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What would you do?

Discussion in 'Commercial Snow Removal' started by drivewaydoctor, Jan 8, 2009.

  1. Hey gang,

    Need some opinions here. I had a customer (residential) call in and tell me he wants to cancel his service because my truck is too slow getting there. He has paid for a full season in advance and wants his money back. The truck usually gets to his place about 4 hours after the completion of a snow storm. This is a very slow route where my drive uses a snow blower because the driveways are so narrow as are the street. This customer (all of my clients) were informed right from the beginning that I will never promise to be on a property by a certain time. They are also informed and agreed with the fact the route takes longer than normal because its a blower route. He also signed a contract which clearly states that our "Time Guarantee" is 24 hours. Realistically it never takes that long. We used that number in case of equipment failure, accidents, etc...

    I told this client that our obligations as per the contract he signed and agreed to were being met and I would not issue a refund. When asked if he wants us to continue servicing his account he yelled no and hung up. We have plowed his property at least 9 or 10 times already this winter. His seasonal contract was $450 for the season.

    I'm of the opinion that if he is refusing to accept the service thats his problem but he shouldn't get a refund because thats a spot on our roster that someone else could have taken earlier in the season.

    What do you think?
  2. coldcoffee

    coldcoffee Senior Member
    Messages: 776

    Since I have no knowledge of Canadian law, I will just state what I would do if it were me. My first concern, if this were to go to court that it would be his word against mine w/ no paper dissolving the original contract.
    I would first send off a certified letter to him w/ a copy of the contract highlighting the points that you have stated. In the letter I would recap the conversation that took place and give him a time frame to reconsider/respond (48-72 hrs), but make it clear that this was his decision and not yours. I would be direct, but state things nicely and just be professional about it. Basically, give him final word just in case he was just blowing off steam. I would make three copies and have them notarized before I sent one off to him by certified mail.
    If he doesn't respond within seven days, maybe send one more letter confirming his decision to cancel by not responding, wish him luck and move on.
  3. Oasis

    Oasis Senior Member
    Messages: 273

    I hear ya buddy, in this thankless job we are never there quick enough. Honestly Ive had this before as well that we are there within our contracted time but they still continously believe we are too slow. You can ignore his complaint and tell him listen this is what the contract states and we are happy to continue the contract on these terms if you wish to hire someone else and break the contract thats up to you. However, if hes an a$$ then he may bad mouth you and honestly its not worth it. If it were me I would prorate that seasonal fee and offer him back the three months (or whatever) is left and tell him that this is your offer to disolve the contract. You may even want to add a $50 administrative fee as well. Leave it in his court. Since you are living up to your end of the bargain this is the cost to him to break his contract.

  4. KCB

    KCB Senior Member
    Messages: 153

    ^^ I second what OASIS said ^^
  5. forestfireguy

    forestfireguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,276

    Is there a cancellation policy in your contract? Most of the contracts I've seen and all the one I use have a cancellation clause. Basically it says they can cancel with 30 days written notice for any reason, and 7 days "with cause". However none of my contracts are seasonally prepaid like yours is. I have no idea what the law says in Canada, but if it's like here I'd figure the average number of services done in a season in that area, divide that by your seasonal rate and give him a pro-rated, it's fair, and the headache is gone, you may well fill the slot and if not at least it's not costing you any labor to lose it. And most of all, it won't leave a bad taste in anyones mouth or give him a reason to run that mouth to other locals and make your future difficult. Is someone having a bad word worth say 225 bucks???? Or even worse your time, if he decides to go to small claims court or file some other kind of complaint....it isn't to me...
  6. LoneCowboy

    LoneCowboy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,760


    "i'm sorry we are unable to meet your expectations, here is your pro-rated refund back (x number of days out of the total contract)"

    Don't create enemies.
    one good customer tells 1 to 2 other people
    1 dissatisfied customer tells 20.

