16 Years in the Business and This is a 1st

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by fairview, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. fairview

    fairview LawnSite Member
    from TX
    Posts: 6

    I haven't been around for a long time. Mainly that is due to my new rediscovered passion for fishing and the fact that I have a boat now. Shore fishing is for suckers. LOL Just kidding. Anyway I thought everyone would get a kick out of this. I've been doing this for 16 years and I thought I had heard everything. The most recent email is on top so you will have to scroll to the bottom and read to the top. The customer's e mails are in bold italics.

    Frank, we have weeds. Did you promise that? I may or may not be able to keep you out but I will let everyone know how ridiculous you have been about this. Then they can make the choice on whether or not they should do business with Fairview in the future.

    Please do not send me another email.

    On Wed, Apr 30, 2008 at 3:05 PM, Fairview Lawn Care wrote:
    You have received everything I promised in the service agreement plus an additional fert application at no charge. As an attorney, I am sure you are aware what libel is and what consequences can occur from filing frivolous complaints that damage a business and that we all live on a two way street. I have returned the balance due to you. Please understand that I am not a 20 or 30 something rookie and just because I chose to do lawn care as a profession, it is not and has not been the highest station I have achieved in 50 years of living on this planet. Perhaps had you given your service provider a reasonable amount of time to see the problem and respond to the problem, you'd still be a happy customer. Even had I seen the rescue grass in your front lawn Thursday morning and treated it, I believe I would have still received the blunt of your fury since it takes longer than 72 hours for a herbicide to work on grassy weeds unless a desiccant is used which does nothing to control the weed except burn the vegetation down and not to mention the amount of ancillary damage that would have resulted from the overspray trying to pinpoint a very small area in the desirable turf. Had I sprayed anything on Thursday, I can only imagine the discussion we would be having about damaging your turf and when I was going to replace it with sod. When you put someone into a no win situation, that is exactly what happens. What I fail to understand is that for 14 months I have not heard a word from you or your wife concerning the quality of service, good or bad, you have been receiving. The only additional service requested was to trim the shrubs and clean the beds. No call backs, no questions, nothing. And then all of a sudden, it's the Armageddon when Rescue Grass shows up in an area that has damaged soil structure. Like I stated previously, in hindsight, I should have called you to let you know I was going to have to come back out and take a look after several days growth. I assumed that since there were absolutely no negative complaints about quality in the preceding 14 months, that there was a modicum of trust established between us that I knew what I was doing and would take care of your problem. Obviously I was grossly in error.

    IMO, you were looking for a reason to cancel when we all are getting squeezed by gasoline prices this morning that went too $3.52. I understand that. I don't own a oil well nor a refinery. The humorous side of that is you didn't even need a reason to cancel. A simple email, telephone call saying you were no longer going to use our service was all that was necessary. We both could have been on our way and I would have still returned the balance due you.

    As an attorney you know you can not stop me from soliciting in your neighborhood as long as I use permitted distribution companies or bulk mailing from the US Postal Service. Further, there is no legal way, if I have another customer in your subdivision, now or in the future, my business can be barred from entering the subdivision as an invited business of a customer. HCA' are very powerful entities but they can't yet dictate who the residents will and will not conduct business with and they definitely can not dictate policy to the city or US Postal Service.

    Mr. Forrest, I don't really believe this is about weeds. IMO you were personally disrespectful to me with your attitude, tone and timing of your call on a Sunday. That disrespect was mirrored right back to you. Nice begets nice. My life is all about the 'Rules of the Sandbox'. I'm not and have never been a doormat. It sounds like things may not be going very well for you right now. In the last 18 months I have had rough times with losses in my family. If that is the case, I understand your venting but it remains inappropriate.

    On 4/30/08 11:40 AM, wrote:

    If you would have spent this much time in keeping my business you would still have me as a happy customer. Having a law practice myself, one thing that I have learned is that it takes much more time to get a customer and make them a happy one than it does to lose one. I will take the time to communicate with our neighbor association about the treatment I received from you and also recommend to the association that you not be allowed to solicit in our neighborhood any further.


    On Wed, Apr 30, 2008 at 10:13 AM, Fairview Lawn Care wrote:

    Mr. Forrest,

    You called me at roughly 2:30pm on Sunday the 27th and clearly read me the riot act and clearly stated you wanted the service cancelled. I was taken aback also. I personally put a lot of work in your lawn last year to turn it around from the weed ridden haven you had in March of 07 to a few weeds in Apr of 08. The three lawns that I mentioned in my first email received every treatment that your lawn received but those lawns did not receive every treatment your lawn received. Yes I have a written service agreement but it is merely a promise in writing. That is all it is. My commitment is to give you a nice lawn so if that means I have to come out and apply an additional fert application to turn a nasty lawn around I will do so and not charge the customer. I don't even tell them, I just do it.

