PDA

View Full Version : New customer insulted me


DanaMac
11-08-2004, 08:52 PM
I am pretty upset at this situation. Sorry for the long winded story but I'm pissed off right now and need to vent.

Oct 13 a guy called me in a panic. He was afraid the PVB would freeze overnight and he did not know how to drain it. I had never worked for him before. So talked him over the the phone on how to shut it down and drain it. I then told him I would actually be in his neighborhood the next day and could blow it out w/ the compressor. He said great. So Oct 14 I show up, no one is home, but I still blow out the system. Left a bill in the door with a self addressed envelope.

Hadn't received payment on Nov 3 so I sent a statement. Nov 6 received a call saying "This is so-and-so and I received a bill from you for winterizing the system for $54. We already paid Company XYZ on site for this when they did it. Stop sending us this bill". So I call him and ask what the deal is. His wife said she paid this other company that blew it out. So I reminded him about me talking him thru draining it and he agreed on that. He even saw the bill I left there. THEN he says this smells fishy. He insinuated that I am in "cahoots" with Company XYZ and am trying to double bill him. That is when the **** hit the fan. I became offended and took that as an insult. We argued for a while and I told him he needed to call this other company and figure things out. He said he never called them to do the work.

he left a message over the weekend for me to call him I am too pissed off to talk to this guy. So I wrote him the following letter.

I am writing you for two reasons. First, it would better for me to calmly write this than to get into an argument on the phone and say some things I probably shouldn’t as a business owner. At this point I really don’t care what the reason for the mix up is. I am more upset at the way you think I am in “cahoots” with the other company, Company XYZ, which you paid for winterizing the sprinkler system, after we already did this. I take that as a personal insult and am offended. I have owned this business for almost ten years and this is the first time I have felt offended by a customer. My business is built on referrals which is how you got our number. Over 30 businesses, sprinkler companies, landscapers, suppliers, and realtors, refer us because they know the quality of our work and the way we handle business. The insult has made this more of a personal issue.

Secondly, if you decide you want to pay us for the service we performed, the service for which you called us to do, that is your decision. I am going to delete the invoice from our computer. I am not going to chase after this money or bother you again. I feel I would be a better person to just let it go and forget about it. If you decide to pay us, it would be appreciated. If not, that is your decision.

Let me have it. tell me if I was right or wrong. Either way this is what I did.

Rotor-Man
11-09-2004, 10:48 AM
AGREE Totally!! My business is also almost totally by referral, and I like it that way. New call-ins for winterizing for me are cash only the 1st yr., and after that they can pay on the usual schedule. The world is full of people that will do anything to weasel out of paying and are always looking for that "Free Estimate" or "Free Advice." Just move on!

Green Dreams
11-09-2004, 03:57 PM
"It is seldom wrong to take the High Road." You did the right thing. I would flag his acct though. I used to have a few morons that would try to burn me annually.

One lady used to try to say "No sign No bill ect" when I worked at Mega Lawn Co 10 years ago. She'd say this even after I told her who I talked to while there...lol. I moved over to small biz and in my first week of working there guess who I have to talk to? Told her that crap wasn't gonna fly here either. She promptly went back to Mega Co...

I have learned one thing from this business...people suck. And advertising brings them out..

JimLewis
11-10-2004, 03:23 AM
Hey, you asked for our honest opinions. So here's mine....

Personally, I think you're a sucker for giving in to him so easily. I wouldn't delete this invoice for any reason whatsoever. I don't care what the amount. To me, it's a matter of principle. If someone legitimately owes me money, I am going to fight to get it. I may give up the fight after I've exhausted most of my resources. I may choose not to sue him in court because it just wouldn't be worth my time and money. But I definitely wouldn't just lay down and put my tail between my legs and say, "Ok. You win. Pay me if you want to. If you don't no biggie." Because that's what you are saying, basically.

Do you really think that letter is going to change his mind one iota? What do you think is going to happen? What is your desired result? Do you think there's even a 1% chance he's going to read it and say, "Wow. By the sounds of this letter, this guy really seems like a stand-up guy. And it looks like 30 people and business refer him business, if he does say so himself. And from what he says he's been around a long time. And it looks like I really hurt his feelings. I guess this guy wasn't trying to screw me afterall. I guess I'll go ahead and pay him." ?????

If you think this letter is going to accomplish anything at all your dreaming. I'll tell you exactly what he's going to be thinking...."Hah! This guy has some nerve. He sure is high on himself..... Listen, buddy, I don't care how many people refer you and how long you've been in business. You tried to screw me and I ain't paying.......Oh, if I don't pay you're just going to delete my invoice? Sweet! I wasn't going to pay anyway. " ... On his way to the garbage basket, THAT is what he's going to be thinking.

So what's the point in sending this letter?

