View Full Version : Customer called, leaves killed grass....

12-13-2004, 07:08 PM
I wanted to get some opinions on how others would handle this.

I did a one time leaf clean up about 4 weeks ago. This isn't a regular customer.
Where this lady lives, the township comes through and vacs up the leaves twice in the fall. All the residents have to do is get them to the curb.
She wanted it done asap, even though she knew the township wasn't coming through again for about a month (we missed the first one, because she didn't call us until the last minute to tell us when they were coming. And she didn't want to wait until closer to the second pick up date).

I piled the leaves at the curb. It's against the law the put them in the street. I couldn't pile them on the sidewalk, so the only place they could go was on the strip of grass between the sidewalk and street.
This is about a 4' wide strip and the leaf pile was about 20' long.

She just called tonight to say the township picked them up today and the grass underneath is dead.

I don't feel as though it's my problem, since I did what she wanted, when she wanted, and I didn't have any other choice as to placement. I could have taken them with me for an additional charge, but she was already not crazy about the price I was charging her for the clean up. She would have never paid more for removal (plus it's just not the norm in that neighborhood, everyone leaves them for the township there).

I haven't called her back yet. She didn't actually say she wanted me to so something about it, she said she wanted me to know. I'm sure she's laying a guilt trip on me so that I'll do something for her.

She still owes me $50 because she had us come out to cut the grass about 2 weeks after we did the leaf clean up.

So.......curious how you guys would handle this. I have a couple thoughts on what I'll do.

Rick Danger
12-13-2004, 07:20 PM
Dosen't sound like your problem to me. You did what you said you were going to do, and what you were supposed to do. If she's a really good customer you could do something to satisfy/shut her up and just tack a little something onto a bill later. Then again, if you fix it you're sort of assuming responsibility.
It's your call.

12-13-2004, 07:23 PM
she got you , period. yes she does want you to fix the grass, and yes she is holding your $50 hostage. i would not repair the lawn, and i would demand my $50.

12-13-2004, 07:26 PM
I would repair the lawn, and pick up a check for the $50 and the cost of fixing the lawn

12-13-2004, 07:27 PM
She asked you to get the leaves to the curb and you did. You did exactly what she wanted. If she complains when you talk to her, explain it to her that way.

12-13-2004, 07:42 PM
call her and tell her that you will stop by to pick up the check and to look at the lawn. tell her to wait until spring and that with the first fertilizer treatment, her lawn will recover to a certain extent.

12-13-2004, 07:59 PM
Ok, I just got off the phone with her.

She went on to say how "curbside" means in the street, next to the curb. This pile was 4' wide. It would have stuck out into the road 4'.
The township has a cable channel with info about the leaves. It clearly says "it is illegal to place leaves in the street".
I told her this, and she just kept saying that it's ok, everyone does it, she's never had a problem in the past, yada, yada, yada.

I told her I'd come back in the spring and spread some seed at no charge. She seemed hopeful that it could be done now, because "it looks awful". I told her it won't germinate because it's too cold now, so there's no point in doing anything now.

She's sending me the balance. She's just upset because it looks so bad. And she mentioned AGAIN that it was a lot $ for the clean up in the first place.

I can understand her not being thrilled with the way the lawn looks, but I think she needs to understand I only did what she asked. She could have had me take them, or waited until it was closer to the pick up date.

Anyway, thanks for the input.

12-13-2004, 08:06 PM
sucker, sucker, sucker!!!!! are you really gonna go back and seed?

Rick Danger
12-13-2004, 08:06 PM
Go ahead and seed it now, what's it cost you? The main thing is keep her happy, assuming you care about her business.

12-13-2004, 08:27 PM
If I seed it now, she'll just call in 3 or 4 weeks complaining that it didn't come in. It's too cold here now.
I'll do it in the spring so it'll come in and she'll be happy, and I'll only be out a scoop of seed.
She's not a regular customer (and won't be one in the future, even if she wanted to). So I'm not concerned about "keeping" her. But I don't want her spreading the bad word about me over something so small either.

12-13-2004, 08:32 PM
Jonathan, Half my clients have that dead strip of grass next to the street right now. My properties have so many leaves that you have to clean them at least twice in between each pickup...wich means they are sitting for about a month at a time. No way around this and my clients understand. We re-seed that area every spring...and yes we charge for it.

You did nothing wrong and should not seed for free.

Green Care
12-13-2004, 08:34 PM
This is why I take all leaves with me so theres nothing in the air get your 50.00 you did nothing wrong.

Garden Panzer
12-13-2004, 08:42 PM
You should have had the foresight about the dead grass zone.....
Why didn't you lay down a tarp? You'd just have a yellow area...
wait for your dough before you do anything else....

