Customer Arguing with Spouse Over Work

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Darryl G, Jun 16, 2003.

  1. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Got a call last week for a clean-up and mow. It's getting way late to be getting a call like that, and the man was obviously pretty old, so I asked if they were just getting back from Florida or something. He said, "no, just getting back to reality."

    So I went to look at it. No spring or fall clean-up, the lawn edges are grown in a couple of feet with weeds, ferns, bittersweet etc. Dumpy little house with overgrown shrubs and trees against the house and hanging over the roof...needs lots of work.

    Well, the couple was really nice, seemed poor so I discounted my normal $50/hr rate to $40/hr and told them $200 max to get it in shape. They called back later that day and said to go ahead...I scheduled to do it today.

    Last night, the woman calls and said that her and hubby are arguing about what needs to be done and could I hold off for now until they get things straightened out amongst themselves. I said sure, no problem. About an hour later, the man calls and says his wife is wacked out and wants to know if I can just mow (no clean-up). I said, well...I don't usually do that, but if that's what they want, O.K. (he never asked how much it would cost). Then about an hour later, she calls (getting smart so I didn't answer the phone). She leaves a message and says that her husband called while she was out, and that he says it will only cost $50 to mow, but no he didn't ask me. She wants me to call back with a firm price.

    My first instinct is to run like heck...I don't really need the work right now. My second instinct is to just mow the darn lawn for must be a serious issue for them if they're arguing about getting their lawn mowed for the first time in a year.

    Man, I can't believe that it's such a big deal to these people and that they're actually arguing about it.
  2. SunSwept

    SunSwept LawnSite Member
    Messages: 93

    Fussing over the lawn. I have seen it myself.

    Most all of my customers are women. Many are single or single with kids. For the ladies who have a man living with them (married or otherwise) the things that they tell me is that their man keeps telling them that they will do the lawn but that they:

    1) never do

    2) are not dependable about doing it when it needs to be done.

    3) will cut but not weed-eat, edge or pull weeds.

    4) won't clean up afterwards.

    And, YES, me coming to the house to do things certainly can mix things up a bit. One lady's husband will mow the front but not the back. I come in and mow the front again (he does a really poor job) and then the back and edge, etc. She pays the bill.

    Another lady's husband works 6 days a week. Ex-Army Ranger. Tells her that he will mow on Sunday but he never does. She got tired of this and hired me. She told me later that they had a big fuss over it but that she put it to him in a way that he liked: "Honey, you work so hard all week that you should just relax, watch a game, go out. You really shouldn't be mowing the lawn." Whatever ... it works for me.

    Only one man has ever told me ... "I ain't doin' it no matter what she says. It is easier for me to work a few hours over to pay to let you do."

    It must be that stubborn, macho streak that, to various degrees, runs through all of us.

    Oh, one more thing, the single ladies with teenaged boys: I don't have any for customers. The boys don't cut the lawn ... Mom does. At least all of the ones I know. That one I can't figure. Personally speaking, those boys should end up in front of a DR to get Mom's foot removed from their you-know-whats.
  3. Gravely_Man

    Gravely_Man LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,075

    Darryl, that sounds like a very bad situation to get into with people arguing over what needs to be done and putting you in the middle. I would make one more attempt to work with them but make sure they are both present and agree to what will be done. Life is too short for you to be at their beck and call.

  4. mh1314

    mh1314 LawnSite Member
    from Texas
    Messages: 133

    It's the age thing. My mother who is up in years, pays her yard guy $8.00 for mowing her yard. My sisters and I behind her back pay the guy more money. She's at the stage that she can't comprehend that noone can work for that little money and stay in business. I've had my share of similar customers and they are hard to deal with. But they won't change, so I try to pick and choose the ones that don't talk all day.
    We can only hope we're better customers when we get that age.

  5. Rustic Goat

    Rustic Goat LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,194

    You never said for certain whether they were elderly, assume so.
    All you can do is meet with both, write out exactly what you're going to do, and ask to be paid in advance, because it's a one time deal of course.
    Our hearts can go out to these people, don't let your wallet also, unless you want a write off.
  6. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Well, I had my wife call yesterday morning and offer to do the most I could for $50. They said o.k.

    They are elderly, the man is 87 and a former Navy fighter pilot, his wife appears somewhat younger.

    I went there as my last stop of the day and was able to mow the lawn and blow the leaves to the edge of the woods in the most visible areas of the lawn. I pulled the plug at 1 and 1/4 hours for the $50. They were delighted. I told them to give me a call next year when it needs mowing again.:)
  7. Gravely_Man

    Gravely_Man LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,075

    Darryl, that sounds like you gave them a very nice deal. Helping others out is nice when you can do it and still make a little money. Obviously we can't always give people a break or we would all be out of business.

  8. Tvov

    Tvov LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Messages: 1,157

    They may turn into good customers. My two customers who I would do extra for and give breaks on the rate passed away a few years ago.

    I've gotten to the point that I should add this to my signature;"The only thing that happens when you do work for free, is the customer gets work done for free".

    When I've tried to "help out" other people, I've really never gotten anything in return. What really pisses me off is people living in million dollar homes on the water complaining about prices, especially when it is their second or third vacation home. I'm not taking about overcharging them, this is just normal job costs for the area. I'm fine with discussing prices, but don't moan to me how much everything costs.

    Whoa, was that a rant?

    Sorry. Got to get back to hedge trimming.

Share This Page