When do you charge and how do you decide?

An elderly regular client rang yesterday.."oh Adam you have to.come asap a tree has blown down over the garden"I rearrange my Wednesday and turn up with the necessary tools....there are some big trees overhanging the gardening.An orange blossom Bush has lost a branch, 3 clips of the lopers and it is in her green bin - about 10 mins + a 30 minute drive..The real pain is I postponed a £60 visit for this....which is now at least 30 mins away.....I can't really charge her anything, can I?

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  • I had a similar incident last year. An elderly customer phoned me up all in a panic and said there were some big branches on the lawn and on the glasshouse. She was concerned that it could be dangerous. Fortunately it only 5 minutes away from where I live. I asked do I need to bring a chainsaw and she said yes because it was a big branch. I got there and the large limbs were actually branches 2 inches thick. Chainsaw not required and used my loppers to tidy up the mess. I was a bit irritated but realised she was on her own and that what is a small thing to me was to her a constant worry. I added the 'job' onto the bill which avoided unnecessary awkwardness for her.
  • PRO

    No weakness in acting  charitably towards your Customer Adam  We bond with our customers , we are all human at the end of the day .  The way i see it you went the extra mile for your customer even though it cost , qualities like this are priceless .   

    • PRO I said at the start, a lonely old lady.....and looking at that photo, I must persuade her to get rid of that log roll edging :) The red wine is kicking in !
      • PRO

        To clarify, it was stated as an 'An elderly regular client" and in past experience many are far from short of money. We've had some very rich old clients and suspect some play on the 'poor old pensioner' card.

        However, accept some have lost touch with the reality of costs etc

        Only you know your clients and what level of charity you are prepared to offer them.....

    • PRO
      That's fine to a point but slippery slope spring to mind. If you're not careful you could spend all day everyday doing stuff like that and go bankrupt:)
      • PRO

        slippery slope to go the other way too far as well 

        im sure the mid ground is the happy balance 

        plenty of service people that manipulate the elderly or weak 

        gotta live with yourself at the end of day -- cover your own situ and not get screwed -- and do as good as you can without taking advantage.

      • PRO

        I know what you mean but sometimes we are put on the spot , I would definitely help out any of my regular customers in a gardening emergency  , my conscience wouldn't rest regardless of the financial outcome but i am aware, not just of the consequences of a wild goose chase but also of the possibility of an earning opportunity , someone has to remove that obstacle blocking the drive . Fortunately these events don't occur everyday . 

  • PRO
    I always charge, a bit different but we started a pub contract and the it was a new build, but the pub could not open its doors due to the landscaper putting slate on the highway...... we were asked to get around there and sort and bill the landscaper costs, only took an hour but no way was I billing for an hour! Have had loads like this over the years and always charged way above normal rates and going above and beyond!
  • I had a couple call me out last week to fix a fence post that had come loose, I asked 20 questions about it and it seemed as simple as a bag of post crete.. A quick and easy £80 Turns out it is several posts that have come loose because the have been cut level and plonked on a blob of cement. I explained it was more work and more money to do right but for the time being I could secure it and at least make it safe. The wife from the couple then starts refusing for me to do a temp fix and refusing to pay, rather wanting to pay once for the bigger job. It then took some explaining that she had to pay me anyway for the call out to which she started to get idignant stating that I said free quotes on website to which I had to further explain the free quote was given over the phone. She paid up in the end though.
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