That’s price gouging!

Treeaddict

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Aug 16, 2021
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Harford county MD
I saw a YouTube video that I can’t currently find to share. It was one of those news investigations into a tree service. Apparently, they charged $8,000 to remover 2 trees. The police were called by the customers children. I think the stump grinding was $600 extra. Everyone was shocked at the cost but no details were given on sizes of the trees, removal methods, location and access, etc. One tree could be legitimately 8k so not sure what the fuss was about. They did make her pay cash though. That’s probably what got them in trouble. They went to the bank with her so she could withdraw the cash. Weird.

Once every 6 months to a year a customer gets angry when I tell them pricing for a task. Only once did this happen with a tree job. Wife was happy with the quote and the husband about fell over. She said “I’ll handle this, don’t worry”.

This pricing anger presents in various ways. People usually call the company terrible names but they like ME so it’s not usually too personal. One lady said I was price gouging because the internet said it should be half that cost.

Do you have any memorable stories regarding pricing objections?
 

gf beranek

Old Schooler
Joined
Apr 18, 2007
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13,401
Location
God's country, North Coast
I once had one customer tell me, over 50 years ago, "I know I agreed on the price you quoted, but after I seen how fast you got the job done I think you charged me too much".

He was a nice guy and I agreed with him.

Looking at the tree from the ground (wind shape blue gum Euc), and weighing in the amount of room I had to lay it in (top and flop between structures) I quoted him 400 bugs. No clean up.

It was agreed.

A week later I come back to do the work, and after getting up in the tree I found I had more room to flop the top without as much cutting, or roping, and got the works on the the ground in much less time than I figure.

I ended up getting paid the full monty, but in reflection, years since, I think I should have given the fellow a break.

But that's just me.
 

Fiddler

Treehouser
Joined
Jun 29, 2009
Messages
9,697
Location
Michigan
Had a garage charge me a boat load for fixing my van back when I was roofing.

Owner really needed his house roofed & asked me to bid it.

"Are you out of your mind? How did you come up with that price?"

Me: 'see that sign that says how much you charged me for labor? I went by that..."

sputter, sputter, fume... :lol:
 

flushcut

TreeHouser
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Jan 15, 2011
Messages
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Location
Delavan, WI
I once had one customer tell me, over 50 years ago, "I know I agreed on the price you quoted, but after I seen how fast you got the job done I think you charged me too much".

He was a nice guy and I agreed with him.

Looking at the tree from the ground (wind shape blue gum Euc), and weighing in the amount of room I had to lay it in (top and flop between structures) I quoted him 400 bugs. No clean up.

It was agreed.

A week later I come back to do the work, and after getting up in the tree I found I had more room to flop the top without as much cutting, or roping, and got the works on the the ground in much less time than I figure.

I ended up getting paid the full monty, but in reflection, years since, I think I should have given the fellow a break.

But that's just me.
50 years is a lot of hindsight. Lol
 

TINYHULK

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Oct 30, 2021
Messages
525
Location
Virginia
Just yesterday I was a a customers house. We were pollarding two of his crape myrtles for $450. He wasn’t home and was happy with the pictures of the work I sent him. His foreign neighbor comes out and asks for a price for the same thing on his tree. Crape myrtle was much smaller and we were already there. I told him $100. Then he pointed to the pin oak on the other side of the drive way. What about those lower limbs? Would have been 5 limbs, to raise the canopy while avoiding his covered car he didn’t want to move for me. I told him $300. This man stammered about and tried to negotiate $100 off, I told him I can’t. Then he asked for prices to remove both trees, I gave him $700 and $2800 with stump grinding. Then he said he wants to do just the $100 crape myrtle job 🤣🤣🤣 this man had a million dollar home with plenty of nice cars around. I almost didn’t want to do the job for him. Seems like there is a loss of respect and value in our work that most people understand. I always hear stories about what tree prices used to be 10-20 years ago, if these people are right there anywhere between 60-90% cheaper than what it is today.
 

stig

Patron saint of bore-cutters
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Aug 26, 2007
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22,350
Location
Denmark
I once bid a removal of the back one of a pair of a horse chestnuts next to a house, no cleanup.
There was absolutely no room to work, bushes and scrubbery everywhere, everything would have to be lowered and we'd have to chip most, just to make room for the crew as we went along.
So I gave the owner a price accordingly.

When he was expressing his shock at the amount I told him I'd do both trees for half the price.

He was completely flabbergasted.

Once I explained, he quickly agreed to that solution.

See, there was plenty room for a crane and a large lawn to lay everything down on.
Crane company was situated in the same little town, so no driving charge.

So instead fo having 4 guys spend a day on the back tree, we did both of them in 1½ hours with me climbing and Richard on the ground.

I mostly do like Gerry B.
If a job goes WAY faster than anticipated, I knock some off the price.
Doesn't have to be much, but I find it does wonders for the clients putting out a good word about us.
 
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SeanKroll

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Oct 13, 2016
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Olympia, WA
If a person comes in way faster that they anticipated, and the customer can afford the agreed pricing, another option is to give extra work allowing the business to still meet the same dollars for basically the same time/ risk/ expenses expected.


