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how would you handle this

chuck shaw
chuck shaw Member Posts: 584
My neighbor called the night before Thanksgiving, about 7pm, her kitchen sink was clogged. I went out to the truck, grabed my plunger, walked accross the back yard, plunged her kitchen sink wished her a happy Thanksgiving and went home. I sent her a bill for $50, normally this would have been $150. I figured, a quick walk, 10 minutes, and I am home, didnt even have to start the van. Today I get a check for $20.00 with a note that says. Thank you so much, I really appriceate you stoping in and fixing my sink. But isnt $50 a little over the top? among friends? Enclosed is a check for 15 minutes. Thanks again Jane.

My first thought is to send back the check explaining my usually fee for an "after hours" call. And tell her to keep the check and throw away my phone number. But I live next door to this person.

What would the rest of you wallies do in this situation?

Thanks

Chuck Shaw

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Comments

  • Floyd_5
    Floyd_5 Member Posts: 418
    was she at least...

    smart enough to put it in your personal name instead of your Co. name?????
  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884
    tough call Chuck

    yea I would feel like sending her the check back and telling her you need it more than I do, ...But.

    At the same time, its a nieghbor and as The Wall teach's us, we should help out :).

    How good of a nieghbor is she ? Are you friends ?

    If your not that close than I think your fifty dollars was correct. If your good friends then a friend in need .....

    I don't know Chuck , I guess I would drop it and figure your not such good friends. But twenty bucks .. ask her who she could call at that hour for that money.

    Merry Christmas Pal

    Scott

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  • Been there-done that & have

    the experince of a neighbour not talking to me.

    What I have now determined to do is for any neighbour that I can fix their problem in less than 1/2 hour NO CHARGE. It has so far worked out for me. Any parts it is then parts + labor for my call.

    It just keeps piece in the hood.

    I have about five or six widows in my neighborhood now so they could probably keep me pretty busy. So far it has not been bad. I am sort of bound by the scripture to care for the widows and children and those less fortunate. Say come to think of it those widows drive a better car than I do HMMMMMM!!!!!
  • John@Reliable_5
    John@Reliable_5 Member Posts: 76
    Chuck, real tough call thats why after................

    living in the city for 40+ years with plenty of neighbors.It would seem that as soon as I got in the house the phone would ring, they could hear the diesel, now my new house has a 500' long driveway and NO neighbors. P.S. did a lady from your town call you last month? It was a gas no heat for acouple of days I gave her your # John@Reliable
  • Mad Dog
    Mad Dog Member Posts: 2,595
    She's got crust , chucky.........

    I hear ya about neighbors and widows. I help out widows and the poor frequently. My mom was a widow at 39 with 3 kids, so I know the deal. Definitely send the check back and politely tell her it is on the house. Then, don't ever work for her again...period. What I do with my neighbors is: "Look, this is what I normally charge and this is what I will charge you (which is usually 25% less)." Any problems that I have ever run in to with any people, especially friends and neighbors are the result of not giving them a price up front. If she calls you again, politely give her the number of a competitor and tell her you have a new policy of NEVER working for neighbors - sorry! The woman is rude. Mad Dog

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  • R Troughton
    R Troughton Member Posts: 39
    Not to be

    nasty or anything but I am of the belief that "tall fences" truly do make for "good neighbors". I will not do work for my neighbors, it is just opening the door for all kinds of trouble. (And very few of my friends either...)

    That being said, I personally, would send the check back and tell her to go out and buy her own plunger and to have a Merry Christmas.


    Rob
  • paul lessard_2
    paul lessard_2 Member Posts: 192
    I would call that an Insult

    And I would always be "too busy" for her in the future
    If $50 was a freebie what is $20 ?
    what does she do for a living? would she offer it to you for a fraction of what it costs her?
    some people just don't get it. Ok i'm done now deep breaths aaaahhhhh
  • chuck shaw
    chuck shaw Member Posts: 584
    She is not

    a widow, both her and her husband have good jobs. She has been working for DOD for 30 yrs, and her husband has been working for a nearby town for about 20, plus he has his own buisness on the side. There home is pretty nice, but they have been there about 15yrs, well before real estate price went nuts. In the grand scheme of things, I guess it matters very little. But tells me volumes about her.

    Chuck

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  • Pat Clark
    Pat Clark Member Posts: 187
    no right answers

    This is a tough one Chuck.

    I might do this (then again, might not). Call her and let her know your normal rate was $150, but being a neighbor and it was quick you thought $50 was fair, However, if she thinks $20.00 was fair, then let it go at that.

    Next time this occurs, I would tell her (or anyone) how much it will cost up front, that avoids this problem.

