Difficult customer help needed

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7/11/2019 3:25 PM
Edited Date/Time: 7/11/2019 3:27 PM

So guys I am having some issues with a pain in the ass customer, basically I am younger mid 30 and my father runs a construction/ landscaping company. I am an executive in the company and found a older lady who needed a retaining wall build In her side yard
We go out and meet and from our first conversation I knew she was going to be a pain in the ass
We start construction on the wall get our trench dig out and get ready for the first course, she has a wing wall to the left of the wall and we are making a 90 turn from the existing wall to our wall. One problem there’s a 4 inch drain pipe from a gutter I ask her if I can run it under the wall and have it discharge out the front of the wall, she says no. So I’m like fuck it build the wall we place a perforated drain pipe behind the wall.
We finish the wall and leave the gutter pipe on the corner as she instructed.
2 days later I get a text at 730 saying the following “you need to get over here and fix this immediately”
Picture attached.
So I go check it out and sure enough the dam gutter pipe is full of water and putting a huge amount to water into the wall
I recommend to trench across the wall drop a drain box in near her driveway and be done with this job
I then get her asking what type of pipe what box why my price is so high and blah blah
She asks for my price and I fucked up and said 350 when I told her in person 315
She responded “awesome your price keeps going up I love it”
I respond saying yes my time is worth money and this is the price.
Then she asks for a warranty on the wall( for if it falls over)
I then say there is no warranty you have voided it placing unnecessary load in the wall risking the structural integrity of the wall.
She says what? Everyone has a warranty on there wall I then repeat what I said before
Then this form her-Hello? The whole purpose of this wall was because we were having erosion problems. I was aware that putting up a wall and backing it up with dirt would cause pressure but you told me that the pipe you installed would redirect the water. I think it is time I spoke to your dad. Pls give me his number.
Like wtf I’m a big boy and I half own this company.
I then say yes you are placing an additional load by adding additional water to the wall drainage system after being directed not to and given 2 solutions. Then I said my father is a sub contractor on the job so everything will go through me.
My mom also a part owner came out 2 times to see the project and talked to the lady
She then says-Little did I know how much of your dad's guidance you would need in doing this project. If you decide not to give me your dad's phone number then I will just have to come to your house one evening to speak directly with him. I do have your address. ( at this point she doesn’t have my address or my parents)
So I appreciate the business but our contract has come to an end please do not contact me again
Here is my fathers number-.have a blessed day.
She says- yep I found his number by.
Then she calls 6 times.
How do you guys think I should have Handel it and what I should do now( I don’t want our reputation trashed even though this is the only problem we have ever had)
Thanks and sorry for the long drawn out post.
P.s I was very tempted to tell her to go fuck get self may times

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7/11/2019 3:26 PM

Photo
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7/11/2019 3:55 PM
Edited Date/Time: 7/11/2019 3:57 PM

You can’t please everyone all the time. Next time though, don’t let the customer tell you what to do when you know better. They can pick the color of the wall and other stuff that isn’t super important, but don’t let them sway you into doing a shitty job. There are people who are just a total pain in the ass and they want stuff that simply won’t work. They hire you because you’re the expert, then try to tell you how to do your job. The headache of an unhappy customer and the potential of losing business due to them bad mouthing you for doing a shitty job(that they requested be done shitty) isn’t worth the profit made. Stick to your guns on doing the job the right way, and if they don’t want it done the right way tell them in a polite way that it may be best if they find someone else to do the job. Sometimes the best jobs are the ones you don’t do. It’s ok to pass up a job and let another company have the headache of a bad customer.

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7/11/2019 4:02 PM

Ask her what you need to do to make it right. If her request is outlandish, then tell her the reasons why. Then ask her to think about it and get back to you. It sort of reads like you've already been down this road, but I'm not sure.

The customer is not always right. Sometimes they're just jerks and want freebies because they sense your "the customer is always right" feelings. Hell with that. Do what you know is morally correct. If that's not good enough, then walk away with your head held high.

