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Advice on complaints from older customers

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by turfcarelawns, Mar 9, 2013.

  1. turfcarelawns

    turfcarelawns Member
    Messages: 33

    We do a 105 driveway villa complex, and in our area the biggest snow we typically see is 4" to 5". This property received 14" in less than 6 hours this last week. We started clearing with our snow blowers until my guys and blowers just could not take anymore abuse. So I called the president of the association and let him know that we needed to bring our skid loader out to complete the property due to the amount of snow that was down. He agreed. My operator brought our machine out and began to clear drives piling snow where ever he could find space. Then my phone started going off like crazy. Calls because my guys were wearing hats on their heads, some had their hoods up, guys were stopping to take a quick smoke and take a drink, and it was taking WAY too long. I could not get them to understand that there was more than 4 times the amount of snow we typically remove. Now the main issue is the driveways are a little over 20 years old some are cracked some are starting to flake and some are just uneven and heaved. They now are saying that I have to fix all driveways because my equipment ruined the drives. I have been doing snow for 6 years and have never had a complaint about concrete issues. All our customers understand that damage happens over the years, even our shovels cause scrapes and scratches. This property is not a high dollar property either. So my question is how would you deal with this? Any advice would be awesome. I attached a picture of the worst spot we found. This is where the driveway was raised an inch above the rest of the drive and my operator flaked the top of the drive. It took less than an 1/8 of an inch off the top.

  2. tuney443

    tuney443 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,847

    Sounds to me like the residents got ''spoiled'' from years of snow blowing only if I'm reading you correctly.So now this time the pavement was scraped and we all know that scraping with any type of cutting edge including a shovel can and will induce some scratching,flaking,and possible breakage.That expansion joint isn't even aligned right,if you hit that raised slab just right that could do some serious damage to your rig besides that slight flaking.I would explain this and add that you are NOT responsible for ANYTHING under the snow in next year's contract wording.
  3. blowerman

    blowerman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,261

    The way I see it, you caused damage and they would like it fixed. Now, that's not what you wanted to hear, but it's fact. Do you have a contract that discusses the scrapes that might happen over winter and who is liable? I'm not saying that we don't have scrape issues, it's that we handle the "what if" before winter starts.
  4. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,105

    I find the older customers to be a bit whiny but really loyal when you take care of them. While I don't believe you "ruined" the driveways, there is damage that should be addressed... and future proper contract wording from this experience is a definite must.
  5. turfcarelawns

    turfcarelawns Member
    Messages: 33

    The 10 years prior to us taking over the contract the previous contractor used trucks and skid loaders with blades. When we took over this year they asked us to only use snow blowers and shovels. Scratches eventually disappear with rain and driving over them.
  6. turfcarelawns

    turfcarelawns Member
    Messages: 33

    I guess the part I forgot is they want me to fix damage on drives that we did not use the loader on. It is previous damage.
  7. Mr.Markus

    Mr.Markus PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,105

    Do you have pictures of this damage from before you started?.... It would go a a long way in discrediting a superfluous claim.
  8. Sawboy

    Sawboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,561

    If you want to keep the account: Smile, apologize and fix it. Then amend contract going forward.

    If you want to lose the account: Smile, apologize and fix it. Then drop them.

    The cost of repairs is FAR LESS than your reputation. And believe me, seniors network and talk more than ANY demographic. Just fix it and take some lumps for the long haul.
  9. JTVLandscaping

    JTVLandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 860

    It's clearly damaged, no doubt about that. I can't say it's acceptable, because it's not. However...it probably wouldn't have happened if the concrete wasn't heaved. This condition is no way controlled by the contractor. If the driveway is heaved this bad, it's likely they aren't happy with it and probably are looking for a new driveway anyway...but now on your dime. I've always found it important to have a clause in the contract to cover you for this sort of thing. Things not marked and not visible under the snow can't be your problem. I always envisioned getting sued for running over somebody's iphone that was dropped. I'd give them a price break and call it good.
  10. msm63

    msm63 Junior Member
    Messages: 17

    The chipping would not have happened if the drives where not heaved. I do not feel that total replacement should even be an option, for heaved joints like that we have used a diamond grinder and plainer to bevel the high side down. This would clean up the chipped edges and take away the trip hazard, possibly making you look better for handling this way.
  11. NorthernSvc's

    NorthernSvc's Senior Member
    Messages: 766

    what exactly do they want you to do about it? make em happy... close the contract.. and GTFO
  12. GVL LLC

    GVL LLC Senior Member
    Messages: 121

    I agree with newhere except for the fact that the OP said specifically that the president told him to only use snowblowers so Im not gonna say hes a hack because he was trying to keep his customer happy. Where I will question him is why werent additional snow blowers/operators ready to go for situations like this. You cant just always bank on 5-6inch storms.