    I know, its tough being the nice guy and getting slapped.

    Actually I probably would not say anything, and if it happens again, I might be too busy.

    Pat
  • jackchips_2
    jackchips_2 Member Posts: 1,338
    I agree Chuck,

    tough call.

    Is she close to anyone in the family-your wife, her kids to your kids, you and her husband?

    You asked "what would you do"--two things:

    It's apples to oranges how the original call would have been handled so I'll hold my opinion;

    As for the circumstances, I'm in the send the check back column, apologize for the original bill and hope she doesn't call again.

    Hopefully she won't but let's cross that bridge if she does.
  • paul lessard_2
    paul lessard_2 Member Posts: 192
    dod?

    tell her you want a patriot missile for the same "friend" discount that should be about $4 million..and throw in some benefits on her way home. ..hehehe crusty I like that one
  • Chuck, shes trying to teach you something.

    She wants you to know that in your close neighborhood, it's common and acceptable to poop on your neighbors. That's how to get ahead without spending your own money.

    She called you, remember.

    I'd send it back, too.
  • scrook_2
    scrook_2 Member Posts: 610
    plungers & neighbors

    If only plunging it was required I would not have charged her. If more had beed req'd then you shoul dhave quoted a fee for services and if you were using your employer's equipment have her make a check out to him.

    The damage being done, I'd just return the check and tell her, yes, under the circumstances, that perhaps you erred.

    It can be a tough call sometimes, but goodwill among neighbors is worth more than gold.

    Takes a good man to ask publicly if he erred though, for though we all do we'd rather not admit the possibility.

    Peace & God Bless
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,490
    I would use the $20

    to buy myself a case of beer, and then I'd have a good laugh for myself about people, and I'd think about how funny the world can be sometimes, and then I would hoist one of those beers to her, and I'd smile, and laugh, and then move on. And next time she calls, I'd probably do the same thing.

    But that's just me. ;-)
    Retired and loving it.
  • Bill_14
    Bill_14 Member Posts: 345


    Return the check and forget it Chuck. Life is too short.

    When you work for close neighbors, you either decide to bill them like you would bill anyone else or you decide to do things like this work for nothing.

    I generally know when a neighbor or good friend calls that I am about to help someone with a donation. I have at least pushed myself to charge for any materials used at my cost and they know this is a bargain.

    I personally have a hard time billing for this type of stuff. However, on big stuff, there is no hesitation.

    I think on little stuff, it is kinda like calling your attorney up and asking a single question that takes 10 minutes to answer. Some attorney's will nail you with an invoice, but your good friends will look at that question as a way to have helped a friend with a quality answer.

    Go figure. Good relationships are generally important to keep and this is why I vote for returning the check.

    Bill
  • john_27
    john_27 Member Posts: 195
    Is your neighbor aware...

    of your normal billing rate? Does she realize that you had allocated whatever time it took to get her problem fixed?
    I would send her a note advising her of your normal rates, and tell her that you donated her check, in the sincere spirit spirit of the season, to her local church, and that you mean it nicely, not meanly, spitefully, or angrily.
    She will get the message, and you will have a more respectful neighbor.
  • chuck shaw
    chuck shaw Member Posts: 584
    thanks John,

    > of your normal billing rate? Does she realize

    > that you had allocated whatever time it took to

    > get her problem fixed? I would send her a note

    > advising her of your normal rates, and tell her

    > that you donated her check, in the sincere spirit

    > spirit of the season, to her local church, and

    > that you mean it nicely, not meanly, spitefully,

    > or angrily. She will get the message, and you

    > will have a more respectful neighbor.





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  • chuck shaw
    chuck shaw Member Posts: 584
    thanks John,

    > of your normal billing rate? Does she realize

    > that you had allocated whatever time it took to

    > get her problem fixed? I would send her a note

    > advising her of your normal rates, and tell her

    > that you donated her check, in the sincere spirit

    > spirit of the season, to her local church, and

    > that you mean it nicely, not meanly, spitefully,

    > or angrily. She will get the message, and you

    > will have a more respectful neighbor.





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  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928
    Good neighbor

    You might not like this but I'll say it anyway...

    If she's a previous customer charged fairly AND your next-door neighbor it should have been a favor.

    If she's not a previous customer and has never asked for anything like that before, it should have been a gift.

    If she's not a previous customer and constantly asks for "favors" without returning anything of ANY form of "value" you should have said that you were "busy".

