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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Importance of Clarification

Not a fun or silly post today - looking for a little input (as well as doing a little venting). I apologize in advance for the length - I did my best to keep it reasonable.

Yesterday, the tree guys came to clean up the land I mentioned last week.

First, the guy showed up early to give us the estimate. Early as in before Joe had arrived home for the appointment, leaving me to deal with it. I showed him the land, explained what we wanted done, and he gave me an estimate, which we were quite pleased with. The estimate included 3-4 hours of "dead trees, understorage trees, ground debris" and we decided to go ahead with the work. He said it would be either last Friday or this Monday and that he'd call to confirm.

On Saturday, he left a message and Joe said he'd be here on Wednesday. But on Monday morning, Joe listened back and realized the guy had said Monday at noon. Great - Joe couldn't be here that afternoon but I said I'd handle it. When he called back to confirm, the guy said he had misspoken in the message, saying Monday when he meant Wednesday, which was tomorrow because today was Tuesday. Only it wasn't Tuesday. Huh? Finally, we straightened it out for Wednesday afternoon and Joe cleared his schedule accordingly.

Except yesterday morning (actual Tuesday), tree guy left a message saying he'd had a cancellation and would be here in 15 minutes. Awesome, since Joe had just moved all of his Wednesday meetings to Tuesday and now he couldn't be here. Again.

Anyways, the guy showed up with a crew of 5 guys, showed them what to he wanted done, told me he'd send one of them to the house for the check when they were done in approximately 2 hours, and he left. The crew worked for one hour and was done.

Except, were they done? (click for larger)


I had specifically mentioned the decades of leaves on the ground, as well as glass bottles and plastic (which you can't see in this pic) as being things we wanted removed and he had said okay. When Joe called him this morning to ask about the work done, tree guy said that it was a miscommunication because they don't pick up garbage, just limbs/branches/trees. Joe made it clear that what remained was a mixture so tree guy will come back today to check it.

My definition of ground debris:
removal of natural and foreign objects on the ground, not cleared to perfection, but at least a cursory removal (maybe a once-over with the bobcat?) to the point that we could handle the remaining without special equipment

Tree guy's definition of ground debris:
removal of most of the existing downed trees and branches, plus removal of any materials they cut down

I don't know - were our expectations wrong? The lot condition is greatly improved but we were expecting more. And while I get that it's more efficient to have 5 guys working (in theory) for a shorter amount of time, does 5 guys for 1 hour = 3 or 4 guys for 3 or 4 hours?

So we're frustrated, made worse by the fact that the head tree guy didn't follow-up at all with a call to see if we were happy with the work and didn't come by to look at the finished job himself until Joe contacted him this morning. How far would you push this? It wasn't a lot of money, but the ground debris was a really important factor in clearing the lot (it can't just be raked away - it's too deep and dense) so we may not have been so pleased with the quote if we had realized we would still have to pay to have our definition of ground debris removed.

I feel like this is my fault since I had to handle everything on this project because they kept changing times and somehow Joe wouldn't have screwed it up if he had been here.

If you made it this far, thanks. If you have any ideas/opinions/advice, thanks even more.


Melinda (Sew-Lin) said...

I think that the tree guys should make right by the quote they gave you. If you told them you wanted the leaves and trash removed and they said they would, they either should do so or reduce the amount you owe for the portion of the work that was done. If they don't I would make it VERY clear to him that you will sharing your displeasure with their service with your wide network of people in your undisclosed area.

Toriz said...

Well, first of all... That wasn't a long post, you should see some of mine! LOL!

Secondly, I would have thought it would be obvious that all the leaves and rubbish and such should be included in clearing the area, and wouldn't be impressed if they hadn't been if it was me. You didn't mess up, they did.

First they couldn't even get when they were coming straight, so they came when they shouldn't have. Personally, I'd have been extremely displeased with that (and - being me - would have made sure to point this out).

Then he left the guys to get on with it while he went elsewhere. Hmm... OK, you can let that slide, but he should have come back (or at least called) to check they'd done the job properly.

And then to find they hadn't done the job properly...

If it was me, I'd be demanding that they either clear the rest of the stuff away (OK if they miss the odd bit, but at least most of it should get cleared up). Or that they should reduce your bill to compensate you for the large amount of debris left behind. And if he does neither, then I would be telling him you want to launch a formal complaint, and will make it known in your area that he doesn't provide a satisfactory service.

JosephAlsarraf said...

Why don't you tell that you are going to pay him until he does the job right.

Tami said...

5 guys for 1 hours is absolutely NOT the same as 3-4 guys for 3-4 hours. Since you specifically mentioned the years of leaf debris, then you should consider it as included in the original estimate.

If you haven't paid, don't until the work is done correctly. If you have paid - demand that they finish the job, refund your money, or expect to have their business reviewed on every site you can find telling people not to use them. In a world of facebook, twitter, internet and text - no business wants their name smeared.

C. Beth said...

I agree that since you discussed the leaves, they should be included. Trash is negotiable.

Robin Panzer Art said...

I'd push harder letting them know you are unhappy with the work and with their end of the communication. Next time though, get it in writing, it will save you the headache! Sorry you have to deal with this. Ground debris, in my book, means all the junk on the ground that isn't noticeably a proper plant or tree!

That corgi :) said...

I think he (tree clearing guy) is in the wrong here. If you specifically said clean up clutter/debris and referred to what it was, at that point he should have said he doesn't pick up this or that, but only picks up leaves, etc. But if he looked at it and you specifically said the debris, he is in the wrong and I think he needs to finish the project for the quote he gave you, to your satisfaction. But what a hassle to have to deal with.....


andrea said...

okay, a few things because i haven't been to visit you in forever and a day.

at least.

first, HOW EXCITING for the land purchase! yay for you!!!

and second, jim has his own contracting company and would NEVER leave a customer not satisfied. any reputable contractor will stand behind their work as their business is largely reliant upon word of mouth.

i would be totally upset also.


Judith said...

This reminds me of when I arranged to have insulation in my quaint, old cottage. The quote included clearing out and removal of all the rubbish left by previous owners in the crawl space under the house. However, this was done but all the trash was left on the front lawn. My builder who was on site took it to the tip/rubbish dump, at my cost. But the contractors did delete the cost of his time from their bill.
So I suggest you take it up with the head guy again and again until you get what you expected or at least a reduction so that you can pay somebody else to finish the job,

Brenda Youngerman said...

i would not pay them until they do exactly what you want...push it until it is what you want!!! we all work way too hard for our money these days!

Kaylen said...

Ugh, how frustrating. I would complain and whine until they make me happy. Don't feel bad about it either, you're not hurting their feelings-you're making them accountable for what they should do to earn your money. so really, you're making them a better company by complaining! They should thank you!!