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7/11/2019 4:12 PM

I thought this was going to be about someone banging on your door for coffee at 5am.w00t silly

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7/11/2019 4:13 PM

EZZA 95B wrote:

I thought this was going to be about someone banging on your door for coffee at 5am.w00t silly

laughing laughing laughing
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7/11/2019 4:14 PM

Well I all ready deposited the check and it cleared but she tried to pull it back

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7/11/2019 4:15 PM

EZZA 95B wrote:

I thought this was going to be about someone banging on your door for coffee at 5am.w00t silly

LMAO! laughing

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7/11/2019 4:15 PM

She’s the lady that tries to take advantage of your all the time and is a bitch I just want to avoid a lawsuit at all cost she’s that type of person

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7/11/2019 4:18 PM
Edited Date/Time: 7/11/2019 4:19 PM

Always have a detailed written contract signed before starting any job.

After she said no to running the pipe under the wall, did you take the time to explain to her the potential problems it could cause if she left it the way it was and that it would void your warranty? If you did and she agreed to it, then any extra work after said potential problems showed up would be an extra charge.

Had she listened to your professional opinion and rerouted the pipe to avoid the problems, you wouldn't be going back to fix anything.

If you didn't explain anything concerning the pipe being rerouted, the potential problems, voiding the warranty, etc. and simply went about your business, I'm sorry, but the fix is on you/your company.

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"Sorry Goose, but it's time to buzz the tower."

7/11/2019 4:18 PM

SEE ARE125 wrote:

You can’t please everyone all the time. Next time though, don’t let the customer tell you what to do when you know better. They can pick the color of the wall and other stuff that isn’t super important, but don’t let them sway you into doing a shitty job. There are people who are just a total pain in the ass and they want stuff that simply won’t work. They hire you because you’re the expert, then try to tell you how to do your job. The headache of an unhappy customer and the potential of losing business due to them bad mouthing you for doing a shitty job(that they requested be done shitty) isn’t worth the profit made. Stick to your guns on doing the job the right way, and if they don’t want it done the right way tell them in a polite way that it may be best if they find someone else to do the job. Sometimes the best jobs are the ones you don’t do. It’s ok to pass up a job and let another company have the headache of a bad customer.

I have dealt with the run of the mill pain in the ass but this lady is different she’s special, I would have passed on the job but I needed the money so I took it

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7/11/2019 4:21 PM
Edited Date/Time: 7/11/2019 4:51 PM

SEE ARE125 wrote:

You can’t please everyone all the time. Next time though, don’t let the customer tell you what to do when you know better. They can pick the color of the wall and other stuff that isn’t super important, but don’t let them sway you into doing a shitty job. There are people who are just a total pain in the ass and they want stuff that simply won’t work. They hire you because you’re the expert, then try to tell you how to do your job. The headache of an unhappy customer and the potential of losing business due to them bad mouthing you for doing a shitty job(that they requested be done shitty) isn’t worth the profit made. Stick to your guns on doing the job the right way, and if they don’t want it done the right way tell them in a polite way that it may be best if they find someone else to do the job. Sometimes the best jobs are the ones you don’t do. It’s ok to pass up a job and let another company have the headache of a bad customer.

RONJ OSE wrote:

I have dealt with the run of the mill pain in the ass but this lady is different she’s special, I would have passed on the job but I needed the money so I took it

That’s the thing about customers like this, they COST you money. When you come across a customer like this, that insist you do the job the wrong way, you have two choices:
1) Decline the job and make $0.
2) Take the job, work your ass off and lose hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in the process.

I’ll sit on my ass and not make a dime before I work my ass off to lose money.

With that said, I would do whatever was needed to make it right, and chalk it up as a lesson learned.

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7/11/2019 4:26 PM

If she has your name she probably has your address if you aren't renting your house. Also I hope your work is better than your spelling.

Probably best to do whatever you need to do to make it right. You should have made sure that it was going to work from the start regardless of what she told you to do, that's your job.

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7/11/2019 4:29 PM

-MAVERICK- wrote:

Always have a detailed written contract signed before starting any job.

After she said no to running the pipe under the wall, did you take the time to explain to her the potential problems it could cause if she left it the way it was and that it would void your warranty? If you did and she agreed to it, then any extra work after said potential problems showed up would be an extra charge.

Had she listened to your professional opinion and rerouted the pipe to avoid the problems, you wouldn't be going back to fix anything.

If you didn't explain anything concerning the pipe being rerouted, the potential problems, voiding the warranty, etc. and simply went about your business, I'm sorry, but the fix is on you/your company.

Had a contract signed and did everything in the contract, I also explained the risk of it and she said she would fix it. I didn’t say anything about the warranty void.
The way it’s looking I’m going back for an extra charge to fix it and run a different pipe.