  • jim lockard
    jim lockard Member Posts: 1,059


    I would let it go Chuck and never have time for her again. It maybe ok for her to poop where she lives but I would keep my yard clean.
    I feel your pain and the insult once had a neighbor of (wealth) give me a whole 5 dollars for replacing a light switch, after that I was always to busy.
  • Jeff_18
    Jeff_18 Member Posts: 15
    MONEY

    Ihave lost some good friends over what thing cost.For some reason people forget it's out time that they are p-aying for.Next time let her fingers do the walking thru the yellow pages Send the check to a charity, let her know.Maybe even match it .


    Jeff
  • heatboy
    heatboy Member Posts: 1,468
    It has to be.........

    full boat or free. Keep the money and buy me a beer in Baltimore(g) since sending it back could be perceived (on her part) as an insult. Next time, explain your rates and if she values your services, she'll hire you. If not, you will still have a neighbor who won't give you the single finger wave. Freinds, family or synagogue, full boat or free.

    I will wager you'll have a call back there to! ;-)

    hb

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    heatboy



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    "The laws of physics will outweigh the laws of ecomomics every time."
  • steve gates
    steve gates Member Posts: 329
    Tim I to

    am bound. And it's a pleasure as it is with you Tim.

    Chuck drop it and do like dan says. You'll feel better.
    If I got paid for all the freebies I could charge less to the others. Naa

    Waugh!
  • Dave Yates (PAH)
    Dave Yates (PAH) Member Posts: 2,162
    I like

    Dan's suggestion. Just don't consume the whole case in one sitting or you might be tempted to say things you'll later regret!

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  • Eric
    Eric Member Posts: 95
    You Billed Her

    If you sent a bill then you sent a bill.

    You obivous thought you were "working" and not "helping a neighbor".

    Can't do both.

    So... Were you "chuck the plumber" or "chuck the neighbor"?

    Ironically, my plumbing backed up on thanksgiving (bad timing). I donned the carharts and crawled in the crawlspace with the snake. Ended up having to cut the line and add an extra cleanout on Friday. End of line cleanout was 80' feet and snake was only 50' Not too bad for an engineer (I only bill out at $110/hr).
  • tim smith_2
    tim smith_2 Member Posts: 184
    WOW!

    She really takes the cake. I too have done many things for friends and neighbors. But If i sent them a bill it would be very fair and they would pay it. I would forget it and she would not see the whites of my eyes ever again on a business level, but I would always be polite and helpful when it comes time to find another contractor to help her in her time of need. :)
  • Paul Mitchell
    Paul Mitchell Member Posts: 266
    Go over to their house in person..

    bring the check. Play dumb and say hi blah blah, just wanted to let you know that you sent the check in the wrong amount. After she says didnt you get my note. Ask her what note? Make her tell you in person. Then explain your regular rate. See what happens.....Her husband couldnt handle a plunger????????????????????

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  • Fred P
    Fred P Member Posts: 77
    look at the bright side,

    for 20 bucks she probably will never call you again!
  • Edward A. Carey
    Edward A. Carey Member Posts: 48
    Your neighbor

    Chuck,

    I can tell you two things that are a proven fact:

    1. What ever you do for someone, for nothing, is worth exactly that to them.

    They are the people that usually give you the most grief, because they think they can, because hey,,, you work for nothing.

    NEVER give away the work that you do to make your living. I will help a neighbor or friend do just about anything and not charge them for my help, EXCEPT my trade. And I feel that I have every right to feel that way. It is my life, and I take pride in it.



    2. If you don't do SOMETHING about this issue with your neighbor, I assure you that she will think she was corect. She will talk to your other neighbors and tell them how you "overcharged" her, and how she "straightened you out".

    You chaged her a very fair price, but she does not understand. If you just let it go, others will hear about it.

    You would be much better off giving her the check back, and telling her that you charged her a fair price, and therefore she should not call you again for service unless she is willing to pay you your "fair price". The neighbors will hear that too, and they will respect you for it.

    JMHO
    Ed
  • canuckDale
    canuckDale Member Posts: 77
    Community

    I'm with Dan and Yates.

    My neighbor across the street is an ****.
    Xmas is the season. He will help me clear his problem. I can't turn my back. He is just different. Hell! He's an electrician....I may need him one day!

    I don't need nor want the cash right now.

    Merry Xmas!

    Dale
  • Wethead7
    Wethead7 Member Posts: 170
    Bright side

    She might not call you again?? But goverment employees are known for not paying. They do not work,jury duty,pay thier bills. What do you expect? I have seen some exceptions but few and far between. DOD are the worst. We are prohibited from working for less than normal rate. Our policy helps all employees with this. Sorry, but we have no choice.

