Getting What You Paid for Can Require a Little Attitude

Too often, it's customer (dis)service when dealing with contractors.

Maybe it was that fact that I had two contractors at my house, an unexpected visit from Jehovah's Witnesses and a house full of teenagers that ignited the spark.

I had one contractor come in, finish the work and go about his merry way. The second contractor leaned against a tree in my yard and began jabbering about what was in his contract and what he was NOT going to do. The phones were ringing, the dog was barking, my husband was working hard and I was left with a loitering yahoo not wanting to put grub control on the grass.  

While preparing for summer, we decided a lawn service would be the best option. Between our busy schedules and the time required for doing the treatments ourselves, it was in our best interest. We called around, receiving a number of quotes. Surprisingly, no one actually came to the house for the estimate.

Thanks to technology, our yard was assessed via Google Earth. They were able to see our house, the yard, even the driveway. We agreed on a reasonable quote from a nationally known lawn service. If we paid in full prior to treatments, an additional percentage was deducted from the total.  

The first two out of the five treatments were completed. No issues, no problems. Then the tree-leaning, attitude-throwing serviceman waived a piece of paper while verbalizing the details of his contract.

In this case, our contract was done by a pleasantly nifty salesperson in Texas. Once the contract is put together, the salesperson submits it to a local franchise. Unfortunately for the serviceman, the square footage was a bit off. The contract we received covered our entire front, side and backyard.  

He was sweaty with a dirty brow and glasses reminiscent of my least favorite 7th grade history teacher. His uniform looked habitually unwashed, I’m guessing rehung on a dusty treadmill he bought at Sears. He proceeded to tell me about his 1972 high school graduation, how 1984 was “a good year” and his degree in forestry (completed online).

Is that even possible? Why am I always graced with super freaks who think I want to hear anything personal? I figured my unresponsiveness and blank stares would silence the sweaty lawn guy with the forestry degree. The reality of the situation is that I had a contractor standing in my yard, trying to get out of doing a service, while chit-chatting about his awesomeness.  

Together we walked around the yard as he shook his head while writing numbers down on his clipboard. The more I watched him, the more agitated I became. He became confrontational, a bit abrupt and rude.  

“Then I guess we’re done here. If you refuse to do the service we already paid for, then I’m skippin’ back to the house and making a few calls. I’ll ask for a refund and won’t be using or recommending your company. Ever.”  

As I began walking back to the unorganized chaos of my house, harmony filled the air.  

“Ah...miss...well, where does the property line end?”

Within minutes, we agreed to our contracted terms.  Phone calls were no longer necessary, apologies were given and a mutual understanding was made.  

All I want is what I paid for. Not an attitude, not a confrontation, nor an argument. But if I have to go that route, just hope it’s not on the first day of summer, with a houseful of teenagers and after the rushed exit of unintentionally ignored Jehovah's Witnesses.  

Christine June 25, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Ha! Well written!! Loved to read this. I gave a little attitude to my tree guy because He failed to show up for a paid job. When I questioned why he never showed up- he nearly bit my head off. They he proceeded to argue with me about the agreed upon work. Great column!!
Bill June 25, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Well, maybe it's a good sign that the economy is back and unemployment is down when so few people seem to be concerned about customer satisfaction.
J. Lippi June 26, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Good article, women who handle this stuff for the house listen to what she is saying and be firm and specific before signing contracts.
Becky & Josh Long June 28, 2012 at 04:25 PM
I think the comments about his clothes and degree are rude. What makes you so much better and judgmental? How were you dressed? Working people get dirty!
Zeke June 28, 2012 at 08:12 PM
So you agreed to let a company do this without even coming out to look at the grass and evaluate what it needs? What part of that seemed like a good idea to you? Sounds like you may want to point some of that judgement in the mirror. There are several great LOCAL companies that will come out, actually measure your property, and will explain the condition and health of your lawn and form a treatment plan. And the kicker is, they're usually cheaper than the national company you went with.


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