Belt breaks on customers lawn, rope in yard.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Ramairfreak98ss, Aug 7, 2006.

  1. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,210

    Is it right for me to charge him for the belt? quick situation.

    Ive always have issues with this customer, paid first bill late, changed how he wants it cut and what parts several times already.

    I cut his lawn every 2 weeks, about 8 times so far. I get into his back fenced in yard, 4"+ tall grass, thick kinda, and within a minute hit a black 1" thick rope that his kids must have knocked off of their playset somehow into the yard, its a knotted rope for climbing, mower blades didnt even nick this thing, motor almost shut off and snapped the $39 belt.

    So luckily i fit my 61" wide mower into his fenced in back yard because i wasnt comming back on a saturday to cut this "dciks" lawn and make a special trip. I had 4 other lawns to cut with my 34" walkbehind still on a thursday morning. Had to stop, run to the dealer which luckily had 2 in stock so i bought both belts. My belt was in near perfect condition with about 50 hours on it, no dings or anything. Ive never broken a belt in over 2 years with any of the equipment. I pick up the 10 pound rope and take it with me just in case he doesnt belive what im talking about. I dissasembled the mower that afternoon and installed the new belt finally, ran fine again.

    I call him up, he doesnt answer, leave a message about having to charge him for the belt $38.xx. I said that hes had a lot of things in his lawn, misc large debris from his pool cement install, rocks, toys etc. Ive been very tolerant of it all. My contract STATES in plain english, you must keep your lawns clear of debris, hoses, kid toys etc. If the belt breaks in tall grass or whatever, fine i went too fast or it was worn, but even after moving a few things in this guys yard, you just cant see a black 1" nylon rope laying under the grass thats semi-tall.

    The customer calls me back and leaves a message all pissed off, says not to call him back, hes not paying for any of my equipment because thats the cost of running a business, he "acts" like he has a ton of money,claims to own 7 houses, yet is a total cheapskate. Ive always tried to work with this guy but its gone too far, $40 or not, it put me out of commission for part of the day, had to run and get parts and install it, it took me almost 15 minutes just to get the knotted up twisted rope off of the two blades. Ill be plenty glad not to have to cut his lawn anymore

    Do you bill for extensive damages or just assume its part of operating costs? If i didnt do this, every person that leaves crap in their yard, id be breaking stuff all the time, most of my customers are pretty good except for the water sprinkler hoses sometimes i have to reel them in.:dancing:

    The guy said on the message about how if i cant cut his grass and look before i run things over:hammerhead: lol. oh well, ill bill him anyway, can add him to the other jerk from one road over in this development ill be taking to small claims court in the fall. Its only $38 which is less than one lawn cut but im not going to be out a whole lawn cut because this guy is so damn picky and then cant reimburse just a belt cost. If he had a sinkhole in his yard and my machine fell into it id want it fixed too.
  2. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,210

    some customers you just really want to have it out verbally with them, sometimes its really hard to keep your cool and remember your a business and need to speak to them with courteousy and intelect even if theyre just arseholes.
  3. Brendan Smith

    Brendan Smith LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,196

    you know, i don't really know what i'd do. if the debris clause is in your contract, does it also state customer is liable for repairs? if not, i'd eat it as cost of doing business and re-write the contract for next year. sounds like he is already gone, probably good that he is (from a headache standpoint), but i don't think i would have approached him as strongly as you did in the initial contact. i think i would have tried to feel him out more before coming on strong. just my .02, and wish you good luck.
  4. lawncarepros2004

    lawncarepros2004 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 153

    personally i probably wouldn't charge him. I cut a sprinlker this year that i didn't see because the grass was too tall and I felt responsible. Granted the sprinkler was more my fault than you running over the rope that shouldn't be there. This is a good enough reason to never sign anyone up for bimonthly service.
  5. mountain man

    mountain man LawnSite Member
    Posts: 141

    This is a joke I hope.

    You are a business act like one. Regardless of your feelings toward the customer, he is right a $38 belt is a cost of doing business. Not only will you never see the $38 for the belt you now will probably never see the payment for the cut as well due to your message.
  6. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    Drop him, eat the 38 bucks, and learn from it...the guy's a propellor head IMO.
  7. mowerman90

    mowerman90 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,491

    Live and learn. Eat the belt and drop him on general principals.
    I had a customer whose kid always left his bike laying in the yard.
    I told the customer to please be sure that little Johnny parked it in the garage so I wouldn't have to move it or cut around it anymore. One day I happened to see little Johnny and told him if ever leaves his bike laying in the yard when I show up again that I would throw it in the pool. By the way, I show up on the same day at the same time every week. Anyways, next week comes and there's the bike laying in the yard. I stop the mower, pick up the bike and "whoosh" into the pool it goes. Never had a problem from those folks again. I told myself that if they said one word about the bike in the pool that I was gonna drop'em on the spot. I still do them to this day.
  8. DJL50

    DJL50 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 268

    That $38 should be built into the price of your service up front. You know it's going to happen sooner or later. If you were in a store using a shopping cart and the wheel fell off I think you would agree you would not be expected to pay for it. I would think if the guy got mad enough he could charge you for damaging his property (rope) I think most owner manuals of ZTR's state to walk the area before you mow. Sounds like you had no respect to follow safety guidelines. Yes! sounds crazy but put yourself in his shoes. Bottom line. It was your fault.
  9. dvmcmrhp52

    dvmcmrhp52 LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Pa.
    Posts: 4,205

    According to your post it was 4" tall grass........
    How could you not see a 1" diameter rope laying in a lawn that was only 1" taller than normal cut height?
  10. Littleriver1

    Littleriver1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 811

    Just say good bye to him and the $39.00. Write it off to education and get on with your life.

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