New customer insulted me

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by DanaMac, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,156

    I am pretty upset at this situation. Sorry for the long winded story but I'm pissed off right now and need to vent.

    Oct 13 a guy called me in a panic. He was afraid the PVB would freeze overnight and he did not know how to drain it. I had never worked for him before. So talked him over the the phone on how to shut it down and drain it. I then told him I would actually be in his neighborhood the next day and could blow it out w/ the compressor. He said great. So Oct 14 I show up, no one is home, but I still blow out the system. Left a bill in the door with a self addressed envelope.

    Hadn't received payment on Nov 3 so I sent a statement. Nov 6 received a call saying "This is so-and-so and I received a bill from you for winterizing the system for $54. We already paid Company XYZ on site for this when they did it. Stop sending us this bill". So I call him and ask what the deal is. His wife said she paid this other company that blew it out. So I reminded him about me talking him thru draining it and he agreed on that. He even saw the bill I left there. THEN he says this smells fishy. He insinuated that I am in "cahoots" with Company XYZ and am trying to double bill him. That is when the **** hit the fan. I became offended and took that as an insult. We argued for a while and I told him he needed to call this other company and figure things out. He said he never called them to do the work.

    he left a message over the weekend for me to call him I am too pissed off to talk to this guy. So I wrote him the following letter.

    I am writing you for two reasons. First, it would better for me to calmly write this than to get into an argument on the phone and say some things I probably shouldn’t as a business owner. At this point I really don’t care what the reason for the mix up is. I am more upset at the way you think I am in “cahoots” with the other company, Company XYZ, which you paid for winterizing the sprinkler system, after we already did this. I take that as a personal insult and am offended. I have owned this business for almost ten years and this is the first time I have felt offended by a customer. My business is built on referrals which is how you got our number. Over 30 businesses, sprinkler companies, landscapers, suppliers, and realtors, refer us because they know the quality of our work and the way we handle business. The insult has made this more of a personal issue.

    Secondly, if you decide you want to pay us for the service we performed, the service for which you called us to do, that is your decision. I am going to delete the invoice from our computer. I am not going to chase after this money or bother you again. I feel I would be a better person to just let it go and forget about it. If you decide to pay us, it would be appreciated. If not, that is your decision.


    Let me have it. tell me if I was right or wrong. Either way this is what I did.
     
  2. Rotor-Man

    Rotor-Man LawnSite Member
    Posts: 126

    AGREE Totally!! My business is also almost totally by referral, and I like it that way. New call-ins for winterizing for me are cash only the 1st yr., and after that they can pay on the usual schedule. The world is full of people that will do anything to weasel out of paying and are always looking for that "Free Estimate" or "Free Advice." Just move on!
     
  3. Green Dreams

    Green Dreams LawnSite Senior Member
    from Texas
    Posts: 593

    "It is seldom wrong to take the High Road." You did the right thing. I would flag his acct though. I used to have a few morons that would try to burn me annually.

    One lady used to try to say "No sign No bill ect" when I worked at Mega Lawn Co 10 years ago. She'd say this even after I told her who I talked to while there...lol. I moved over to small biz and in my first week of working there guess who I have to talk to? Told her that crap wasn't gonna fly here either. She promptly went back to Mega Co...

    I have learned one thing from this business...people suck. And advertising brings them out..
     
  4. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,830

    Hey, you asked for our honest opinions. So here's mine....

    Personally, I think you're a sucker for giving in to him so easily. I wouldn't delete this invoice for any reason whatsoever. I don't care what the amount. To me, it's a matter of principle. If someone legitimately owes me money, I am going to fight to get it. I may give up the fight after I've exhausted most of my resources. I may choose not to sue him in court because it just wouldn't be worth my time and money. But I definitely wouldn't just lay down and put my tail between my legs and say, "Ok. You win. Pay me if you want to. If you don't no biggie." Because that's what you are saying, basically.

    Do you really think that letter is going to change his mind one iota? What do you think is going to happen? What is your desired result? Do you think there's even a 1% chance he's going to read it and say, "Wow. By the sounds of this letter, this guy really seems like a stand-up guy. And it looks like 30 people and business refer him business, if he does say so himself. And from what he says he's been around a long time. And it looks like I really hurt his feelings. I guess this guy wasn't trying to screw me afterall. I guess I'll go ahead and pay him." ?????

