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Been in business for over 15 years this is a first

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by NHBOSSPlOWGUY, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. NHBOSSPlOWGUY

    NHBOSSPlOWGUY Junior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 11

    Well guys this is the craziest thing that has happened to me in over 15 years. Just wanted some opinions on how to handle it. Here is a quick overview. Old lady calls me and says her next door neighbor referred me for plowing. I say great. Now mind you this is after the storm has been over for a while and I was back at the shop. She says her husband (over 70) cant do it anymore and she desperately needs to get plowed and wants me to continue to plow for the rest of the season. I give her a price per plow and I say ahhhh ok ill help you out. She seems happy with the price (only 25.00) as I even discounted it for her being elderly. I travel 20 minutes from the shop and have her driveway plowed within a half hour of the call. A few weeks go by and another storm hits. I plow it the same time I plowed her neighbors house and continue on with my route. A week or so goes by and I send her an invoice.......I get a call today with her screaming at me saying I never plowed this last storm, I did a horrible job, and ripped up some of her lawn( which I did a tiny bit cause nothing is frozen and I hadn't nor have they marked the driveway edges). I hear nothing from her about any of this until she receives a bill???? I say ya I plowed it myself. She says no I couldnt have. I say yup I defiantly did..... matter of fact it was 10:26 am when I was there as I made a voice memo to get her address. She denies I was there. I said the snow ferry must of done it then....... Ive never been spoken to like that from anyone let alone a old lady. I mean she was plain nasty. I did my best to keep my cool actually laughing while speaking with her. Like I cant believe this is happening. She now refuses to pay her bill, what a surprise. I didn't get a chance to have her sign a contract (not that it would have mattered much) which is my fault but just wondering what you guys do for those last minute calls for new clients as far as contracts go? What would you do in my situation? Ya I'm out 50 bucks but I think it irritates me more that I went out of my way to help her out and got treated like this. Sorry for the rant. Looking forward to see what others would do,
    Thanks
     
  2. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    Join the club that other guys are in.Call her back and tell hope she's paid up on her husbands life insurance.
     
  3. 4700dan

    4700dan Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 329

    Same thing happen to us but it was a signed contract on a apartment complex we eventually got paid at court but we now leave a service ticket at each location with driver name, signature, time in & time out and tape it to an entrance door. Oh by the way keep a carbon copy for yourself
     
  4. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    you think someone would believe that tix. All you did was drive over there and wrote something up and left.:rolleyes:
     
  5. L.I.Mike

    L.I.Mike Senior Member
    Messages: 364

    No good deed goes unpunished. The same thing happened to me with two different "elderly" people. Now I just say NO.
     
  6. braceyaself

    braceyaself Member
    from ct
    Messages: 63

    Dont feel bad man, better to let these type of people come and go. I had a customer all year with mowing do this to me. I make sure to take pics on new clients lawns now just incase.
     
  7. Hunter9

    Hunter9 Member
    Messages: 64

    Did you go speak with her in person? Most people cool down drastically when speaking face to face. It is also much harder for someone to call you a liar to your face.
    There is a way out of it, speak with her, discuss the situation and offer some solutions to settle this dispute AND secure the business moving forward.
    Unless you don't want the business (not sure how much business is in your market and what your current share is). Most business people would rather get the $50 AND keep the business if at all possible.
     
  8. 95HDRam

    95HDRam Senior Member
    Messages: 157

    I get bombarded with last minute calls or flag downs. I only use a contract if they want it to be a regular service. If not then I collect my money the day I do it and leave.
     
  9. NHBOSSPlOWGUY

    NHBOSSPlOWGUY Junior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 11

    Thanks guys.....good to know that I'm not alone here in dealing with this kind of thing. Its sad though that we as contractors need to deal with this crap. I typically don't keep track of times (as in am or pm) we were at the property, just basically how many times we were there and how much snow there was ect. I'd like to hear what others are doing for tracking. I also thought of doing a sign like the fert guys use and stick it at the end of the driveway. Saying who was there and what was done and a time etc but thought it might get a little time consuming. Plus like I said earlier this is a first for me in about 15 years. I am also considering emailing them, who, date, time, etc????
     