I'll knock some off, sometimes.
 

cory

Tree House enthusiast
Joined
Aug 23, 2008
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24,136
Location
CT
Sometimes I use sticker price shock so they wont call back.
It is crazy how some folks will hound you for an estimate and talk up their job etc, and then you finally take a look and see it is a shit show and price it accordingly, its like magic how instantly they are quiet as a tomb, like they disappeared off the edge of the earth.
 

Altissimus

TreeHouser
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Jul 1, 2008
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southern Vermont
My take is a bid is a bid , never once have I tried to get more than , never once less. When a job goes super smooth (quick even) home team wins , when it's much more of a bitch than anticipated I spend the extra time to keep my quality high no matter how many hours. Also on thread topic I really don't care about their opinions.
 
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lxskllr

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Jul 21, 2019
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MD USA
That's how I look at it. You try to price a job to provide value to the customer, and provide you with profit. It usually works, and sometimes works great as far as profit goes, but other times you end up losing. With good bidding, the winning jobs will cover the losers and the entirety will balance out. In any case, the customer got what they paid for. Some arbitrary estimation of speed isn't valid unless they're paying hourly.
 

Treeaddict

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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #17
I have never refunded money when done quickly. I may have slowed down a little to not completely blow it out too fast once I realized it was going to be an easy one. I try my best to give fair and accurate quotes but some are super smooth and others open a can of worms that have to be worked through. Like John said, it all balances out.
 

frans

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May 31, 2013
Messages
1,060
Person goes into the dentist, 15 minutes later there’s a bill for 800 bucks. Person complains, Dentist says “next time should I not use the Novocain? Or the harbor freight tooth scraper? Or how about I use the homeless guy that’s looking for work to clean your teeth?
 

BeerGeek

Tree Numbnutz
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Sep 13, 2018
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Warren, NJ
I've actuality done this twice.
Potential customer: How much is pine lumber?
Me: $1 per board foot.
PT: Can you do any better?
Me: $1.25 per board foot.
PT: How is that better?
Me: It's better for me!

Yea, I've used that method on a couple of real PITA customers I didn't want to work for. The look on their faces made it all worth it.
 

biggun

Monkey for Hire
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Apr 22, 2008
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Nesoddtangen, Norway.
I've actuality done this twice.
Potential customer: How much is pine lumber?
Me: $1 per board foot.
PT: Can you do any better?
Me: $1.25 per board foot.
PT: How is that better?
Me: It's better for me!

About 10 years ago I was doing some work for a well known Arb supplier in their stand at a big trade show. It was the last afternoon and people were looking for bargains, also the suppliers didn’t really want to have to load up the excess stock. It was a time for deals but not pisstaking.

I had a guy come up to me to buy a new rigging line. IIRC it was discounted from around 280 quid to 200 quid. He offered 80 quid, I said no. He kept on taking the piss and offered 80 quid. Again I declined, at that point he asked for my best price I said 220 quid.

How can you say that, I’ll give you a 100 for it? I replied the price has just gone up and is 240 quid now.

Each time he asked for my best price I put an extra 20 quid on it.

The owner of the supplier was listening in all the time and was pissing himself laughing.

There’s bargains and there is pisstaking. He would never have sold it for 80 quid himself so he just sat back chuckling as I was the one having to deal with the daft customer 😂
 

lxskllr

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Jul 21, 2019
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MD USA
I used to wheel/deal at flea markets and stuff, but I've lost my interest in it. Aside from not going much anymore(I already have too much junk), I just accept the stated price if it's good. If the price is fair, there's no reason to get the absolute lowest possible. They need to eat too, and should be fairly compensated for their stuff.
 

treesmith

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Feb 4, 2009
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Alabama
I did a job nearly 30 years ago where I took down a water oak next to/leaning over a somewhat busy 4-lane. My bid was somewhat lower than the other bid. I was just getting it on the ground. Later, the owner asked me about shortening some long, low lateral limbs on another huge water oak near his driveway. While there were only a few limbs, due to the sprawl, it was going to take just as long to climb out on and shorten the few limbs as it had taken to take the first tree down. I told him I’d trim them for $40. His father, a loud and boisterous man, and wealthy to boot, bellowed, “FORTY DOLLARS??? You didn’t charge but $125 to take that whole tree down!” (Gestures to downed tree). I said, “Tell you what…I’ll rent you my rope and saddle for $10, and you can trim them yourself!” He quickly, and somewhat more calmly let me know $40 sounded pretty fair.
 

Treeaddict

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Harford county MD
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #25
That’s a good philosophy John. A big reason I left the office world of contacting was distaste for human greed. The general contractor was always trying to screw us and we were always trying to screw our subcontractors and vendors. A project manager was revered most for how low he could buy out the scope of work.

The owner tried to get me to screw people on different occasions and I wouldn’t do it.

I was buying a couch from the furniture store and went in to negotiate using learned techniques from work. I felt like a sleeze ball afterwards.
 
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