Time and material client complaining

Mitty87

LawnSite Gold Member
Well I seem to have a lot more posts than everyone else so I figure I must be doing something wrong here.

Basic rundown, we quoted a hedge install and they ended up buying their own and asked for labour prices. I just said $50 per tree, or $600 day rate, there was transplanting some smaragd and adding some irrigation lines as well. Probably an extra 3 hours.

We sent a good employee out there and she had the 10 trees planted and everything done in 6 hours, I expected about 8.

Apparently the home owner was out there every half hour nit picking and asking if she will be done soon, making the employee feel rushed.

After it was done she said it looked good and sent her home.

After I send the bill I get emails saying the trees were planted wrong, too low, soil not compacted around the root ball, trees leaning over, etc. I did see the job half way through and they did look good. Employee claimed she did stomp the loose soil around them, the 7 gallons - 6-7 footers just won't stay up if you don't.

She sent a picture of the smaragd and it was off like 5 degrees. She only sent pictures of 3 out of 10 leylandii and one had a bit of dirt on the bottom branches and one had a slight lean. They didn't have stakes, though I did say we can put some in but would charge for it.

I told her we can do the work but will have to charge for it, I said they are minor 2 minutes per tree touchups we would normally have on any job, but she felt rushed and was told everything looked good at the end. I don't know if some leaned over slightly later on as it was a bit windy.

She said they aren't interested in paying to fix the job and it was done wrong. How upset they are, etc.

I just straight up told her that she was asked multiple times when she will be done and felt very pressured to get done quick, that if she went through everything with her at the end of the day, she could have spent the last 2 hours and made some minor adjustments, on the clock.

I have basically been standing my ground as the job looks overall pretty good with 1 tree that just needs a stake, that I don't think it's fair to do warranty work on a T and M job where she was being checked up on every half hour and given the approval at the end.

It sounds like we will probably end up with a bad review out of it, it's honestly probably a few minutes to do what she wants, even though I think it's fine. But I don't want to be bullied and am standing my ground.

Any suggestions or comments?
 
OP
M

Mitty87

LawnSite Gold Member
Suggestion.
Drive over there in the morning and assess the situation, have homeowner show you specifically what needs to be addressed. Then fix it get paid.
Everyone is happy.
My wife is going there in the morning. My problem is when someone is out there all day and says it’s good because they want to be billed for less hours. Then wants the touch ups done for free
 

MowDaddy

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Grand Rapids, MN
My wife is going there in the morning. My problem is when someone is out there all day and says it’s good because they want to be billed for less hours. Then wants the touch ups done for free
I understand that. But if the person that did the work didn't stake tree's or pack soil, that's on your company. You admit a tree or two is leaning. Just go make her happy and next time make sure everything is staked or bedded in fully. A windy day shouldn't cause tree's to lean.
 
OP
M

Mitty87

LawnSite Gold Member
I understand that. But if the person that did the work didn't stake tree's or pack soil, that's on your company. You admit a tree or two is leaning. Just go make her happy and next time make sure everything is staked or bedded in fully. A windy day shouldn't cause tree's to lean.
They are pretty tall and thin. I think some are a bit crooked. She definitely knows how to plant and did pack the soil, I have always checked the planting jobs and we do quite a bit of them. She did say she did. I definitely believe her. The client also denies rushing her and don’t see any reason why she would lie about that.

Maybe she sunk in like an inch or two as we were testing the irrigation and it was wet.

I did say we can stake them if they want but it was a small job squeezed in last minute and did not know the size or anything about the trees. We would have to charge the stakes and the time for it.

Just told them if you want to supply materials to make sure they have everything.

The trees have stakes but they are too small

635811BC-F258-4698-89E8-B6BCEB19D00E.png
 

TPendagast

LawnSite Fanatic
Well I seem to have a lot more posts than everyone else so I figure I must be doing something wrong here.

Basic rundown, we quoted a hedge install and they ended up buying their own and asked for labour prices. I just said $50 per tree, or $600 day rate, there was transplanting some smaragd and adding some irrigation lines as well. Probably an extra 3 hours.

We sent a good employee out there and she had the 10 trees planted and everything done in 6 hours, I expected about 8.

Apparently the home owner was out there every half hour nit picking and asking if she will be done soon, making the employee feel rushed.

