Problem with a customer


LawnSite Member
I have a customer who call and left a message on my answering machine today. He is a regular customer we have served him for about 6 months. No problems with us or him. Today he called and said one of the sprinklers in the back yard was broken and asked if I wanted to fix it or if I wanted to have the sprinkler company fix it and have them bill me. Few bigs things. 1) I dont agree with the way he treated the situation. 2) I dont believe it was my fault due to it was probably misinstalled 3)Dont want to loose a good customer but should I pay.
We have been in business for years and have had only one problem like this before. It consisted of a customer who installed sprinklers himself and did horrible job. He didnt fill ditches for the lines correctly and when our mower went over pipes it cracked them. He wanted us to pay and we said it is not out fault. To make long story short he turned it over to his insurance company they tried to collect from us. We told them to go look at the job and after that they agreed with us.
Back to the subject. The reason I dont believe it was our fault is because we were using walk behind mower and it could only have been the front tire that could of hit sprinkler. In my opinion that doesnt have enough pressure to break sprinkler. I was also dissappointed that expected me to pay with ask questions. I dont want to loose a customer but I feel I should not have to pay.
Please send me ideas what you think I should do. Thanks!


LawnSite Silver Member
he's convinced you did it, therefore, you ought to consider fixing it if you want to keep his business.

if you aren't happy with his answering machine approach to reporting the problem, you weren't there to take the call. of course he left a message and spoke his mind.

in his eyes, if you don't get right to it he will see you as irresponsible.

and after all, you aren't 100% convinced that you didn't do the damage. right?

an hour, a shovel, some black polly, and can of cement and you are outta there. customer happy.

good luck



LawnSite Gold Member
I had a prop. manager do that to me once, fixed a wire on an a/c unit and billed me for $62.00 claiming the weed-eater got it. It was either pay or lose $462.00 a month. I begrudgingly paid the bill and never put a weedeater behind any of the units again. They took the word of the a/c man that it was a weedeater that broke it.

If it's a good account repair it and then ask to do complete inspection so you know in your mind that everything else is in proper working order. I rarely ever see systems running so I guess they could say I screwed something up if they wanted to.



LawnSite Senior Member


LawnSite Senior Member
Central Texas
Capitalize on the situation! Repair the damage then tell your customer that you need to do a complete system check to ensure nothing else is damaged and everything is in good working order. Then bill him for the additional inspection to cover your costs. If this customer continues to call or complain about the sprinkler system constantly then find another customer to replace him.


LawnSite Senior Member
SW Missouri
This will happen. Fix it! Talk with the customer, use this time to build a rapport. This is your opportunity to be a professional.
I, like Homer had a property manager send me a bill for two broken sprinkler heads. The repair guy said they were cut with an edger. I don't use an edger on this property. That really pi__ed me off. (better Eric?)
After talking with the property manager and paying the bill, we got the job for shrub trimming and mulching around a few trees. Also will be bidding on fert/weed control at this property.
Yes this cost me $60, but the Manager knows that I will take care of business and it opened the door for more work.


LawnSite Fanatic
Flint, Michigan
I agree with FIREMAN. A new head is the way to go. It's no big deal to break a head, these kind of things happen, and yes, a walk behind IS enough pressure to break one if it happens to be a stuck one (even a little out of the ground) I know - I've done it. As far as the complaint on the answering machine goes; Well, some people just don't like answering machines. Maybe he kept trying to get YOU and finally gave in to the electronic substitute.:)
We deal with this all the time. We just go fix it.

Stinger had a good suggestion. Fix the sprinkler and then do a system check. Identify all the potential problems that you feel could happen with that system where you may have liability in the future. Doucment this in writing to the customer as a suggestion for improvements to the system. Maybe get some more work out of them. Expansion of services ??

In any event, you have then made the customer aware, but you will still have to be carefull. Don't let another company on to the customers property to do anything if you can help it.


LawnSite Senior Member
If it is a good customer fix it and tell him that the system was not installed proper . Then tell that all bad heads need to be fixed or you won't fix another broken one.

Had a new account claim this on me in the spring.Said I hit two. They were the nelson screw type and if any one hits one you know it , as the are loaded for bear with a spring . My neighbor hit one and I heard it in my house. Well I know I did not hit one let alone two as I would know it and would fix it, but he fired me anyway . Turns out he was only looking for an excuse to hire some cheap Mexicans that had been working the hood .Lost the account across the road also with an equally lame excuse. Price of these lawns were 18 and 16 , go figure.