Customer cancellation

OK so I'm nearly finished laying a nice mixed size sandstone patio for a client when they ask me to do further works by installing an artificial lawn, so I quote them a good price, essentially at cost. They agree and pay me an up front deposit to cover materials cost which I duly order and pay for. All materials and a skip booked to come in Monday and a labourer to help me shift the several tons of stuff. Now fast forward to this afternoon (Sunday) I get a phone call from said client asking if they can cancel and if I can essentially give them their money back, I explained that it is far too late to cancel any deliveries and that even in the event I could money would be lost. Now seeing as I still have an ongoing job there that I need to get finished and paid for I would rather this situation didn't go sour. Obviously it is unlikely that they will get any deposit back and will be stuck with a load of materials for a job they don't want done anymore (It seems to be cashflow problems) and will also have further costs to cover my losses, which tbh more or less means they may as well go ahead with the project anyway now. How does everybody think I should proceed with this when I'm on site Monday morning? They are a nice old couple and I don't want to upset them at all, but I'm not a charity and I have a business to run.

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    • Everything was legit from a contractual stand point, I think it was genuinely something that came up last moment, but again not a problem I needed passed onto me.
  • Communication seems to have been the key, something we all need to remember but sometimes forget. What is quite clear to us is often a foreign language to the customer. 

  • PRO
    I suspect the problem was that a son, daughter or the like visited them on the Sunday and tried to talk them out of having the extra work done, possibly as the inheritance may be getting spent!

    Trying to make customers wait until the cancellation period is over will probably be seen by the customer as you dragging the job out and just delaying things, but starting within the cancellation period means they can cancel at no cost to themselves.

    This is where you need good customers rather than strangers you have found off the internet.

  • PRO

    why did you price it at cost? If you are not making any money on it then spend the time instead generating new, profitable business

    • When I say 'at cost' I mean I wasnt putting in my usual extra percentage on top of materials. I'm still making decent money on it labour wise, and even saved on my initial materials costs.I wouldn't work for free for anybody lol! Just decided to do a decent deal for minimal extra work and perhaps spread the word around the area a little more. Like I mentioned earlier I have already had a few little jobs come in while I've been on this one.
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