Ok heres the situation

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Husky05, Dec 29, 2005.

  1. Husky05

    Husky05 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 303

    Alright I have been in busy "professionally" for 1 year doing this on the side and working my way through school for 4yrs. Anyway I do this job for this guy who happens to be a city cop in Pittsburgh. He lives in a small city house and has a small front yard approximately 1800ft2. He calls me at the end of May this year and asks me if I can give him an estimate on various landscape tasks. I saw ok no problem. I go over his house he wants me to remove/tear out 50 privet hedges that go around the perimeter of his front yard, tear out 2 flowerbeds that are outlined with railroad ties, and till his front yard over bring in new topsoild and reseed it. I tell him its getting kinda of late to be doing reseeding, especially for a entire yard. You are going to have to keep this wet constantly. He says he agrees. 5 days later I send him an estimate for 650 dollars.

    He gets the estimate 2 days later and calls me while I am working and says, I got your estimate today and didnt think you were still interested in the job I already did everything myself except for getting new topsoil and reseeding are you still interested in that and if so what will the price be. My first mistake, I just throw out a number and not think it through, but what is done is done and I say $275. He agrees. I do this on June 5th. I go there with one of my workers and have 3 yards of topsoil on my dump. Dump it in his front yard, grade it, overseed it, apply a layer of mushromm manure and apply a starter fertilizer. Leave about 3hrs later and tell him he must keep this wet at least twice a day if not more. He pays me and I leave.

    About 2 weeks go by he calls me on my phone tells me he is not happy with how some of the grass is growing in. I say ok, I go over to his house that evening and bring bushels of mushroom and more seed. Patch the areas that he didnt think were doing well. (Even though there was germination) I leave.

    He calls me again about 3 days later. Telling me I dont know what I am doing, tells me one of his buddy's is manager of a public park here in pgh, and he came over and told him that the topsoil I used is contamenated. Its full of sticks and rocks, and he should demend his money back. I explain to him its really hot by this point. The topsoil I used was fine, I bought it from a nursery and have bought several hundred yards of it all year never had a problem with it. Asked him if his friend took a soil test and if so could I see the results. Got no Answer. Like a fool I went back to his house reseeded his entire lawn again of course at my expense. Dont hear anything from him again until the end of August. Calls me out of th blue one day and just goes completely off. Calls me everyname in the book, tells me I am a horrible business man, I should come over and sod his whole front yard, it looks terrible etc etc etc. I get my dad to come over to this mans house to look at his yard. There are maybe at most 3 spots that were slightly bare and there were some weeds. I will admit. Mostly broadleafed.

    Anyway I go home type him a letter stating numerous things, I cant give him a refund because the material is on your front lawn that I can not take back. I tell him that its not my responsibility to water the lawn or pull the weeds. I did tell him not to put any weed and feed fert down on it because of the new germination. So after I state everything to him in the letter at the bottom I say, I am sorry you are unhappy, I will be happy to patch the lawn up again in the fall and even apply a application of Fall fert(weed/feed) for you. Because after the past few phone calls he keeps telling me he is taking me to court.

    So he gets the letter 2 days later and sure enough calls me up and explodes on me and tells me he is going to destroy my business name. By this point I am extremely mad and tell him that I have been very reasonable with him. So the convo ends. I hear nothing from again for the rest of the year until today. I get a summons in the mail. He is sueing me now stating I never brought any topsoil to his house, never seeded the lawn and left it a total diaster. He is also sueing me for 780 dollars. This is unbelievable, this guy is a total A$$hole. I just feel like I am going to be screwed because he is a city cop and the local magistrate I have to go to is where he is a cop at. So as soon as I walk into the courtroom I am going to be at a severe disadvantage.

    My question to you guys is? If this guy wins do I have to pay him? Obviously I would appeal this to a higher court but this is just insane. I dont own any property he couldnt put a lien on anything what could he do? Has a similiar situation ever happened to you guys? Please let me know if you have any advice. Thanks and sorry this is so long!
  2. pmoore

    pmoore LawnSite Member
    Posts: 7

    the saying that the customer is always right doesnt apply to this customer. he can take you to small claims court but collecting from you is going to be a lot harder for him to do. whenever i give estimates either verbally or written especially when it involves seeding that there may be repeated applications until the work is satisfactory and that will result in additional charges. chalk this one up to a lessons learned. i think everyone who is in the landscaping business either parttime or fulltime has been burned.
  3. Bunton Guy

    Bunton Guy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,755

    GO back and take photos....that's why we take before and after. Atleast take an after photo so they can see that work has been done.

