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Old 12-15-2009, 07:47 PM
britelights britelights is offline
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Very difficult customer...please help

We are in our 6th season...and I know we've been blessed with great customers and only 1 or 2 bad apples along the way. But this one takes the cake. Here's what happened:

Dealt with housekeeper on design, bid, and payment. Homeowner signed bid. On day of install, ran into electrical issues...her outside outlets also had stuff inside on the same circuit. So we left mini-lights unplugged (BTW -- the mini-lights we tried to get her NOT to do from the beginning). She had electrician come out and add a circuit. She implied this was our fault and we somehow should have known that stuff inside the house was on that same circuit...and for the money she was paying we should have been able to add another circuit. Hmm....didn't know we were now supposed to be electricians. Got very bad feeling after install. Install was on a Friday. Electrician added circuit on Monday. We came out -- hooked mini-lights back up -- all was good.

Didn't receive final payment...had collected 50% deposit at time of acceptance and normally other 50% is paid upon install. When I asked on Monday about payment, the housekeeper told me that the homeowner wanted to make sure the lights were working before she paid. Red flag. My husband and I specifically drove by her house (she lives about 5 minutes from us) every night last week...even took a picture one night...all was beautiful, on, and working. Still no payment. On Friday I called the housekeeper -- she didn't have check --- I asked for homeowner's office # --- left vm -- no return call. Saturday --- called home -- no answer -- no return call.

Monday morning I'm upset. To make a long story short of Monday morning back and forth with housekeeper...she calls me at 3pm and tells me that the check is ready and I can pick it up before 4pm. Our weather has been bad, foggy and nasty, intermittent rain. Rains Monday afternoon and wouldn't you know it -- GFCI trips. She calls that evening. My husband goes out --- discusses with her about the mini-lights --- unplugs them so they can dry out --- and tells her we can take off the mini-lights, refund that price, and she shouldn't have any more GFCI problems. I was supposed to send over the price to her today of what we would deduct for the mini-lights. I didn't get to that today...I don't like this lady at all by now. She calls this evening...ranting and raving. "Her lights haven't worked right since day one" blah blah blah. Tells me how she runs a $50 million company...which she had also told my husband last night. Definitely a lady on a power trip. I try to stay nice. She tells me how our lights suck and she demands that we come out and take them down first thing tomorrow morning....and refund most of her money. She then tells me if we won't come take them down she will have someone take them down for us. I tell her -- that's fine -- go ahead -- you own the product. She doesn't like that answer...demands we come out tomorrow morning and take them down...or we will see her "fury" and she hangs up.

Okay seasoned pros out there...help me out. How do I handle this? BTW -- I drove by her house a few minutes ago -- everything is on and beautiful except for the mini-lights my husband unplugged last night to let dry out.
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Old 12-15-2009, 08:29 PM
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turf hokie turf hokie is offline
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This is obviously a first year customer...

And I have been doing this for 5 years, so you have one on me, so take the following for what is it worth, my opinion.

You have a few options but it seems that none will be satisfactory to the customer.

I dont sell our lights but rent so my take may be a bit different.

Option 1: remove mini's and refund that portion of the contract. (of which is not paid for yet) Finish the year out hope it does not get worse and write it off as a PITA customer

Option 2: remove YOUR lights as they are not hers until they are paid for in full, refund her deposit in full and run like hell for the hills. Heck, she told you to come take them down and you do have a 50% deposit.

You dont say what portion of the contract is made up of the mini lights so if it is 50% take the minis and call it a day.

If the minis make up less than 50% of the contract then it sounds like you are going to end up eating something unless you choose option 2

This is where light renting comes in handy, they are ALWAYS my lights, therefore, I always have the option of taking them back and walking away, and only being out labor.

Hope this helps, I am sure some others have run into this before....but I like my option 2 b/c I'd like to see her "fury" after you take her lights down as requested before giving her deposit back!!!!!
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Old 12-15-2009, 09:06 PM
britelights britelights is offline
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Yes -- first year customer. She did actually pay for the whole thing. She paid the 50% deposit at time of acceptance. And then after much run-around, finally paid the other 50% yesterday. And yesterday evening we started having water troubles. So...she has paid for the entire contract. Which is why I told her she owns the lights and is more than welcome to have someone else take them down if she likes -- lol.

My husband thinks we should remove the minis and refund that portion of the contract...basically your Option #1. But since she's paid in full, I think we should leave everything like it is -- take down as normal after the season -- refund her the storage part (since we definitely WON'T be doing business with her next year) and call it a day.

Now...what about her "demanding" we come take them down tomorrow morning and refund most of her money??? Ain't gonna happen!
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Old 12-15-2009, 09:33 PM
Toy2 Toy2 is offline
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cost

Quote:
Originally Posted by britelights View Post
Yes -- first year customer. She did actually pay for the whole thing. She paid the 50% deposit at time of acceptance. And then after much run-around, finally paid the other 50% yesterday. And yesterday evening we started having water troubles. So...she has paid for the entire contract. Which is why I told her she owns the lights and is more than welcome to have someone else take them down if she likes -- lol.

My husband thinks we should remove the minis and refund that portion of the contract...basically your Option #1. But since she's paid in full, I think we should leave everything like it is -- take down as normal after the season -- refund her the storage part (since we definitely WON'T be doing business with her next year) and call it a day.

