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Customer Claims I Violated Contract, And Said Goodbye - How Would You React?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by mcw615, Nov 30, 2009.

  1. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 473

    This customer has been a PITA since day one with their property. Contract Started 03/01/09 and ends 02/29/10 and pays $247.96 a month.

    Takes 15 yards of mulch at 1" 1X annually.
    20 min to mow and trim - $40 a mow April- October
    and 10 fert/squirts and aerate overseed.
    LEAVES out of the a$$

    In the contract it did say the property will be mowed on a weekly basis or as needed. And also says leaves will be removed off the lawn and out of the landscape beds on a weekly or as needed basis. Starting the first of September it takes about an hour for one man each week to blow all the leaves and starting in October it takes about 2 hours for one man each week to blow their leaves and November about 1.5 for one man if one week.

    I have been there every week, we have received a lot of rain the past 6 weeks. the last week of October the property was done in 10 days, I would come on Fridays and that last friday it was pouring down from the late tropical storm that came through and so I returned on the following Monday. So far in November I was there on 11/3 which took 3 hours, and 11/16 which took 3.5 hours for the leaves.

    Customer called our office Thanksgiving day and said we have violated the contract and he is sorry to tell me but don't come back to his property, I have skipped his lawn 3 times in the last 6 weeks..... blahh

    This guy is in his mid 50's...from NJ and a hardballing yankee. Ok, yes I did violate the contract I guess to say but it has been very hard on us with all the rain. He is playing it smart, he found a way to get out of the contract so he can save $247.96 a month for November, December, January, and February when there is very little to no work to be done.

    How would you handle this situation??
    - I have no argument
    - I am loosing $1,000 for the rest of the winter which there is not much to do at the property anymore
    - I don't want to create an enemy

    I told him I had a meeting I was running late for and asked if I could stop by his house in the A.M. to talk to him. I'm not about laying out excuses... I'm considering just showing up taking care of the leaves, when he comes outside I will turn off the blower and say I'm sorry, don't worry there is no charge for this I will explain when I'm through.. and after I do it just again knock on the door and say I'm again very sorry and don't worry about today, the contract is void, I feel I need to make it up to you, and I am also going to come back in 2 weeks and finish up any remaining leaves free of charge. That way yes he is dissatisfied but no longer an enemy or pissed off.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2009
  2. green grass lawn care

    green grass lawn care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 89

    well the problem with doing it that way is that next year he may try the same thing. this sets a precedent for him to get something for nothing. i would cut my losses and make an addition of a bad weather clause to the contract that says weather permitting. he is not pissed, he is a cheapskate. vince
  3. White Gardens

    White Gardens LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,776

    Agreed, see how it goes the next time you are at the property, cut your losses and leave.
  4. Mahoney3223

    Mahoney3223 LawnSite Senior Member
    from midwest
    Messages: 995

    bad idea..tell him you didn't violate the contract and hold firm
  5. You can't control the weather. I tell all of my customer's if there is a weather delay, their property will be serviced asap. We get periods in the summer where it can rain 3-4 days in a row in which you pretty much lose the week. These things happen and people have to understand this. If they can't accept it, let them go.

    This guy does sound like a cheapskate. He knows he will be paying almost $250/month for little work being done. This happens to us in Florida. One of my customers emails me right before I switch to going bi-weekly telling me she had let her yard get out of control and she won't be needing my services for a while. Translation-I don't want to pay you for cutting my yard every other week. It happens, it sucks, and it's part of the business. People don't honor their word.
  6. mcw615

    mcw615 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 473

    I said several times I have not breached the contract, and his response was "you know my property and the leaves need done every week until 12/1. How could you have not violated the contract, it says every week or as needed and you skipped twice? I was giving you the benefit of the doubt of once a week clean ups, because really you could be here every day and it NEED to be done."
  7. Hanau

    Hanau LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,568

    Explain your side in a calm reasonable manner. As a contractor you have to control your customer. You let one schmuck walk all over you then that's all you're going to get for clients. You need to demonstrate some testicular fortitude, you're owed money. Get your money.

    If you can't do that then Mr. Kitty here can.


  8. N.TX

    N.TX LawnSite Senior Member
    from TEXAS
    Messages: 473

    I would call and explain that you cant do anything about the weather ... but you would be willing to discount the bill for the month that you could not complete all scheduled services. If he still proceeds in cancelling the service then just take your losses and go on because its not worth the hassle.
  9. LouisianaLawnboy

    LouisianaLawnboy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,199

    In my contract it says that if service is discontinued then every service must be paid for individually including retrospectively. Also you must give 30 days written notice.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  10. Oxmow

    Oxmow LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 485

    I agree. I also have a clause like this, as well as a weather clause. When i have held fast the customer has usually said they would go ahead with the monthly work as to not have to pay the large chunk of what was left on the contract.

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