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Am I justified, or is this a 'shady' business practice...
Old 05-22-2007, 09:47 PM   #1
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Am I justified, or is this a 'shady' business practice...

Long story short: I signed up a lawn mowing account 6 weeks ago...beautiful home, one acre of grass...37 bucks per cut...took us 1 hr the first time, and have done it in as little as 45 minutes....UNTIL THE SPRINKLERS WERE ACTIVATED!!!

Now the grass grows like no tomorrow, its always wet when we arrive, and did i mention its growing SUPER fast? So fast, that we cannot bag the grass by cutting it once...we have to double cut it to make it look presentable (when we are done, it is THE best looking lawn I've EVER seen...bar none...we've gotten tons of drive by comments,and even added neighbors as customers). teh fact that its always moist makes it clump...the bagger doesnty work right...it gets messy when we unload the bagger..etc

Well,the double cutting and 1.5 hrs of w#rk makes no sense...especially for 37 bucks before expenses and taxes...


Our service agreement states that either party can cancel for any reason with 30 days written notice. So...I mailed the customer our notice. I wrote them a full page letter explaining our position. I admitted it is our fault, our mistake, and not their responsibilty that we are in the predicament...but we cant continue at the current rate. i suggested they seek another company with a similar rate...as its only fair they get a seasons worth of cutting for the price they budgeted (this is a million dollar home....if that matters). If they cant find someone suitable in 30 days, or simply want to keep us, we can do it for $49 (Still low, but competitive)


I really hope they dont think we did this on purpose...because when she called to give us the job, she even said "so the 37 dollars is for the whole lawn...right? and youre going to bag it?? okay..." I think she knew it was too low. little did i know they would water 2x daily and fertilize the crap out of it


I tried to suck it up...but in the end it just didnt work


any input?
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Old 05-22-2007, 09:53 PM   #2
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It sounds as if you may have picked up enough new business from the neighbors and drive-bys to justify doing the work until the contract expired. By canceling early you may end up losing more business than its worth if the homeowner decides to badmouth you around the neighborhood...just a thought.
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Old 05-22-2007, 09:56 PM   #3
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I'd have asked them to turn down the sprinkler times or water the night before rather than just before you get there...
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Old 05-22-2007, 09:58 PM   #4
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I think you are being taken advantage of but guess finishing out the season would be the best solution. Maybe you should think about adding something to your contracts about excessive watering and/or fertilizing? Don't know how that would be worded. You are living up to your contract and I feel the customer aren't being reasonable by their actions.
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Old 05-22-2007, 10:12 PM   #5
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I would go in after dark and alter the sprinkler system....
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Old 05-22-2007, 10:19 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by maddythebeagle View Post
I would go in after dark and alter the sprinkler system....
thats too funny...i actually pondered this idea quite a bit while i lugged around 75 lb bushels of grass today


And for the record, i did mention the sprinkler timing to the customer, and he said he'd have to pay the irrigation guy to come out and re-program the thing...and "that wont work" but i tried!


i hope they dont bad-mouth me...but if so, theres nothing i can do. i have a way with words, when written (ya couldnt tell by my posts here?....trust me...)...so i hope the letter soothes them a bit



jason
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Old 05-22-2007, 11:33 PM   #7
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Hey Fed...

Two things that IMO are in your favor....

First, you made the bid under the assumptions that there would be DRY grass... and that is what you seem to had gotten the first few times and that you would continue to do so if it was dry... THEY changed what they were doing which caused you more time and effort... and they have made NO effort to bring it back into the 'agreed' terms...

Second, you said that you BOTH have a 30 days cancellation clause.. that if FOR ANY REASON WHATSOVER.... you don't have to explain if you do not want to... but you did which is good... you gave them a honest proposal for the NEW CONDITIONS and would continue to do the work... it is now their choice of what to do... stop watering or pay more...

I don't think you did anything wrong at all.... don't beat yourself up on this one..
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Old 05-23-2007, 12:46 AM   #8
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if they can't fix the darn sprinkler time to save the $ then it's their fault...you went out of your way to ask for their help and they didn't budge...
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Old 05-23-2007, 04:15 AM   #9
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Personally I would have just honored the contract...sounds like you have no "legal" reason to stay in it...but whats legal, and whats right are not always the best thing.