Now...what about her "demanding" we come take them down tomorrow morning and refund most of her money??? Ain't gonna happen!
I would not refund a thing, you have pictures and you can claim that others have seen her house and will have your company install lights for them. If you furnished all the lights for the install then yes I would feel bad, my issues are homeowners who use Wally world lights, you get what you pay for.......I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.......and yes the weather around here is hot/cold, light rain/heavy rain, GFCI's have a mind of their own....
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Old 12-15-2009, 09:53 PM
britelights britelights is offline
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We did furnish the lights -- she purchased them from us. HBL light links on house, an HBL display in yard, minis on 2 trees and one row of small shrubs. Net lights --- at her insistence --- we normally don't use net lights --- on larger shrubs by the house. The only thing tripping the GFCI are some of the minis or net lights -- which is why those are unplugged. The very aggaravating thing is we tried to convince her not to do minis and we told her we don't use net lights unless the customer specifically asks for them. And those are the things giving us problems with the GFCI. Of course there's also a housekeeper in the middle of this -- and this power-tripping lady doesn't want to hear anything we have to say.

It's now dry and I'm sure if we went over there and plugged those minis and net lights back in they would work fine. Do we dare go back over there and risk another confrontation? Do we do as my husband suggested and remove the minis and nets and refund her that portion? Personally, I don't think we should remove anything. I think we should plug the minis and nets back in tomorrow -- after all she insisted she wanted them -- and do normal takedown after the season.

As far as removing and refunding....she signed a Contract...we delivered, installed, and have been maintaining lights...so she doesn't have a leg to stand on correct??
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Old 12-15-2009, 10:15 PM
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addictedtolandscaping addictedtolandscaping is offline
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Sounds like a similar issue I ran into. Had a customer really hot on starburst, put them up, guys wired them up and truthfully not so good a job. We ended up using a couple Shepard hooks as the y stakes were short. Calls me up, and to say rips into me is an understatement. Out I go, and yes wiring issue at hand, to many minis for example running through each other, popped a fuse etc, just does not look good. I tell him I will be back first thing in the am, and get him situated, he insists he wants Shepard hooks instead of the y stakes, so I figure OK, with the inconvenience I will get them. I spend 6 hours running all over God's creation here to get them, only carried by Tractor Supply and only 2 per store, but all in all I find him 8. Out I go for the install and repair, after all the run around and then the added expense of the Shepard hooks, he refuses the starbursts. Dumb me ordered them in without a contract as my schedule did not permit me to meet with him prior so my bad.

He insists on just mini's in the bushes, so I do the job and naturally he isn't there when I finish. Still not payed yet. I was so disgusted I actually called Mike and talked to him about it, I was ready to take everything down and walk. Mike convinced me other wise. I figure I will tough it out and drop like a hot potato afterward. It is amazing how just one customer can rip the wind right from your sails. I agree with you Stacy, contract there, totally fulfilled, pics to verify it, let her find someone else to deal with for removal and such. I would send her the storage portion and wipe my hands.
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Old 12-16-2009, 07:23 AM
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turf hokie turf hokie is offline
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Since she is paid in full, leave everything, check on it today to make sure all is 100%, refund her storage and on Dec 26th she is on her own.

PS Never do net lights again. No matter how much they insist. Stick to what you do.

We had a potential customer wanted mini lights on the roof line, told her no, we would do links, c-9 or c-7 that was it. She gave me the whole economy speech that I should be willing to do whatever she wanted. Told her I was not sacrificing my business standard for her and was ready to walk away, she stopped me, agreed to hear me out, sold her c-7 and ended up with a 2k job. She is one of my happiest customers because she saw what her house looked like and what a neighbor looked like with minis.

Good luck.
Bryan
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Old 12-16-2009, 09:25 AM
hotrod1965 hotrod1965 is offline
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All you can do is stick to your contract. Then you point out to your customer that you signed a deal and you are holding up your end of the bargin.

Now..some advice... Being in Michigan.. I am used to bad weather.. So we have it in our contract saying something like "we can't control mother nature... do our best...."
We will get regualr rain, freezing rain and snow all before Christmas, so we have to be prepared.

Also, you have to really make sure the power is there. Then you need that in your contract too. "customer is responsible to have ample power supply....."
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Old 12-16-2009, 12:05 PM
britelights britelights is offline
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We are sending one of our guys out this afternoon to remove the mini-lights since Carlos had already discussed that with her. He said he had already discussed that with her so he wants to do it -- plus that should mean we shouldn't hear from her at all for the rest of the season.

Our contract does have a little blurb about the weather and the elements, but we do plan on expanding on our contracts for next year. And I think from now on we will refuse to do net lights...unless we can buy some good commercial ones from litesource or something.

And I always ask about the power and outlets...but 99% of the people have no clue if there's other stuff on the same circuit.

And I think for next year we're either going to insist on LED minis or something. Does anybody use HBL's landscaper grade minis or always lit minis? Do they hold up better in the rain?
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Old 12-16-2009, 08:02 PM
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addictedtolandscaping addictedtolandscaping is offline
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I have a couple cases of the HBL always lit up, no issues so far, we have had several rain storms and one quirky snow storm that developed into several different accumulations. I also have a couple mixed noble wreaths up, they have the landscapers series on them and I thin the Sierra do also. Haven't had any issues there.
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