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No contract price gouging.

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by casey, Jan 3, 2002.

  1. casey

    casey Banned
    Messages: 180

    Toronto seems to be an island around which a heavy fortress of snow has fallen this year.
    We had a major snow event in '99 & my prices skyrocketed for non-contract residentials pleading for assistance.
    Finished contracts 5 days 24/7 (multiple visits). Non-contract residential pick-ups, either via phone message or contact while working, are charged exorbitant amounts for a clear after contracts are completed, at least triple normal hourly standards. Pricing based on fatigue & unwillingness to work at normal rates. No complaints.
  2. SCL

    SCL Senior Member
    Messages: 265

    If you have no agreement or contract, it has to be considered the same as a bid price, and they have the option to say yes or no. Its not like you have the last bottle of water or loaf of bread. You have to meet your previous obligations and anything over that is hit or miss. Supply and demand.
  3. casey

    casey Banned
    Messages: 180

    This storm, while not as bad as Buffallo's current fall, was declared a city emergency. Had these non contract cutomers refused my bid they likely would have had to wait days to get someone else to clear. In some cases, it was like we had the last bottle of water or loaf of bread.
  4. CAT

    CAT Junior Member
    Messages: 14


    I think that in a time of need you shouldn't take complete advantage of people. What comes around goes around follow me? Double your rate would be sufficent wouldn't think?
    How much do you guys recieve a push in toronto
  5. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    I think they could've found somebody else, you couldn't have been the only operator who was done with current customers.

    Once you give them a price, they can accept it, or decline it.

    Supply and demand is what sets prices. Hotels and motels do it all the time. Weekend rates are higher. If there is a big convention or whatever, they charge 3 or 4 times the normal rate. Yet do they ever get accused of price gouging? I would even bet that the prices were higher for rooms in Buffalo during the storm.

    The way I see it, price gouging can only be done on certain products. The products that everyone (or most everyone) NEEDS, like water, gas, food, etc.

    Snow removal/plowing is a convenience. Not everyone will purchase our "product." Many will clear it themselves. Many CHOOSE to pay somebody else to do it. If they feel the price is to high, they don't HAVE to pay for it. It isn't a neccessity.

    Ok, now the disclaimer..... I am not a lawyer. I don't know the legal definition of price gouging. These are just my opinions. :)
  6. casey

    casey Banned
    Messages: 180

    This storm seriously disabled many people, elderly especially, from leaving their homes, so snow removal became more a necessity than a convenience.
    With such a large fall & huge compacted city plow banks at the end of drives, much of the residential population was physically unable to clear. So yes, they may have had to wait a couple days or more to find another contracter.
  7. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    If the snow was so bad that removal became a necessity then everyone would have needed it to be removed.

    People choose to have their snow removed. It is a luxury.

    On another note. How many have the word "removal" in their contract? I wonder if this will be a hitching point. I word my contract as snow plowing paid per push at certain depth increments, and be sure that any removal of snow from the premises or stacking that can not be done with a truck mounted plow will incure an surcharge. Contrat wording is something that is going to be taken much more seriously by contractors following the events in Buffalo.
  8. Mac

    Mac Member
    Messages: 77

    I find myself increasing rates after specific dates. For example if a customer calls in Oct it would be $20 per push, in they call in Dec $25, and in Jan $30 and so on. I started do this after people calling me in the middle or after a larger snowfall ask for there driveways to be done ASAP. Does anyone else do this? I started to do this because I just got feed up with it. However, when they call back the next year I always down the prices to normal.
  9. Highpoint

    Highpoint Senior Member
    Messages: 241

    My solution

    ALL our contracts are bid at a flat rate of X dollars for snow removal of 0" - 3". ANY thing over 3 inches is then billed at an hourly rate. IF the amont of accumulation on their lot is excessive due to multiple storms and no melting, we charge the client for whatever it takes to get rid of the snow. We used to bid flat rates in groups like 0 - 3, 3-6, 6-8,8-10 and so on. We got SCREWED royaly (without any plow lubricant:eek: ) when we got a 20 inch snow fall. (Around here we rarely get snowfall amonts over 6 inches in one setting or storm). Needless to say, we have been very happy with our current billing practices.

    Bear in mind. Some common sense must be used when billing clients. You can get yourself in a world of hurt if you don't practice smart billing.

    Example: Say your hourly push rate is $80 per hour. Say a small parking lot bid is $80 bucks for 0"-3". Say it only takes you 35 minutes to do this lot. You made money. Now say you get a snowfall of 5 inches and it took you an hour. Do you charge them for one hour? Hell no! you charge them for 1.4 hours. You must keep consistant with your pricing or you will get called on the table from the client asking why they pay the same amount for clearing the 0"-3" as clearing the 5".

    Essentialy you are billing by the hour and by the inch. Just don't get carried away.

    In your bid you must state EXACTLY what will happen in the event of a crazy storm. As long as the client is aware and informed, you can come out smelling like a rose. (legally)

    PS. Naturally occcuring disasters require fickle billing. Be reasonable. Just my II cents.;)
  10. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    Are you seriously saying that you were the only available contractor? And that you were available two days before any others?

    You hit the nail on the head. That's why lawyers exist, to make contracts vague and specific at the same time. :)
  11. casey

    casey Banned
    Messages: 180

    There are hundreds of thousands of drives & how many contractors willing to clear a non contract residential after a major storm? The first problem for these people would be trying to locate a # of a contractor who serviced the area. If they managed that, the contractor would likely allready be fulfilling obligations he made during the storm, or simply be unwilling.
  12. Got Grass?

