View Full Version : are contracts worth anything?

06-18-2003, 09:24 PM
are contracts worth anything? has anyone had to go to court over non payment, or another matter, and won hands down cus of a contract? my buddy whos been mowin for 15 yrs said he has been to court, with a written contract, and lost, cus in the judges personal opinion, the contract was unfair. in his contract stated the lawn will be cut weekly, from april 1st thru november 15th. we had a drought, he showed up every week, and cut the lawn, customer refused to pay the bill stating it was not neccesary to cut because of drought/no growth. she won, and did not have to pay for the month service frr. anyone else?

06-18-2003, 09:35 PM
District Justices aren't worth a damn. They vote with "their" concience. They suck!!!

06-18-2003, 09:47 PM
Yep they sure are! Have had to use mine twice in 19 years and was successful in both cases. One was for $1,000.00 and the other was $14,000.00

My contract is used mostly for commercial properties and is four pages long. Someday I will try and put it up so others can see it. Several companies around here now use alot of my wording in their contracts. Makes me feel pretty good that I have helped them even though they never asked to use it.

06-18-2003, 10:06 PM
Yes. They define guidelines for 2 parties. Yes I've been to court. Yes I won the full amount and received the full amount.

Don't work w/out them. Word them properly. Have them reviewed by an attorney (if you so desire).

They help eliminate problematic clientele to an extent too;)

06-18-2003, 10:08 PM
why thank you turfdude(bob). i do appreciate the reply, and yes, i do accept your apology.

06-22-2003, 03:08 PM
My contacts state lawn will be mowed as needed on an average on 7 days apart.

In the spring we may as cloase as 5 days apart. (We bill by the mowing)

We dont wait our time mowing a lawn that is brown in the middle of July and there is a watering ban.

Just some common cents in my opinion.
I do also understand that we need the money to live off of though.

My customers apriciate that i dont mow there lawn if it doesnt need it. Buring the drough saeson we mow the lawn about every 16 days.

Most lawns have a shady spot on the lawn even though the rest of the lawn is brown. We came and mow it all just so the shaddy spots look pretty good.

06-22-2003, 06:06 PM
I think that the judge's decision was correct. In small claims court it is the judge's duty to determine that contracts are worded fairly. If you were a homeowner that paid for lawn service do you think it would be fair to pay for mowing when it doesn't need it? Are you mowing your own lawn on a weekly basis even though it doesn't need it? I bet not. It is unfortunate that the customer would even sign this contract. In this case the customer should have refused the contract or re-worded it to say "on an as needed basis". Any contract that says mowing will be done on a weekly basis regardless of conditions, is an unfair contract, IMO.

David Haggerty
06-22-2003, 11:18 PM
Lawn growth is so seasonal here. Then it's either drought or flood. I'd have a tough time collecting for work not performed. Heck I have a hard enough time collecting for work actually done.
There is a company locally who bills 12 months per year! He's careful to not word it as "lawn mowing" plus the crew shows up every week, even if it's just to blow off the walks.
He still looses a lot of "contracts" when the growth stops. He's lucky on the ones that just threaten court action. One client of his that I picked up was wanting to whip his butt!:blob2:


06-23-2003, 01:00 PM
Nothing gets done without a contract and yes I have been to court and won with a contract. Having a contract state, "in his contract stated the lawn will be cut weekly, from april 1st thru november 15th. we had a drought, he showed up every week…." That is just plan crazy. The judge was totally right in denying this. What was there to mow during a drought unless they had a sprinkler system?


06-23-2003, 03:28 PM
personally, when its hot and they arent watering, and nothing at all grows, i take this time to relax and get some rest. the only thing i dont like about the judges ruling in this case, was i dont think he should have taken it upon himself to decide if the contract was fair or not, that job belongs to the client, prior to signing it. so, what i gather is this: a contract is a good thing to have, it definitely communicates the deal between client and contractor. however, if the client then decides, after signing it, that they cant live with it, and it is brought before a judge, the judge will rule not on what the actual agreement was, but wether or not, in his personal opinion, it was fair to begin with. i wonder what would happen if the tables were turned. lets say, the contract states the customer will be billed only $25 per visit. the contract says nothing about excessive growth or rain. but, in the middle of a rainy season, the lawn guy decides to start tacking on extra fees to compensate him for the high wet grass, the customer refuses to pay. it goes to court. i wonder if judge wapner will then decide the contract was unfair, and find in the lawn guys favor, and rule the homeowner should pay the extra fees? u think? is there a difference between scenerio #1, and #2?

06-23-2003, 10:06 PM
I suppose it's how you word it ...ours say weekly visits. Most are full service accounts. There is always a task to do even if the lawn does not need cutting.

I'm not sure I agree with some of the logic here .... many guys have monthly snow contracts that get paid regardless if it snows or not. Should be the same for regular summer maintenance.

06-24-2003, 12:22 AM
Okay you have a contact and it is a drought so the judge says it's not fair but;This season my part of the country has had more rain than usual and I already know that I will cut about 2-3 more times than stated in the contract so does that mean I should sue my client? No because this is an average and Mother Nature could give a rat's tail about averages.Same deal with plowing snow.Your client (in my mind) is paying to reserve a slot in your mowing cycle or plowing cycle so they should pay accordingly or you can go back to the by the cut or plow and scramble all over town trying to fill your schudule each week.Contracts help to spell out what you'll do and when you'll do it so both parties are protected as far as duties performed not due to weather patterns.

06-24-2003, 08:49 PM
The judge was wrong, plain and simple. If it says WEEKLY MOWING, then that's what you'll get. If it says "as needed", who's to decide what "needed" is.

06-24-2003, 10:00 PM
Originally posted by wacamaster
who's to decide what "needed" is.

I agree with wacamaster why would you leave a loophole "as needed" I can think of a few clients who would take advantage of this, why not say weekly and then if it does not need it offer a credit for services not performed on the next billing? that way you would keep your client happy and there is no loophole.

06-24-2003, 10:36 PM
That judge must be my ex-customer.

I don't put weekly mowing on my contracts, what I do is put a set price for the whole season including spring and fall celan up, divide in 8 equal monthly paymets regarding of the visits we do during the year.

What I state is that during the fast growing season we'll double cut and do what it takes to leave the lawn free of clumps and excess of clipping, if it takes longer the price will remaing the same, but during the hot months I'll mow only if need it.

I haven't had any trouble with any of my customers in a contract, but couple of year I had quite some with people who didn't wanted to be on it.

For me is only contracts and nothing else.

I even carry pre-printed contracts for when I get call to give an estimate or on the spot customers.

06-24-2003, 10:59 PM
Just started out and went from 5 accounts to 20 then back to 15. They just called and said that they would call me when they needed it cut. In all of my introductions with the 5 who have left I stated and printed on the invoice that I would cut 7-10 days apart weekly as needed (if grass is burnt I would not cut or charge). I thought this was fair but obviously they didn't. Luckily they were all PITAs telling me to cut down as far as possible and so on and so forth. It was a learning experience and a good one at that. Those five made me dread ever going into this business and I was thankful that we weren't under contract. However, in the future I see contracts as an absolute necessity. Unfortunately, I don't have one and building one from scratch may miss several good points. All said.......does anyone have a sample I could view? :(

I can only imagine the posts that will follow this request but I am really stumped. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.