    I mean up here in MA yesterday we got almost 20 inches when the forecast called for 6 so you always have to be prepared for the worst case scenario.
  13. Triton2286

    Triton2286 Senior Member
    Messages: 654

    Are you sure about that???

  14. turfcarelawns

    turfcarelawns Member
    Messages: 33

    They want me to fix all cracks and flakes throughout the entire property. Even the ones that were prior to us starting our contract. I am by no means a concrete expert so I asked a concrete buddy what to do and he said he would leave it. By trying to fix the small flakes he would tear out the whole section to replace it, this would make the driveway unstable. He said if it were a bigger hole that would cause structural damage than yes he would replace it. I agree that this chip is very unsightly, but the other complaints I am getting are crazy. You have to get down on your hands and knees to really see any flakes. My biggest struggle was they saw our 12 man crew out there working as hard and as fast as we could and said we were too slow. So I tried to hurry up the process not knowing that it would completely backfire in my face. The windrows at the bottoms of the drives were over 4 feet tall a blower would struggle way too much to be productive.
  15. turfcarelawns

    turfcarelawns Member
    Messages: 33

    Guys up in the northeast I get it you get snow like this and it's a walk in the park. When we get snow like this the city doesn't even know how to clear it. We NEVER get snow like this, our blowers got tired so we were trying to shovel out piles as well. I thought I made the best decision possible with what I was given, I called my buddy and asked how he was clearing and he got his skid loader out too to clear his drives. We are involved in clearing 7 sets of villas and this one set is the only complaining we got.
  16. G.Landscape

    G.Landscape Senior Member
    from Ontario
    Messages: 834

    It really depends on how your contract is worded. Weather you are using skid steers or a shovel there should be something in there regarding damage. As mentioned they are obvious now but after a year of driving on it many of the scratches will go away.

    My thought is he gave you approval to use skid steers and thus should have known the risks involved since they had been used in the past.
  17. tuney443

    tuney443 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,847

    They have now crossed the line of being real and straight with you.A man only has 4 cheeks and it seems to me that you have turned every one for them to keep them happy.Wanting you to fix pavement before your contract started is 100% superfluous.If they can't understand that,get their demands in writing if it looks like you won't get paid in full and threaten them with a lawsuit.Hopefully you took pics of the before and after to prove your case.Good luck.
  18. blowerman

    blowerman PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,261

    I'm starting to see that they are being unreasonable.. Time to part ways with this account.
  19. newhere

    newhere PlowSite.com Addict
    from Fenton
    Messages: 1,288

    You cant part ways now until things are resolved, if you run from the scene you better belive they will pull you into litigation.

    Ultimately it doesn't matter how many complexes you do, what your friend used to clear his, yada yada. All that matters is this one is damaged and saying " well my friend did it to" isnt going to fix it. Im betting you have no pictures to show the place before you started so now its your word against theirs. Your not going to win on that one.

    If this goes to court you better believe they are going to have a expert witness on stand and ask him all sorts of questions about your snow removal processes and equipment being used. We know the expert is going to say what you did is not a safe or acceptable practice to remove snow. You will be made a fool of very quick.

    The way i see it you have three options.

    1- You say they need new driveways anyways so lets say you damaged 50% of them then they pay 50% you pay 50% and hopefully your insurance will cover this expense that will surely be in the 10's of thousands range.

    2- you offer to saw cut off the areas you damaged and fix only small sections, this will pretty much look like trash and you will be hoping they call the whole thing off after they see the first two or three.

    3- you stop service, dont expect payment and hire a lawyer to defend you in court saying they failed to maintain their properties and the damage never would have happened if they had. I dont think you are going to win....i bet you end up fixing it all out of pocket.

    Replacing one section will make the driveway unstable? huh??? no one is going to fall for that.

    You made a Royal mess up on this one and now your going to pay big time, no way around that.

    Im just going out on a limb and saying your not set up to be handling this type of work, probably came in a bit cheaper and tried to up sell your lack of equipment and say " oh we only use smaller snowblowers that cause no damage" then you got in over your head and realized why the old company charged what they did.
  20. Sawboy

    Sawboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,561

    Sounds like someone has a personal axe to grind.