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Charge for downtime?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by NYRookie, May 18, 2003.

  1. NYRookie

    NYRookie LawnSite Member
    Posts: 240

    I have really been thinking about charging a customer for any downtime that I have due to thier irresponsibilty. Ex., I mow for a place that makes cabinets. They always have garbage blowing around because they use an open top dumpster. Yesterday, a huge piece of stretch wrap blew across the parking lot and under my mower. Can you guess what I did for the next 20 minutes. Last year I put a staple threw my tire at the same place while I was in the grass. This is getting old. I have other people that leave stuff out all the time. Caught a cable comealong also that was at the edge of a lawn. I almost always walk a property to look for stuff. I'm not talking about picking up the occasional dog toy or lawn chair, I'm talking about peoples junk that can seriously damage a piece of expensive equipment. What if you're down for 4 hours getting something repaired? What do you think, legitimate or a can of worms?
  2. geogunn

    geogunn LawnSite Gold Member
    from TN
    Posts: 3,010

    this isn't intended to be a smart answer but if you mowed for me and came to me with that line of logic...I'd send you packing.

    that is unless it was agreed upon in our signed contract.

    otherwise...SEE 'YA!!!

  3. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Posts: 8,745

    that is an iffy story..I look at it this way, if you have warned him and asked him to pick up his stuff over and over again and this happened then I would charge him for it...but be prepared for him to say, "Take a hike." I personally have never charged someone for down time, but I have charged them for trash pick up. Usually an extra $5 to $10 fee.
  4. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Posts: 10,178

    contract states: if the condition of the property has been altered or changed, from our last visit, and this creates a potential safety hazard to us, our equipment, or your property, customer must advise us of such change or alteration. "a cable comalong? a staple?" your lucky u didnt get seriously injured. put this in your contract and hold them liable. this one customer decides to have a huge stone moved, from behind a large tree. the result was a giant hole on the ground. because of the layout of the property, i couldnt see it, until i came around the tree with the walkbehind. bam! the mower gets stuck in the hole, i end up on my azz. o, and that throbbing pain, my back, my neck
  5. grassdaddy

    grassdaddy LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 565

    What about moving garden hoses,thats an every day thing here,and I hate it!One place has about 400 ft all everywhere wad'ed up.I dont say anything,(out loud)I just move it.:(
  6. jeremiahbabb

    jeremiahbabb LawnSite Member
    Posts: 9

    I work part time for a grading/land clearing company. Last week we went in to move two huge piles of trees that were left from some logging years ago. Anyway, we got halfway finished with the project and ran into a big azz pile of spools of fishing line. I mean, it looked like someone there used to run a fishing line distribution center or somthing. Anyway, we didnt notice it very much till our CAT 955 loaders started getting slower and slower to the point we knew somthing was wrong. Got out and looked, the fishing line had turned into rope and was twisted all around the tracks and sprokets. It took us three hours to cut all that fishing line out with razor blades, and then we had to go slow and keep pulling it out for another two days. We finished up and charged them an additional $250 for that. If they had told us there was fishing line there, we would have never took the job, but reguardless, they failed on their part of the deal.

    Jeremiah Babb
  7. Gr grass n Hi tides

    Gr grass n Hi tides LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,020

    You came to the job site, the site did not come to you. The greater responsibility lies with the lawn care provider, especially on this particular property where "there's always garbage blowing around." This tells me you should know what to expect when you are there, and most likely need to take extra precautions.

    Maybe I don't know enough about the circumstances, but I can't see how "a huge piece of stretch wrap" can blow under your mower without you being able to see that coming and prevent it.

    I am not trying to rag on you. I'm just saying that you ought to think twice before presenting the property owner with a bill for down time, because I too think he will tell you to take a hike.

    If you want to eliminate this stop from your route, I think a heart to heart with the guy would be better than a possible confrontation (bill for down time) which might damage your business reputation.

    Again, I don't know all of the details of your relationship with the client, but think about it this way - what if you mow over a piece of debris, say another staple & it shoots out and seriously injures someone. Who's responsible? I say you are on the hook no matter how you look at it. Some of the responsibility might rest with the property owner IF you mentioned the problem to him before, thereby placing him on "notice."

    Just my .02.
  8. rodfather

    rodfather LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,501

    Forget about the downtime strategy. How are you going to come up with a dollar number? Clients like that you don't need...drop 'em like a bad habit IMO and move on I say.
  9. crazygator

    crazygator LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,048

    I think you could not charge for this. If you see it there, or know its there and run over it anyway its your fault for not avoiding it.

    I too would not take on a property like that. If any of mine did start going that way I would tell them immediately either get it picked up or find a new LCO.

    Not that I have an attitude, but some things should and could be avoided if others were responsible.

    I dont need an idiot putting their responsibility on me (like you said shooting out a staple) if someone got seriously hurt. No amount of money that they could pay you is worth that kind of bad exposure.
  10. Brendan

    Brendan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 25

    I always pick up litter before I start each job. Firstly the mower doesn't leave any shredded papers and mess, and secondly to avoid potential litigation from damage cause by projectiles thrown by the mower.

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