    I found your voice mail to be extremely hostile and the timing, on Sunday which during the growing season is frequently the only day off I have to pursue my hobbies or spend time with my wife, was made to intentionally disrupt my day. Like you I have business hours. I'm sure you do not appreciate your clients calling you on Sundays to give you "what for" over a non life or death issues. I do lawn care you are a lawyer. I expect to be treated with respect and do not accept being treated rudely, just as I suspect you do in your job. People need to be nice to people. There are too many nice people that I can be working for that do not call me on Sundays and trust me that when they report a problem, I will take care of it.

    Like I said, I came Thursday morning and inspected your lawn. Because we are cutting at near scalping height, I decided I may not have been able to see the problem you were seeing. I probably would not have been able to see it on Friday and questionably on Saturday. The fuel for my work truck is at $4.05 per gallon of diesel. I have not raised my 08 prices from last year on any of my clients, however I no longer have the luxury to zip out and check one house today and one house tomorrow and one house the next day. To be able to absorb those cost, I have had to group trips according to locale. It is either that or raise everyone's prices by 15%.

    In hindsight, the only thing I could have done better was to call you and let you know I was out on Thursday but would need to return after a few days growth. If you were one of those apprehensive customers that constantly call on a weekly basis, I would have probably called to let you know the status. As it was, no one ever called for 14 months to tell me how bad or how good I was doing. I respond in like to my customer. If the customer is short, irascible or rude, then that is mirrored right back at them however I stop short of calling on a Sunday. Agreed the customer is nearly always right, but that doesn't give them the privilege to be anything other than respectful and courteous to those they see as 'the little people' making their life a bit easier.

    If you feel you need to contact the BBB, that is your privilege to do so. However when they contact me concerning your complaint, I will hand them the before, the middle and the after pics of your front lawn, your payment history and a copy of my receipt for the bank check refund I am forwarding you today plus the saved voive mail from the 27th if ATT lets it on my cell phone for that long. I've been in this business for 16 years. I've been around this block way to many times and I have learned how to protect my business and my reputation. I never start a first year lawn without the pics. I used too but not anymore.

    Obviously I will not be making any additional charges to you credit card!

    On 4/30/08 9:12 AM wrote:

    Frank, I was very taken back by the tone of your email that was sent to my wife. It was very unprofessional and uncalled for in my opinion. I said in my voice mail to you that I did not want to cancel initially just wanted to get the problem fixed. Now that we have had this type of exchange, I am canceling. I will also be contacting the better business bureau to make a formal complaint.

    Do not charge anything else on my card.


    On Wed, Apr 30, 2008 at 7:46 AM, Fairview Lawn Care wrote:

    Mr. Forrest,

    I don't now why you are so violently upset. Last year when I started your lawn, it was in such bad shape I took a picture of the front. This year in March when I applied the pre-emergent I took another shot. On particularly poor and neglected jobs, I like to have before in the middle and after pics. The photographic evidence is indisputable.

    I looked at your service agreement in greater detail yesterday evening. Instead of the $5.00 I thought I owed you the balance that is due you and your wife is $56.38. That is 5 08 mowings @$27.50 plus tax or $148.84. Subtract that amount from your two 08 payments of 94.79 (102.61 with tax) leaves a balance due you and your wife of $56.38. I will be sending you and your wife a bank check via certified return receipt signature required US mail today.

    I am doing what I need to do as an honest business man and refunding the balance that I owe you within 48 hours of your cancellation notice.

    On 4/29/08 3:43 PM, wrote:

    Frank, I just got your email which was forwarded from my wife. I will not address your email except to say that your tone further justifies the fact that we should not do business with you. As far as us charging back the card, we may or may not do that I need to speak with my wife and see what she thinks as well. Bottom line is DO NOT CONTACT ME AGAIN OR MY WIFE. I am actually an attorney and I will contact the authorities if you harrass us any further. If you want to stay in business, I suggest you watch how you speak to your clients in the future.

    I'm not wasting any more time with you.

  2. Triple L

    Triple L LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 507

    wow, thats something else... someones gonna get some round up baloons on thier lawn tomarow night around 2 a.m... Big ones to top it off... lol
  3. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,083

    I wouldn't put up with a poor attitude either - in fact I just read the riot act to a new customer on a complete install today. Interestingly enough he called to apologize for his demeanor following his unwarranted attack upon my work.
    We'll see how the job finishes but I'm not holding my breath - like you I document everything so when tempers fly I just point to the photos.
  4. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 11,956


    I have told this story before here on LS. The short version is. I had a PITA customer who quit me and told everyone at the country club. I got tons of business from his bad mouthing me because everyone knew what PITA he is. His bad mouthing me, became the country club joke I am told.
  5. Turfdoctor1

    Turfdoctor1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 705

    where is your original email? the customer seems mad about the "tone" of the email, but it isn't here for us to judge. Hard to make judgement.