I'd even tell the owner that made a mistake, that you should have charged more, but will continue for the rest of the year anyway. Next hear s/he won't be surprised by the jump in rates.
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Old 05-23-2007, 04:42 AM   #10
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Personally I would have just honored the contract...sounds like you have no "legal" reason to stay in it...but whats legal, and whats right are not always the best thing.

I'd even tell the owner that made a mistake, that you should have charged more, but will continue for the rest of the year anyway. Next hear s/he won't be surprised by the jump in rates.
I don't think it is 'right' either.... they changed what they were doing by watering the grass all the time when he was coming over... and when told about it, did nothing.. so THEY changed from the ORIGINAL contract, so Fed can change also... he chose NOT to accept the 'new' contract which is RIGHT also..

Now, maybe Fed could have figured out when the grass was not wet and mowed on that day (but I suspect they watered every day like one of my neighbors)...
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Old 05-23-2007, 07:53 AM   #11
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the fed,

Do what my lawn service does ... come twice a week if needed (single cut). $37 x 2 is alot better than $49 once. She'll get the hint and stop water the lawn.

If the contract specifies once/week ask for a contract mod. Otherwise suck-it-up and jack the rate next year. Better to keep this customer happy ... refferals will make or break you.

And a reputation as a tight-wad will not help.
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Old 05-23-2007, 08:31 AM   #12
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I don't think it is 'right' either.... they changed what they were doing by watering the grass all the time when he was coming over... and when told about it, did nothing.. so THEY changed from the ORIGINAL contract, so Fed can change also... he chose NOT to accept the 'new' contract which is RIGHT also..

Now, maybe Fed could have figured out when the grass was not wet and mowed on that day (but I suspect they watered every day like one of my neighbors)...
I didn't notice where the OP stated that the homeowners were contractually obligated to not water the lawn in order to make the lawn-cutting jobs easier...maybe I missed that.
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Old 05-23-2007, 03:10 PM   #13
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I didn't notice where the OP stated that the homeowners were contractually obligated to not water the lawn in order to make the lawn-cutting jobs easier...maybe I missed that.
Hmmm... you had said earlier that he could LEGALLY cancel, but it was not 'right'.... and I posted about what they did was also not 'right'... this has nothing to do with the contract. For what is 'right', they should provide a dry lawn to cut (by not watering) and he should cut it for what he said he would... heck, my lawn guy won't come if it rains..

He can cancel with 30 days notice IN THE CONTRACT... so show me why he should not obey the contract at his peril? And even when they won't help out when he asks them.
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Old 05-23-2007, 04:05 PM   #14
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Hmmm... you had said earlier that he could LEGALLY cancel, but it was not 'right'.... and I posted about what they did was also not 'right'... this has nothing to do with the contract. For what is 'right', they should provide a dry lawn to cut (by not watering) and he should cut it for what he said he would... heck, my lawn guy won't come if it rains..

He can cancel with 30 days notice IN THE CONTRACT... so show me why he should not obey the contract at his peril? And even when they won't help out when he asks them.
So its not "right" for a homeowner to water his/her own lawn?

If the homeowner agreed to not water the lawn in the contract, then fine...otherwise, imo, it would be a better business decision to suck it up and do the job, what does the OP lose? about 5-8 hours of his time over the entire season...big woop...its not about legalities, but then again, what do I know about running a business successfully (other than being able to retire at 38 because I treated my customers right, even if they didn't deserve it)....there is a big difference between being a EMPLOYEE for someone elses company, and running your own business. You apparentely have a "employee" mentality - do what I am required to do, nothing more.

