View Full Version : Customer Compensation

09-04-2000, 09:52 AM
I did this walk for a customer in June, there was no contract for the job. I figured since it was a quick day and a half no big deal on the walk. Well i finished and the were very happy i built it to specs. with about 8 inche of processed gravel and an inch of sand.
Well this week i get a message on the answering machine telling me that the walkway is sinking and that they have called another landscape company to fix it and that it would cost $2600, and that they are looking for compensation. So i called the owner and some of the brick border is pulling apart. i did not use brick edging and really never have and have had no problems. I mentioned me paying for part of this repair. I told him that it would be no trouble for me to repair it. Then he tells me that he and his wife do not want me doing it. The other landscaper is telling him that i used the wrong base and that the whole thing has to be reconstructed.
So I am getting togheter with him on wednesday to see what we can do. He has also mentioned wrecking my name in the are if things do not work out. Any suggestions on how to handle this situation. Thanks Tom

09-04-2000, 10:08 AM
The owner should give you a chance to remedy the problem. Tell hime you are more than willing to fix it and if he does not let you then you will make no financial repayment. Also you might add that if he start saying bad thing about you, you can sue him for slander. I don't like the fact that he is holding this over your head as kind of a bribe. If the walk did not hold up then by all means you should bite the bullet and fix it but you should not have to pay for another landscaper to come in and do it. Talk to the other landscaper also. What line is he giving the owner?

09-04-2000, 10:44 AM
First the owner should let you fix the problem.
Second this should teach you to allway use a edge restraint system. Thirdly, hopefully your base extends six inches past
each side of the walkway, so you can install an edge restraint system. http://www.pavetech.com/p_edge/edge.shtm

Depending on the judge you would get, you might get away with the no contract part but if they bring in another landscaper that is certified in brick installation (by ICPI) you could lose.

Immediately write a certified letter to the homeowner that you will fix the problem brought to your attention. When meeting with the homeowner, also explain that his problem is easily repaired and you will do so immediately so that both of you will be spared more aggravation and money in this matter. You must do the letter to save your butt in court! If the homeowner refuses at least in court you can SHOW that you were very willing and also able to fix the problem.
It also might be good to put in the letter that you offer a 5 year warranty (same as insdustry standard)

[Edited by paul on 09-04-2000 at 01:52 PM]

09-04-2000, 12:07 PM
I agree that you should send some sort of letter to the customer so that there is something on paper regarding your willingness to remedy the problem.

However, because there was no written contract, and therefore no written obligation to return and repair any problems, he has no basis on which to sue (however, this doesn't mean he can't sue; he can still make you have to hire and attorney and defend yourself). I don't think it'd be a prudent long-term decision to use this as your position, no matter how solid it is.

Here's something else to consider; depending on how large your market is, and how small your company is, one customer may really not be able to inflict much damage to your reputation. This one may be someone who is difficult to work with for anything. But I don't know this situation, so I can't say with certainty. Again, not something you should rely on.

I'm wondering why you don't use edge restraint of some sort. It's installed at light-speed compared to burying brick, and with some you can have a continuous band of restraint from start to finish, ensuring a solid job.

If it does come down to litigation, and you can show you were willing to make repairs, and they went ahead and hired someone else to do so just because they didn't like you, that's their problem. Because there is no contract, there's no provision that says they can hire someone at your expense to make repairs.

And the 5-year warranty; industry standards differ market to market. When I was doing this in the Detroit area 10 years ago, 1yr was the norm (I don't know what the norm is now). Out in Wisconsin right now, 1 year is also the norm. I offer more than that, just to be better than the competition.

As for the sinking, that was probably because of the sand :) .

09-04-2000, 04:29 PM
Thanks everyone, the advice will never be forgotten. I have about seven years experience with doing walks, but other companies i worked for before i started out never used edging. I have gone to uni lock seminars and build them the way they suggest. There was a curve in the walk so i built the base at least 8 inches wider than the walk. so i just find it odd that some of the edge shifted, unless the drove over it, because they were mentioning doing a new landscape and asked for a price on shrub removal. Thanks again Tom

09-05-2000, 01:24 AM
Please follow the good advice you have received. Besides using an edge restraint, you might want to look at the area that is sinking to see if there is a drainage problem in that area. If water is 'trapped' by the walkway, you may have to install some type of drainage to direct the water away from that area. The gutter downspouts from the house can put large quantities of water in small areas, causing rapid damage.

09-06-2000, 09:08 PM
Thanks for the help i sent the certified letter out yestarday and met with him tonight, He will now let me make the repairs. It is only about 5 bricks, but i will put the edging in also. Thanks Tom

09-06-2000, 10:16 PM
EDL, I'm glad everything worked out fine. Let us know how they treat you during the repair! Also if they are doing any more landscaping take pictures of the job completed and the repair in progress so you have proof that you repaired the walk and what you did was following the book as for walkways. Just in case.

09-06-2000, 10:34 PM
Something Paul mentioned above reminded me of something...I always carry around a disposable camera with my files when on jobsites. Every so often you meet with a customer and get the feeling they are litigation happy and want to document the progress of your work just in case. It can be an invaluable help.