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Ever have a customer "backcharge" you for service?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Ramairfreak98ss, Jul 16, 2007.

  1. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    I billed a customer on May 9th 2007 for mulching/weeding work at his house.

    I originally quoted out $1500 something with tax to do a full job, IE: front/side/back yard trees, pool areas, edging around tree bases, weeding etc.

    I quote out 15 yards with this job for $1500.

    He states hes used 6 yards before, 1-2 years ago when he did it himself.

    He doesnt want to spend $1500. So i said ok, ill put down 6 yards, weed preventive and do some weeding.

    I quote out $500+ tax for 6 yards or
    $650 plus tax for 8-9 yards

    I get doing the work, and myself and one worker are weeding forever, after the initial quote, with lots of rain, the weeds were much worse then when quoted, my fault for not adjusting at time of service.

    We weed most of the morning without going crazy like spraying small weeds, a few were missed honestly, small stuff or some under evergreen bushes etc.

    I bill out 735.00 which is $650 because i had to already use 8 yards, plus $85 weeding fee, just a random number i felt was appropriate for the extra ~4 man hours me and my worker spent, a low amount i thought anyway.

    $786.45 with tax, and the guy flips. He calls me back the next day, complaining how my worker was on his phone when i left to go get more mulch etc, yet the guy wasnt home 95% of the time.

    Then he's ticked because i didnt edge all his front garden beds, wtf? thats not in the quote, but he expected it. He didnt like that there were lots of spots that were very thin on mulch either, well duh, i know we needed at least 10+ for the front yard only.

    I know this guy too, i once worked for him as side help in 1999, he is one of 4 co-owners of a big construction company of new residential homes in NJ. To appease him, and in big hopes still of gaining 4 company employees residential lawn accounts of 2 acres each plus their mulching on the same street as well, i agree to come back in a couple days and do the extra work, free. He tells me, either way hes going to pay the bill but he isn't happy with the work and this could reflect future business, because he could recommend me to new customers of his that are buying houses, which i understand already.

    I bring back my Bedshaper machine, cut out ~135ft worth of edges, some along his driveway hill which isnt easy, clean out all the edges, add another 2-3 yards of mulch in the garden by the street and house, now totaling 11~ yards, pull extra weeds, some new and a few that were missed that he was complaining about. Put down more Preen Plus by Woodace ferts. and i was done. I did this extra work the NEXT Afternoon.

    This was done by the 2nd week in May, Early june rolls around and still no check, call him up leave a message. Nothing that week. July 1st i call him up again, talk to him, says oh, i thought you were comming back? I said, yeah i did, the next day, I edged, and weeded and added 3 yards of mulch that we spoke about the day prior, he says, OH, ok, well im going on vacation but ill be back in a week.

    So July 16th, today, i get a check in the mail finally with the bill.

    Written on it it says

    1 Damaged sprinkler head - $100.00
    Weeded bed twice
    Outside contractor-2 days 16hrs $160.00
    I dont know if thats one guy 8hrs a day x 2=16hrs or two guys in one day or whatever, What company does 16 manhours for $160.00? $10hr labor?

    $260.00 additional cost
    BACKCHARGED $185.00 of total

    Total $700.55?

    So how does $786.45-185.00=$700.55? :confused: :hammerhead:

    Im going to make sure the check clears before i tear this guy a new one.

    Pisses me off mostly because even if i did damage a sprinkerhead while mulching or edging, i can fix them in 10 minutes and for $6-10 cost, not $100 :nono:

    And who ever weeds someones garden bed and has NO weeds ever re-popup? Is this my fault because weeds popped up in almost two months since the work was done?

    All i can say is what a jkcass, ill add this to my bin for going to court in the fall when im not so busy if he decides to not pay.

