no good deed goes unpunished

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by ncnurseryman, Jun 26, 2012.

  1. ncnurseryman

    ncnurseryman LawnSite Member
    Messages: 121

    I did.a small landscape install today and on each side of the new install area is three large compacta hollies. On a whim I decided to trim them just a bit to make them a little nearer. Tonight the homeowner sends an email saying that now the existing hollies look uneven and I should come back and even them out. This was never part of the estimate and in hindsite I shouldn't have touched them. Now I am going to lose time and money on work that was never agreed on cause I don't want someone to throw complaints around. Should I just let this go, do it and move on?
  2. Paragon Ridge

    Paragon Ridge LawnSite Member
    Messages: 19

    What does she mean by "even them out"?
    I don't worry about complaints, I care about getting paid. I have had a lot of clients like this when I first started out and most just complain to get something for free. Now whenever clients ask me to perform additional tasks, I say "no problem, that will be x amount of dollars extra" or "I will get back to you with an estimate on that."
    I have one client that is extremely picky, and a few months ago I planted a $50 shrub in the front. A few days later she sends me an email saying that the bush doesn't look good. I immediately stop by thinking that it is going through transplant shock and needs water, so I water it and send back an email saying that it is fine now. The next day she sends me another email saying that the front side of the bush isn't as full as the back side and that I should have planted it with that side in the back. I just told her that it will grow in and that replanting it will put the stress the shrub.
    Anyways, If you already have been paid then I wouldn't even email the client back(but that's just me, petty stuff like that drives me NUTS!). If you haven't then you risk having a hard time being paid by flat out refusing to do the additional work. The key is to politely state your opinion that the bushes look even and that you do not understand how they look uneven. Your time is valuable and you can't waste your time on unnecessary callbacks, but you can't let yourself get angry or sound unprofessional when responding either.
  3. charmill26

    charmill26 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 369

    I agree with paragon other than not replying to the email and being ignorant. The petty stuff like he mentioned is a pain and possibly a PITA customer. If I were you I'd respond and explain the price you charged included this, that, etc. and you only trimmed the hollies as a favor more than anything as they were overgrown and made the area look bad and they weren't included in the price in any way. I personally wouldnt go back unless they want to pay you for the additional work. When I have had customers complain about stuff like that I simply break down their bill mentioning exactly what they said they wanted, every little detail you did. I've learned being extremely thorough in your explanation of work completed shuts them up as it makes them look like they are just trying to stretch their dollar.
  4. jvanvliet

    jvanvliet LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,944

    We try not to do what the customer didn't ask for. It always presents too much of an opportunity for the customer to squeeze you by saying, "It was fine until you touched it".

    Better off asking first; I'd say you have to eat it because you did something he didn't request and is unhappy with the results. remener one unhappy customer can poison the barrel.
  5. SSmith

    SSmith Banned
    Messages: 447

    Of course you have to go back and fix it. Good lord.

    Lesson learned, though.
  6. cgaengineer

    cgaengineer LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 15,778

    Did a cut on a crappy property last weekand I told her $85 for first cut and $65 ever two weeks after that. So the three of us are done with lawn and my partner runs to truck to get heed trimmer and touches up the shrubs...I told him I didn't charge her for that...he did it anyway.

    Sent bill, no payment...visited site yesterday to collect and was told I chipped driveway with edger (driveway is full of cracks, lawn full of chips in driveway), we ran over her squash she had planted in garden (couldn't tell the garden from the lawn). There was zero evidence of chopped up plants or even cut off stems.

    If you choose to go above and beyond, make sure it's a regular will simply get screwed in the end it seems.

    The good thing about this no pay customer above is that they just opened a restaurant in town...I plan to order about $85 worth of food and complain about it...deny paying for it.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  7. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,165

    Take responsibility for your own actions. You trimmed the hollies without permission, fix them to the clients satisfaction. This is not a big deal. You will be rewarded for your actions.
  8. Duekster

    Duekster LawnSite Fanatic
    from DFW, TX
    Messages: 7,961

    Ha Ha.

    It does seem no good deed goes un punsihed some times.

    Oddly some times these PITA's can be come good clients.

    I would make an appointment to go meet with the client, find out exactly what it is they are concerned about. Make a good faith effort to fix it.

    If it is just a little bit of work do it, if it is completely out of scope and time consuming then explain that to them.

    Keep in mind this is the time to do 4 things.

    Create a next visit so you can recover some of your lost time and develop a lasting client.

    Learn their expectations so you can account for it next time.

    Discuss other work you can find on the job.

    Get your check.


    Not every customer is a good customer but do not give up on them so easy.

    I had one PITA ( actually a pretty nice guy)

    He only paid about 1/2 of a 2400 bill. Asked about more work.

    I got a little busy and we discussed the extra work via e-mail.

    I sent him an e-mail telling him I was going to go back to make some minor adjustments on the sprinklers ( it started raining on the completion day) and to please leve the check with the Nanny. I never got a responce via e-mail but I went anyway expecting the worst.

    He paid the rest plus the extra work. Now I have to do the extra yard work today.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012
  9. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,983

    Not worrying about complaints is how customers drop you.

    Responding to a complaint that it will cost additional money to fix is another way to lose customer.

    Average Joe may not have the common sense to plant a shrub best side forward but a "professional landscaper should know and not have to be told.

    Then to annoyed when a customer complains about substandard work is just adding the icing to the cake.

    Got my money so the customer can go F themselves. Shows "professionalism" of the highest caliper.

    Shows even more when a LCO advocates others to follow his standard of "professionalism".

    To suggest that the customer be told over the phone that their is nothing wrong with the hegdes is rude and insulting to the customer. The customer is deserving of being offered for you to come out ASAP for them to show you the problem.

    After all you touched the hedges. Whether originally done for free or charged does not matter. What matters is that you did touch them.

    Every year I pick up a client that was not happy with the quality of service and the lack of respect they and their property were shown. Having their concerns being blown off.

    Some LCO lost a $40 account last year.

    This year that person became my $72 account.

  10. Glenn Lawn Care

    Glenn Lawn Care LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,645

    You never do what the customer doesn't want or ask for, cuz now she complained and you have to go back over there and fix it. Live and learn!

Share This Page