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7/11/2019 4:31 PM

Here’s the wall for y’all the pipe in question is in the left hand corner. Photo
Photo

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7/11/2019 5:01 PM

-MAVERICK- wrote:

Always have a detailed written contract signed before starting any job.

After she said no to running the pipe under the wall, did you take the time to explain to her the potential problems it could cause if she left it the way it was and that it would void your warranty? If you did and she agreed to it, then any extra work after said potential problems showed up would be an extra charge.

Had she listened to your professional opinion and rerouted the pipe to avoid the problems, you wouldn't be going back to fix anything.

If you didn't explain anything concerning the pipe being rerouted, the potential problems, voiding the warranty, etc. and simply went about your business, I'm sorry, but the fix is on you/your company.

RONJ OSE wrote:

Had a contract signed and did everything in the contract, I also explained the risk of it and she said she would fix it. I didn’t say anything about the warranty void.
The way it’s looking I’m going back for an extra charge to fix it and run a different pipe.

She said she would fix the pipe issue herself after you explained the potential problems? Well, looks like it's now her problem and not yours.

You did your job of informing her of what could happen if she left it the way it was. It could have taken a week, a month, etc. for the problems to appear but in this case it only took 2 days. It's an "I told you so" moment (I wouldn't exactly throw that in her face).

You not saying anything about the warranty is not right. That said, if your workmanship/1 year warranty is written in detail on the contract (as it should) it shouldn't be that big of an issue. After all it's her job to read the contract and ask any and all questions before signing the contract.

Personally, if it was me and the warranty is on the contract I wouldn't fix the problem unless a new work contract is signed. You completed the original job.

If the warranty isn't properly laid out anywhere I'd try to come to some sort of compromise.

Either way it's guaranteed she'll throw a bitch fit. Just let it in one ear and out the other. You'll be better off that way. Don't worry about 1 person trying to tarnish your company. Why? In this case she's already flipping out so no matter what you do to make it right, it will never be right in her eyes. That ship has sailed. She'll tell people they do great work but...and then go off about everything you detailed in your original post.

If your company does great work you'll keep on getting new clients. Stick to your guns and your price is your price.

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"Sorry Goose, but it's time to buzz the tower."

7/11/2019 5:28 PM

Forget about it, it takes time and money to sue someone.

Next time you run across someone like this be to busy or make the bid 10X higher or both.

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7/11/2019 5:31 PM

I’m a builder.
Never commit to building something/anything that is not to code or could be a warranty/maintenance issue down the track.
Of course a stormwater pipe discharging behind that wall was gonna be an issue. Your first instinct to extend and discharge in front of the wall was the correct one. As stated above, not doing the job because your weren’t comfortable with it should have been your action. Making $0 is always better than losing money

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7/11/2019 5:51 PM

MJC wrote:

I’m a builder.
Never commit to building something/anything that is not to code or could be a warranty/maintenance issue down the track.
Of course a stormwater pipe discharging behind that wall was gonna be an issue. Your first instinct to extend and discharge in front of the wall was the correct one. As stated above, not doing the job because your weren’t comfortable with it should have been your action. Making $0 is always better than losing money

I guess looking back I should have just ran the pipe under the wall and told her that’s what’s being done.
I’ll say 50/50 her and me as I should have just done it but she said not to after being told not to leave it like so

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7/11/2019 6:02 PM

I’ll take the contrarian position here. This is a small job. $300 you said. There is high potential you will lose much more then $300 with bad word of mouth. People likely to ask her who did her pretty nice wall. And she won’t have a nice thing to say about your company. If we were talking about a larger job then sure might be worth it to move on. Maybe you agree to do the job for $200 and that goodwill comes back to you in future jobs totaling $5,000 over the next year. Or, save $200 now and potentially lose out on that future $5,000.

Just something to think about.

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7/11/2019 6:31 PM
Edited Date/Time: 7/11/2019 6:40 PM

TXDirt wrote:

I’ll take the contrarian position here. This is a small job. $300 you said. There is high potential you will lose much more then $300 with bad word of mouth. People likely to ask her who did her pretty nice wall. And she won’t have a nice thing to say about your company. If we were talking about a larger job then sure might be worth it to move on. Maybe you agree to do the job for $200 and that goodwill comes back to you in future jobs totaling $5,000 over the next year. Or, save $200 now and potentially lose out on that future $5,000.