12-13-2004, 09:08 PM
I have experience with this one. Most of the time the grass is not dead, just yellowed/discolored due to lack of sunlight. I have never had this situation not correct itself in a very short time after the removal of the leaves.

Have you gone to look at it?
Is it indeed dead?
How would you know?
Is she an agronomist?
Much ado about nothing I says.

12-13-2004, 09:15 PM
I have experience with this one. Most of the time the grass is not dead, just yellowed/discolored due to lack of sunlight. I have never had this situation not correct itself in a very short time after the removal of the leaves.

This is why I'm not really all that concerned about it. I was using the word "dead" because that's the word she used. I told her that it is very possible that it will just come back on it's own in the spring.
I will go out there and throw some seed around to make her happy (I realize that this is not really the correct way to truly seed an area).
But ultimately, I think her grass will be back on it's own.

12-13-2004, 10:27 PM
Since the township clearly states that it is illeagal to put leaves on the street , why don't you see how much the fine would be ? Since the property owner is the person ultimatly responsible , and would be the one to get the summons, you might try explaining to this lady that you were trying to keep her rear out of a sling.

The grass isn't dead, and will green right up in the spring when it begins growing again. In the mean time it will probably be covered with snow for most of the next 90 days , so it will be invisible anyway.

If you put out any seed now it won't do anything but maybe make some lunch for the sparrows that winter over. If you put down anything , make it some lime. This will get the acid that leached down out of the wet , rotting leaves, and in the Spring the grass will come back green like nothing ever happened there.

12-14-2004, 01:11 AM
After being smothered for a month, the area may or may not be dead. Generally, under conditions described, I would expect at least some of it to come back, but not until spring.

And you can seed now, if you want to get it done with - called dormant seeding, in cool season turf. It is too cold for germination now, but the seed will remain viable thru the winter. As soon as it warms up enough in spring for germination, it will sprout. You'll get better survival of spring seeded C3 turf with this method, because often you must wait for seeding in spring because sites are too wet to work on. Also, you'll have enough other things to do in springtime. Just expalin to her about dormant seeding - you have to be patient.

12-14-2004, 01:15 AM
Was mulching them back into the lawn not an option? I'm still amazed at how many leaves can be mulched back into the lawn.

12-14-2004, 08:41 AM


www.kulakandcompany.com :blob3:

12-14-2004, 09:05 AM
sucker, sucker, sucker!!!!! are you really gonna go back and seed?

whay will it cost him, $5.00 in seed mabey???
small price to pay to keep happy customers.

12-14-2004, 10:00 AM
whay will it cost him, $5.00 in seed mabey???
small price to pay to keep happy customers.
really? then send all of your customers a $5 bill. let's see, she owes him $50. out of that $50 probably $35 is profit. make a separate trip over, and dump $5 worth of seed. how long is travel time? arent you the guy that said, "time is money?" so, do the math, if time is money, and you're driving over to drop $5 worth of seed, you probably end up beating yourself out of half the profit on the job. let's see, you did a job for $50. you drove there, did the job, left with no money. that's one round trip. more of your valuable time was spent calling her, and explaining the seed issue . you will make another round trip to pick up a check for $50. you will then make ANOTHER round trip and drop $5 worth of grass seed on the property. this is 3 round trips, and $5 worth of seed. do the math. my paperboy comes out better in the end. this is a nickle and dime business, like it or not. don't let them nickle and dime you right out of a profit. and btw yard....he said it is not, nor will it ever be a steady customer

12-14-2004, 10:12 AM
the $50.00 is for the mowings. there was additional charges for the leaf cleanup.
i would think the total was a few hundred.

his perogative to go back or not.
my comment was based on your shock that he actually may go back.

12-14-2004, 11:15 AM
I agree with the guys that think it will come back in the spring. lack of sun and maybe some O2 probably yeooowed it or made it go dormant early. She really doesn't want to admit to trying to hire your do do somehting illegal does she? If so there might be an illegal act right there. Maybe ask the county attorny about that. Or just mention it to her and see what her reaction is. It doen't matter what "everybody else" does. Tell her if she want to do somehting illegal that's her choice but you wont have any part in illegal activity. I think the legality of piling in the street is your best card right now untill the grass greens back up in the spring. Or you could sell her on some turf paint untill then. Lesco sells it, just don't do it for free. If she didn't like where they were pilled then she could hae said somehting at the time of the clean up. She just doesn't want to take responsibilty for her choice to not have you do the job at the right time. They never listen! do they?

Garden Panzer
12-14-2004, 01:04 PM

i woud have seeded, then put the tarp. problem solved before it's a problem....

Rick Danger
12-14-2004, 06:53 PM
I live in Montville and I work in Montclair and Essex Fells mostly.