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Customer unhappy and wants to compromise on bill

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by bballv20, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,872

    The following clause has been one of the first sections of my contract for any job we do for the past 10 years or so. Puting this into your contracts will totally protect you from situations just like this;

    2. UNFORSEEN CIRCUMSTANCES/ UNDERGROUND OBSTACLES. Prices within this proposal are firm unless there are unforeseen circumstances that result in delays or obstacles. An example of such would be if contractor begins excavating digging or trenching and finds large boulders, large tree stumps, sewer drain, a piping situation that requires a plumber, etc. If such circumstances arise contractor will notify client immediately with an evaluation and proposed change in price or work. If the obstacle deems the job unable to be completed or if client decides the cost to proceed is too prohibitive the client is responsible for labor costs incurred until that point and for any materials used that cannot be returned

    Regardless, I'd find a way to compromise and leave him happy. We live in a day and age where just a few bad, unhapppy customers can really kill your reputation and cost you tons of jobs in the future. Everyone's using Angie's List, Google Local Reviews, BBB and tons of other places these days to sound off about their bad experiences. It used to be 10 years ago you could just kick a customer to the curb if they were wrong and you were right. Today, it doesn't matter if they were wrong. If you don't leave them at least somewhat happy they will sound off on places like Angie's List, leaving you with a bad reputation and pretty soon people are avoiding calling you just because a few bad reviews you got.

    I do anything and everything these days to make sure we leave our customers at least happy enough so that they don't go leave us bad reviews. And the goal is to leave them so happy that they go and leave a positive review, which is usually the case.
  2. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,776

    I'm not ready to jump all over the customer on this one. The whole idea of the project was to get to a nice looking landscape. Stopping short of that and giving him a bill for whatever reason was not a good idea. You have to communicate when there is a problem and have some alternative ideas to finish the job.

    From the customer's point of view, this is the equivalent of hiring a painter who gives you a bill for scraping the paint and getting it all ready anf then giving a bill with the cost of the paint subtracted because it rained the day they were going to paint it.

    Obviously, you could not do what the original job was without taking on a big additional expense to you, but there were many alternatives including eating the expense. You should have let him know the situation and told him that you could change the planting. You could have asked for additional money to remove the concrete. Communication was the problem. Maybe he is a jerk and would have made you eat it, but you never gave him the chance. You just bailed and billed.

    Three lessons learned should be not to under bid, have contingencies in your contract, and most important is to be an active communicator.
  3. mark123

    mark123 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 486

    There's the problem.
  4. NarNar

    NarNar LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 489

    I would work out a deal. Because people like lawyers... know other lawyers and professionals that values a great landscape (hopefully your guy is like that). If you can show him you can compromise, he might refer you to more business.

    Sometimes its hard, I am going through it with a customer right now... blaming me for poor service, when his equipment failed (long story). Look at the big picture, you can always get more service work from compromise and having a happy customer, then you would ... by not compromising and demanding that extra few dollars.
  5. andyslawncare

    andyslawncare LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 812

    Agreed! Make him happy. If you lose money, than lose money; don't upset a well known lawyer, you don't want him spreading bad word about you. I would much rather have neutral ratings, and a somewhat satisfied client, than someone like him talking trash about me, and me making a few bucks! Not worth it...

    Have you tested the soil PH? I'm not sure at this point where you are located...

    How about this approach...
    I think you said there was a bunch of concrete in the soil right???
    Let me quote straight from the UGA Published Georgia Certified Landscape Professional Handbook, "A measurement higher than 7.0 may indicate the presence of construction materials such as gypsum, sheetrock, or CEMENT".

    Maybe bring to the clients attention that the material either should be removed or counteracted with a different approach... Say, "sorry, its hard to know what is under ground until we put our shovel in it..."

    If using knowledge doesn't work, I would do what it takes to make this guy happy...

    Good luck!
  6. AI Inc

    AI Inc LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 26,984

    Yep, get as much as you can and get closure.
  7. NarNar

    NarNar LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 489

    That was hilarious.

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