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Condo Association Unnecessary Work--Help

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by Allor Outdoor, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. Allor Outdoor

    Allor Outdoor Senior Member
    Messages: 438

    I will try to make my story/dilemma as short as possible:

    We have provided lawn and snow service to a condo association for the past 4-5 years. We have always had a good relationship with the management company and the onsite maintenance guy (there have been 3 different guys since we took over the property).

    The newest maintenance guy that started just last month, called me today claiming that we buried a fire hydrant. I was a bit skeptial at first, because I have a good crew of guys that are very familiar with this site.

    The maintenance guy DEMANDED that I come take care of the problem RIGHT NOW! I personally dropped everything I had going to drove out to the site. I asked him where the hydrant was that we buried.
    He pointed a huge pile of snow (approx 20 x 15 ft x 15 ft tall), and said "you buried one under that pile". I looked at him and told him that I know for a fact that there was not a hydrant under there!
    He insisted that there was, and that he saw it just the other day!
    He retreated back to his house and left me to work.
    Luckily I keep a skid on-site, so I started up the machine and started moving the pile. I got about 1/2 way done and I called him letting him know that I had yet to find the hydrant! He said "well, keep digging because I know it is there!" and then proceeded to say "if you want to leave it buried, that is up to you, but if there is a fire, then we are going to come after you".
    I continued to dig out the pile of snow....right down to the grass! Moved the whole damn pile...I called him again and told him he needed to come look for himself!
    He got his lazy a$$ up and drove down to where I was moving the pile...he drove by once, parked his truck, got out, walked around, looked at me and said "oh man, I'm really sorry...I really though there was a hydrant there"

    I was SO pissed off, I started the machine back up and drove away!

    Question is: How do I handle it:
    1) let it go and forget about it
    2) charge them per the contract for additional services (4 hour min @ $165/machine hour)
    3) notify the board president of this guy being a dumb a$$
    4) notify the management company

    I have a ton of things running through my head as to how I want to handle the situation...but figured I would turn to you guys to get some opinions!

  2. rcn971

    rcn971 Senior Member
    Messages: 213

    I personally would discuss this with the property manager what resolution he/she offers as a resolution. They may offer you payment and they may not. If not than I would send an invoice for the contract amount and mark it down to n/c for the ending total with a complete description of event and email to every board member as well as property manager.
  3. JTVLandscaping

    JTVLandscaping Senior Member
    Messages: 862

    If this is the first problem you've had with these guys, probably not a big deal. I'd go to the manager and advise them that you COULD bill them...maybe try to get something from them, but maybe letting this incident go will let you up the price next year, or maybe they'll be a little easy on you if you ever make a mistake in the future.
  4. loudcav

    loudcav Member
    from ohio
    Messages: 59

    Id send a note to the board and management and see if they can help you recoup your losses perhaps even send him a bill
  5. 89Comanche

    89Comanche Member
    Messages: 42

    Personally I would let it go, he is newish and made a mistake. I would although make note of it, and tell the manager not in a effort to get anything but just as a heads up this guy may need a little more education of the property. If it happens again, then make a stink over it.
  6. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 Senior Member
    Messages: 101

    Well the guy did apologize and say he is sorry, sounds like you have an otherwise pretty good deal with this association. I'd be inclined to let it go or perhaps charge a small amount to cover fuel and a bit of your time.

    I'm not so sure I'd worry about notifying the board president and management company... The guy is new, and though he thought there was a hydrant there, there wasn't.... But he only wanted it uncovered. I'd let it go in this respect, I think that doing the former will simply strain the relationship with the onsite maintenance guy. If he continues to be a problem throughout the season or during the warm months then yes you'll need to bring it up with the appropriate people, but not over one incident.

    Kind of a catch 22 though, if you try to get compensated for your work, you'll have to explain what happened with the onsite guy... So you either will have to just let it go or tell someone what happened....

    If you were 100% sure there was no hydrant there, you shouldn't have moved the pile. I know I wouldn't have, and if the guy throws a further fit, tough ****. JMO.
  7. Philbilly2

    Philbilly2 PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,770

    What I would do:

    (feed them some BS about how you care about their well being and saftey)

    Bring it to the right people's attention, and tell them you are not going to bill for it because it was an honest mistake and you just wanted to make sure the property was as safe as it could possibley be and that even though you were 99% sure, even you make a mistake every now and then, but keep this one in your back pocket incase you make a mistake. It seems you have a good thing going.
  8. xtreem3d

    xtreem3d PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,548

    i would also just let it go. is it worth stirring up trouble for a contract you have had for 5 years. i would think you may end up on the bad side of the new maintenance man and he may eventually influence some board members as to who they contract with in the future,
  9. white diamonds

    white diamonds Junior Member
    from pgh, pa
    Messages: 12

    condo assc unnecessary work

    I agree with commanche let it go,people make mistakes. somewhere down the line you may miss something and you dont want him running to the condo association do you? chalk it up as a learning experience for him that you know the property.
  10. carlriv2

    carlriv2 Senior Member
    from Mass
    Messages: 126

    I would have called the management company before you moved the pile... but at this point I would absolutly put it on the bill at full price and then discount it by 50% or 100%.....Unless part of the contract is moving snowbanks when they get too large and this one was getting close to needing to be moved anyway,,, then BILL IT at that rate.
  11. JohnRoscoe

