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Won't let him out of the contract

Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by glenspot, Jan 26, 2005.

  1. glenspot

    glenspot Senior Member
    Messages: 255

    I want to be evil.

    My only PITA called today and wanted to go on an "on-call" basis.

    I THINK he's trying to get out of our current contract, and by going on-call, will just never call. He's been a major PITA since day one. But, as said before, I need all the customers I have. (financially)

    He's currently under contract that expires in the spring. There is no out in the contract.

    I WANT to tell him, "no, I don't wish to change the terms of the contract. We will continue as is."

    Ever forced someone to stay in a contract they dind't want to be in?

  2. Mick

    Mick PlowSite.com Veteran
    from Maine
    Messages: 5,546

    I would think you'd be glad to be rid of him, regardless of the loss to you. Some things just aren't worth the cost.

    If he did break the contract, what would you do? Would it be worth several thousand dollars in lawyer and court costs to MAYBE win what you'd get over the next couple of months? Then MAYBE collect?

    Let it go.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2005

    MOW ME OVER Senior Member
    Messages: 209

    Let him go. He will most likely turn into a HUGE PITA if you try to stick it to him.

    Remember about the power of word of mouth and how many times you hear about the bad things versus the good things that people do.
  4. glenspot

    glenspot Senior Member
    Messages: 255

    When I decided that I made a bad decision about my cellphone contract, I called them up and wanted to change it.

    Unless I went to an INCREASED plan, i was not allowed to change the contract. If I wanted to cancel there is a cancellation fee.

    Why is it worth it to my cellphone company to FORCE me to stay with them over for $70 a month, but I shouldn't hold this guy to his contract....which ends up being between $100 - $300 a month.

  5. somm

    somm Senior Member
    Messages: 200

    In any event, all our contract customers sign a document featuring:
    " $_______ (tabulate 3-4 pushes worth + court cost) Contract Damage Forfeiture" in addition to late fees, - for anyone trying to "whipsaw" us out of contracted business by our unlicensed, uninsured, verbal-oncall-competition or kids on the next block (You have to remember you will never receive your $100 or so court filing fee back, so you got to include that into your figures). Keep in mind most customers settle with you out of court within a week of being served by the Small Claims Court. Then you just exchange your signed letterhead release-waiver document long before the court date for their cashier's check or money order for the disputed amount, then file out of court settlement documents with the Court Clerk's office.

    One saavy customer tried to do this to us during the post-9/11 recession just after Thanksgiving, when we filed in Small Claims against them. Now It was January 2002, and there wasn't snow, ice, or income from %$#@ coming into our business. Here's what happened upon their court date (they thought we were't going to show - granting them immediate release!!). Their Contract Damage Forfeiture to us was stated at $1,000.00, so they had their attorneys make an appearance for them, complete with the money order. Upon their attorney locating us in the courtroom audience and showing us the money order, we got together with the Court Clerk, signed the Courts documents for the settlement, and walked away with the $1000 that kept us in biz that month into the next, WITH the same attorney in the same elevator complimenting us on our contract damage clause that he said: " there was no way out of " !!!!

    While we don't have the previous settlement-customer, we do have happy contract customers (incuding 2 new customers this year) in that same, chatty, citizen-organized, posh neighborhood to this day.

    When they try those tactics, friend, have something in writing that has "teeth" in it, to stop them from legally stealing from your business.
  6. SkykingHD

    SkykingHD Senior Member
    Messages: 368

    an agreement is an agreement

    Why should you let him out of contract? You scheduled a plow truck and hired a man to take care of his snow removal for the length of the contract. This is a contract that the terms were written and agreed to.

    If you tried to get out of the lease agreement for house, car, truck or cell phone there would be a penalty for not living up the the terms of the agreement. Why should snow removal be any different. You have terms he has terms. You are living up to your terms and he should to.

    It is time we got the respect of other businesses. A contract is a contract is a contract.

  7. Ken1zk

    Ken1zk Senior Member
    Messages: 192

    Glen, Did he say why he wanted to change the agreement he entered into with you? He may be experiencing some finical hardship and be trying to lighten the load on his household budget. If he is trying to get out of the contract he has with you what do you feel the odds are of him becoming a stiff? I know you are in that position of needing his business, (same here with a few PITAs) but do have the feeling if you don't say "yes, ok, call when you need me" hell just stop paying altogether? Is all the extra stress of trying to recoup your money then worth keeping him. Of course if your gut feeling is he will pay if you tell him that you wish for the contract to remain in effect, then you do have a contact, one he signed. This is one where you just have to follow your gut ... best of luck with it
  8. glenspot

    glenspot Senior Member
    Messages: 255

    Believe it or not, I don't think that he's a non-payer. A slow payer, yes. But so far he's come up with payments on time.

    I think this winter (and the amount of snow we get) snuck up on him.... He moved here from out east. He INSISTED to me that he knew about winters here...it was February when he bought the house, he said... But he's been a thorn in my side from day 1.

    (I've brought him up in other discussions)

    I think he figured out that EXACTLY he can get someone to plow this driveway for $15. And he wants to change MY arrangement to "on call"...and he just won't call....instead he'll have Mr. $15 do it.

