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Hey guys, I need your opinion... Yes that means everyone!


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  #1  
Old 12-04-2008, 12:40 PM
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Default Hey guys, I need your opinion... Yes that means everyone!

I have a client that signed up for annual service with monthly billing on 3-1-08
He owns a large cornor lot with alot of plant beds, shrubs, & trees. Our agreement was $100/mo to include mowing, line trim, edge, blow off, & then trimming & pruning of all bushes & trees under 15' in height. Weed control was not included & the client handled that himself. In mid June 08' the client was going away for a couple months & asked me if he left out some spray & a sprayer could I spray the weeds for him? He said I could charge him extra if need be. I said no, I would spray for him that there would be no charge, it's not a big deal.

Bettween June 25th & Sept 25th in addition to our regular work I treated the beds with his supplied chemical & sprayer on 5 or 6 occasions. After using the gallon he had mixed I noticed it wasn't working very well, When I went to mix gallon #2 I found the label on the bottle of concentrate was not legible as it was left outside, I called the client by phone & explained that it wasn't working very well & that I didn't know the proper mix for this off-brand product, He wasn't sure what the mix rate was off hand either & said "I just mix some in". So I did, but it didn't kill anything. I up'd the doseage & still nada. So slowly the weeds overtake the beds despite the spray (Mind you I've called him about this already).
The client returns to town around the week of Oct. 1st. He comments then that the weeds are out of control & I said "I know, that's why I called you, It wasn't working!" So he spends time out in the yard & pulls all the weeds, there were times I was there mowing, trimming & pruning while he was outside & he said nothing to any effect that he was mad at me. Not here we are in December I call the client because he owes for the months of October & November ($200). He now feels that I am responsible for the fact that the weeds got out of hand & he's pissed. He want's to cancel our agreement on the lawn & bushes (because of weed control that wasn't included- I sprayed them for a couple months with his stuff as a courtesy). The kicker to this all is the client refuses to pay the $200 he rightfully owes for the services rendered (that were actually in our agreement!) during the months of Oct. & Nov. He states he spent 5 full days & his cousin helped for 3 days pulling the weeds & that he feels this labor more than eats up the $200 in question.
I feel like it was a courtesy to spray, I didn't charge him & on top of it he was NOTIFIED that it WASN'T WORKING.
He feels that despite the lack of charge, I agreed to "take care of the weeds" & had I not agreed he'd have found someone who would have to done it in his absence. But since I said I'd spray that it's all my responsibility & that I should have pulled all the weeds or had my men do it.

The bottom line to me seems that the spray didn't work for me, He says it works. I don't know how thick he mixes it because I still don't even know what the proper mix is!? The label was destroyed, & when I called he didn't know either? It was not a product I am failiar with. ( I don't even carry weed killer as I am not certified, though legally- if a customer supplies both chemical & application equipment it falls under a "yardman exemption" & I can apply weed killer that way). I suppose I could have tracked down who sells that crap, got in the car, gone to the place & read a label on their bottle but hell?..... this was a courtesy thing after all.

What is you're honest opinion on this one guys? Am I wrong to want to get paid here? If I am fine, tell me. Either way after I get some responses here I plan to print the whole thread & send it to my now former client.
Thanks for taking the time to read & respond. -Chuck
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  #2  
Old 12-04-2008, 01:27 PM
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WOW! This is one heck of a situation. I will file this one under, you can't make everyone happy all the time. Who knows what is going on. Maybe he is having other issues in his life.

If it were me, I would still want to be paid. The upside is you probably can get the money, the downside is he may bad mouth you.

I think my next step would be to use the collection letter and see if that works, if not take him to small claims court.

What is your thought on this?
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Old 12-04-2008, 01:59 PM
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Rough...

Putting myself in his shoes I can understand his frustration. He goes away and thinks that the weeding is being taken care of. Even though you called he still thinks you have it under control.

Personally I don't think you should have done it probono...you should have charged him for the weed control...at least your time. Basically if you charged for the service and noticed that the chem apps were not working you would have manually pulled them because you were in charge of weeding the beds and you wouldn't be in this situation. Did you ask him to scrap the chem apps and recommend a manual control?

