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need help being couth

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by a palustris, Mar 7, 2003.

  1. a palustris

    a palustris Member
    Messages: 74

    Hi. I do not plow snow, currently I am a college student at a LARGE land grant school. This year has given us a bounty of snowfall as most of you know, however I am severely unhappy with the manner in which my school handles it. The reasons why I am unhappy is because the budget is very tight for the school, we keep paying more, but we also keep losing classes, and other essentials. Yet for some reason, the grounds comittee is allowed to do a piss poor job handling snow, in FAR slower times than what it should take. I obviously do not want to gain the contract, however I do want them to improve the quality and speed of the work that they do, because I am tired of slipping and falling around campus from the hardpack and ice which they leave us. Also, hopefully if they improve their methods, we will not lose any more in what once was a quality establishment.
    My complaints are these:
    1) they plow with the shoes on the plows leaving us with about an inch of hard pack to walk on, and drive on.
    2) they have at least a dozen 5 yard loaders and another dozen full size backhoes and tractorsat their disposal (some of which are rented from local companies) yet they only equip them with 10' plows at MOST or just a regular bucket when they could easily use 20' pusher boxes for a lower cost.
    3) They apply a brown, sticky, smelly liquid to the walkways and roads 24 hours before each storm which does absolutely NOTHING to cut down on the snow accumulation.
    4) they are highly inneficient at their workings; their salt piles are FAR away. they will send 3 loaders to clean up 2 bus stops, when they do send a loader to clean up a bus stop, the loader only does one, when there is one stop on each side of the road.
    5) they do NOT clean up their windrows or corners when plowing.

    So what I would like to know is, how do I send a letter to the director of the grounds department asking that they improve their methods? I am getting truly fed up with slipping and falling and am ready to take one of two approaches.
    1) I slip again, I sue your butt
    2) "If I feel pain, so will you"

    I am sure I could find a lawyer who would take on the job, with the help of a few pictures. As for the other method, I have a friend who is nicknamed "Owww" that should say enough right there.

    Thank you all for your help.
  2. JonKitterman

    JonKitterman Junior Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1

    Re: needing Help

    You need to start looking the winter for what it is. It is an act of Nature. If you take the time to talk to an grounds person they will explain why they do these things a certain way. I am so sick of this 'I sue your butt' garbage spouted so often! Grow Up As you stated, you do not plow snow and obviously have not taken the time to understand what is going on in the world.
  3. JCurtis

    JCurtis Banned
    Messages: 862

    Another one of those elitest college educated snobs

    who thinks that plow operators are brainless and inferior just because they may not have a college degree!!!!

    You dont want the contract.... You couldnt handle the contract !!!!!!

    People like you need people like me on the wall doing what I do !!

    ( do I sound like Jack Nicholsen in a Few Good Men? OOORAH)

    Seriously, why is it always easier to criticize than compliment!
  4. oakhill2000

    oakhill2000 Member
    Messages: 98

    no comment, but I agree with jcurtis and johnkitterman.
  5. BRL

    BRL PlowSite.com - Veteran
    Messages: 1,277

    "because I am tired of slipping and falling around campus from the hardpack and ice which they leave us."

    I think a palustrus has presented some very good points here, and has thought this post out. He has been a member here since last July, and while he doesn't plow snow yet, I would imagine with 67 posts, he has certainly learned a lot here by reading a bunch more threads and our professional opinions than he has been able to contribute to. I would venture that he is actually making some very valid & educated observations, without having seen the situation myself. My town happens to do a great job managing snow & ice. However, when I cross certain city limits, it's obvious that other's are not as well educated or equipped to handle winter weather. I see the same thing when I stop for gas or coffee or a bite to eat during a storm, some private contractors manage snow & ice well & allow me safe passage to those services, and there are plenty of times I am slipping and almost falling. I have learned over time which locations to not go to anymore for my personal safety. Unfortunately, palustrus can't just change schools mid year for his safety. He is stuck trying to get to & from classes etc. on ice & hard pack. I'd raise a big stink also. I watched a whole bunch of people almost falling today in a shopping center I was in for a bit because the snow & sleet we received yesterday wasn't managed correctly. Now I realize that I have a lot of experience in this biz & am certainly qualified to make that judgement; but you can bet your ass the people I watched struggling to & from their cars were also quite qualified to make that same determination today. In the other situations I described experiencing, it was very easy to criticize, and there wasn't much available to compliment. Every plower is not qualified to do a good professional job IMO. I can drive down a street close by that I have a couple of accounts on & show you 10 of the 20 commercial buildings being serviced poorly (admittedly many of those don't want to pay for correct & safe service). So I don't agree with jumping down his or her throat about this situation (LOL A could be Alex, or Alexandria now that I think about it ;) )

