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PITA cutomer. How do YOU handle it?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Uranus, Apr 19, 2007.

  1. Uranus

    Uranus LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 1,624

    You do a fall cleanup for a customer and while you are there they ask for gutters to be cleaned out. The house is a cape (40x30) style home with a 2 story addition that is 50x30)

    You do 2 cleanups witch come to 8 total man hours. Only clean the gutters on the second cleanup. Fill your truck with leaf loader both times. Due to timing you visit the house in on Nov 2 and Nov 28th. The place is spotless when you leave.

    You use a zrt w/bagger, 13 hp LW push blower, 2 backpacks, leaf loader, fill your leaf box, and cut off about 2 inches of grass on both visits.

    Now do a quick estimate/guesstimate on what you would charge. New England cleanup. 4 inches of leaves on entire property both times.

    Now, once they receive your bill they call up and leave a nasty message in your answering machine, You call back and introduce yourself. Instantly you get "What I have to say is not up for negotiation." They accuse you of being way to high on your price. They tell you that your price is double what they have ever paid for cleanups. Customer cuts you off every time you try to explain your fees, insists on finishing there butt chewing on you before they offer you HALF of your price. So they offer half your price or say they will pay the entire amount but will no longer use your services.

    What is your range for the work described and how do you handle the call.
  2. JRS Landscaping

    JRS Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 817

    sounds like they are a pain in the @ss....if i was you id take the money and run...sounds like all your going to have is a pain with these people
  3. txgrassguy

    txgrassguy LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,083

    I have a strict change order policy for work estimated.
    Should the scope of the work change per their request, they sign a change order acknowledging the additional cost prior to my crews starting the additional work.
    Once the change order is signed, it is a done deal. They pay or face collection costs.
    Regarding their being rude to you, nothing and I mean nothing, says you have to take it at all. Never, ever discuss pricing, pricing guidelines, over head - nothing with a customer. Simply provide a written estimate for the cost of the work otherwise you are providing them with yet another avenue to be a pita about.
    If you have anything at all in writing then simply inform your customers they pay up or face a collection issue.
    As far as you taking half, well that is your decision obviously - I am not familiar with collection processes in your state so I will not comment about that.
    As fas as their not using you again, who cares! People like these aren't worth retaining as customers anyways.
    Take this as a learning experience, quote costs in writing, get a signature and grow your business.
    Life is way, way too short to mess with A-Holes like whom you described.
  4. Uranus

    Uranus LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 1,624

    TXGRASSGUY...and others

    FYI this was last year and trust me the issue has been resolved. It was a "can you do my leaf cleanup". The work was ok'ed by word of mouth with no estimate and no price given. I have never writen an estimate for fall cleanups for full time customers. Only the one timers get writen estimates. TRUST ME, I learned a lesson on this one.
  5. razor1

    razor1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,985

    Get the money and run. I had the same problem a few years ago. They finally paid after I deducted $50. off to ease there pain. Never heard from them again. Most people don't want to pay enough for clean ups in my opinion. Hope you get paid.
  6. NELawnCare

    NELawnCare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 175

    I'll get back on my soapbox and preach my Service Agreement policy. This is exactly why I don't do business without a Service Agreement. With a Service Agreement, you know what work is required and they know what the cost is UP FRONT.

    If you had the work and cost in writing, they would have to pay it. Not hard at all for you to fight a Service Agreement without legal fees. There are tons of collection agencies that will buy your service agreement for a % of the total cost...then let the collection agency go after the customer. Then NEVER do business with them again. In fact, if it happened to me, I'd publish their names under a Deadbeat list on my web site. In fact, that's a great idea. I'm gonna create a Deadbeat list on my web site.
  7. 1cooltreeguy

    1cooltreeguy LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 630

    Well, What did u charge? Did you tell them your hourly rate? Did you detail your invoice? My gut says GET THE $$ AND RUN. Good Luck
  8. Uranus

    Uranus LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 1,624

    This was a fall cleanup done last year. I was able to call the guy a lier when he told me that his neighbor brought his leaves out to the street and he only paid $50 to have a guy suck them up. Dont ask why, but my jackass customer did not recognize me sucking his neighbors leaves up and I charged him $75, not $50. Told him not to try to pull a fast one on me because I was the one who sucked up his neighbors leaves. That was my opening to break down the charges for him. I charged him 60 bucks to clean out the gutters and he told me I was $20 to high on that. F him. Grand total was around $480 for the 2 cleanups, disposal, gutters, and for a mowing. To make another long story short the end of the conversation came back to me as, "I'll pay you $250, or I will pay the entire amount and not use you for next year. It was my fault for not asking for a price up front. What would you like to do?" I responded with "I will take payment in full." He quickly responded with "THANK YOU and GOOOD BYE!" then I think he dropped the phone because there was a loud bang as he hung up. A few days later, I open the envelope he sent and there was a check from discover card for the full amount. This guy was a pita from day one when he tried to tell me my mowing price. I set the price and I dont think he was happy paying $5 more than he did last year. IF this thread continues I'll add in some of the other issues I had with him.
  9. Big Bad Bob

    Big Bad Bob LawnSite Bronze Member
    from zone 5
    Messages: 1,074

    you ask for us to give you an estimate, sight unseen? didn't you give the customer an estimate? if you give an estimate, they will tell you then and there and not use your services. that's ok since you didn't expend any time and effort.
    my estimates are not negotiable. it costs what it costs. by doing a job without telling them how much it might cost just opens the door to the negotiation bug. better they find out you're a "crook", because that's what they call you and me. we want a good price for our services and their used to dealing with joe six pack who happens to own a ford ltd with a big trunk, and a wal mart push mower. older people like to get the best price and they don't care about quality.
    also, as texasgrass
    guy said, never attempt to explain or justify your pricing except to yourself. if they don't like your pricing, let 'em go to joe sixpack who happens to own a ford ltd with a big trunk, and a wal mart push mower.
  10. Uranus

    Uranus LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 1,624


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