And secondly, why would you not pursue this a little further? If it were me, I'd at least slap him with my lein letter (http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=24845).

sheshovel
11-10-2004, 10:20 PM
I toyaly agree with JimLewis he is absolutly right.You made an oral contract over the phone with this guy.Don,t be taken advantage of because he insulted you,that's what he wanted to do in the 1st place get out of paying by pissing you off.It looked like it worked.

activelandscaping
11-10-2004, 10:54 PM
First, while his response is insulting, don't loose your cool. Frankly I am shocked that this is the first complete a**hole you have run into in 10 yrs. Some people will say anything, whether they believe it or not, to get out of paying a bill.

JimLewis has the best advice. Although he may be aware that you won't lien his property for $50, screwing up his credit rating could be a different story. About the best you can do is send him to collections and report his debt. If you'r really pissed and want some satisfaction you could take him to small claims court, by the time your done with fee's (even if you win), it will probably be a wash.

Best of luck,
Active

DanaMac
11-10-2004, 11:15 PM
This guy pissed me off so much that I want to be done with it. I was a complete a--hole over the weekend because of it. If it was a substantial amount of money I would go afet it. But missing out on $54 is a small price to be rid of this. Actually, only 15 minutes of my time, small amout of diesel fuel and gas. I'm not actually trying to get him to pay me by giving him a guilt trip, but if he pays me, fine. I won't tear up the check.

I do believe that the other company blew it out as well. He, his wife or this other company screwed up. Unfortunately I probably won't be paid. I do believe in "what comes around, goes around". And this jackass will get his someday as well.

I probably shouldn't have taken this so personal, but I did. And I should have tried harder to get the money. But I didn't. The time and headaches to get this $54 is not worth it to me. This is the first time in 10 years a residential homeowner hasn't paid me. I have been a complete prick at other times when people have tried to get out of it. And I have always gotten it. Except twice by other contractors, but that's another story.

i_plant_art
11-11-2004, 12:22 AM
you know i would wait and see if he pays you or not... if not wait til the middle of winter slip over there in the middle of the night and make sure your not noticed and unwunterize his system for him. LOL then maybe when it freezes he will call you thinking that company XYZ didnt do it right and now doesnt trust them anymore and will want you to do the repairs ........sure no problem LOL bling bling raise your rates due to having to work with water in the cold to make up for your loss.......... of course he might also get himself in a minch this was with company XYZ cause they say they did it... he thinks they did it and now the "apparently " did it wrong.....


Oh wait this would only be if it were my world. LOL

activelandscaping
11-11-2004, 01:07 AM
This guy pissed me off so much that I want to be done with it. I was a complete a--hole over the weekend because of it.

This is the real reason you don't want to let a customer get under your skin.

I have had customers lie right to my face about what I said to them, like I wasn't there for the conversation! I just keep in mind that this person is probably on some kind of medication that causes their head to seek shelter in their ass.

Besides, it's not fair to my other customers if I let some a**hole put me in a bad mood, and nothing eat's at people like that a**hole more than kowing they couldn't get to you.

Regards,
Active

SprinklerGuy
11-11-2004, 09:44 AM
Sorry it took so long for me to respond Dana...I'm sure you were waiting for my nuggets of wisdom....not....actually you are probably waiting for that lunch (es) that I owe you !

I know exactly how you feel...you see, nice guys like you and me take this stuff very personally...we feel it in our hearts when someone abuses our good natured, helpful personalities. It hurts our feelings that someone would call us a liar....a cheat...and essentially a thief.

But.....take solace in knowing this: 600 blowouts....one problem customer.

When this happens to me, I react exactly the same way you do...my wife and kids suffer due to the act of a total stranger. This isn't right....there isn't any way around it though. We are in business for ourselves, we take the good with the bad. The bad isn't as bad as we think....we overreact sometimes and it feels like the world is coming to an end. It isn't. You are a smart guy....you know all this....

Harry0
11-13-2004, 09:17 AM
Dont sweat it. You have been in business for 10 years, when you hit 15 or 20 years it will still bother you but it will take less time to get-over. I cannot understand people who say "dont take it personnel, its business". Your company is a direct reflection of you. This year I went to blow-out some lines for a customer I have been doing for 10 years. I noticed somthing was weird when the valve was already off. But I hooked up the compressor anyway and sure enough someone already blew the lines out. I wrote her a note and still charged her for it. She apologised and still paid-Harry

sheshovel
11-15-2004, 01:24 PM
you know i would wait and see if he pays you or not... if not wait til the middle of winter slip over there in the middle of the night and make sure your not noticed and unwunterize his system for him. LOL then maybe when it freezes he will call you thinking that company XYZ didnt do it right and now doesnt trust them anymore and will want you to do the repairs ........sure no problem LOL bling bling raise your rates due to having to work with water in the cold to make up for your loss.......... of course he might also get himself in a minch this was with company XYZ cause they say they did it... he thinks they did it and now the "apparently " did it wrong.....


