What would your response be to this customer????

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Brother1, Nov 19, 2003.

  1. Brother1

    Brother1 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    Well I figured I'd throw this out to see how some of you guys/gals in the industry would respond to a customer letter like we received today. Here's the story:

    Our crew was mowing a lawn in August and a new resident who had just bought the house across the street from our customer asked us for a proposal to cut his lawn. He had purchased the house but was not living in it yet. We gave him a written estimate and he said he would look at it and let us know if he accepted our price. That night he left a message on our machine saying that the price was fine and he was returning the signed estimate in the mail but could we go ahead and cut it right away because it hadn't been done in a few weeks and was an eyesore in the neighborhood. We said ok and the next day our crew performed the service.

    We received the signed estimate in the mail a few days later and all was ok. Than before the next week his wife called and said that they were not going to need our service any longer and wanted to cancel the contract. We said no problem but we had mowed the lawn already and we would have to bill them for the work we completed. She said no problem just send the bill. We figured they found someone cheaper and really didn't care because we already had a full schedule.

    Their invoice was sent and lo and behold no payment. Sent out a letter each month with late charges and inquiry as to why we hadn't received payment. We didn't have a phone number because when they first approached us they didn't have a phone number at the house and gave us a cell number but when we left messages on the cell number the calls were never returned.

    This started the 2nd week of August and finally today we get a letter in the mail from the husband saying that he has been ignoring our invoices because we never provided the service. He stated that he didn't return his signed contract until August 6th via 1st class mail and we could not have received it by the day we did the service which was August 7th. And I quote, "my letter could not have possibly reached the company before August 8, 2003. Hence, on August 7, the company could not possibly have had any authorization from me on lawn mowing at my property".

    So for a measly $50 bucks I'm not gonna go crazy about this but how would any of you handle a response to his letter. I hate when customers reneg on a commitment and it really burns me that people have the nerve to just make their own rules. If this guy felt this way why didn't he call in August or send this letter sooner?? One thing we don't do is charge someone for work we didn't perform and I'd hate for this guy to start mouthing off to other people in the neighborhood that we are trying to rip him off. We are in a very competative market and the image and reputation of a company makes a big deal. That is one thing we pride ourselves on and have always received most of our work via word of mouth.

    I am going to write a letter back to this deadbeat and in a polite way try to explain our stance on the issue. I'm sure a lot of you have run across this and was just wondering how you might respond. Sorry for the rambling post but guess I also needed to vent some. Thanks for any input.
  2. Ryan Lightning

    Ryan Lightning LawnSite Senior Member
    from CA
    Messages: 554

    See if one of the neighbor's saw your crew mowing the lawn.
  3. NCSULandscaper

    NCSULandscaper Banned
    Messages: 1,557

    I would tell him to send payment along with all late fees or he will be hearing from your lawyer and will be taking court action. If anything it may scare him enough to send you payment even if it was only $50. If you just let him get away with it he will continue to do this to all other companies he gets to work for him.
  4. J Hisch

    J Hisch LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 952

    I agree with NCSU, I think the customer was in a bind and what better way to get the lawn manageable then to have the pro's do it. I too have learned not to give to much in good faith. when a customer asked you to do so, without checking their credit rating. Ask if they would give you the keys to their house. because you are basically letting them do that when they want you to extend them quick credit. About the bad reputation. Your customers would realize something was different especially when you have been servicing their lawn with no problems.
  5. Westbrooklawn

    Westbrooklawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 427

    Write him a letter and document what happened. Give him a date to pay by, and explain that if payment isn't received by that date you are taking your claim to small claims court....then do it!

    Based on the circumstances, a "rule of reasonableness" would be in your favor and I'm sure the court would find in your favor.
  6. tiedeman

    tiedeman LawnSite Fanatic
    from earth
    Messages: 8,745

    I agree with NCSU. If you really wanted to be an a@@ about it, just bill them for mowing since August (even though you didn't provide any) and simple tell him that you never received a phone call from his wife so you continued service:)
  7. BravesFan

    BravesFan LawnSite Member
    Messages: 233

    Get a collections agency to hound him first for a month or two.

  8. bobbygedd

    bobbygedd LawnSite Fanatic
    from NJ
    Messages: 10,178

    this cr@p burns me up. you know damn well this guy fully intended to rob you from the very start. why? cus he's a lowlife. why did he think he could get away with it? cus we aint nuttin but dumb azz lawnboys, so he thinks. i would make a personal apearence at his doorstep. tell him you want your money, don't ask him, tell him! get loud, get nasty. if he opens the door and comes out, maybe trip and fall down the front steps, get 50, 000 instead of $50. i wouldnt send him any more letters, why would you? how many times u gonna tell him he owes u money? he already knows he does, and has , and never had, any intention of paying
  9. lawnman_scott

    lawnman_scott LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,547

    Go with bobby, the rest is a waste of time. Next time your doing the lawn you do and you see your customer, ask if they know if the neighbor is home, because he owes you money. It may at least embarras him. Bobby is right, he never had any intention of paying you, he thinks your an idiot who will just walk away and say ok
  10. 65hoss

    65hoss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,360

    This is crazy. All over $50. It will cost triple the amount just to go to court. Not worth it.

    Send him a letter back explaining the entire situation. At the end put a sentence in there..."Since your financial situation seems to dicate you need the money, consider it my gift to the needy and keep the $50."

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