What would you do?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Lynden-Jeff, Aug 23, 2007.

  1. Lynden-Jeff

    Lynden-Jeff LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,405


    Well I have my first real nightmare customer. Althought its a bit of a novel, Im hoping you guys can give me some insight. I installed a pond for a customer, after giving the initial quote we started the project. After the excavation the scope for rock work changed to a slightly larger project. Now I know I made an error in not stopping right there and modifying my quotation however my rock work is billed XXX$/day so I thought I was covered.

    Anyways after doing the rock work (3 days), we ended up leaving that night with the waterfall partially done. It was roughed in and I explicitly told the customer NOT to run the pump. He ran the pump all night long. The water caused the back shelf holding the coping wall to collapse sending the wall in to the pond. The next day we show up to a horror of a scene, we basically pull the stone out and tell the customer it needs to dry out before we can repair.

    A few days later we come back and I now have an updated quote with the stone ive purchased, repair costs and what not, it is about $3000 higher then the origional. The customer FREAKS and starts screaming at me and at one point if I didn't have 4 guys there he would have struck me. After calming down he said I have 2 options, reduce it to origional + stone or leave and sue him (I had already put out $4500 in materials, and his deposit was $2500. I ended up settling for the origional ($5000 )+ stone which was $6500. My revised quote was around $9000 We ended up finishing the pond and I put out of pocket to repair his dumb mistake.

    Today he calls me up and tells me the walls collapsed again (24 days since finishing). I go down and the wife starts freaking out on me telling me im going to foot the bill of another contracter bla bla bla and all this other b.s. This time it was apprently caused by rain running behind the liner and collapsing our repaired shelves. I think it has to do with something else but I personally do not belive I should have to foot this guys repair bill for a second time. We have NO WARRENTEE on our ponds since I have no idea what the customer could have done when I leave. What would you guys do? All the advice I have had is to ignore him and let him sue me if he wants to.

    Thanks for the input, I can provide more details if nessesary.
  2. BrandonV

    BrandonV LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,226

    man that sucks. i guess it depends on what neighborohood he lives in and how important it is for you to stay in there. but frankly from the sounds of it he's probably already told everyone who'll care to listen that you're incompetant and the worst landcaper in the history of the world so might be better to cut your losses and say "Sorry! But we can not do business with you."
  3. Haulin' Grass

    Haulin' Grass LawnSite Member
    from CT
    Posts: 55

    Did you tell him more rock was needed ? He should have known that it was bigger than original. That's if he payed attention. You told him NOT to run the pump and he did anyway. I wouldn't have ate that bill for sure. It was his own stupidity. I'd take ALOT of pictures of second failure and hold on tight it's going to be a bumpy ride. I wouldn't give in. You said no guarantee and he paid you so he AGREED WITH YOU. Have your lawyer write a letter and I'll bet he backs down
  4. Lynden-Jeff

    Lynden-Jeff LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,405


    I was thinking about the letter. I did NOT recommend more stone. he knew more would be needed and he changed to an entirely differen't type of stone. I do have pictures of the first and second faliure as well as construction progress pictures including when we finished AND of what they did after I left. I really had no option about eating the first repair, either that or seriously be in the hole.

    He happens to live in a city I do not normally do business in, about an hour from the cities I do do business in so I am not really worried. He is a lose cannon ready to explode so I am leaning towards just ignoring him until I get a subpeona or never hear from him again.

    Thanks and keep the input coming.
  5. tthomass

    tthomass LawnSite Gold Member
    from N. VA
    Posts: 3,497

    *****Do you have a solid contract outlining the job and conditions?

    If so, screw him. I'm in court in 14 days....sueing a lawyer at that.
  6. BrandonV

    BrandonV LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,226

    some people have told me that lawyers are harder to work for than other professions.
  7. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,210

    damn, and i was thinking about doing very small pond installs for a couple customers next year lol.

    Do you have any documentation as far as the customer messing with your work before it was finished? If it came to a court case, which always sucks, trust me, you may be on the better end of the stick if you can prove you put out $XXX in materials for the job, came back and did another $2k in work to fix his mistake and then another 3k in stone work.... sue him for 9 grand and hope you get the amount of 6k-$2500 deposit ya know.

    I think we need a national landscapers forum list that can track which customers first/last names and current address where someone has had major or legal troubles with in this industry:)
  8. Lynden-Jeff

    Lynden-Jeff LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,405


    I have all the contracts and all the receipts for materials that I have purchased as they were all with debit. I did not have a signed contract at the beginning, which was a really dumb mistake, and one I will not make again. I'm not really out to sue him so I am not worried about that. I'm more just out to cover my behind. I have 4 witnesses to him saying he botched the pond, be blaintenly admited it.

    I DID have a signature on completion. To make a bad situation worse "someone" broke in to my truck and stole a bunch of papers, actually I know it was this guy because all the papers with his name on it are gone. Doesn't really matter though, he payed, and he would not have payed if he was not satisfied. Boy I think im going to stick with maintenance!

  9. Mr Priceless

    Mr Priceless LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 412

    was this at the jobsite?
  10. Lynden-Jeff

    Lynden-Jeff LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,405

    No at my home. Back window pryed open, something I didn't think anything of until I went to look for his contract when he called, which is my binder and it my old truck (locked). Never thought in a million years some one would do that.

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