    If anything bring one of his neighbors into this and ask if they will show up to court with you to help. Im sure they will remember that he has shrubs that were removed and soil brought in etc...
  4. mowerman90

    mowerman90 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,491

    He's a cop!!! No matter what you do you're screwed. IF you do go to court and somehow prove you're right you still loose because EVERY time he and everyone who works with him see one of your trucks you're going to get hastled. It's a no win situation. It's not right, it's not fair but that's what will happen and there's not much you can do about it. If it were me I'd approach him and ask what it would take to settle. Give him whatever he wants and walk away knowing that you've learned a very expensive lesson.

    P.S. I'm originally from Monroeville
  5. stumper1620

    stumper1620 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,889

    did you ever have a signed agreement?
    do you have the receipts or can you get one from the nursery for the soil and for seed?
    If you have these and you have witnesses, he won't have a case that will hold with an honest judge, If it goes to the magistrate and he is a friend or knows the Magistrate the magistrate should recluse himself due the the fact they know each other. A magistrates decision is still reviewed by a judge before it can be enforced.
    Get the advice of an attorney then counter sue for the added expenses created. don't go nuts on the amounts just be reasonable and the judge will see this as just trying to recoup your losses.

    So in a nut shell of all you have in your story, does he have anything that may be held against you other than word of mouth?
    do you have a written record of dates and times of calls, visits and services?
  6. steve45

    steve45 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,325

    What a butthole! Not much of a man if he has to try to cheat a kid to come out ahead. Call you newspaper and see if you can get a local reporter to go to court with you.

    When in court, ask him to PROVE that he actually did the watering. (He could possibly do this via witnesses or by presenting water bills for the stated period and water bills from the preceeding months).

    Also, explain to the judge that you're just a kid that's working his way through college. You did the work that you agreed to do, and you went back a second time to try to resolve the problem. You're not a big time LCO. Explain that NOBODY can absolutely guarantee that grass will grow perfectly, it's nature.

    Ask how he comes up with the damage figure of $780, which is more than 3 times what you billed him. If you lose, you do NOT have to pay him immediately. Winning a judgment against someone does not mean that you automatically collect the money (remember O.J.?). However, if you don't pay in a reasonable time, or make payments, he can have you arrested for contempt of court.

    I hate cops. There are a few good ones, but many bad ones. I think most have some sort of character flaw. They can't get along with people and get their jollies by exercising control over people. They don't get paid enough and they work with criminals everyday. This leads many of them to become crooks themselves. Many of them think that they are above the law. I think that there are some cops on this board, so if I offend someone, sorry. This is just based on my experience over the last 50+ years, and I've known a bunch of cops.

    TURFLORD LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 834

    Whenever I get one of these C-Bags trying to get free stuff out of me, I usually bolt straight over and TAKE PICTURES. A picture says a thousand words in court. Yes, he will name drop his cop status in court. Many threads on this subject. DO NOT LET THE MEDIATOR INTIMIDATE YOU. He will try to get you to agree to half, sign an agreement, and leave the building. When this happens, and it will, say " I do not accept your recommendation". Then you will get to plead your case to the judge. He will examine the facts. SO GET YOU A$$ OVER TO THE D-HEADS HOUSE AND TAKE SOME PICTURES. NOW!!!!

    TURFLORD LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 834

    D@mn, not much encouragement here.:eek:

    HOOLIE LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,981

    Yes take a lot of pictures of the lawn. Hopefully you have receipts from the materials and maybe a route sheet or something similar from the day you did the work.

    You should also countersue him for what the owes you. His lawsuit is for his benefit, should he lose, there's still no legal obligation for him to pay you, so you need to file a suit against him.

    I hope his being a cop doesn't tip things in his favor...who knows, but what choice do you have now but to fight it? Good luck
  10. ffemt1271

    ffemt1271 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,285

    i've spent the last 10 years in public service, you need to write a letter addressed to the police chief . the part about him cursing you and threatening you business should get him. even though he's off duty wont matter.

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