Oh wait this would only be if it were my world. LOL
Not only is that bad business,it's tresspassing and whatever that's called when you damage another persons property.It,s also false represintation I think.Not a good Idea!

activelandscaping
11-15-2004, 01:47 PM
Not only is that bad business,it's tresspassing and whatever that's called when you damage another persons property.It,s also false represintation I think.Not a good Idea!

It's felony tresspass & malicious destruction of private property, assuming the HO doesn't see you sneaking arround and give you an ass full of rock-salt for your troubles. :help: :cry:

Regards,
Active

HBFOXJr
11-19-2004, 09:06 AM
I haven't read everything thoroughly but...

Did you actually get a full load of water out of the system when you blew it out?

Did you ask for a copy of xyz's invoice with date and the client's cancelled check to xyz?

Seems to me the first company there gets paid. If xyz was there first but did a lame job leaving water in for yo to blow, oh well.

Aussie Topcat
12-05-2004, 12:31 AM
That was a great way of handling the situation.

A honurable way out, & you can just get on with your job now!

Stand Proud!

jasond
12-08-2004, 08:41 PM
Just make a midnight roundup run...for the fifty bucks he owed you, he will certainly work his ass off to restore the dead areas.

Just pull up in front of his house, and squeeze the trigger, then inch along slowly...make sure you get adequate coverage.

Good luck.

Precision
12-09-2004, 08:43 PM
If you are going to do midnight round up, at least do it right. Premade round-up water balloons. In and out quicker and very annoying circles with splatter marks.

Not that I promote or condone this, just if you are going to do something do it like a pro.

jasond
12-09-2004, 09:10 PM
That idea rocks...thanks.

The Yard Barber, Inc.
12-11-2004, 08:16 PM
Whatever you do don't do the midnight round up thing. I heard of a guy that spelled a few "bad" things in someone's lawn and since the homeowners knew who they pissed off they knew who did it. This guy ended up having replace his whole lawn and got sued for killing his dog with "poison" (round up). He almost went to jail too.

mfgolfcourse
12-12-2004, 10:01 AM
I agree whole-heartedly by screwing up his credit because he doesn't own up to his own actions might be the best alternative. Remember, people will always do what is best for themselves, and that might not be the most moral thing.

MWHC
12-20-2004, 12:15 PM
Round-up in the middle of the night is for people with a big heart. If you are going to go to these lengths use something to sterilize the soil. Much harder to fix; even kills trees if it moves in the right direction - sends a better message. Just kidding -> Happy holidays

mtdman
12-20-2004, 05:25 PM
My question is, how do you know XYZ came out and did it? Isn't it possible he's trying to scam you out of the money, not that he paid someone else to do it? That would be my first impulse, get proof that XYZ was there.

I'm not sure I would have done the work without them there, as a first time customer. I know it's hindsight, but you never know what people will try to pull.

aquamtic
12-21-2004, 09:16 AM
Here is what I probably would do. Here in our area I would 75% of all irrigators professionally get along with each other and belong to local association and actually help each other out.

Unless you have a problem with the company that did it, find out who it was and professionally contact them and validate that they did do it and explain to them your situation. You both might come to a comclusion that the homeowner is just a point blank loser that double scheduled to see who would do it first.

Garth
12-29-2004, 07:01 PM
I think it was Will Rogers who said " An oral contract ain't worth the paper it's written on". You did the right thing and karma will take care of this wanker. Funny, that. I've noticed that when someone goes out of their way to make me miserable that if I carry on with my life something dreadful happens to them. I say forget the daft bugger and carry on. He wasn't the first and he won't be the last b@$tard that ruins your day. I'd just go out and play my pipes for an hour and by then be too winded to worry about it.-Garth MacG

DanaMac
01-07-2005, 10:10 AM
Some of you guys sound as bad as the guy who didn't pay me. "Spray round-up on the lawn, No use Round-up water balloons, sterilize the soil, scew up his credit". Those might be good ideas :rolleyes: but no way would I stoop to his level. I had put this behind me and feel I'm the better person to have let it go.

If you're going to be in business, at some point in time you are going to lose out on money. I've had 2 landscape companies screw me out of money in the past. About $1000 from one and $600 from another. Both went out of business not long after that, and the $1000 guy is now in jail. So "Karma" had its way. I'm not going to do something that could come back to haunt my business or conscience. It was $54. And actually only 15-20 minutes of my time and a little diesel fuel.

Sure, I could screw with his credit, take him to small claims court, lien on his home, but guess what? all that takes time and my time is worth more than the effort to deal with that. Some battles are not worth fighting.

apogee
01-24-2005, 12:34 PM
I agree with what you did, the letter you wrote seemed a little elementary but thats nothing. A business built on referrals can not have angry customers paying for winterizing that they think they've already paid for. They'll work against you. Besides, $54 dollars isn't enough to fight over any way! Hope this helped.
Gian Bell-Owner
Apogee Landscape Management