    So.... the way I'm going to handle this is THIS:

    1. He has to pay 100% current before we discuss the contract any further.
    2. At that time I'm going to tell him that the current contract will remain in effect. I am under no obligation to change it.
    3. Then if he stops paying, I'll deal with that issue in small claims court.

    But I think I'm right. A contract is a contract. I understand why some of us want to drop the PITA's....but .. Then why have a contract? Just to protect the land-owner? Its to protect us too, right? We wouldn't need "contracts" if we were going to drop people every time they called to complain, or if they wanted to change the details of it.

    SkykingHD made the point:

    "You scheduled a plow truck and hired a man to take care of his snow removal for the length of the contract. This is a contract that the terms were written and agreed to.".... And he we negotiated in good faith, he had time to look over the contract before he signed it.

    A contract is a contract is a contract. I agree.

    If i set a precedence now of changing the contract mid-season because the client didn't like what he agreed to...then what am I saying?...

  9. DodgeBlizzard

    DodgeBlizzard Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    You have a contract to protect both parties. You may be turning down work to new PITA customers because your schedule is full. Making a contract allows peace of mind knowing what you've got. I'd make him stick to the contract for the rest of the season because you said you need to keep him due to income. But after the season was over, I'd dump him and find a new customer or two to make up for it. You make a valid point about other companies charging you big time for contract cancelling.
  10. SkykingHD

    SkykingHD Senior Member
    Messages: 368


    Contracts are written so the idea or agreement can be recorded. With age the memory fails so you have it written. Ink does not forget or change its view.
    Yes the contract is to protect BOTH. This is not a one sided deal protect the customer and the hell with the contractor.
    The cost if equipment to remove snow is so expensive and the competition is so fierce you can not have these people changing there minds in middle of season. They want the work done for low price and want to discontinue in middle of season then when a large snow fall comes they want you there in 2 minutes. This is not McDonalds.
    We usually do commercial only as you don't have the problems of people being unprofessional. A contract is a contract is a contract till the end of the time frame agreed upon in that contract.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2005
  11. JPMAKO

    JPMAKO Senior Member
    Messages: 660

    Would you mind posting a copy of your contract?

  12. Tscape

    Tscape Senior Member
    Messages: 829

    I am pleased to see you stick to your guns on this. A contract is a contract, and you suffer damages if it is broken. It is a bilateral agreement and does have "teeth". If everyone just went around releasing parties from their agreements, this whole industry would be in chaos. You would just be handing it over to the lowballers. See this for what it is: uninsured punks vs. legitimate business people, with that customer throwing his support to the wrong party!
  13. OneBadDodge06

    OneBadDodge06 Senior Member
    from Iowa
    Messages: 770

    No matter how much of a PITA, you still were hired to do services in a contract, and to you that's $$$ in your pocket.
  14. Ken1zk

    Ken1zk Senior Member
    Messages: 192

    I do agree that Glen should hold the customer to his contract, not just release him to be free to go to the lowballer, (sounds like you are pretty certain about this being what he wishes to do Glen) but I have had similar situations where there were other problems. Nobody is just going to say "Hey pal I'm broke, overextended or just got canned from my job" (ok almost nobody) hence the guy would only wind up becoming a stiff, and I'm stuck holding the bag. Yes I can take him to court and all that, which only takes me away from other business interests, and is largely a waste of time when I consider that I could be concentrating on making money elsewhere.
    I say a contract is a contract and you have fulfilled your part, now he can fulfill his. Contracts in the snowplow business have evolved over the years here in Buffalo. Now most all residential work is on a perseason basis. They pay when they sign and it's a done deal for the customer. A big plus since my contract has a no refund clause. Our winters tend to run, for the most part, quite regular with regard to snowfall, number of days I plow or spread salt, so it's not a big guess as to weather or not I will make money on the deal.
    Good Luck
  15. somm

    somm Senior Member
    Messages: 200

    worst case scenario

    PITA has right to tell you to get the #@!% off his ppty and never come back.
    Pita can get restraining order and/or call police to enforce it.

    that's really being whipsawed.
    that's when your contract keeps your business above water.

    thats when we serve 'em a summons.

    (other portions of our contract are featured in other threads this past month)

    Best Regards
  16. somm

    somm Senior Member
    Messages: 200

    Contract Damage Clause

    thought it was posted, but not, sry - here's full, all may use at will:

    There is a $40. -Surcharge on all returned or improperly-endorsed checks. Amounts beyond 30 days Past-Due ARE Contract Damage*** and subject to collection: with contract damage forfeiture, with all previous invoice amounts and surcharges, with court-costs and reasonable attorney's fees all being customer’s full responsibility."

    If someone's not being a horses arce and really is under some serious hardship we always make arrangements with 'em.

    Best Regards
  17. TriCountySnow

    TriCountySnow Member
    Messages: 34

    Tr-County Snowplowing & Ice Control

    Next yr try rewriting your contact put a cancellaion fee, ours is 15% of the total combined bill form last yr. new cleints that want to cancel must pay 250 dollar cancellation fee upon date of cancellation, they cancel and dont pay they go to court and then they have to pay because it is stated right in the contract that they sign. never lost anyone ever since we adopted this policy, they continue to return yr. after yr.

    dont sweat him drive by his house in the next big snow strom and honk when you see him with the snow shovel.