Customer Changing the Contract?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Kgrebs, Sep 12, 2004.

  1. Kgrebs

    Kgrebs LawnSite Member
    Messages: 43

    This may be a long explanation to get to my question but please bear with me.

    I got a new condo complex this year for a new year round contract. At the beginning of the season I walked the property with the condo association contact person as well as one of my own crew leaders who would be working on the job. Basically the info we received from the walk thru was they were looking for some very basic and general services; clean it up in the spring and fall, weekly mowing's, some fert and some pruning twice a year. No big deal right? So we bid the job, got the job, drafted a contract and signed it.

    Well doesn't the contact person change about a month ago and want to start changing what we were told in our walk thru of the property. First we get told we are supposed to be doing things then we get told were not doing them the way they wanted them. Basically, they wanted Disney World services and to not have to pay for them.

    Then the kicker...I get my invoice back this month and it is for about $450 less then I am supposed to. She deducted the pruning fee for the end of the season because she had to contract someone else to do it now instead of at the end of the year. Then she goes on to note on the invoice how she wants this and that taken out of the contract and how different items don't need to be done now and so on. She basically told me how she was changing our contract.

    So my questions are:

    I have a legal issue correct?

    And, I should be able to go to court for my money?

    As long as I have been doing this and I have never had a problem like this.

    Thanks for the help and I apologize about being long winded.
  2. meathead1134

    meathead1134 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 637

    If they signed contract clearly states what services would be provided. Then yes this is a legal issue and should be pursued further. If you can find out who had the contract last year and ask if they had problems also. Then I would send her a registered letter stating that she broke the contract and she is obligated to the amount that is missing and it must be paid by XYZ date or court paper will be filed. If she wants to play hard ball batter up!
  3. Coffeecraver

    Coffeecraver LawnSite Senior Member
    from VA.
    Messages: 793

    I would first ask to walk the property with the contact person.
    This walk would be to clearify the issues.To argue at this meeting would be counter-productive.Just listen and take notes.This will prove that you still want to keep the contract.

    Then at your office prepare a paper that states the differences between
    what they want and what they are actually are paying for.

    Have this letter and a bill for the 450.00 noterized and sent to them ,keeping copies for yourself.This will give you what the lawyer will need,and advise her that the contract will not be changed on a whim.

    This is most likely your best chance of keeping your contract and getting your money.

    If the contract needs an upgrade,then negociate a new one.
    In the mean time everything extra,is an expensive add on.Leave it so it's cheaper for her to sign a new contract.

    Good Luck
  4. RichmondR

    RichmondR LawnSite Member
    Messages: 106

    Kgrebs --

    Did your contract detail the services and when they were to be provided? That would help your case, particularly as to the $450 deduction. If they are adding things without adding money, I dont think you have any obligation to do those things unless you agreed to them.

    As to the $450, if your contract, for instance, specified $450 for fall pruning, you may have a tough time collecting all that money because she simply substitiuted another company to do the work and your damages are likely limited to the profit you would have earned during that time assuming you cant get other work to fill in that time. On the other hand, if you specified $350 to do the pruning, you are at least entitled to $100 (450-350), because she deducted more than your specified price.

    You may have a legal case, but unless you are willing to get the customer angry and likely lose all the business by going to court, maybe its best to remind them of the contract in a friendly way and try to work something out. I would call her and point out that she deducted money and that you have a serious problem with that because you bid for all the business.

    This is from someone who works with contracts every day for a living -- suing a customer is a last resort, and probably doesn't make sense for te kind of oeny you are talking about.

    Hope this helps a little.
  5. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,912

    In our "legal statement" I have the following

    This is the entire agreement between FANTASY LAWNS INC. and Owner (s), and any prior agreements, understands, or terms are revoked by this agreement. The price is based on services described in the Service Agreement. Owner (s) agrees to negotiate a reasonable price adjustment with FANTASY LAWNS INC. for any changes in those services. Either party other than stated in this agreement has made no representation. No modifications of this agreement shall be valid unless in writing and approved by both parties.