    Anyway, I'd complain without mentioning the suing part, unless I really did get hurt from falling. Try to get to the person highest up in the chain of command. Often times in a large company or operation such as you describe, there may be a lack of proper training, or the top brass may not even be aware of such problems as you mention. They may drive in on the main highway everyday, and the roads & walks to their offices are probably nice & clear, in the employee's efforts to make sure they keep their jobs ;) Maybe Gordyo could add some insight. Good luck & be careful!

    My 2 cents
  6. a palustris

    a palustris Member
    Messages: 74

    I actually do have experience plowing. When I was younger I would go out with different people for hours on end to plow snow. This went on for several years. I did not mean that people without degrees are inferior to people with degrees. In fact I believe that a friend of mine, who cannot read... could do a better job than these people do, in a shorter time IF he was in charge. I know what a good job plowing snow looks like, and what a bad job plowing snow looks like. This is a BAD job across the board. I could get on the band wagon for grounds people who say "we do this like this because..." with that being said, I cannot see ANY reason why they would do it like this, other than the union wants their guys paid for lots of hours.
  7. a palustris

    a palustris Member
    Messages: 74

    Brian, thank you for speaking up on my behalf. The reason I mention the suing and "other" alternative is because of positive and negative reinforcement. Why should they listen to the request of 1 student out of probably 40,000 people? However when I add the word "lawsuit" that makes it real for them, because HOPEFULLY they will realize that I will sue, and that it wouldn't be too hard to win the case with a few pictures. I am not sure if this rings true for my school, but where I live there is something called "triple damages" you screw up 3 times with the same thing the plaintiff's can get 3X what they deserve or are asking? I doubt it would be hard to find 3 people who have fallen because of the poorly managed pavement. As far as positive reinforcement goes, MAYBE if they do what I am suggesting, they can SAVE money for the school, or POSSIBLY avoide a lawsuit from SOMEBODY who WILL fall.

    CARDOCTOR PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,304

    if you dont like snow and slipping on ice
    theres always iraq

  9. lamarbur

    lamarbur Senior Member
    Messages: 125

    it is not always the snow plow removal people who are at fault. I do two schools, next town over, one, a new HS with 1200 parking spaces. Schools in particular have no set "trigger" The trigger happens when the superintendant wishes to make that call. In my situation, that call is made hours after the storm is over, and always too late as the cars have already packed it down into a skating rink situation. Same for the sidewalks. These superintendants seem to think they are saving monies by holding out. They are not, in fact increasing the bill as it takes longer and more salt/sand mix..
  10. drobson

    drobson Senior Member
    Messages: 112

    I would contact the board of directors fo the school via mail and inform them of the situation. Maybe include a picture or two. Explain to them that you wish to have a response by a certain date to avoid escalating the issue without speaking to them about it. Let them assume what you mean by "escalate". They will most likely think lawsuit or press. Make the letter look professional and use only professional language. Another good idea is to sent it certified and cc each member of the board personally.
  11. Big Todd

    Big Todd Senior Member
    Messages: 126

    palustris, I think you have every right to complain. Sure, the grounds people may have a very good reason for doing things the way they are, but I don't see anything wrong with asking them to explain themselves.

