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One of the most bizarre encounters

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Keith, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,977

    This is a long read, but it is needed for the pieces to fit.

    In May of last year, I had a couple approach me while we were doing a lawn just down the street from their house. They made over the work we did and just could not say enough nice things about how we kept it up. The wife said they had just let their guy go, and would like for us to stop by and give them an estimate asap.

    I headed over there that evening and gave them a price. It looked as if it had just been cut a day or two before. They said the man who was doing it just did it, but they had already let him go. I honestly had a hard time figuring out why they were not happy with his work. It looked pretty much as good as that lawn could possibly look. I figured it must have been a disagreement between them and didn't really want to question them about it. They agreed to my price and told us to start as soon as we could. I still couldn't get over the fact that the lawn really looked pretty good, and I wasn't really sure what I could do to make it any better. So I just asked "I have to know, what was the problem with the last guy?" The couple kind of looked at each other and the wife said "they didn't do the edge." It had clearly been edged. Maybe they didn't edge often. I left it at that.

    We went to do the first cut the next Wednesday. It looked like they had just cut it. We ran the mower over it again, edged and trimmed and left. We came back the next week and lo and behold, it had been cut again. We were coming up on the end of the month, so I decided to wait and see what happened the next week. You guessed, three weeks in a row, it had been cut again. And I might add, whoever was doing it was doing a great job.

    I decided it could not wait and stopped by the next evening. They told me that the same guy was still cutting it, even though they they had told him not to come back. They had called him. Left messages. Wrote him letters. You name it. He just would not stop doing it. This struck me as as odd. If a customer wanted me gone, I would probably want to be gone myself. I sure wouldn't just keep cutting. Thoughts of them ran through my head. Maybe they didn't pay this guy. Maybe they are breaking a contract. I really have never seen anyone keep right on truckin even though they have been canned. What was up with that? On my way back the truck, the woman says, half-laughing "if you see him, tell him to stop mowing our lawn."

    I decided to cut it early the next week and get it done before the other guy could do it. It worked. I guess he got the message.

    We were cutting it later in the afternoon since we had to arrange it for another day. The couple was usually home by then, and always wanted to talk. These seemed like genuinely decent people. They wanted us to do some extra stuff, get the back yard cleaned up, maybe do some sod and a few other things. There really was no back yard, it was more of a jungle.

    I guess a month went by, we'd talk to them every week. They asked about getting the back yard cleaned up, maybe in stages, so it would not cost so much at one time. No problem with that. I didn't have time to do the whole thing anyway. We agreed to start that in August. We continued to see them every week and have long conversations about anything and everything.

    The last week of July the wife called and left a message. They really could not afford to start the back right now and just to wait a while. That was actually the last time I ever heard a word out of them. It was like Jekyll and Hyde. I honestly have not spoken to them in almost a year. When they were home, they never came out. When they were out when we got there, they went inside. If they pulled up while we were there, they shut the garage door right behind them and literally hid from us. I thought we were about to get screwed on the payment.

    Sure enough, the next payment was not there. They were behind nearly two months and I thought our great customers had just showed their other personality. But they did pay, slowly. I started billing earlier and got them to the point that they were generally owing for a month most of the time. I still could not get over the fact that they seemed to completely change from the people we knew the first two months. And I never really trusted them. I have expected them to get behind and bail on us ever since. But as long as the checks came, we would continue.

    Fast forward, July 3rd 2008. This is where it gets really bizarre.

    We are trying to get all our stuff done today so I can avoid working tomorrow. This lawn, however, is on it's usual day. We have been doing it on Thursdays for at least six months. I just made my last pass on the mower when I saw a truck and trailer pull up and stop in front of the house. The fellow was staring like he was looking for me. He parked behind my truck, and he and his young son got out and walked up to me. I stopped the mower and he said:

    I hate to be the one to give you bad news, but I am mowing this now. I have actually been mowing it for three weeks. You are not supposed to be doing this lawn anymore. Whoever the owner of your business is, is aware of the situation. They have written him several letters. They have left messages on his phone. And the owner refuses to respond. Apparently they have not told you about it.