However, he has no right (nor a legal leg to stand on) to withhold payments because of a verbal agreement on a different service. You had a signed agreement for services that were completed on time and at a high quality standard. That he owes for....no questions. The crappy and good thing is that it is only $200.00. If you take him to small claims you eat up all that money because your time is worth more. I would send him a collections letter stating that you would like to clear up this bill, and it is unfortunate that you can no longer work together.
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:02 PM
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Dude. I say 'dude' with that tone we use when we really are....pissed.

You know; "D-U-D-E" That way.

I get the same kinda crap over and over (if you recall, I am a window cleaner...soon to be lawn guy). The economy causes some folks to loose their minds.

The idea, to me, is make a profit by working hard and being fair/honest. This is a tough call for some. Not me.

They get two calls, one letter then a certified letter then they get a lien. End of story.

The certified letter states that "I have tried to bend and flex to your side. I am done. You have 3 days before I carry the paperwork to court and file a lien. You asked for the work I am now asking for the money. You have until Friday, at noon, to reply via certified letter holding a cashiers check."

This often works. But, it also looses the client. which ...you have lost anyway..

I have seen more bankruptcy papers this year than all the other yeasr combined.
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Old 12-04-2008, 02:20 PM
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Yea give him the letter .
If he hase any thing to say then charge him for your time for applyiong His weed killer. If he thinks should not pay you now /now you sould think that he should pay you for the extra hrs that you but in !!
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Old 12-04-2008, 03:00 PM
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Quote:
They get two calls, one letter then a certified letter then they get a lien. End of story.
Phil what is your view on why you go with the lien versus a small claims court where you can get a judgment for the money owed?
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Old 12-04-2008, 04:36 PM
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The whole situation is frustrating as hell I can tell you that. The part that makes it suck even more is that during the last month (which he is refusing to pay for) I spent hours & hours there doing a full fall clean up & trimmed everything on the property! (which is included in the monthly rate but still that's assuming that I'll get paid) So Everything is freshly trimmed for the winter & so he's gonna try to gig me for October, & November on top of cancelling a $100/month agreement going into the slower months..... auugh!
I bet he'll probably let the place go completely neglected til march & then hire some other poor schmuck for next season.
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Old 12-04-2008, 05:14 PM
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I feel for you in this situation. I think something that's important to keep in mind is not to take this as a personal attack on you. His behavior seems strange to me and you just never know what is going on in his life. Did he lose money in the stock market. Is he having trouble making ends meet. Is he afraid of losing his house.

We just don't know what is going on with him but we know he has a contract with you and he owes you money. So, if he sees that you are not going away and he is going to have to deal with all of this, he might just decide to pay you for what you have done up to this point and move on with his life.

Let us know what you decide to do.
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Old 12-04-2008, 06:36 PM
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So your regular agreement is for mowing etc, which you did, right? Make it clear that he owes you for the work performed, and then have him send you a bill for the weed pulling he had to do! haha

Just kidding, chalk it up as a lesson learned and go find another customer to fill his spot.
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Old 12-04-2008, 09:50 PM
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Chuck:

It sounds like you are at one of those crossroads where you wonder if it is worth attempting to salvage this customer or just dump him and spend your time gaining other clients.

Here is what I have done in situations like this. Tell him your position once more just like you told us above and let him know that you truly feel like you handled the application of the chemical to the best of your ability. Let him know that you continued to maintain his lawn according to your contract and that you feel you should be paid in full for the duration of the contract.

Now comes the hard part. Once you feel he has a balanced viewpoint on the situation, trust him with control of the outcome. Ask his ideas for an equitable solution.

I think he is just frustrated...maybe at the weeds or maybe at something else in his life, like Steve said. He just wants to blame someone. Maybe he left the lid off the chemical and it rained and diluted the solution. Maybe it was old or never worked in the first place and he's embarrassed to admit it.

Anyway, lay it out to him and ask him what he thinks is truly fair to both parties. My bet is that you will be able to salvage this business relationship.

Good luck:

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