    Mike
  • Joe Kuhl
    Joe Kuhl Member Posts: 17
    what would you do

    Personally, I would have been embarassed to bill a neighbor at all! Its not like you had to use a high tech tool that cost you a fortune to purchase and took you a long time to learn how to operate. Maybe its because I live in a rural area and my good neighbors are far and few in between but they know they can count on me for a favor and they return that whenever the need arises. A little act of kindness goes alot farther then 50 dollars does. Matter of fact it goes alot farther then 150 dollars. I guess it matters though just what exactly you were doing at 7 PM the night before a holiday that was so important that you had to put a monetary value on to postpone for a measely 10 minutes!
  • Dan Foley
    Dan Foley Member Posts: 1,258
    Neighbors

    Back when I worked for a large HVAC company, I would drive my service truck home. At the time I lived in a townhouse development with a common parking area. One of my neighbors reported this to the community association since technically no commercial vehicles were allowed to park in the neighborhood. I attended the next association meeting and volunteered to move my truck when the two police cruisers and one fire marshal truck (all technically commercial vehicles) were also moved. The complaints stopped.

    Whenever one of these "neighbors" would knock on my door on weekends or in the evening, I politely explained that my company had a policy against side work (true) and that I could be fired for doing side work (also true). I suggested they call the number on the side of the truck and schedule an appointment through the company. I felt this was a polite way of sidestepping the issue confronting you now. Best of Luck! -DF

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  • joel_4
    joel_4 Member Posts: 42
    nice

    Yep an insult for sure but hey if you've got to live next to her it's probably not worth fighting about i've got aguy trying to screw me out of 400.00 now because he thinks thats to much even when i told him upfront what it would cost
  • JohnNY
    JohnNY Member Posts: 3,226
    I would..

    ...keep the check and never cash it. When she tries to balance her checkbook, she will contact you. At that time, you need to tell her that you're saving it, along with her letter, as a reminder never to work for her or a neighbor again.

    That's what you need to do.

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  • heatboy
    heatboy Member Posts: 1,468
    Does that mean.............

    you were not a "side jobber"? Just one of the many reasons I like you, Dan!

    hb

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  • scrook_2
    scrook_2 Member Posts: 610
    side work = ?

    The tough question: If he only used a plunger on the sink is it a side job? If the plunger was his personal one (or the neighbor's personal one) not the company's one on the truck does it change the status as a side job? If it is his personal plunger but he carries it on the company's truck (instead of the company buying and supplying it to carry on the truck) does *that* change the outcome? It cound be argued that using a plunger requires no special plumbing skills or knowledge, vs. using a snake (manual or powered) which requires slight plumbing skills/knowledge, so the situation might have been differant if snaking had been required. Also, (assumingf he was an employee, not the owner, and if he used his personal equipment (plunger or even snake) and did not charge, is that a "side job"? OTOH if he did the same, w/ personal equipment and *he*, not the company, billed her then yes I could see it as being a side job. It can be a tough call. I also would argue that to describe all goverment workers as prone to being deadbeats is an unfair slam -- sure there are some, but there are others who are as honest and as hard working as anyone. It also is not relevent to the initial question.

    I still argue that this time, as I understand the situation, he should just return the $20 check (or keep it and call it even) and that in similar situations the future, with her, or other neighbors, he should be clear before starting, what (if anything) is a favor for a friend/neighbor in need, what is expressly proihibited by his employment contract (if applicable) and what is a billable job and for how much. The prior relationship w/ the neighbor may have a significant impact on which is selected too, e.g. even if he were to return the check this time, the next time any jop migh tbecome billable at standard company rate for her whereas a simple freebe might be done for a diffent neighbor whom he was on better terms with or felt was in a place of greater hardship. My inflation adjusted $0.02 worth. Alternate points of view welcomed, as I by no means have a corner on the market for knowledge!
  • Bob Morrison_3
    Bob Morrison_3 Member Posts: 54
    If you didn't talk $ before starting work, can you blame her?

    Chuck,
    Your description of the situation doesn't say that you told her up front that the minimum charge is $50. If you didn't discuss payments at the beginning, then anything goes at the end.
    Have you ever been on the other end of one of these situations? For example, you might have dropped off your vehicle for what you thought was maintainence and the cost was more than you expected...
    Of course, she could have taken the "high road" and paid you what you asked, especially since you're her neighbor and well known to be a nice guy.
    I'd keep the $20 and send her an other bill for the remaining $30, reminding her that a minimum charge is standard in the business.
    You might give her a link to this website discussion, too!

    Merry Christmas!

    Bob
  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884
    I went out one night to

    a customer house. Nothing was wrong but I told her it had to be an hours O.T. she was supprised at the cost and wispered somthing to her husband as he wrote the check.

    On the way home I started to steam about her making a remark.

    The next day when I looked at the check .. she had told her husband to give me a tip also..

    There are Nice people out there.

    Scott

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