Friday, January 05, 2007

Die, shonky tradesmen, die! - Lawn and garden maintenance (Part 1)

Sigh. My parents have an issue with tradesmen at the moment. They're all busy, and it appears that nine out of ten of them are bastards.

Mum and Dad own a block of land to the east of the city. Last week they received a fine in the mail because the grass had been allowed to grow too long and was a fire hazard. OK, fine. They did the right thing, talked to the ranger, paid the fine, and started looking for tradesmen who would cut and clear away the grass.

Mum called round and they all refused work because they were too busy, it being the holiday season and all. Obviously they don't care about sustaining a customer base because they're all too rich already and can't take on new clients. She finally found a Jim's Mowing guy who said he would do the job on Tuesday for $400. It had to wait till Tuesday because he had to hire some "special" equipment.

On Tuesday he called up and postponed till Thursday, because it looked like it would rain. Then on Thursday he called up and said he'd looked at the block, it was bigger than he thought, and now it would cost us $1200 to cut down the grass and take it away. So I told Mum to tell him to bugger off, and pray that he got srtuck by lightning on the way home (well, OK, maybe that last bit I said in my head, but I wished hard!).

My feelings are that it was a win-win situation for him, charge an unholy sum which would either a) frighten us away, or b) we'd be so desperate that we'd pay it anyway, and he'd get a lot of money for a day's work. OK, who earns $1200 a day, people? (Apart from neurosurgeons.) Why aren't we all starting up our own Jim's Mowing businesses, in that case?

So she asked the nice ranger for an extension, and called up four other guys, and told them the size of the block in advance (around 1000 square metres, 1079 sqm to be precise). Two of them said they'd look at the block and call back (they never did).

One of them said that as long as she cut and removed the grass near the fenceline she would be fine. He said he would charge $400 to do this, just cut the grass to 3 metres around the perimeter. (Mum asked the ranger about this and he said, no, if the block is under 3000 square metres to have to cut all the grass and take it away).

The third one wanted to be paid in advance, $450 to slash the grass but not take it away. He wanted pre-payment because he'd been ripped off before, and he couldn't start work till Wednesday. Mum said that she'd been ripped off before too, and she wasn't comfortable paying till after the job was done. The phone cut out at this point and Mum left it there.

Today (Friday) she got a call from him saying that he's started work on the block, and to come and see if she liked his work. If so, she could pay him when she was done. She called me, and I said that she never authorised the work, so he shouldn't have started, and to call him back and cancel, and say that she wouldn't pay for it.

I called her again ten minutes later, and she said that she tried to call him, but he wasn't answering his mobile, and so she was going down to look at the block. I asked her who she was taking with her, and she said Dad and Glen.

So now they're down there at the block with this guy, and I asked MFC if I should go, but he said that if the three of them can't stand up to this one guy then we have more problems than we thought.

I'm waiting to hear back from them but I think Mum will probably end up paying this guy some money to do a half-arsed job and we'll have to go down there tomorrow anyway to clean up after him.

Seriously, I'm wondering if Perth bloggers should unite and start some kind of tradesmen directory and rating system. Either that or I'm going to have to start making some seriously lethal voodoo dolls.