Just something to think about.

The 300 was to fix the drainage problem that she caused witch caused a freak out, whole wall was 6,000
Guess I left that out

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7/11/2019 6:51 PM

TXDirt wrote:

I’ll take the contrarian position here. This is a small job. $300 you said. There is high potential you will lose much more then $300 with bad word of mouth. People likely to ask her who did her pretty nice wall. And she won’t have a nice thing to say about your company. If we were talking about a larger job then sure might be worth it to move on. Maybe you agree to do the job for $200 and that goodwill comes back to you in future jobs totaling $5,000 over the next year. Or, save $200 now and potentially lose out on that future $5,000.

Just something to think about.

RONJ OSE wrote:

The 300 was to fix the drainage problem that she caused witch caused a freak out, whole wall was 6,000
Guess I left that out

I understood that part. $300 may be what separates good word of mouth vs bad word of mouth. There may be no pleasing this lady. But if you do this fix for $200 then that might be the best $100 you have ever spent/not charged. And if not, it only cost you $100 in service you didn’t charge. She paid $6,000 for a nice wall. If I can afford it, I would fix the drain for free if possible.

If you can get this ship righted, you might be able to turn that into another $6,000 by going the extra mile for her.

I can’t tell you how many small business owners split hairs on something, not even realizing they are killing future sales by holding so firm on a meaningless thing to the point they fracture the customer/client relationship. Not that your situation is meaningless. But in big picture it’s small.

I think the right thing to do here, is the hard thing to do, swallow your pride if you have to and see if you can win her over.

Winning people over is an art form. Mastering it will serve you well as a business owner.

I’ve run a small website business on the side for 20 years. I still have my first client. Every client I have had has been by word of mouth. I have fixed, changed numerous small things over the years for free because I know whatever I would have made will come back 10 fold in the future. One of my clients I even build their stupid end of year board report for. Only takes me a few hours. I do it for free. They have brought me in tens of thousands of dollars in revenue by word of mouth. No way will I send them a bill for a few hundred dollars for small work.

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7/11/2019 6:58 PM

TXDirt wrote:

I’ll take the contrarian position here. This is a small job. $300 you said. There is high potential you will lose much more then $300 with bad word of mouth. People likely to ask her who did her pretty nice wall. And she won’t have a nice thing to say about your company. If we were talking about a larger job then sure might be worth it to move on. Maybe you agree to do the job for $200 and that goodwill comes back to you in future jobs totaling $5,000 over the next year. Or, save $200 now and potentially lose out on that future $5,000.

Just something to think about.

RONJ OSE wrote:

The 300 was to fix the drainage problem that she caused witch caused a freak out, whole wall was 6,000
Guess I left that out

TXDirt wrote:

I understood that part. $300 may be what separates good word of mouth vs bad word of mouth. There may be no pleasing this lady. But if you do this fix for $200 then that might be the best $100 you have ever spent/not charged. And if not, it only cost you $100 in service you didn’t charge. She paid $6,000 for a nice wall. If I can afford it, I would fix the drain for free if possible.

If you can get this ship righted, you might be able to turn that into another $6,000 by going the extra mile for her.

I can’t tell you how many small business owners split hairs on something, not even realizing they are killing future sales by holding so firm on a meaningless thing to the point they fracture the customer/client relationship. Not that your situation is meaningless. But in big picture it’s small.

I think the right thing to do here, is the hard thing to do, swallow your pride if you have to and see if you can win her over.

Winning people over is an art form. Mastering it will serve you well as a business owner.

I’ve run a small website business on the side for 20 years. I still have my first client. Every client I have had has been by word of mouth. I have fixed, changed numerous small things over the years for free because I know whatever I would have made will come back 10 fold in the future. One of my clients I even build their stupid end of year board report for. Only takes me a few hours. I do it for free. They have brought me in tens of thousands of dollars in revenue by word of mouth. No way will I send them a bill for a few hundred dollars for small work.

I understand what you’re saying, but I am not making much money on this wall and to A- tear down the Corner and run the pipe under or B- trench across the yard and put pipe in.
Both are about 250 in labor for my guys that’s my only hold up, I told her pay material and I’ll put it in she said no. I was cool until she said that she needed to speak to my dad and said that “I did not know what I was doing and was incompetent”
That really pissed me off.
I should go fix it and try to make amends but she’s a bitch

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7/11/2019 6:59 PM

Some people you can’t win over and it may not be worth it here. Sorry if I sounded too preachey. You could fix it for free, hand her $300 and she probably still a pain in the ass.

