my general rule of thumb has always been, this is business, nothing personal. but, i will admit(shamefully) that i've had my soft spots, on occasion, for the elderly, less fortunate, and even for beautiful single women. so here is a story, and a very good reason, to keep it business, always, or you will end up like "the last guy" who went out of business. so, i got a call from a lady, wanted leaf cleanup, mowing, and ferts. i started at $27, and found it should have been a few bucks more, but i'll finish the season, bring it up to $30, $32 the following year. well, over that winter, her husband passed away. spring time came, i stopped by to renew, and heard of the tragic news. she also expressed that she was having financial trouble, so i just didn't have the heart to increase the fees, and in fact, didn't even charge for a spring cleanup(it was minor, since i did the fall cleanup prior year), and even did shrub trimming at substandard prices. but i made it a give and take thing. i would edge every 3-4 weeks, instead of every other week. if there were fallen limbs, i tossed them to the side or filled up her garbage can to keep from charging an extra few bucks. i didn't push for bed work, or mulch, etc. i kept it minimal, so she could afford it. we made it through the year. the following season, i sent renewels out in feb. didn't hear from her, made several calls, she never called back. finally, in the middle of may, she calls, asking me to come by, she wants to speak to me. i went. she stated that she really didn't want to use us anymore, we did a bad job. we didn't edge and mulch the beds, we didn't do thorough cleanups after storms, we didn't clean the street curb area, we cut corners, and we didn't replace the shrubbery in the beds that had died(she planted them). i laid it on the line, ALL OF THIS COST MONEY, i explained, and i was under the impression, that she couldn't afford it. she said afford it or not, i still need it. can you provide better service, or do i look elsewhere? i said sure, you want a price? she said no, just do it, then i'll pay you when you're done. fine. $800 later, i was knocking on the door for my money. she didn't have it, and "she didn't feel like running to the bank." i kept hearing "stop by tommorow", after like 8 visits trying to collect over a 3 week period, i finally got $650 out of her. took it, and never went back. moral of story, think with your head, not your heart. make every job worth your while, or you will be "the last guy, who went out of business."