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Sue me, come on!

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by PLM-1, Sep 16, 2007.

  1. PLM-1

    PLM-1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,640

    I have this customer that I previously wrote about. ( http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=200276 ) Anyway, Got everything straightened out or so we thought. We worked on the property yesterday until it started to pour down rain. Got up this morning doing errands and such. We went in to the gas station and low and behold this guy calls and I miss the call. Basically the msg goes as follows: I've decided I don't like your price. When you come over we will go everything.

    What I didn't tell you was that while all the Maple tree BS was going on he sent me this:

    Here is what we are going to do Adam.

    Your work on the project has ended.

    1) Any plant that is currently in the ground I will pay for. All others you need to remove from, I will not pay for those.

    2) You and I will review the bill and come to an agreement of how much you should be paid for the hours invested so far and the materials used so far. I am fair and honest, I do not want you to not get paid for the hours you have worked so far or the materials used so far.


    It is now onto how ALL of my stuff is overpriced, my labor and my markup on planting material. When all of this came about i gave him an estimate. He said that he wanted to check everything out and he would get back to me. He did and he gave me my deposit. We were seriously, 4 hours from being finished when he pulls most of this crap. He also stated that he called several other landscapers to check their prices and i'm nearly twice what everyone else is; yet, I thought he already checked out everything.

    I've heard from numerous people, of course after I start, that this is what this guy does.

    I then procede over to the property to do as he previously asked to get everything that wasn't planted and give him his final bill which is around $800 more than the deposit. Naturally I get a call back "how can you live with yourself?" And "I'll ruin you in this town and take you to the cleaners if you don't give me back some of my money." What do I do? Now i've got 40 plants sitting on my back porch and am basically being shorted $4k and threats of litigation. I left him a message, because he can't ever seem to answer the phone 4 minutes after he calls. I know you all aren't lawyers and I have already called mine and am meeting with him tomorrow but I thought I would seek advice from you guys because I'm sure it has happened to someone before.

    My thinking is this. He had an opportunity to look over the estimate. I didn't hold a gun to his head and force him to give me a check. I've been carrying out my end of the bargin for 4.5 weeks and now THIS, with only about 4 hrs of work left.
  2. carcrz

    carcrz LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,085

    I'd stick him w/ the total bill! Why should you be stuck w/ plants that he agreed to purchasing & then backed out after they were bought.
  3. PLM-1

    PLM-1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,640

    I guess because i'm not a total jerk. I didn't plant them. So I took them as requested trying to make things go smoother.

    WALKER LANDSCAPE LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,413

    Sounds like he is one of those that try to come off hard and make you "Make sure the customers happy" or "The customer is allways right" WRONG I could say I called other LCO and they said they were getting the plants for free. I think you should stick to your guns. Charge what he owes you. Go to court if you have to and charge him for that too.
  5. PLM-1

    PLM-1 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,640

    BTW, here is how I explained to him my price arrival:
    When I go to the nursery, I give them the list of what I want and they give me a wholegood price which doesn't include their freight, taxes or their "prep" which is the price that I use to try and determine a retail price. In my retail price, I absorb the above costs with my costs associated with the material and I arrive at the price the customer pays. Sometimes the price is somewhat padded for "worst case scenarios" e.g. availability, size changes, etc. so there isn't any shock if something happens and the price goes up. I try to avoid that. The price estimated isn't necessarily set in stone, they do change, in both ways, up and down. Remember, I offer a warranty with the plants I install. That warranty is totally on me as the nursery doesn't offer a warranty to commercial clients (me). A very small percentage in "my costs" is the possibility of me having to warranty out a plant. Remember, you get what you pay for. Most other companies do not offer a plant warranty that is actually usable! Basically, in plant selection they order what I ask for and I get what I get. I'm not really able to pick much out. Since you aren't happy with the tree I will see what I can do. I didn't realize you wanted a traditional red. In speaking with (wifes name) she was wanting something more modern and I tried to find a happy medium. With the way those trees were affected this year by the ice storm it may prove difficult but I will do what I can to keep you happy because that is the main goal. If it comes down to it, we may hold off on the tree until next year and just credit the money back. Without you happy I haven't succeeded in my goal.
  6. JG Landscaping

    JG Landscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 70

    Tell him you run a business, you don't do work for free and I highly doubt he does either. I assume he signed a contract? wave it in his face threaten him with legalities and then see how quick he shuts up! Claims court is your best friend. Still wondering though, what does the father in law do? And how are you involved if you don't mind me asking.
    Good Luck and don't worry, you'll be fine.
  7. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    This is probably the saddest part of being new in this business, there's a lot to it but it just makes me sad to read about it.

    I'll tell it like it is, that customer is WRONG but, so are you... Now why and how a customer feels they are entitled to get you for the simple reason that you're being a nice guy, that's the part used to make me so angry. Then again, maybe it's inexperience...

    But he's just jerking you around, unfortunately it appears your own actions leading up to that helped spark it but right it isn't.
    Best I can tell you is use this and future opportunities of this nature to grow some BOLAS, you'll want to work on being able to stand up to these people and let them know where you draw the line, then fire up their tail when they cross it.

    And get some experience, keep working this trade.
    Get what you can out of this one, chalk up the rest to education.
    Unfortunately my advice is only so good here, if anyone else would care to chip in?

    Yeah that's it.
  8. MarcSmith

    MarcSmith LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    Personally. I would have finished the install. And requested full payment.

    Once materials are purchased and delivered its pretty much a done deal.

    His griping about price would be like me telling you if was going to check prices on new cars before buying one, then buy the car from you. And then get buyers remorse and have a change of heart a month later and expect to get top dollar from the dealer for the car now.

    Or buy a BMW and then complain about your prices when Chevy's are much cheaper....

    You are not walmart or Bestbuys, You don't offer price match guarantees. God I hate people like this...Even if your prices are 10x the local competitors, who cares....you did not force him to buy your services..it was his decision to overpay if thats the case. he claimed he did the research.

    Honestly I'd finish the job and Stick him with the full bill. if not Id make him pay for the shrubs that you did not install and leave them on his front doorstep. Most wholesale nursery's will not take back stock once it has left their premesis.

    So if you give him back his plants since the nursery won't take them back, his final bill would be all labor and materials for the entire jobs minus the labor to install the remaining plants.
  9. mag360

    mag360 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,445

    I agree with marcsmith.
    Assuming the nursery won't take those plants back, he is responsible for them.
    Good luck with this jerk.
  10. MJS

    MJS LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,316

    Tell him you run a business, you don't do work for free and I highly doubt he does either. I assume he signed a contract? wave it in his face threaten him with legalities and then see how quick he shuts up!

    Yep, that's what I would do, too.

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