    If you had the services spelt out in the contract n time frame of the clean up was spelt out in the fall .... I would VOID the contract n insist on a re-bid ... this relationship is already on the skids n in my experience you are going to lose $$ unless it is rebid with the new contact persons specs n expectations n your price adjustment to compensate for those changes

    Disney Look @ Walmart Price ==> Losing Situation

    Good Luck
  6. olderthandirt

    olderthandirt LawnSite Platinum Member
    from here
    Messages: 4,899

    Who the he!! would care if they got the customer angry :realmad: Yes you have a legal case! Its called braech of contract. It take s 2 parties to enter into a contract and neither one of them may change the terms with out the others consent. That is the whole point in haveing and using contracts. I would call her and tell her that if she hired someone else to do the work that your contracted for TO DAM BAD she still owes for the service. The exception is if you failed to provide the servive in a timely manner. You set time aside to do the pruning and the men to do the work so unless you can find other work for that time she owes. you are suppose to mitigate your circumstances if this is the case but you sure don't have to try very hard to find other work, specially if you were planning on starting the job very soon.Get an attorney and sue the crap out of HER personnally[ that will get her attention] and the HOA. Go get your money and let them know you won't play there games payup You won't have this job next yr anyway, unless your willing to work for nothing and kiss her azz.

  7. Likestomow

    Likestomow LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 997

    I got my first taste of dealing with a HOA, or in my case they call themselves a Neighborhood Association. After the first month the president changed (they go for one year) and my contract got cancelled on the spot so the new guy's friend could take the job.

    I had some big-time up front costs on this one, but fortunatelly I had the correct clause so I got paid. But of course, the new guy thought I had made some mistakes because I annualized the nine months of mowing. He deducted money from my bill. He will pay after he reads my letter and gets a correct understanding.

    I think the only way I'm ever going to get into another HOA is to place a hefty Cancellation Fee in the contract. That way they have to take some time to weigh the cost of changing service providers before simply dumping me.

    As far as keeping the business, I doubt you will be able to do that with a new person on board every 12 months. This one is already showing you that she is trouble. I doubt you will be able to survive.
  8. Fantasy Lawns

    Fantasy Lawns LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,912

    Just below the signature line I have

    Acceptance of Proposal:
    Prices, specifications and conditions are satisfactory and are hereby accepted. You are authorized to do work as specified. Payment will be made as outlined above. Maintenance Proposal shall exist for one year. Automatically renewed unless given written notice. Either party may terminate agreement with a 30 day written notice. Upon Cancellation Compensation for All Services will be pro-rated in conjunction with the work performed between First & Last Day of Service Agreement adjustments submitted with final bill.

    Which basically means .... say you have spring & fall clean up set up into monthly billing those clean ups cost $650 each ... which is spread out into 12 equal payments along with the montly service .... the spring one was performed but contract was end in Sept 1 .... so the fall one was never performed ..... that spring clean at $650 is broken into $54 per month ... they canceled by month nine or $487 into the $650 so they owe me $163

    This is why fore me flower installs, mulch, palm or tree trim, spring & fall clean up I like to bill seperate just like fert or pest spray ... if the cancel getting those prorated billing is a PITA
  9. broken leg

    broken leg LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 285

    Is this new person a big fat lady with an atudit. I had one take over the going on's of a HOA And she wanted this and that I told her she was going to get that and never looked back. They have champaign taste on a beer budget. Oh I'm sorry a WATER budget. I do not put up with :realmad: any more. I would get my money and never look back. I am sorry about this but had one almost like your's happen it hurt to drop but best thing I could have done and they pay a whole lot more with out the personal service.
  10. mtdman

    mtdman LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,143

    This is why I stay away from these things. Big pain in my butt. I had 2 of these places call for next year's service in the past week and I turned 'em both down.


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