The owner of Backyard Creations, Rich Collings, mailed a $75 bill to my home address. He did not perform any work for me to justify their bill.
My wife called in the early part of March to set up a consultation with Backyard Creations. He let us know that the way he works is he charges a $75 fee for him to come out and do a full consultation and to get all the necessary information to draw up plans for a landscape design. It was 3 weeks before he could come out on a Saturday to meet with the both of us.
The date was March 23 and our appointment was set for 10am, but due to rain, we had to push it back a couple of hours. Mr. Collings showed up at around noon. He did not bring any pictures, examples or ideas of his work, only a clipboard and 2 business cards. We gave him a plat survey of our property so he did not even have to measure anything. He took a couple of pictures with his cell phone. All of this took less than 20 minutes.
He then let us know that the way he works is that he charges $575 up front for him to create a landscape design. He also said he was currently running more than a month behind on his current projects. Also, he said he was backed up another month on starting new projects if we decided to use his company should we decide to move forward with his plans. He told me it would be at least until early June before he could get started since he does not have his own crews. He contracts all of the work out to other companies. I felt like this was completely unreasonable, not to mention, it was currently March 23rd. We were hoping to get our yard started within a week or two since it was the beginning of Spring.
Before he left, he gave us an option of either paying him $75 for his time to come out and meet with us, or $575 for his design fee which was going to run at least a month behind. I decided to pay neither.
I would have never made the initial appointment with Rich had I known he only works with upfront fees AND that he was running 2 months behind on deliverables. Had he told us this on the phone when we were trying to set up our appointment, none of this would have happened because I would not have scheduled anything with him. I feel like we were deceived into a bill. I feel like this is a form of deceptive business practices. Generally speaking, I think consumers should always be concerned when working with companies that charge upfront fees.
I never pay for anything upfront before receiving goods or services from a landscaping company. He also does not accept credit card payments or even payment plans, only the full balance in the form of a check.
So really, this is only a win-win situation for him, since he sets it up where he gets paid either way. The customer will always be at a complete disadvantage and have no real recourse.
The bottom line is he did not do any work for us. All he did was send us a bill and it is not even on a invoice document, it is on a proposal document.
I feel like we should be charged nothing from Backyard Creations since we got nothing from him. All we got was a waste of time and a delay on getting our yard ready for the spring.
Business' Initial Response
We received a complaint ref. above.
His wife called us for a landscaping request. We told her about our 75.00 fee to come out and walk the property to see if they needed a design or not
For landscaping their backyard. I told her there would be an additional set fee if a design was done. She agreed and had no problem. Once we met with them, we both agreed that they needed a design after talking about several issues they were having and hearing about their budget. I told him the cost to do the design was 575.00. He agreed to do it. Then he said he didn't have his check book and would need to mail me a check. I said this wasn't the way we operated but agreed to have him mail it on his good word. There were no ill words at this time and everything seemed Ok so I agreed to have him mail the check.
When I called him after I didn't receive a check to get started on the design I said as I mentioned in person he needed to at least pay the 75.00 fee for coming out as he was well aware of from his letter. He wanted an invoice so I then mailed him one.
I never told them I was going to bring pics. , etc. as he mentioned. They found us on the web and I assumed that's why they wanted us to come out in the first place and why his wife agreed to the 75.00 fee to come out.
In the spring time (especially March/ April with landscaping it is the norm. to be booking work for us several weeks out as I mentioned to them.)
This fluctuates on a daily basis as you should be well aware of this time of year.
I never told him we accepted credit cards or breaking up payments. It is really incredible he is bringing this up like I deceived him!
We charge for our time and it was crystal clearly mentioned.
I do not contract all the work out to others like he said. We do all what he requested in house. I am truly blown away by all of this.
