Customer unhappy with cleanup

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Grass Stain, Apr 2, 2002.

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  1. Grass Stain

    Grass Stain LawnSite Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 6

    Hey guys, I have always had the philosophy that the customer is always right, but sometimes that is just hard to swallow. I had a lady call me last week that was 101 years of age and she wanted her lawn raked and cleaned up. She was hard of hearing and almost hung up on me when I asked her for her address because she thought I said that I didn't want to do it. Of course she said she wanted it done "as soon as possible" so a crew could come in and mow her lawn. Well, I told her I would come in and look at it and thought I might be able to take on her lawn as an account also. So I looked over the lawn and it was small, but was full of sticks and leaves. So I told her it would be $20 and I could do it that evening. I knew I wasn't charging her enough, and I made the mistake of giving in since she was 101...guess I felt sorry for her(big mistake). At any rate, I have commercial equipment for mowing, but none for lawn clean-ups, so I used a rake, bags, and my hands. I feel I did a nice job and it looked 100% better than when I started. Her lawn is in poor shape anyway. Yesterday a I received a letter(not a phone call) from her saying she was very unhappy with the service and even asked me what kind of rake I used. She said she didn't have that kind of money to throw away. It made me irate in a way because I carted off 9 large trash sacks full of leaves and sticks from her yard. I drove by this morning to take a good look at it again, and it looks fine to me. I am going to talk with her today. I have not cashed the check, should I give it back, or how would you approach this? I won't make this mistake again. Sorry this post was so long, I was just a little iritated. Thanks for reading.
  2. yardman1

    yardman1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 458

    for twenty bucks she should be kissing you a$$, if she would complain about than she would complian about anything, unless you did a crapy job, but you said you hauled nine bags off. It has got to look somewhat better. yes i would cash the check because she should have said she was not happy with work before you had left her house. That is my opinion.:angry:
  3. bubble boy

    bubble boy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,020

    first cash the chq.

    then raise your prices a lot.

    i'm figuring best case scenerio-10 min. drive time. 5min. per bag if your lightning quick, leave the bags there. 5 min to invoice, etc.

    ignoring bags cost, taxes thats $20/hr.

    and thats being REALLY conservative.

    SCAPEASAURUSREX LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 835

    yeah , I'm curious as to how long it took you to do this cleanup , had to be at least a 2hr job ? Should have gotten like $100.00 for that to allow for compensation of headaches .....
  5. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Posts: 4,739

    I was talking to a friend once and he said when he was a kid he and a friend ( this had to be in the 70's or so) were mowing for an old old guy and it took them like 6 or 7 hours and when they were done the guy only gave them a quarter a peice. just 25 cents! my friend then said that the old guy wasn't playing with all the cards a person should have and that in that guys day, 25 cents a day was alright... he understood and didn't complain cause this guy couldn't do it himself and had no one to do it for him, my friend and his buddy did it to be nice, but i'm saying that some old people just simply aren't UP TO DATE!
    something to ponder...
  6. Grass Stain

    Grass Stain LawnSite Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 6

    This job took me 1 hour and 35 minutes and I actually quoted her $20 an hour, but just charged her $20 anyway. Yes, I should have charged her more and it is my fault for not. I learned my lesson. But, we have to watch what we charge in this part of the country because it is a lower income area and a rural area to boot. I mow in three cities within a 15 mile radius and the largest is a population of about 20,000 or so. If you price too high, you will price yourself out of business. The scrubs do a number on us here. Thanks for the ideas! She didn't look at the lawn before I left, but evidently she looked at it the next day. As I said, I am going to have a talk with her this afternoon to hopefully get this ironed out. She did say in the letter that she wanted me to fix the problem( After looking at it this morning, I honestly don't know what the problem is) and that if not, she wouldn't recommend me to anyone else. Oh boy...
  7. proline32

    proline32 LawnSite Senior Member
    from 98383
    Posts: 278

    Hi Grass stain,

    You are learning a valuable lesson in regards to elderly folks, THEY CAN BE A PITA. You have every right to cash that check to offset your losses that you have incured, and yes you did loose money, you would of been better off not doing the job and watching the three stooges on TV or something like that. I used to deal with customers like that and found it a real pain...... Nowdays if I talk to a customer that even sounds like they are elderly and hard of hearing...... Forget it, I'll bid the job real high just so they DON"T call me back. Let some scrub deal with those folks. A lot of those elderly folks don't have a clue what are cost nowdays, but many of them don't have a problem spending $40 grand for a cadillac or Buick.;)

    BRIAN GALLO LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 282

    Proline32 is right on the money! I have a lot of those types in my area too. They are hard to deal with, but sometimes are the only game in town. My strategy is to be absolutely up-front with them and only do exactly what they are paying for. If you don't watch out they get you to throw in some "favors" for the price.
  9. Grass Stain

    Grass Stain LawnSite Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 6

    Well, I went back and talked with the lady last night. She didn't answer when I knocked so I kindly picked up a few "dead" catalpa tree beans that had fallen to the ground since my cleanup. Eventually she came to the door and pointed out that she didn't mean to write a nasty letter but she had wanted me to to rake an area that I didn't think she owned. She came outside and pointed out an area that she said I missed. It was an area about 60-70 ft. long, about 3 feet or so wide, and about 1.5 ft. stack of leaves all the way down. But, the kicker is, this area looker like her neighbors property because her neighbor's garage sits out even farther than these leaves! I didn't know til last night that the neighbors had built the garage on this lady's property, so those leaves were actually my responisbility, eventhough they were closer to the neighbors house. She said the rest of the yard looked great, but that was what she was concerned with....I thought no problem, I'll just clean these up and she had offered to pay more money anyway. So I went backover her yard and then cleaned up this area too...about an hour's worth of work. I went in when I was finished and told her that if I could take her on as a lawn account, I wouldn't charge her for my services. That area was not in the estimate...had it been, I would have charged her at least $10 more. Anyway, she didn't act like she wanted me and I said otherwise I will have to charge $10 for my time and she got mad, eventhough she had offered to pay me before! She pulled out a five and I wouldn't take it. She told me I was slow, and that I charged too much. And she said maybe she shouldn't have ran her last crew off because they only charged her $17 for the lawn mowing and $17 for cleanups and I said, "Maybe you shouldn't have because I can't work for that and still provide my customers with high quality service." I then said, "Good luck in finding your next crew and have a good evening. I apologize for any misunderstanding." and I left. I was kinda irritated, but then I realized she got a hell of a deal and I was calm and nice and offered what I could to her...if that wasn't good enough, then I don't need her as a client. Thanks for listening to me whine! lol
  10. Runner

    Runner LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,494

    Did you put the leavs back? Let her find someone ELSE to do ot for "ten bucks" or better yet, five. It sounds to me like she's just a miserable person, who isn't happy unless she's spreading misery to others.
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