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I can not believe how some irrigation companies ripoff customers

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by Ground Master, Apr 26, 2004.

  1. Ground Master

    Ground Master LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 505

    So, would you charge a customer if you did not repair their sprinkler system?

    Well, apparently some companies do.

    I turned on a system this morning for a homeowner. He had another "service" tech out a few days earlier trying to get his timer to work. He has a hunter pro c. I guess the "tech" plugged in the timer and the display read "no a/c". Well the guy doesn't even test the transformer output for voltage or the 110 outlet. He calls his boss. Tech then tells customer the transformer is out, not sure if one is available, but a new timer will cost 200 to 300 installed!

    Well, I go out, plug in timer and sure enough display reads "no a/c". So, I wait about half a second and sure enough display shows current time! Yep, a little patience for the timer to run thru its paces and sure enough it works.

    Heck, the other guy didn't even bother to turn the water on for the system.

    He just collected his 50 service call fee and was on his way.

    So heres my question.............Would you charge a customer a service call when you are unable to fix their problem?
  2. Yes....I have and will continue to do so.

    If I go to the house....and the timer doesn't work...I give them two options....

    1....I can fix it by replacing defective components....for ???

    2.....I can replace the timer and give a 3 year warranty for ????

    If indeed the transformer had been bad..this would have been the scenario. However, if it just needed to "run through its paces"...then I wouldn't have had to make the judgement or the choice right?

    I have never charged anyone when I COULDN'T fix their system, but I have charged quite often when I COULD FIX IT...but they didn't like the price.

    Just my opinion.
  3. Ground Master

    Ground Master LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 505

    thats exactly how it should be tony.....

    this company just took the money and ran, the customer was simply ripped off.

    I see this a lot and I just got pissed off about it today.

    So, hows your sprinkler biz in the springs going?
  4. greenworldh20

    greenworldh20 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 659


    there is always 2 sides to the story...remember that. i have charged clients for coming to their home whether i repaired the system or not...i tell them on the phone there is a service charge to come to your home and diagnosis the problem.

    but if your scenariro is excatly how you explained it...i would contact company and tell them what the deal was....homeowner should call...will he get his $$$ back???

    i dunno.

  5. wsi261

    wsi261 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 4

    The problem with a lot of companies is they are in such a rush !!!!I realize this is a busy time but please try to spend more than 20 minutes to turn on,service and test the system...........
  6. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,156

    Hey GM - was it me?!

    If the tech wasn't skilled to figure out the a/c thing, he could have started it up and checked things out by manually operating the valves. If the customer has a Hunter Pro-C timer, the valves are probably not older ones that have problems. Check it all out and schedule a 2nd appt. for a more experienced tech to troubleshoot the a/c.

    I was at one home yesterday that had same problem. No a/c, at the outlet. GFI switch wasn't doing it, and only one outlet in garage. Hooked up extension cord and ran it inside home. Another outlet had no power. Tried in kitchen and it was fine. They had a fire recently and some of the outlets don't work now.

    The situation you describe is why it is difficult to find skilled techs to hire here. That was an easy remedy and a little patience would have paid off.
  7. TennTexan

    TennTexan LawnSite Member
    Posts: 38

    any "service tech" should know the basics of using a volt/ohm meter. And telling a customer that they need a new controller because the plug-in transformer is bad is just plain a rip-off.
  8. jerryrwm

    jerryrwm LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,274

    I know this is an old thread, but I just stumbled on this forum and have been reading a few of the posts.

    The problem of service techs has always been a bone of contention with me for the last 20 yrs or so.

    There are not many service techs that are qualified troubleshooting repair technicians, and many times it is the fault of the irrigation companies themselves. How many times have you seen an ad for "service technician - 1 year experience required."

    Many times they are taught to find the controller, try it and see if the valve comes on. If it doesn't, then it must be the controller - change it out, send a bill for $300.00 and move on. One of the other companies in town actually ran across this scenario. And guess what - the valve still didn't work. When he located the valve, it turned out that the lawn mowing crew had shut the flow control off and forgot to turn it back on.
    It worked fine. The change out company was very adament about getting paid for the "work" that they had done. The homeowner had the second guy remove the new controller and install another one - because the first guys took his "old defective clock" with them. He then called the first guys and told them that the controller was going to be left in a box by the curb, and that they had better trot on over and pick it up before the trash folks got there. And he told them to sue him for the labor charges. They did pick up the controller and nothing more was said about the labor.

    My point is that as an industry we should take a little more time to actually use qualified people as our service techs. Not just use parts changers, but actually teach them to find out what the problem is and fix that, not just start changing parts until they accidentally stumble across the problem. And a one year tech most times just barely knows what a sprinkler system is much less how to fix it.

    Get the good guys fixing the systems and the profit center goes into the black.

    Just my rant


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