After it was done she said it looked good and sent her home.

After I send the bill I get emails saying the trees were planted wrong, too low, soil not compacted around the root ball, trees leaning over, etc. I did see the job half way through and they did look good. Employee claimed she did stomp the loose soil around them, the 7 gallons - 6-7 footers just won't stay up if you don't.

She sent a picture of the smaragd and it was off like 5 degrees. She only sent pictures of 3 out of 10 leylandii and one had a bit of dirt on the bottom branches and one had a slight lean. They didn't have stakes, though I did say we can put some in but would charge for it.

I told her we can do the work but will have to charge for it, I said they are minor 2 minutes per tree touchups we would normally have on any job, but she felt rushed and was told everything looked good at the end. I don't know if some leaned over slightly later on as it was a bit windy.

She said they aren't interested in paying to fix the job and it was done wrong. How upset they are, etc.

I just straight up told her that she was asked multiple times when she will be done and felt very pressured to get done quick, that if she went through everything with her at the end of the day, she could have spent the last 2 hours and made some minor adjustments, on the clock.

I have basically been standing my ground as the job looks overall pretty good with 1 tree that just needs a stake, that I don't think it's fair to do warranty work on a T and M job where she was being checked up on every half hour and given the approval at the end.

It sounds like we will probably end up with a bad review out of it, it's honestly probably a few minutes to do what she wants, even though I think it's fine. But I don't want to be bullied and am standing my ground.

Any suggestions or comments?
You didn’t give a time an material quote
You gave a per unit pricing
So
1) how long the employee took to plant the tress should have been irrelevant
2) time is $65/hr per person
If the customer wants more they pay more that’s the benefit to an hourly agreement

3) never work for a customer who bought their own material
Unless you’re desperate and baby needs new shoes
Just don’t do it
 

TPendagast

LawnSite Fanatic
They are pretty tall and thin. I think some are a bit crooked. She definitely knows how to plant and did pack the soil, I have always checked the planting jobs and we do quite a bit of them. She did say she did. I definitely believe her. The client also denies rushing her and don’t see any reason why she would lie about that.

Maybe she sunk in like an inch or two as we were testing the irrigation and it was wet.

I did say we can stake them if they want but it was a small job squeezed in last minute and did not know the size or anything about the trees. We would have to charge the stakes and the time for it.

Just told them if you want to supply materials to make sure they have everything.

The trees have stakes but they are too small

View attachment 460949
That tree has a natural bend to it

staking is not ANSI , so it’s not required unless there’s some indication there will be significant wind concerns
Otherwise staking should not be done if you can get away with it

in the area where the picture is, I wouldn’t stake those trees
 

TPendagast

LawnSite Fanatic
Also
T/M there is no warranty
You want more you pay more
It dies you buy another
There’s no guarantee on T/M
Otherwise It’s a high fixed price and you get fat profit and they use your materials which also have warranty plus mark up added to the cost of those materials.
 

GRANTSKI

LawnSite Silver Member
Location
Ct Shoreline
I honestly don’t like planting jobs. Too much back and forth etc. but On planting jobs I don’t feel right w mediocre results on my end. It’s hard enough to get the customer to even water them . So not t planted right there’s more chance for the plant to not do well. And of course customers will blame you.
I just did a $2400 planting job / $1200 labor. got it done quick enough but i realized I never priced mulching around the plants. I was tired so figured “eh they’ll prob be fine”. Nope. Sure as crap I come back 5 days later to mow and 1/2 the plants are wilted.
I said screw it - left my guy there to mow & went & got mulch…spent 20-30 extra minutes mulching and watering the plants. I didn’t really loose anything. And being the 3rd planting job of this size by these customers … it’s worth correcting any issues & even going a little above and beyond . I was already out of patience too. The wife told me just plant whatever I think is right. Sent her pix of dappled willow and burning Bush etc she said great go ahead. 18 x 5 gall shrubs delivered 90% planted and husband walks out “oh this isn’t really what I wanted … I was hoping for evergreens”. Lol. Ok buddy that’s gonna add a lot more to the budget & going to have to wait till spring . Again I went and grabbed 5 cypress just to put a few there so now both are happy (hopefully). SMH.
 

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