How should I handle this.

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by grass-scapes, May 28, 2003.

  1. grass-scapes

    grass-scapes LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,552

    I recently bid on a job (small apartment complex). I bid the job at taking me about 6 hours and submitted it. After mowing the first time, I realized that I had underbid by about 2 hours. Anyway, I decided to stick it out since it doesn't affect any of my other accounts anyway. Second time mowing, I spent 5 hours there, then got washed out completely. I had finished 75 percent of the property, with all the high visibility areas finished. I spoke to the owner of the complex and told him I would be back as soon as the weather broke. He told me No Saturdays, sundays or Holidays. Well, as we all know, the weather didn't break till the weekend but observing his wishes, I did not finish the property since the first day I would be able to get to it was tuesday and Wednesday is his scheduled day. I had mentioned to him that since he didn't want me to come on the weekend, if I didn't get to it, I would not bill him the full amount, just the portion that I finished. He agreed.

    I gave him the bill today, with the 3/4 charge on it, and he said he wasn't going to pay it since I didn't finish. I told him that if He didn't pay, I would not be back due to his breach of contract. He told me not to come back.

    How do I handle this. Do I take him to court? Do I give in, swallow my pride and give him the cut? IF he calls back, do I raise my price? Never run into this before, but Im sure someone has.
    Any help would be appreciated.
  2. FrankenScagMachines

    FrankenScagMachines LawnSite Platinum Member
    from IN
    Messages: 4,739

    Ouch.. Thats a difficult one man. I hate people like that... first of all you said a total washout but I don't know what you meant by that. Me, I will work in the rain if it means getting the job done and a happy customer. I'll even work in a downpour (and have) if I have to (no lightning!). But you two came to an agreement which sounded fair, then he wanted to not pay at all. That was wrong of him since it obviously wasn't possible to complete the job. If it was me, if i was hurting for the work I would offer him 50% off or something like that but I doubt I'd give ANYONE 5 hours of work for free and expect them to respect me after that! There is a fine line between being a professional, easy to work with businessman and a person who lets others determine his success. You have to be generous and nice to the customers but not let them tell you how to run your business. I learned the hard way and finally this one customer outright said pretty much that I'm getting too professional for her tastes and she is going to look for a neighborhood kid to come use her push mower and do it cheap. She said all of that! I was happy to be rid of her, it wasn't a high paying job anyway, but sometimes the customer just has to go. Now do you really need the work? Can you make yourself give him a good deal but be firm and not let him push you? I'm not sure I'd take him to court (is it worth the cost?) but offer him something like 50% off and let him know that if he doesn't pay up, you will talk alot of trash about him.
    good luck :blob4:
  3. DLCS

    DLCS LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,386

    Well, how much money we talking about? You have contract so I'd make him stick to it, if it is worth going to court over.
  4. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Messages: 10,178

    i would put two huge signs on my truck: SO AND SO cheated me out of x amount of dollars, and ride around in front of his place for an hour a day. the first mistake you made was continuing working once u realized u estimated wrong. contrary to popular belief, this is NOT a good thing to do. perfect example: i bid wrong on a lawn. mrs jones called and requested a "free estimate" . i told mrs jones im much too busy for that, but ill be happy to sign her on. i asked her to describe the lawn, and sq. footage, she did, and also mentioned her "other guy" was doing it for $25. well, i quoted her $30, SHE SAID FINE. i go over, and ooops! what a mistake. all zoysia, it all needs to be bagged, tiny gate, cant even get the 32 in. have to push mow the back. takes about 30 min and a barrel of grass to go, not my cup of tea for $30. but, its on the route, and i cant go back on my word, right? well, as im edging, a neighbor comes over. "whats a property like this go for?" i say $35. he says look at mine. i said ok, i look, same size, i quote him $35. and the guy next to him too, another neighbor, i tell him $35. its a go. well, 5 weeks into it, all the nieghbors start chatting. the $30 guy tells his 2 neighbors that im charging him $30. now, the two $35 nieghbors are mad, they think im ripping them off. they both call, and ask, wtf? so, how do i get my butt out of this one? moral of story: if u estimate wrong, DONT EAT IT! we all make mistakes, you shouldnt have to pay for it for an entire season. #2, im assuming u have a written agreement? if so, check the wording carefully. what does it say concerning rain, or incliment weather. if its worded in your favor, send a certified letter demanding payment. if he dont pay, file a complaint of theft with the police. good luck!
  5. awm

    awm LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,354

    take bubba over there an tell him.
    bubba sad cause he didnt get paid.
    wouldnt hurt if bubba acted a little off
    while u talkin to the guy.u already lost the acct anyway and bubba sure need his money.:)
  6. smburgess

    smburgess LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 467

    Is it worth your time and trouble? Do you have a signed agreement? If you do, make the decision on which way to go. If you don't move on and look to replace the client.
  7. grass-scapes

    grass-scapes LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,552

    Unfortunately, no written contract. Verbal agreement only. I told him that I would cut it for XXX.XX per cut for the rest of the mowing season. He agreed, but only verbally. But in NC, a written contract isn't worth the paper its written on. I have to be a professional about it, I wouldn't dream of threats or revenge, etc. I gave him the bill, but with no wording about late fees, etc. I am thinking of mailing another bill, but this one with a statement like...."Late charge of 25.00 if entire bill not paid within 15 days of the date of bill.... 1.5 % per month interest added for all accounts 30 days or more past due" Not sure how that would hold up in court. I mean, we are only talking 90 bucks or so. IF he did ever want me to come back, my bid would increase by about 60 bucks per cut, with a written contract. This property was a loser for me anyway.
  8. smburgess

    smburgess LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 467

    At the bottom of my invoices there is a line that reads: "Please pay by the due date to avoid a monthly 1.8% or $5.00 (which ever is greater) finance charge".

    It works.
  9. o-so-n-so

    o-so-n-so LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 1,218

    6 hours for $90.00 bucks or so.......If he wont pay that rate...he's and idiot......he will aways trouble you.......write it off and consider it a learning experience.
  10. a1 lawncare

    a1 lawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 153

    i hope your saying the portion that was not finished would have only been 90 bucks. if not you don't want it, after expenses you be working backwards. 90 bucks at 6hrs, and its taking 8 hrs., i think i would demand payment, if you don't receive it wouldn't you be able to break your verbal contract with no repercussions? and personally i believe you'd be better off.

    good luck, keith

    p.s. remember you don't want every job

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