    After the 10 second shock wore off, when I realized this is exactly what happened to the last guy, I just kind of laughed. I explained that I was the owner and that no one had written anything or left me a message anywhere. At least one of the residents have actually been there in two of the last three weeks when I was cutting. I asked "how could you be mowing a lawn for three weeks that has already been cut?" He explained that he had been told to just keep doing it, that we knew that we were not supposed to be doing it anymore. He said twice, "oh, they are going to pay you what they owe you, don't worry about that." Hmmm, was that what he asked them about? If the reason we were let go was over money. I now remember them saying the exact same thing to me. As if I would think they were trying to screw the guy before me out of money. One thing I know, when people keep saying they are going to pay you, rest assured, they have no intention of paying you. I asked "would you keep mowing a lawn when someone fired you, one that was not under any contract." He looked puzzled. I shook my head and said. "man, you inherited some real winners here. You would not believe this, but the story they gave you is, verbatim, what they told me 13 months ago about the guy before us.

    He went on to tell me what nice, down to earth people Dan and his wife were. I just laughed and said, "wait two months!" :laugh:
  2. KCfireman

    KCfireman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,863

    :laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:strange people!!!!!!!!

    STIHL GUY LawnSite Fanatic
    from CT
    Posts: 5,225

    wow thats pretty funny stuff
  4. Ed Ryder

    Ed Ryder LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 541

    Wow! What a story! Good writing too. You made it memorable by the way you wrote it.

    Those people are scum... parasites of the lowest form. I'm glad I don't have any customers like that!

    Strangely fascinating...
  5. Ed Ryder

    Ed Ryder LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 541

    I also must say this must be one of the most interesting things I've ever read here.

    We should do something... like get all the lawnsite members to send a letter or postcard to them to say how vile it is to abuse service providers the way they do. :laugh:

    Well, just an idea. How many members do we have here? A lot, right? :laugh:
  6. Ed Ryder

    Ed Ryder LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 541

    This is exactly the type of material that a producer of a television news show would be looking for if they wanted to do an expose on "consumers who rip off contractors."

    Somebody should pitch it to the producers of 20/20 or Prime Time Live or whatever news shows are airing these days.

    Those people are so despicable, a news show producer would find it irresistible.

    Do it! Bring the bright spotlight of shame to them :laugh: :gunsfirin

    Go for a national show! Yah... :laugh:
  7. Lawnut101

    Lawnut101 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,254

    What????? Do they have memory loss or something? Or maybe they just have to keep on changing stuff around?:hammerhead::hammerhead::dizzy:
  8. Uranus

    Uranus LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Posts: 1,624

    So what did you do after your conversation with the new lawn guy? Did you just get into your truck, leave, and send them the bill? Or did you knock on the door to find out what was going on. I would have knocked and asked for the final payment and an explanation to why they never informed you of their decision to change lawn services.

    Good read. thanks for sharing.
  9. tacoma200

    tacoma200 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 5,426

    This doesn't surprise me a bit. I don't have a halo but I couldn't look someone in the eye and tell the stories that I've been told. Some of them I have sit by in church and others I had to meet going to the time clock at night. They had a hard time looking me in the eye but I take it in stride and try to be very cautious with future accounts. I have one guy right now I think is playing me a bit. New customer, $500,000 house cut a couple of times and never received payment so I quit. So he calls me and tells me he just found my bill that must have been damaged in the mail and needs it cut because he has it rented for the 4th of July weekend. I cut it once more against my better judgment so we will see if I get paid. If not he gets a free gallon of round up. Just joking about the round up but the thought has crossed my mind.:)
  10. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,210

    lol that sucks, so did you ever get all of your money? Why do they change, just see how many extra free cuts they get get before the company stops showing up? at least half of my customers are really odd though, were in NJ, n oone is very normal.

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