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What would you guys do?

Discussion in 'Florida Lawn Care Forum' started by GainesvilleLawnscaping, May 25, 2011.

  1. GainesvilleLawnscaping

    GainesvilleLawnscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    So, having an interesting situation here. Just installed 7 pallets of Bitter Blue for a customer yesterday. Wife oversaw the whole project and signed the invoice afterward that she accepted the work done. Said she'd have the husband send a check the next day.

    So I get a call today from the husband (turned into about 15 calls) saying that he found a few individual crab grass out of the entire front lawn. I apologized and said my guys must have missed them, said I'd get with the sod farm to get a few extra pieces and would swap them out.

    He agrees, but then calls the sod farm and asks the owner to come take a look at it. Sod farm owner shows up and the wife immediately starts attacking him verbally and screaming at him about the fact that his sod had a few pieces of crab grass in it. He apologized and said he was there to help and would exchange them no problem at all, to make her happy. She starts cursing him out, so he leaves.

    Now, the husband calls me over and over again after 9pm and keeps leaving messages threatening to sue us if we don't replace every single piece of grass in his front yard tomorrow morning. Said there's no way his wife even raised her voice to the sod farm owner, etc etc. I had it all worked out with the sod farm owner to exchange the few pieces that showed the crab, but now he wants the entire yard replaced, which isn't going to happen.

    I have tons of pictures showing the before (practically all dirt) and after (nicely done sod job) pictures of his lawn and have the wife's signature saying that she accepted the work done before we left for the day. I really don't think there's any way this is going to avoid lawyers, which is crazy. I have never once dealt with a customer that was this far out of control. What would you guys do?
  2. Georgia Lawn Works LLC

    Georgia Lawn Works LLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 365

    Well you could just run out there and swap the squares out yourself. And make everyone happy. I know that's hard to do in a situation like this but its probably your best bet. Just appoligize and make him happy.

    I doubt he would go that far to involve lawyers over this.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  3. GainesvilleLawnscaping

    GainesvilleLawnscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    I've offered that and was planning on doing it tomorrow... but he said if we don't replace EVERY piece of grass in the yard (not just the few with crab), that he isn't paying us a dollar of what we are owed.
  4. Georgia Lawn Works LLC

    Georgia Lawn Works LLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 365

    I would take him to court. Over 1500 dollar job and its a criminal case. Email me and ill give you some payment demand letters that u might find usefull. Mention collection agencies and theft of services to him.
    Posted via Mobile Device
  5. Georgia Lawn Works LLC

    Georgia Lawn Works LLC LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 365

    Id also go arrange a meeting and sit down and talk with him. Asking you to replace sod when there is nothing wrong with it is rediculas. Are you in gainsville ga? Cs@georgialawnworks.com

    I kind of busy right now. Ill check back with you tomorrow
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. abrightday

    abrightday LawnSite Member
    Messages: 146

    When I did sod jobs in the past,, I would always require 50% up front,, then at least I would have my material costs.,, Since she signed off on the deal you can slap a lien on their house.
  7. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    I have been reading but on the fence as to what to do, so I didn't reply. It appears things are way out of hand and might never be resolved. These things never have a winner, only two losers.

    One Solution might be to offer to pay for a Pest Control company to spot spray the crab grass. That is SOP for sod companies in my area, most do it themselves illegal.
  8. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969

    Still thinking about this.

    Over the years I have walked, no run away from customers who I had a funny feeling about. I am sure I lost some good work because of it. But I have avoided situations like this.

    Educating the customer is the best way to sell yourself and your job. If a customer is fully aware of what to expect you should have no problem. Problem is not a problem if you are prepared for it.

    My point here is sometimes we make our own problems by OVER SELLING the job.
  9. Keith

    Keith LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,979

    I sat there last night and read this two or three times, and just didn't have any good advice to offer. I don't know what I would do about it. I only have observations.

    Like Ric, I turn down jobs when something doesn't seem quite right. Even then, a few will slip past. You kind of get a vibe from a person. And right or wrong, I go with the feeling. But, I've gotten bad sod before, and it has become more frequent. Stuff that had to have weeds pulled out of it, whole pieces just thrown out, and most recently I had to discard a pallet and a half of a four pallet job. And I think that's why I find myself usually turning away sod jobs that are more than 3 pallets. I don't even sub them out anymore. I don't know what I am getting, or if the farm will even back it up. I just give them the names of several sod installers and turn down any profit that might have been there. Sod has turned into a bit of a crapshoot.

    If you replace it, it's likely coming from the same place. You better make sure, go over that thing with a fine-tooth comb that there is nothing in it but Bitter Blue. But also realize that now that they have seen it, any crabgrass that pops through, from now until the end of time, is going to be "some that you brought in," in their eyes. From where I sit, if it had a few pieces of crabgrass-laden sod, I think replacing those is suffient. Now if it was infested, like a 50 pieces or more had to be replaced, I'd pull all of it in a heartbeat, and eat it if I had to. I would definitely question the quality at that point. I'd find a new source for sod, and lay down the law to my employees about what to do when they start finding weeds.

    Now if what you said is entirely accurate, this is what I think is going on. The threat of suit was to keep you from ever pursuing collections. They have no intention of paying you. And I don't think they ever did. If you do nothing, that sod will still be there a year from now. They won't do a thing about it. It won't be replaced, and they will have just walked away with a free sod job. If you replace it, they are going to find something wrong with it too. What about those chinch bugs you brought in? I would seriously be looking at county records to see if they had a history of this before I took another step.
  10. GainesvilleLawnscaping

    GainesvilleLawnscaping LawnSite Member
    Messages: 59

    I spoke with the sod company this morning and he was prepared to replace every piece of sod that had crab in it. Customer said he wasn't interested unless every piece of grass period, whether or not it had crab in it was replaced. He said he's having another company come out, rip out all 7 pallets we installed, and install new grass. He demanded his money back and of course I said no way. I have pictures of the property before and after, a contract to install 7 pallets of sod signed by his wife. I'm filing a small claims suit next week for the 50% he owes us and the sod farm is going to come to the hearing to back us. I have all communications in writing to him that we were willing to replace the infected pieces.

    I too have run away from clients in the past that I thought would be issues, but I never got that feeling from him in the beginning. He's a local Dr. and thinks he knows everything about everything.

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