    JohnRoscoe Senior Member
    Messages: 209

    Since your contract specifies a rate for extra services, I'd bill them as per the contract, and make sure to note on the bill for those services something like "moved snow pile at direction of bob".
  12. bow2no1

    bow2no1 Senior Member
    Messages: 338

    if you let it go he's not going to learn from his mistakes...
    thats guy needs to trust you and your judgment.

    there was no need of him demanding that you come down do have it taken care of.
    if i make a mistake it is my fault. if you make a mistake it's your fault.....
    he needs to be held accountable for his actions...
  13. Matson Snow

    Matson Snow PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,985

    Bill Them.....Simple as that......Bill them for your Time and anything else you feel the need to..................
  14. erkoehler

    erkoehler PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,279

    I'd bill it. If there was a hydrant in the pile and there was a fire they wouldn't just let you off with a "mistake".
  15. snowplowchick

    snowplowchick Senior Member
    Messages: 549

    I would definitely bill them 100% of the price you would bill any other client if they requested the job.

    Let him explain to management if they call him. Make sure you make a short line on the invoice like- per Buddy's instruction.

    Don't think twice about it. Bill it, done. I wouldn't get into a long drawn out conversation explaining yourself, like some are suggesting, you performed a service at their request, you should be compensated.
  16. Winterized

    Winterized Senior Member
    Messages: 120

    The guy that called you.... probably went off blathering to anyone who would listen to him, how you screwed up and he was the sharpest pencil in the box for catching your screw-up and chewing you out for it, demanding you move that pile ASAP.

    Now boys and girls.... turns out there is no hydrant! ... and he's the horses backside. I would let it go and keep that ace in your pocket to play later.

    We all make mistakes. It's how we own up to them that determines our professionalism.

    If..... you wanted to. Write a very polite, non judgmental letter to the HOA president telling him of the incident. Suggesting for everyone's benefit and safety, attach tall markers to hydrants each Fall. The City does it here on the corners.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2011
  17. Cmbrsum

    Cmbrsum Senior Member
    Messages: 141

    You said they have gone threw three of four maintenance guys in the last 5 years. My guess is they don't pay well or threat them right. So if they are going to continue hiring on-site people like that you may have similar problems arise like this with others in the future.
    Just be straight forward and bill for what you were requested to do 100%. As far as saving face with the manager you deal with, explain to him in your bill what the situation is and that he may pay you what he feels is fair. However make it clear that you will do the best you can to give him the great customer service he requires and you just proved that you will be there for any screw ups on your part. But if they screw up, they can expect to be billed.
  18. fireball

    fireball PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 545

    Good for you. You placed the customers safety above anything else and you should be commended for it. You didn't stand there and argue the point before you did anything, you did it first and now you are asking the best path of action. I would make up a bill for it and send it to the property manager to alert them to a serious violation of the HOA and maybe your firms agreement. The fire hydrants are not marked and the HOA and you don't have a site map of the property. At the very least the hydrant should have a metal marker that stands higher than any pile you are capable of piling. The site map would not only mark the hydrants but any other important infrastructure such as gas meters etc. It would also specify where the snow accumulations go and who responsible for to remove them. I wouldn't expect or demand payment for the bill, but a simple acknowledgement that yes, your time is worth money too. I however wouldn't mark the fire hydrants or make a site map for free either
  19. Kramer

    Kramer Senior Member
    Messages: 386

    Charge him for your time/ effort.

    When they get the bill let him explain it. He pushed you to do it, you told him it didn't exist and your time and machine are worth money.

    If you don't charge him in this case, then why don't you just ride around town and move peoples snow piles for free?
    I charged a guy $100 to knock the 2 piles at the end of his drive down after he snowblowed an 8ft tall pile. He was happy to pay. It's not my fault he snowblowed a mountain there....should I fix it for free? NO!

    There was never a question in your mind that the hydrant didn't exist. Charge him full price.

    He needs to know that he can't just waste your time and say, gee, sorry. If you let him get away with this he will walk all over you....and it will be your fault. Next it will be,,,,, can you just do this and that for free?? NO....you have a business, you're not his cousin.
  20. Laszlo Almasi

    Laszlo Almasi Senior Member
    Messages: 326

    I'd bill for the time and as others have mentioned, make a notation on the bill "per maintenance manager's instructions".

    He even stated he was willing to "go after you" if something happened. The professional thing to do, IMO, is to just present them with a bill. If they have an issue with it after receiving the bill they will ask you about it. Then, if they do indeed question it, tell them you will offer them a discount (50%?) but just this one time. You've been there 5 years or so and assuming there have been no issues in the past, now others will assume you did something wrong because he most likely already told those in charge of "your mistake". If you say and/or do nothing you are essentially willing to accept his word and he'll only find something else down the road to justify his own ignorance at your expense.

    I've turned the other cheek numerous times and to be honest, it eventually comes back to bite you in the buttocks.

    Business is business. You left another site that put you behind schedule at that customer's expense/delay. Do you think for one minute the association/manager would not hold you responsible if the roles were reversed in some manner?
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2011