  10. NHBOSSPlOWGUY

    NHBOSSPlOWGUY Junior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 11

    Ya it would have been a nice account as it was right next door to an existing client but I honestly don't think I want to associate with this kind of customer. Around here its pretty easy to pick up plow accounts and my route is just about full anyways but it still irritates me what she said and how she said it. I need to get over it lol. My blood pressure needs to come down.
     
  11. 95HDRam

    95HDRam Senior Member
    Messages: 157

    We leave detailed messages with our commercial accounts via e-mail and voicemail. But with our residential drives we will call when we are on our way. I do like the idea of sending them an e-mail as well for personal records.
     
  12. NHBOSSPlOWGUY

    NHBOSSPlOWGUY Junior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 11

    Ya was thinking it would be easier as we are out at all hours of the day and night so we typically don't call ahead. If there is a car in the way we do our best to get around it. We either clean it up when we are doing touch up at the end of the storm or the home owner shovels it.
     
  13. Chillerq

    Chillerq Junior Member
    Messages: 27

    Any last minute jobs or flag downs we charge more and demand cash...if not we keep going. If they say ok i give them a price per season. IF they dont pay....i plow their cars in...oops
     
  14. grandview

    grandview PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,609

    In the end, don't let a crabby old lady deter you from doing something good.
     
  15. 95HDRam

    95HDRam Senior Member
    Messages: 157

    Even when we are out at all hours we always make it a point to call. Usually when we get done with our lots is when we start calling them and to say we should be there within this time to clear your driveway. But we also don't have too many driveways on contract so it isn't that bad. For my call when I need it people I don't call, just show up and get paid. Thumbs UpThumbs UpThumbs Up
     
  16. jklawn&Plow

    jklawn&Plow Senior Member
    Messages: 469

    I would write that one off. Your not in too deep in time and expenses but to try to recover its not worth the money or agravation. I would send another bill 2nd notice then a third and include a letter explaining what you did and your expenses. She's probably going to reluctantly pay. and also offer to fix the lawn in the spring. But don't include the words "if you pay". Some people just don't know what to expect with a service. They think its going to be clean as the silver spoon.
     
  17. FordFisherman

    FordFisherman PlowSite.com Addict
    from 06611
    Messages: 1,593

    Chalk it up to experience and move on. I used to take every job no matter what before assessing the situation, the client and the job itself. Most of the problems I experienced were with elderly clients. There not elderly, they're old beaters who have had a long time to perfect their craft of screwing people.
     
  18. NHBOSSPlOWGUY

    NHBOSSPlOWGUY Junior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 11

    Ya I would have offered to fix the lawn, as we are one of the only contractors in our area that I know of that fixes plow damage at no cost to the owner but with the way she jumped down my throat I wasn't about to explain to her how we handle plow damage. I did tell her that if I see anyone plowing it I'm going to make sure and tell them about her!
     
  19. Hunter9

    Hunter9 Member
    Messages: 64

    Exactly why I asked if the conversation had happened in person. I do primarily resi's and find older people can be a bit "detached" from current times, costs and reality in general. But being old school they usually respond better to up front personal conversation, more so than the smart phone generation.

    A large portion of my resi's are older people, I shovel walks when most of my competitors feels stepping outside the truck is taboo and not part of the industry. In doing this for them and going into clear details during the bid process I actually charge more (quite a bit more than the going rate) for what I do and have very good customers that come back year after year and also bring others with them.
     
  20. NHBOSSPlOWGUY

    NHBOSSPlOWGUY Junior Member
    from NH
    Messages: 11

    Very well said! I'm definitely going to try and assess things a little closer from now on!