    my honest opinion. You probably provided very good service and were extremely professional. But, from the above posted emails, I would say the customer has a point about your tone. the customer seems to be getting the worst end of the exchange.
  6. jbturf

    jbturf LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,434

    i run into situations where the customer is upset with quality of
    there turf, yet year after year will not follow recomendations,
    my suggestions, nor spend any time or money to help fix or improve the

    Then all of a sudden, one day they will run into me at their property
    during and application, and unleash holy hell over a lone crab grass
    plant basking in a thick layer of bare unirrigated sand along their sunny

    What can be said - really? in such case, the customer is upset
    with thier own cheap ignorance, and takes it out on me, you, or the
    next poor sap they hire to replace you

    kinda just try and brush it off and move on,
    im certain that for each of these pita customers
    we may have , there are 20 good ones
  7. xpnd

    xpnd LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 378

    Don't get confused. I have two accounts. One time I couldn't for the life of me remember what my username and pswd were and had to create another. I just found my paper again with all my critical info that I stashed in an impossibly unforgettable place.

    Really, you think I am being hard on the customer? What can't be put on here is the irate, verbally abusive voice mail he left on my cell on Sunday at 2:30pm that started this whole mess. Unless a customer calls on Sunday and prefaces the voice mail with, 'I know this is Sunday and you're not working, but I just thought of this and didn't want to forget......' customers that call on Sunday to complain do so for only one reason. They are cowards and hope I don't answer the phone so they can go on with their rant. His went on so long, he exceeded the time limit.

    His lawn had two problems. First he had Rescue grass in an area where there had been bags of mulch stacked and where his kids had worn the grass down to the dirt. They paid me to trim the shrubs and clean the beds but wouldn't pop for the additional $$$ to spread the mulch. It stayed there well into fall. It generally remains void of grass presently. The second problem this lawn has is the amount of Poa in it. Way too much for my concern. Beyond the fact that his 3 neighbors appear to be growing Poa intentionally in their lawns as the desirable cool season grass, I suggested he had ignored my one annual request to water the pre-emergent in after it was applied in November. I offered to take him on a tour of four homes within less than a 1/4 mile of his home that were treated on the same day from the same tank within minutes before or after his home so he could see that they barely had a stitch of Poa in them and absolutely no Rescue grass

    Straight up, after the voice mail I listened to, I remained professional but I wrote my email to the fricking point so it would not be misunderstood that I was not the sole source of this problem nor was I even majorly responsible for the problem but would have been willing to fix it if he hadn't already canceled my service. I did not mince words with him and I did not back off.

    What seems to have really set him off was my offer to take him on a tour of these four homes and the fact I wouldn't take care of the problem after he so adamantly canceled my service on Sunday afternoon. DUH The other thing that set him off was that I strongly urged him to reconsider his decision to have the credit card company reverse the charges and accept my bank check for the balance I owed him. I informed him that if he took that action, the next piece of correspondence he would receive me would be in the form of a summons handed to him by a county constable and we would leave it to a judge to decide what payment and damages I should receive from his actions.

    It takes a lot to really piss me off. It takes a lot to make me respond in a blunt, in your face, this is the gods honest truth about your problem that has more to do with you than me. Usually I make up some sort of BS excuse like I must have had a skip in my spray pattern but I'll be happy to take care of the problem. 14 months with nary a phone call about quality, good or bad, and then all of a sudden it's like a tactical nuke was launched in my direction.

    I'll stand with a customer and cuss and discuss anything in the world, but when the verbal abuse is directed to me I quickly pack up shop. When it is directed to my employees, I tell them to pack up and leave in the middle of the job.

    Oh it is not like I was charging him an arm and a leg either. His chem/fert charges for the year was $257.50. That includes 3 pre emergents, 6 ferts and 2 broad leaf post emergent apps. Price doesn't justify poor quality but I would have no problem and not have reservations to put his yard even with the Rescue grass in it against any of my competitors yards.
  8. xpnd

    xpnd LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 378

    Nah, round-up doesn't kill Bermuda, it just makes it look prettier when it comes back in. For warm season lawns a guy would either add fescue or nut sedge seed to the balloon and launch it. You can actually buy nut sedge seed for erosion control. The guy obviously has enough problems and I would never lower myself to his level and do something like that. Once you get on the wrong side of Karma, it's hard to get right with it again.
  9. Turfdoctor1

    Turfdoctor1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 705

    i'm not saying you were wrong. I'm saying, that without seeing the email that you wrote him, it's hard to say how i would react.

    I think you had every right to be blunt. But, if that is your choice and you know you are going to lose the customer, why the need to write 3 follow up emails to pound in your points.

    I know that I take things very personnally if a customer "attacks" my service. I am proud of my work, and have reacted the same way you did. I'm glad to be rid of those customers, but I'm just saying, that your customer might have had a point about your "tone."
  10. teejet

    teejet LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 233

    You sound like a couple pansies bickering. Just tell him to F--- off. Forget it.

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