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7/11/2019 7:02 PM
Edited Date/Time: 7/11/2019 7:03 PM

TXDirt wrote:

I’ll take the contrarian position here. This is a small job. $300 you said. There is high potential you will lose much more then $300 with bad word of mouth. People likely to ask her who did her pretty nice wall. And she won’t have a nice thing to say about your company. If we were talking about a larger job then sure might be worth it to move on. Maybe you agree to do the job for $200 and that goodwill comes back to you in future jobs totaling $5,000 over the next year. Or, save $200 now and potentially lose out on that future $5,000.

Just something to think about.

RONJ OSE wrote:

The 300 was to fix the drainage problem that she caused witch caused a freak out, whole wall was 6,000
Guess I left that out

TXDirt wrote:

I understood that part. $300 may be what separates good word of mouth vs bad word of mouth. There may be no pleasing this lady. But if you do this fix for $200 then that might be the best $100 you have ever spent/not charged. And if not, it only cost you $100 in service you didn’t charge. She paid $6,000 for a nice wall. If I can afford it, I would fix the drain for free if possible.

If you can get this ship righted, you might be able to turn that into another $6,000 by going the extra mile for her.

I can’t tell you how many small business owners split hairs on something, not even realizing they are killing future sales by holding so firm on a meaningless thing to the point they fracture the customer/client relationship. Not that your situation is meaningless. But in big picture it’s small.

I think the right thing to do here, is the hard thing to do, swallow your pride if you have to and see if you can win her over.

Winning people over is an art form. Mastering it will serve you well as a business owner.

I’ve run a small website business on the side for 20 years. I still have my first client. Every client I have had has been by word of mouth. I have fixed, changed numerous small things over the years for free because I know whatever I would have made will come back 10 fold in the future. One of my clients I even build their stupid end of year board report for. Only takes me a few hours. I do it for free. They have brought me in tens of thousands of dollars in revenue by word of mouth. No way will I send them a bill for a few hundred dollars for small work.

She’s that kinda lady, thanks for the input though

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7/11/2019 7:38 PM

I once worked with a guy who said "give em what they want first and then give em what they need". That's a bad business plan as far as I'm concerned. Do what you gotta do to fix the situation, even if it cuts into your profit and bank it as a learning experience. 90 percent of my business came from referrals. Telling a dissatisfied customer to fuck off will do the opposite.

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7/11/2019 7:57 PM

EZZA 95B wrote:

I thought this was going to be about someone banging on your door for coffee at 5am.w00t silly

That's not funny ,bro. Now I have to really stretch far to beat on the window at the McDonalds drive thru. It's just not the same.

Photo
My advice to the OP is to show up a little before 5:00 am, beat on her door to let her know you are there, then fire up the mixers, jack hammers, and radio's. Do it every day for a week, and they will be begging you to GTFO.

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7/11/2019 8:00 PM

project racer wrote:

That's not funny ,bro. Now I have to really stretch far to beat on the window at the McDonalds drive thru. It's just not the same.

Photo
My advice to the OP is to show up a little before 5:00 am, beat on her door to let her know you are there, then fire up the mixers, jack hammers, and radio's. Do it every day for a week, and they will be begging you to GTFO.

laughing
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7/11/2019 8:41 PM

EZZA 95B wrote:

I thought this was going to be about someone banging on your door for coffee at 5am.w00t silly

project racer wrote:

That's not funny ,bro. Now I have to really stretch far to beat on the window at the McDonalds drive thru. It's just not the same.

Photo
My advice to the OP is to show up a little before 5:00 am, beat on her door to let her know you are there, then fire up the mixers, jack hammers, and radio's. Do it every day for a week, and they will be begging you to GTFO.

Lamo funny as hell!!
We were actually at the job one day started at 7 on the dot she comes out screaming at me with her hair rollers in telling me it’s too early

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7/11/2019 8:46 PM

Do NOT make business decisions premised upon threats of a lawsuit.

Red Crawford, Esq.

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“Men, we are surrounded by the enemy. We have the greatest opportunity ever presented an army. We can attack in any direction.”
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of the Bulge.