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Ever had a customer send YOU a bill?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mcclureandson, Nov 6, 2006.

  1. mcclureandson

    mcclureandson LawnSite Member
    Posts: 242

    I recently let go a couple dozen high-end residential properties. They were all in a single neighborhood or estate homes. I had underpriced a few, but the main reason I let them go was there just wasn't time on my schedule and they demanded too much personal attention to turn over to a foreman/crew chief. Anyway, they got three-weeks notice and the majority either sent in their final payment (they all pay monthly - 42 services per year - invoiced same amount each month) without comment or included a nice note of regret.

    However, one guy wanted an 'exit interview' prior to our last visit...which I agreed to. He complained about a soggy area (valve leak?) in one corner of his lawn, he wanted his winter annuals put in before we left, he wanted his annual rye put down before we left etc...I couldn't seem to make him understand irrigation repairs had always been billed seperately unless we caused the damage (did not in this case), or that the annuals and winter rye normally were installed in November and he would recieve up to five months of future enjoyement from them...long after we'd left.

    We left it nicely enough...but he called on the 1st of November to inform me 'there are still a few items left on our list'...two days later a nasty note and a bill for nearly $1400.00 - which is the amount he claims he's owed for the irrigation repair, the annuals, the winter rye and a couple of plants he suddenly wants me to warranty in a bed he cut irrigation to for weeks at a time during the summer!

    I have a written agreement with him and the balance due (to me) is just under $300.00, which I'll probably end up writing off. He's obviously trying to get out of paying, or really believes the world owes him everything his heart desires.

    Anyone else ever have someone try something like this?
  2. John Gamba

    John Gamba LawnSite Fanatic
    from ct
    Posts: 10,812

    NO. How do you owe him for a valve repair??
  3. QualityLawnCare4u

    QualityLawnCare4u LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,758

    Wow, now thats what I call a gutsy/idiot customer! You are right though, you will probably have to write off/sue this client to get your 300 bucks. I would have to respond back to him though, I just could not let something this stupid go!
  4. Grits

    Grits LawnSite Silver Member
    from Florida
    Posts: 2,994

    I friggin' hate these kind of people and there is more of them out there than one would think. Where does this pr!ck get off sending YOU a bill!?!? I agree with Qualitylawncare4u, I could not let something this stupid go! You probably are not going to get your money, so at least give this guy a hard time.....actually it isn't worth your time to mess with this clown. It sure does suck though!
  5. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    No but it sounds like someone suffering from a type of mental instability, thou I must admit that is unusual.

    Stay away from court, you will not win because he will take you too and then it's back and forth until the judge throws both of you out, that's what I think this is, is a way to get outta paying.
    So, I'd send this guy an ultimatum, pay now or it's off to collections and credit record issues.

    One tip I might give is in the future please don't agree to exit interviews, that's just the bs that led up to this.
    I guess you were trying to be a nice guy, smooth things over, I might've figured why not in a moment too...

    But you had made up your mind and so once gone = we're gone, if that makes any sense.
    I think that's what fouled you up, still they are in the wrong, even IF you made a mistake it doesn't give him no rights because it doesn't work like that... You might use that in an argument, but I'd stay away from that too...
  6. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    Oh wait...
    First, do NOT call him - That would be acknowledging that you got the bill!
    Yeah, do NOT acknowledge receipt, it's not that big of a deal but you can later always say you never got it.
    Which in the end I don't think he can do that, and he may just have broken the law.

    Something about he's not allowed to send bills for services / products that you never received.
    He can claim whatever he wants, but if he never sold you anything, he can't just send you a bill.
    Whether a magistrate wants to hear about this trifle, that's an entirely different story.

    You didn't, per chance, get money from him in advance and then never do the job, did you?
    If this is the case you do need to refund whatever money, but somehow I get the feeling this is not the case.

    So, I'd still go the collections agency route with your bill, and completely ignore his.
    And if he takes you to court, then you can use the above argument that he's billing you for a service / product you never received. And no, he can not bill you for something he hired you to do and never got done, besides, this is a commercial contract, right? Even if he called someone else to do it, you're not liable.
  7. mojob

    mojob LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 515

    Did your agreement include a termination clause? Where either party could give a written notice at any time to terminate agreement. If your agreement was to be payed a certain amount each month and this included the services you mentioned, then I think he might have you by the short hairs. You'd be pissed too if the agreement called for alot of work and expense to you up front and then the customer canceled the agreement shortly after you did the majority of the work. Since I don't know what the story is, I'm just playing devils advocate. If you know for a fact that you're in the right, then I'd go after him with everything you got. These A-holes will keep doing this until someone stands up to them. Just like a playground bully. I hope it works out in your favor.
  8. MarkintheGarden

    MarkintheGarden LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,072

    I did have a customer call me and blame me for something he knew was not my fault. I went to his property right away, and when we got to talking about it, it became obvious that he knew that I was not at fault, but was willing to blame me. Then the idiot had the nerve to ask me if I would take over the maintenance of his property. I told him no.
  9. LawnBrother

    LawnBrother LawnSite Senior Member
    from SW Ohio
    Posts: 867

    You can't let him try to get away with something like that. Get your money that's owed you.
  10. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,157

    I my yearly contracts, customersw paid the same amount each month for the services as specified in their contracts. insome there was an irrigastion maint. clause, in others, there were annual flower rotations, and in some where fert/pest treatments.

    so if I wanted to get out of a contract, Id have to come to some agreement with th eclinet a to how to prorate the services, left, ect. or just suck it up and cancel at the en dof th year.

    if your contract specked that you would do annual installs, fert and seed apps, as part of the montlhly price, then Guess what, you have to do the annuals, fert seed....or credit him back the money he frontted you for the materials and labor.

    If you specked irrigation maint or at least irrigation inspections, and your inspecetion failed to note the leaky valve and cause his yard damage, you could be liable for that damage. If you notfied him (in writing) of the leaky valve (sonmethin any decent landscaper woudl at least notice and pass along), he failed to have i repaired, then its his fault.

    Did you normaly invoice separately for the annuals and seed? or was it included in the monthly price? if it was included in the monthly price, then you have some refunding to do....Customer would be correct.

    If you billed separately for annuals/seed in the past, then you are correct.....

    How does your contract spell out the work you are doing? Thats the saving grace and what a judge would look at....IMO

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