    For example: One of our new customers (two large apartment complexes) called one morning after I had just parked my truck after a full night of plowing and ran me up one side and down the other. She couldn't understand this, that, and the other thing and was "so mad, she was ready to bail on the contract". The truth of the story was that it had snowed 3 or 4 inches and stopped. We plowed (and did a damn good job if I may say) and continued on with the route. Durring the night it started snowing again, and in fact it was still snowing when we got done with another inch and a half or so on the grond. We had plans of taking a break to get a quick nap and some breakfast before starting all over again.

    Once she had a chance to vent and calm down, (and I bit a hole in my tounge to keep from giving it back to her for being such a b*#%+), I explained the situation and what we planned to do about it, and we both went on our merry ways.

    I think that you should start by writing a letter that is as well thought out and worded as your post here and ask them why they handle the snow and ice the way they do. Be careful not to be insulting or make any threats. If after that, you are not satisfied, or they are un-responsive, look at some other options. Write an editorial in the school newspaper, go to the student leadership, organize a group to look into it, go to the school administration. You could make it into a big witch-hunt, and maybe these guys are doing a rotten job and just don't care, or are too ignorant. But, my point in this long winded response is bring it to their attention and give them a chance to defend themselves.
  12. Big Nate's Plowing

    Big Nate's Plowing PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    ~>HI MATT<~

  13. andersen

    andersen Junior Member
    from midwest
    Messages: 2

    Re: Re: needing Help

    Winter is an act of nature you are supposed to be managing as a snow removal professional. If every time I told a customer "to bad it's a act of nature" I wouldn't have to many customers. It amazes me that someone in business can so glaringly disregard a legitimate complaint so fast. The post was thought out and to the point. I say go complain and maybe the school will consider outsourcing to a professional company.
  14. SnowGodFather

    SnowGodFather Member
    Messages: 330

    Matt Lang aka Lawnboy82, this might be the best path to fallow.

    In a town like NY snow and ice is a fact of life. Find out what ways they deal with it, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes you never see.

    BTW snow and ice are not like trees
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2003
  15. Big Nate's Plowing

    Big Nate's Plowing PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    Trolling the water here Matt?:rolleyes:

  16. columbiaplower

    columbiaplower Senior Member
    Messages: 311

    Nate im confused- whats with all the "hi matt" and lawnboy stuff??
  17. CMerLand

    CMerLand Senior Member
    Messages: 173

    Im with Andersen and BRL on this Act of Nature line. Yes snow is an act of nature, that doesnt relieve us as snow professionals to provide and perform the required services to our clients to make their businesses safe to operate. In fact the very litigious nature of snow and ice are why snow removal can be so lucrative and profitable.

    If a company, business or school opens it doors to the public it has an obligation to take prudent measures to make that property safe for the pedestrians of that business. Failure to provide those services, in a timely, professional and proper manner does make that business liable to lawsuits, that quite often are successful.

    I hope for the sake of your clients, your defense in this matter goes much further then " uhhhh your Honor, it was an act of God." If thats the case and it was a winner then why would clients pay us at all for snow removal??? Hell they could just hang a sign at the edges of the property that says "Enter at your own risk and peril???"
  18. Big Nate's Plowing

    Big Nate's Plowing PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,266

    he was banned from here once already and from lawnsite twice and lawn forums. I will say no more on this topic
  19. Plow Babe

    Plow Babe Senior Member
    Messages: 218

    I agree with Big Todd. Start with a legitimate inquiry, but avoid the threats to begin with. Remember what gramma used to say, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

    Another idea, if you could get access to the information, is to find out exactly what the snow and ice management budget is for the year. Then go around to some of the reputable local contractors with that figure, and ask them how they would best manage the property within that budget. You could come up with some good ideas that you would be able to present to your school of ways they could improve their operation while staying within the budget.

    it sounds like you are an observant person who has put some thought into this. Just try to avoid allowing your frustration to cause you to approach this from a negative stand ("I'll sue"). If you try a positive approach and really get no results, you can always fall back on the lawsuit idea.
  20. SnowGodFather

    SnowGodFather Member
    Messages: 330

    Threats and "I'll sue" is why all of us have a snow and ice control biz today, this is why my commercial trigger is a dusting, this is why we have an internet board.