    Got Grass? Senior Member
    Messages: 641

    I'm in the cleal here along with the other guys on PS from the area, so I'm not worried about gouging. I think the local big mouths are finnaly setteling down and relizing that not all plowers are bad its only the people who VOID thier binding contracts and the people who charge $200-$300 per (call/flagdown) drive. and that $50-$150 isnt all that bad.
    Were finnaly starting to win this battle over here.
    Heck the paper make it's first "good" article, Yeah it only said "Thank you Torronto" for sending over equipment and donating the manpower. But thay forgot to mention Rochester and many other places did the same thing.
    Oh well... We keep at it thay will eventually thank the good guys.

    I do agree that "snow Removal" means snow removal, actually removing the snow.

    Mine are "2001-2002 Season Snow Plowing Contrat(s)"and I do just that.
    My seasional totals are over 1/2 way to getting bumped up about 25%, clearly states in the contracts. $X=up to 20 visits. If there is a need for more visits each additional 10 will add 25%/$X more to the total.
    Ammount and frequency of visits are up to my judgement after the first 3 inches. Meaning 3inches & up will be plowed, if we get 7ft of snow I will make multiple visits.
    This storm it averages out to every 6-10 inches. Usually there was more on the ground but I also include revisits for entrance ways after the plows go by.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2002
  13. casey

    casey Banned
    Messages: 180

    Tell that to the snowbound elderly in Buffalo. Luxury becomes necessity in certain circumstances.

    "Cleared" & "removal" are the appropriate contract wordings IMHO.
  14. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    What makes it necessity? If they have no where to go then they can stay until it melts. IF an ambulance has to get in they will often call a town truck to clear the drive. At least here in CT they do.
  15. Got Grass?

    Got Grass? Senior Member
    Messages: 641

    Same with an ambulance here, most of the time thay end up treading down the drive while a plow is called in to clear the road.
    Necessity to allow people to get in and out. Work, pick up prescriptions, dr. apts. things like that. If thay dont have to get in or out then it isnt.

    Proper wording is a big problem. Just check in the local phone book, news paper, etc... and see how many people have it wrong.

    "Snow Removal" is actually removing the snow from the serviced area. (using trucks to haul it away, or whatever)

    "Snow Plowing" is simply plowing the snow that is in the area.
    (normally simply so thay can get in and out of the house and drive)

    "Snow management" is controling the amount of snow in the area, either by removing, plowing, salting, etc... (usually for commercial contracts that require whatever it takes to get down to pavement for safty issues and make the most use of the lot)

    "Snow Blowing" Is using snow blowers to clear the area of snow (normally small walkbehind or tractor mounted blowers are used, in some instances it's using big truck/equipment mounted blowers usualy for municipal work)

    Did I get that right?
    How ever you decide to word it keep in mind what your calling in and make sure that its stated in the contract expecially including the exact area to be serviced, all pavement, drive only, side walk, hydrant, mailbox, etc...

    I'm sure someone who does "snow removal" forgot to add that in and just said the property #. Then some old lady got all upset becasuse thay didnt remove the snow from thier roof and lawn.

    Keep this in mind for the new guys, and people asking about proper contract wording.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2002
  16. carlriv2

    carlriv2 Senior Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 126

    I consider myself a "snow removal contractor". Produce bids for "snow removal". However my contract has prices for "snow plowing 1'-<4" " etc. Clearing walks, Treat pavement & walkways, Pushing back snowbanks, Relocating snowpile(onsite), and removal of snow from property.

    I have contract prices for all except the last 2 which are hourly. I do believe this makes me a "snow removal contractor", I just don't always remove the snow.
  17. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    carlriv- And if you sometimes use salt or other ice control, then you are actually a snow management company.

    In fact, anyone that does any form of snow or ice work is in snow and/or ice management. Using a plow or snow blower to move snow from one spot to another indicates that you are managing snow.
  18. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    Only when your wife really wants something. :D

    But seriously, the elderly that casey is referring to did not neccessarily NEED the snow cleared. Even in Buffalo NY they were taking neccessary medicine etc. to the elderly by snow mobile if they had to. And if the streets weren't cleared well enough for an ambulance, they would use a snow mobile with a sled to transport people in need.

    In our society, we think of automobiles as a neccessity, even though they are also luxury items. The only things neccessary, are food, water, shelter, and maybe oxygen and medication for some elderly (and clothes for the bashful). Everything else just becomes very important to help us get the other things we want.

    Example- I need employment to get money to pay my electric bill and phone bill to get electricity to power my computer and a phone line to get Internet access to get to plowsite.com

    PINEISLAND1 PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 664

    I think the idea that now "removal" only means taking the snow off site is ridiculous. It is a commonly accepted term here that means removing it from where you want it removed. I can remove my christmas tree today from my house, however I just put it in the woods next to the house. I have a guy coming tommorow to remove and replace my dishwasher, and found out in the process of discussion that remove to them only means disconnecting. If I want it hauled away, its extra. Removal from one place to another never automatically means off site.

    I will remove the snow from your drive, call it plowing or call it snow management or snow removal. My contract also offers removal off site of accumulated snow piles, or on site if space is available, at an hourly rate. Any way you look at it it was removed from your drive.

    I'd take my chance in court I think if someone claimed they really thought I'd take all their snow with me every morning, and wanted to sue me.
  20. plowking35

    plowking35 2000 Club Member
    from SE CT
    Messages: 2,923

    How about:
    Snow relocation off said above outlined property to a snow disposal area clearly desiginated for such purposes.