    If you think this letter is going to accomplish anything at all your dreaming. I'll tell you exactly what he's going to be thinking...."Hah! This guy has some nerve. He sure is high on himself..... Listen, buddy, I don't care how many people refer you and how long you've been in business. You tried to screw me and I ain't paying.......Oh, if I don't pay you're just going to delete my invoice? Sweet! I wasn't going to pay anyway. " ... On his way to the garbage basket, THAT is what he's going to be thinking.

    So what's the point in sending this letter?

    And secondly, why would you not pursue this a little further? If it were me, I'd at least slap him with my lein letter.
     
  5. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,112

    I toyaly agree with JimLewis he is absolutly right.You made an oral contract over the phone with this guy.Don,t be taken advantage of because he insulted you,that's what he wanted to do in the 1st place get out of paying by pissing you off.It looked like it worked.
     
  6. activelandscaping

    activelandscaping LawnSite Member
    Posts: 241

    First, while his response is insulting, don't loose your cool. Frankly I am shocked that this is the first complete a**hole you have run into in 10 yrs. Some people will say anything, whether they believe it or not, to get out of paying a bill.

    JimLewis has the best advice. Although he may be aware that you won't lien his property for $50, screwing up his credit rating could be a different story. About the best you can do is send him to collections and report his debt. If you'r really pissed and want some satisfaction you could take him to small claims court, by the time your done with fee's (even if you win), it will probably be a wash.

    Best of luck,
    Active
     
  7. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,156

    This guy pissed me off so much that I want to be done with it. I was a complete a--hole over the weekend because of it. If it was a substantial amount of money I would go afet it. But missing out on $54 is a small price to be rid of this. Actually, only 15 minutes of my time, small amout of diesel fuel and gas. I'm not actually trying to get him to pay me by giving him a guilt trip, but if he pays me, fine. I won't tear up the check.

    I do believe that the other company blew it out as well. He, his wife or this other company screwed up. Unfortunately I probably won't be paid. I do believe in "what comes around, goes around". And this jackass will get his someday as well.

    I probably shouldn't have taken this so personal, but I did. And I should have tried harder to get the money. But I didn't. The time and headaches to get this $54 is not worth it to me. This is the first time in 10 years a residential homeowner hasn't paid me. I have been a complete prick at other times when people have tried to get out of it. And I have always gotten it. Except twice by other contractors, but that's another story.
     
  8. i_plant_art

    i_plant_art LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 558

    you know i would wait and see if he pays you or not... if not wait til the middle of winter slip over there in the middle of the night and make sure your not noticed and unwunterize his system for him. LOL then maybe when it freezes he will call you thinking that company XYZ didnt do it right and now doesnt trust them anymore and will want you to do the repairs ........sure no problem LOL bling bling raise your rates due to having to work with water in the cold to make up for your loss.......... of course he might also get himself in a minch this was with company XYZ cause they say they did it... he thinks they did it and now the "apparently " did it wrong.....


    Oh wait this would only be if it were my world. LOL
     
  9. activelandscaping

    activelandscaping LawnSite Member
    Posts: 241

    This is the real reason you don't want to let a customer get under your skin.

    I have had customers lie right to my face about what I said to them, like I wasn't there for the conversation! I just keep in mind that this person is probably on some kind of medication that causes their head to seek shelter in their ass.

    Besides, it's not fair to my other customers if I let some a**hole put me in a bad mood, and nothing eat's at people like that a**hole more than kowing they couldn't get to you.

    Regards,
    Active
     
  10. Sorry it took so long for me to respond Dana...I'm sure you were waiting for my nuggets of wisdom....not....actually you are probably waiting for that lunch (es) that I owe you !

    I know exactly how you feel...you see, nice guys like you and me take this stuff very personally...we feel it in our hearts when someone abuses our good natured, helpful personalities. It hurts our feelings that someone would call us a liar....a cheat...and essentially a thief.

    But.....take solace in knowing this: 600 blowouts....one problem customer.

    When this happens to me, I react exactly the same way you do...my wife and kids suffer due to the act of a total stranger. This isn't right....there isn't any way around it though. We are in business for ourselves, we take the good with the bad. The bad isn't as bad as we think....we overreact sometimes and it feels like the world is coming to an end. It isn't. You are a smart guy....you know all this....
     

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