Need suggestion on customer claiming we broke his fence

brandonppr

LawnSite Member
Location
tn
We have a customer that contacted us 2 months ago and wanted us to mow the strip of his farm by the road on each side of his fence ONLY and string trim the grass off of it as well once a month.

We agreed on a price and we began mowing it.

The fence is one of those square wire fences like you would see at a farm with squares about 6" or so wide. It goes into the ground and the bottom is burried. It has about 4" round posts in between each section.

After the 2nd time we mowed it, the customer called me up and said I need you to come look at my fence because your guys are messing up my fence.

I go and look at it and he says that we have been breaking it with the weed eater and that we are mowing against it and causing the bottom to start coming up.

I look at the fence and there are sections of the fence where the bottom is broke off about a foot or foot and a half. I looked closely and there are no new breaks. All of the breaks are old and rusted over and look like they have been that way for a while.

Some of the breaks are in the middle of the fence and he claims we did that too. All of which are very old breaks.

Also there is a 1 inch braided wire (like you would see holding a light pole up) that was about 6 foot long and just woven into the fence for some odd reason. He said that he don't know why that is there, but we must have cut it with the string trimmer on the end and it must go to something. There is nothing this could possibly go to and I even showed him the end is oxidated and has bee the way it is for years. At this point I am sure that we didn't cause any of this damage and that this guy is out to get a new fence. Looking at the rest of his fence. It is rusted and in need of replacement. The posts are so rotten that the posts are just about ready to just break off. This whole fence is on its last leg.

So he insisted that I get my insurance company out to look at it.
I called my insurance and was told that I can file a claim and they would do an investigation to see if it was our fault. I was told that even if the investigation finds it to not be our fault that my insurance would be hit with a claim and it may or may not cause my insurance to go up.

Any suggestions on what to do here?
 

RedSox4Life

LawnSite Bronze Member
Location
Mass
I sincerely hate insurance companies.

"No you didn't break anything, but were gonna charge you more money anyway"
 

mpkav

LawnSite Member
Location
Indianapolis, IN
It sounds like he has an old crappy fence and he hired you to only mow around it so he can make a false accusation to get his fence fixed. I'm a Police Officer and had a guy call for a hit and run crash report. When I got there there was damage to the drivers rear of his duelly. The only problem was the damage was rusted over and there were absolutely no paint chips or anything on the ground where his truck was parked.
I advidsed him the penalty for making a false report and insurance fraud and he quickly decided he didn't want a report anymore!! Go with your gut feeling. It sounds like you know it was your fault. The rust alone takes quite some time to form. I would politely point that out to him and tell him your feelings. Like rlitman said, document it with pictures and video. Most people won't go all the way to small claims court (civil court) when they know they are wrong.
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brandonppr

LawnSite Member
Location
tn
Thanks for the advice!

Something that I was just thinking about that I always thought was odd since we have been doing his property is that he has a mower himself and he mows the rest of the property himself such as the drive up to his house(very long) and around his house, etc. and the area we have been servicing is only a small portion of the property. Why would he even have us mow it? Also I just found out that the guy has been mowing the area he hired us to mow once a month. So we mowed it then two weeks later he mowed it then two weeks later we mowed it and so on.



Dang, I want to know what kind of trimmer line you use. I want some of that!

I know, right?
 

rlitman

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Long Island
I would turn it over to my insurance company and request to meet with the adjuster/inspector when he goes to investigate. You'll be ok.

I wouldn't go down that route unless absolutely necessary. Regardless of whether or not the insurance company pays, once an investigation begins, you have a claim in, and that will affect your rates (or just plain get you dropped in some cases).

What you can do is give him the information for your insurance, and suggest he call them. That may be enough to scare him off, if you happen to mention the penalty for insurance fraud (or at least that your company does not take fraud lightly), as mpkav mentioned.

Thanks for the advice!

Something that I was just thinking about that I always thought was odd since we have been doing his property is that he has a mower himself and he mows the rest of the property himself such as the drive up to his house(very long) and around his house, etc. and the area we have been servicing is only a small portion of the property. Why would he even have us mow it? Also I just found out that the guy has been mowing the area he hired us to mow once a month. So we mowed it then two weeks later he mowed it then two weeks later we mowed it and so on.

Sure sounds like a setup to me.
 

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