I have an opinion, yours is different - get over it - I have no desire to waste my time trying to convince you - my advice was to the OP - he can take it, or leave it - no skin off my nose either way.
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Old 05-23-2007, 04:07 PM   #15
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Hmm...as someone who had their lawn cut by a number of companies over a long period of time, I'd say its fairly poor form by the homeowner to wet the lawn down just before the guy shows up to cut it...
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Old 05-23-2007, 08:12 PM   #16
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Hmm...as someone who had their lawn cut by a number of companies over a long period of time, I'd say its fairly poor form by the homeowner to wet the lawn down just before the guy shows up to cut it...
a number of companies? you arent one of those PITA customers i've had to drop, are ya? LOL j/k


Im not even going to touch the dialogue before your post...i see both sides and appreciate the input....well maybe just a bit:

I think the 'right' thing to do, in my case, is exactly what i did. i admitted my mistake, and asked for some help on their part to make both of us happy. when i found out they wouldnt oblige, i again admitted my mistake, sent them a very honest and personalized letter explainig my position, and am awaiting their response. I even offered in the letter to waive their -tri-weekly- 10 dollar charge to mow a septic mound 50 yds behind the home in the middle of some woods....if they decide to accept the new terms...thus, their total outlay would be only another 40/month...

from strictly a BUSINESS standpoint, imhomit makes sense to drop them. im in this to make money NOW, not hope for more referrals down the road...imagine how that'd go "Hey Joe, i have this WONDERFUL lawn guy...his work is superb, and REALLY cheap. He does my yard for 37 bucks...so imagine what he'd do yours for!!"

I am paying help 15/hr with workers comp, insurance, soc security,lunches etc included. 1.5 hrs x15/hr=$22. Gas=$5. NOT GOOD. And on a similar note, an extra 45 mins/week x 26 weeks=20 hr total....so thats 40 MAN hours....pretty significant



Thanks for everyones input!
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Old 05-24-2007, 09:03 AM   #17
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Shady practice? no
Legally or morally wrong? no
Bad business decision? Absolutely

A happy customer tells 2-3 people about you. An unhappy customer tells 10.

Next time: "BTW, we're finding that with your new sprinkler system it's taking us a lot more time to do our work, and we're operating at a loss, but that's our fault. However, you have such a lovely lawn, that we'd like to continue the arrangement. May we put a small sign on your lawn indicating who does the work?"
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Old 05-24-2007, 12:47 PM   #18
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Shady practice? no
Legally or morally wrong? no
Bad business decision? Absolutely

A happy customer tells 2-3 people about you. An unhappy customer tells 10.

Next time: "BTW, we're finding that with your new sprinkler system it's taking us a lot more time to do our work, and we're operating at a loss, but that's our fault. However, you have such a lovely lawn, that we'd like to continue the arrangement. May we put a small sign on your lawn indicating who does the work?"

Fantastic idea, Al!!
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Old 05-24-2007, 04:23 PM   #19
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So its not "right" for a homeowner to water his/her own lawn?

If the homeowner agreed to not water the lawn in the contract, then fine...otherwise, imo, it would be a better business decision to suck it up and do the job, what does the OP lose? about 5-8 hours of his time over the entire season...big woop...its not about legalities, but then again, what do I know about running a business successfully (other than being able to retire at 38 because I treated my customers right, even if they didn't deserve it)....there is a big difference between being a EMPLOYEE for someone elses company, and running your own business. You apparentely have a "employee" mentality - do what I am required to do, nothing more.

I have an opinion, yours is different - get over it - I have no desire to waste my time trying to convince you - my advice was to the OP - he can take it, or leave it - no skin off my nose either way.

I never had a problem nor ever tried to change your opionion... seems you did... I ran my own company for awhile and honored my commitments... but also would do what the OP did when conditions changed... I would tell the customer that the conditions changed and that I could not continue under that arrangement and propose another... the OPs customer did not want to change, so you make a decision to drop them and move one...

One of the biggest problems with business is they don't know when to drop a losing customer...

BTW... I was a corp trustee and had many CFOs insist that I be their trustee because of my customer service... but if they tried to take advantage of me I would bring it to their attention.. if they continued.. yes, I would drop them... but got a whole lot more business from the good customers...

So, yes, our opinions are different... that is what life is all about..
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Old 05-24-2007, 09:52 PM   #20
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Next time you mow, spray a few spots with RoundUp. When the grass dies tell them they have a fungus from too much water.
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