation and told him that you could change the planting. You could have asked for additional money to remove the concrete. Communication was the problem. Maybe he is a jerk and would have made you eat it, but you never gave him the chance. You just bailed and billed.

Three lessons learned should be not to under bid, have contingencies in your contract, and most important is to be an active communicator.

09-29-2010, 08:32 AM
We did a landscape job for a lawyer ...
There's the problem.

10-18-2010, 09:17 PM
I would work out a deal. Because people like lawyers... know other lawyers and professionals that values a great landscape (hopefully your guy is like that). If you can show him you can compromise, he might refer you to more business.

Sometimes its hard, I am going through it with a customer right now... blaming me for poor service, when his equipment failed (long story). Look at the big picture, you can always get more service work from compromise and having a happy customer, then you would ... by not compromising and demanding that extra few dollars.

10-19-2010, 03:54 AM
Hmmm, downtown Lawyer. I would try my best to work out a deal to his satisfaction.*trucewhiteflag*

Agreed! Make him happy. If you lose money, than lose money; don't upset a well known lawyer, you don't want him spreading bad word about you. I would much rather have neutral ratings, and a somewhat satisfied client, than someone like him talking trash about me, and me making a few bucks! Not worth it...

Have you tested the soil PH? I'm not sure at this point where you are located...

How about this approach...
I think you said there was a bunch of concrete in the soil right???
Let me quote straight from the UGA Published Georgia Certified Landscape Professional Handbook, "A measurement higher than 7.0 may indicate the presence of construction materials such as gypsum, sheetrock, or CEMENT".

Maybe bring to the clients attention that the material either should be removed or counteracted with a different approach... Say, "sorry, its hard to know what is under ground until we put our shovel in it..."

If using knowledge doesn't work, I would do what it takes to make this guy happy...

Good luck!

AI Inc
10-19-2010, 07:51 AM
Hmmm, downtown Lawyer. I would try my best to work out a deal to his satisfaction.*trucewhiteflag*

Yep, get as much as you can and get closure.

10-19-2010, 11:37 AM
There's the problem.

That was hilarious.