    HE NEVER said anything about any sprinkler damage or weeding from the work done on May 9th to the bill being paid on July 16th.:confused:

    This backcharge crap might work in subcontracting for construction but its not gonna work for landscape work with a bill for Xx.xx amount of money.
  2. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,085

    Never do work hoping for more work. Only do what is contracted & if they choose to do less than what you recommend, then it is their own fault. Just make sure your signed contract says exactly what you are going to do.
  3. greg1

    greg1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 139

    Welcome to the world of working for builders, while some of them are fair there are just as many that are scumbags. BIG SCUMBAGS, I speak from a quarter century of experience working for them. They work with contractors everyday and know just how to F you over! I'm sure your check will clear, and after that just move on and remember your lesson. I've worked for alot of builders in NJ, 50% of them i would take a bullet for! The other 50%, i would.........well.......you get the idea.
  4. jsaunders

    jsaunders LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,781

    Am I reading this correctly - he only wants 6 yrds and then complains about it being thin and now you are adding more for free? He might have got '6' yrds(buckets) from his brother..... etc... who has a 2 yrd bucket...:rolleyes:
    Don't do more work for free -in hopes to get more work. This guy wants to sh*t on you and you are taking it.
  5. lifetree

    lifetree LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,369

    Absolutely ... now you just need to follow-up in small claims court !!
  6. robtown

    robtown LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 224

    if he is a builder that uses model homes you can always call the twp and see if he has a variance to use a residential lot as a sales office. None of them do because it usally takes 90 days to get and they need to make alot of alterations to the plan. Parking handicapp bathrooms and access to the model. plus what the fire marshall wants ....it is a pain ..
    just pick up the phone on and call in a complaiint...do it towards the end of the week and so they cant open for the weekend.
    someone takes $10 dollars from me i cost them a $100
    good luck
  7. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,774

    Truer words have never been spoken!

    ... and don't forget to add the line "anything not specifically mentioned in this contract is an extra and will be billed as such".
  8. Turf Professionals Inc.

    Turf Professionals Inc. LawnSite Member
    Messages: 131

    I would not cash the check though until he pays you the full amount. I do not know how it is there, but here in Florida, if you cash a check from a client, it means you are settled up. I would make him right a new one for the correct amount or take him to court
  9. Ramairfreak98ss

    Ramairfreak98ss LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,210

    Turf, you sure its that way? Im sure that in NJ, unless for some reason the client writes on the check, "paid in full" and its $400 instead of the $700 or so, yeah that can be legally binding. But accepting a check for a lesser a mount, for a contract, bill, etc, isn't an admission for payment in full. Hey what do i know, i should have been an attorney, seems all of us at one point must learn a lot of legal jargon to make it in any business sense of the world.

    Trust me, in NJ it is 10x harder to try and collect the WHOLE bill than a portion of it. If i went into court, with NO payment, after this jerk send me $700 of it, then i stand a chance to loose even that amount if for some reason the judge doesn't agree to my favor. Ive been in small claims several times for all sorts of reasons pertaining to the business and failure to pay invoices. Ive seen all sorts of odd judgments where the judge simply doesnt want to hear the non-professionalism of some defendants so throws the whole thing out, even though the plaintiff has a good case. Its small claims, these judges arnt the heroes of the world in this court.
  10. WigginsLandscaping

    WigginsLandscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 103

    I too work with many builders. Some great the other no so great. I learned the hard way about the not so great ones. When I first started I want business so bad and wanted to work for these guys so bad that I bent over backwards to make these guys happy. What I learned was they really dont care whether you make a dime or not. They are interested in their money and their money alone. I thought it will all work out. Quantity will balance this job out. But it never did. On builders the good ones pay on time always. If you see this not happen even once you should consider dropping them. The other big thing about builders that you have to be aware of. When it comes to their personal property they really want it free. I know several that have built their own personal house and will try to get us little guys to give them the job "as a favor" for all the work they will give you. Beware of these guys. The good builders that I work with already know what something will cost and will either give you a budget/allowance to go by or wont even ask what something cost. They almost always have a good idea already. The rich stay rich for a reason. I can go on and on about builders. A good customer isnt a good customer if you arent making money off of them.

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