" We go the extra mile, one yard at a time "
Backyard Creations, LLC
Consumer's Final Response
(The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
This whole situation is so unfortunate. We were very excited after looking at the Backyard Creations website. It looked to be very upscale and professional. After buying our home we have made several improvements. In all the people we called from fence repair, interior painting, and a concrete man for our back patio to a swimming pool company, I have never been charged a fee for someone to come out and look at our yard. I would have been happy to pay if only he had offered a true consultation. Usually the contractor will offer some ideas, input, do some measuring, or at least show some pictures of previous work or an example of what type of design they provide. We weren't shown anything. No ideas were presented. I can see that we had an expectation what the initial $75 consultation would include. I thought since I had never been asked for a consultation fee that this guy would really be impressive and really bring some great ideas and an impressive presentation for $75. But in reality, it seemed as if he just showed up to collect the $75 fee. I still can't understand how anyone would be comfortable with handing over $575 for a design and then waiting a month. A design that we have no idea would look like. If I had been shown examples of previous designs, I might have felt more comfortable, but I had no idea the quality of his work. Also, I have never had a contractor ask for payment in full before any work was done. Then I was floored when Rich told us that it would take 2 months before any actual plants would be done. That is asking a lot of someone. I was going to pay with a credit card but he quickly said he only takes checks. That leaves us with no recourse. The issue is not the $75. It's the principle of doing nothing, offering nothing and then expecting payment for nothing. He barely even took 3 steps off the patio. He didn't even bring up or ask what type of plants we had in mind or that he would suggest. I have hired lots of contractors and this is my first time to make a complaint. As Rich said, we were blown away at his audacity. We learned our lesson on having anyone come out who throws out prices and fee amounts on the phone before we even meet. I guess we should have seen the scam coming a mile away. I suggest Rich come up with some type of presentation for potential clients and learn how to spend some time with them and have something to offer and earn the $75 he is asking for.
Business' Final Response
My response to the above claim:
- They called me with a landscape request, I didn't contact them. I told them the fees to come out and he agreed.
- I told them there was a 75.00 fee to come out and look at their property to see what it entailed and to discuss if it was a job that needed
A design or not. If it didn't we could use my time for ideas. (He ended up getting some anyway which I haven't been paid for)
- We talked for a while about what he was wanting to accomplish and I said to him (after we discussed privacy issues and future homes being built in his neighborhood, shade for the property whether they wanted beds in some places or around the perimeter, etc.) he should have a design done. I mentioned types of trees, etc. that would best work for future screening. The next step needed to be a design unless he was just wanting trees only or very small beds we sometimes can figure out on the spot. We recommend scaled drawings if they want something with some thought out and not thrown together.
- I told him the price of the design and he agreed, so I said I would apply the 75.00 fee to come out and talk about his project, the design fee he was supposed to pay. This was also communicated over the initial telephone conversation with his wife.
- I then took pics. from different angles in his backyard and requested his plat of the home to get started on the design. Any good landscape company
- I went to truck to write up design proposal and when I got back he said he didn't have checkbook or plat.
- I told him I don't do business like that where no money was given to me at all (he is the one who took advantage) but agreed to have him mail me the check and plat and would get him on the schedule when I received the requested info. I told him how long the design would take.
- It is SPRING Time we are busy for crying out loud!!!
- I did not receive any mail from him by the next week and called him to ask him if he sent it.
- He then told me he changed his mind and didn't want to anymore.
- I told him that he at least owed the 75.00 fee to come out as I told them over the phone and he has acknowledged.
- He declined and wrote his complaint.
I am not going to let him tell me how to run a business and am done writing about he said/ she said. He is the one that screwed me around for god sakes!
I received no money from him. Only grief!
I am willing to not pursue the 75.00 fee that he never paid if he will drop this ridiculous complaint and it not show up whatsoever on my record w/ the BBB
That includes even a satisfactory resolution on my record. I want no signs of this complaint to be seen.
'' We go the extra mile, one yard at a time ''
Backyard Creations, LLC