    You can't make everyone happy.
  7. I agree on the bad word of mouth thing but this guy has already started that. He told us up front he has told all of his friends and neighbors how slow we are. Honestly this city is so big word of mouth isn't really an issue. For every client that screams bloody murder I can replace them with 10 new ones. This winter I took on 65 residential for my two trucks. I could have easily taken on 300 clients I had that much business coming in. I wish I had the equipment and manpower. Maybe next year.

    Thanks for the opinions guys. Much appreciated.

    Messages: 32

    I agree with Oasis and everfyone else. It is proven that 1 good thing done is un noticed but 1 bad thing the neighbor hood knows. I do alot of drive ways also and I had 1 home owner that started to ***** and then said he wanted to end his seasonal service. I asked him to give me a another chance untill the end of the month and if he was stilll disatified with the service I would prorate his refund. All I did is rearange the route so he is the start of it and now we are the best company he has ever hired. Everyone want to be first and number 1 it is our job to make them feel like it evan if they aren't.
  9. JD Dave

    JD Dave PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,194

    Prorate it on an average winter and we've had 90 cm in T.O so far and the 10 year average is 114 cm. So he'll be getting jack back. JMO
  10. JohnnyRoyale

    JohnnyRoyale 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,935

    Tell him to beat it.
  11. Cassy

    Cassy Senior Member
    Messages: 180

    both coldcoffee and OASIS nailed it.

    handle your contract issues diligently, so that if it ever does get to court, you have all needed documentation and conversations at your fingertips. It will help your case alot.

    RODHALL Senior Member
    Messages: 374

    since he paid upfront...

    As your blower goes down the street, if the driveway is open fine, move on to the next. if not open it and go on. this way you horner your end of the contract.

    CARDOCTOR PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,312

    pro-rate it and give him credit towards sealing his driveway

  14. ff1221

    ff1221 PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,374

    I had a customer last year, on a day when we got 12" of snow, complain that it was the second time that year that I was slow getting to his house, he was shoveling his driveway when I got there in my tractor, so I told him I would figure out how many times I had done his driveway, and send him a refund, He said that was fine and I drove off, leaving him to shovel out the three feet of snow stuffed in the end of the driveway.I sent him a cheque for about a quarter of the contract, and the next guy he got was later than me every day. Send the guy a refund, it's good business.
  15. chcav1218

    chcav1218 Senior Member
    Messages: 954

    well ten plows for $450 isnt a bad deal. Send him a $50 check and discontinue the service.
  16. creativedesigns

    creativedesigns PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,929

    Figure out how much you would charge clearing out a laneway per event. Add that up, then take the difference of what you owe him!

    Mabe its time to invest in tractor power with inverted blowers!!! get'er done 10x faster :nod:
  17. Yeah my per plow rate is $60 thats what I charge if some one I don't know calls me and doesn't want a seasonal contract. I've plowed his driveway I think 8 times now so that would equal $480.00.... I was wrong on what he paid. He paid $500.. So if I went that route I owe him a $20 refund... lol

    And yes, I am already looking into new equipment for next season. I need two Jeeps, two blades for the Jeeps, possible tractor with inverted blower and a Vbox salter. Shouldn't cost me too much..... Riiiiiiiight!!
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2009
  18. chcav1218

    chcav1218 Senior Member
    Messages: 954

    send it to him in small bills and loose change
  19. Krieger91

    Krieger91 Senior Member
    Messages: 353

    Although normally I'd say you should tell him to buzz off, since you did everything you said you were going to in the contract he signed and agreed to, I would say to refund him.

    Granted, it's a bit of a blow to your pride, but I think it'd turn out better business-wise. Somebody said that a satisfied customer tells 1-2 people while a dissatisfied one tells 20, I would agree.
  20. Deckscapes

    Deckscapes Senior Member
    Messages: 241

    Oasis nailed it!! He is still a customer (even though not a very good one), and a refund should be offered. You then always have higher moral standards and treat your business with respect.