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Lindgren Landscape & Irrigation Inc

Additional Locations

Phone: (970) 226-5677 Fax: (970) 226-2048 PO Box 271273, Fort Collins, CO 80527 http://www.lindgrenlandscape.com

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Description

Lindgren Landscape is a full service design/build/maintain landscape company serving Northern Colorado since 1995. Lindgren Landscape specializes in the design and installation of custom outdoor living spaces.

BBB Accreditation

A BBB Accredited Business since

BBB has determined that Lindgren Landscape & Irrigation Inc meets BBB accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints. BBB Accredited Businesses pay a fee for accreditation review/monitoring and for support of BBB services to the public.

BBB accreditation does not mean that the business' products or services have been evaluated or endorsed by BBB, or that BBB has made a determination as to the business' product quality or competency in performing services.

Reason for Rating

BBB rating is based on 16 factors. Get the details about the factors considered.

Factors that raised the rating for Lindgren Landscape & Irrigation Inc include:

  • Length of time business has been operating.
  • Complaint volume filed with BBB for business of this size.
  • Response to 1 complaint(s) filed against business.
  • Resolution of complaint(s) filed against business.
  • BBB has sufficient background information on this business.


Customer Complaints Summary Read complaint details

1 complaint closed with BBB in last 3 years | 1 closed in last 12 months
Complaint Type Total Closed Complaints
Advertising/Sales Issues 0
Billing/Collection Issues 0
Delivery Issues 0
Guarantee/Warranty Issues 0
Problems with Product/Service 1
Total Closed Complaints 1

Customer Reviews Summary Read customer reviews

0 Customer Reviews on Lindgren Landscape & Irrigation Inc
Customer Experience Total Customer Reviews
Positive Experience 0
Neutral Experience 0
Negative Experience 0
Total Customer Reviews 0

Additional Information

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BBB file opened: June 18, 2002 Business started: 01/01/1995 in CO Business started locally: 01/01/1995 Business incorporated: 01/01/1995 in CO
Type of Entity

Corporation

Business Management
Mr. Tim Lindgren, President Ms. Ami Lindgren, CFO
Contact Information
Principal: Mr. Tim Lindgren, President
Business Category

Landscape Contractors Landscape Maintenance Landscape Designers Lawn Care Companies Tree Services Patio & Deck Builders Fountains - Garden, Display Sprinkler System Dealers Garden Pond Dealers Landscape Lighting Companies Christmas Decoration Suppliers Snow Plowing Companies Stone Paving Companies

Products & Services

Lindgren Landscape & Irrigation Inc sells the following brand(s): Belgard, Borgert, Kitchler, Rainbird, Vista

Service Area
Northern Colorado
Products & Services

Landscape design, landscape construction, landscape maintenance, design and install full landscapes for new construction as well as landscape remodels. From paver patios and driveways, to sprinkler systems and water features, as well as maintenance


Additional Locations

  • 3825 E County Road 30

    Fort Collins, CO 80528

  • PO Box 271273

    Fort Collins, CO 80527

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Complaint Detail(s)

1/16/2014 Problems with Product/Service | Read Complaint Details
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Additional Notes

Complaint: We contracted with ******** Landscape to create a plan for our back yard. The process of creating the plan took an excessively long time (9 weeks), and we never did get a final plan as stipulated in the contract. Furthermore, while the plan was still being developed, we wrote a check for $10,000 to "get in the queue" of projects that ******** had. A few weeks later, frustrated with the ongoing lack of timely communication from Lindgren, we asked for our $10k back. ******** refused to do that, saying that the $10k deposit was nonrefundable. This had not been communicated either verbally or in writing when we wrote the check. ******** said we could opt to either get $10k in services from them or take 50% of the amount back. Another two months went by as we explored our options (BBB, legal, etc.) and continued to ask for our money back. Finally, ******** agreed to give us most of it back, but kept $400 for a deck permit and plans (even though we had no final design and no signed project contract). See attached file for details. Not only was their customer service lousy (the reason we pulled the plug on them), they demonstrated a serious lack of business ethics in attempting to keep our $10,000, and at this point trying to keep $400. We have lived in this community for 26 years, and have never felt the need to contact the BBB about any of our experiences with a local business - until now.

Desired Settlement: We want the $400 that ******** kept out of the $10,000 deposit. There is absolutely no justification for them keeping that money. We also want either a completed, final landscape plan (with lighting included and updated estimates for lower cost materials), or $500 refund from the landscape design total that we paid them ($1300).

Business Response: ******** Response:

Project timeline:

This client contacted us on June 16th and an initial site meeting was scheduled for June 21st with one of our designers.  The designer emailed the client a design contract by 4pm on the 21st.  After receiving the signed contract and deposit around June 29th, our designer returned to the site to take site measurements and photographs.  Our designer completed the “preliminary landscape plan” and left a voice message to schedule the design review.  The designer was out of the office for several days after the voicemail for emergency surgery and the meeting was scheduled for July 16th.

 

The design was presented on July 16th and the clients expressed strong approval for the “preliminary landscape plan”.  Our design contract includes one set of revisions, and the designer made these revisions along with a full set of 3-D renderings and emailed them to the client by 11am the following morning.  Our designer communicated to the client that he would be on vacation the week of the July 22nd and would not be able to meet until the following Monday.

Our designer met with the client at 4:30 pm on July 30th to review the final landscape plans and present construction estimates.  The client wrote a check to pay for the balance of the landscape design as well as a $10,000 deposit to secure a spot on our construction schedule.  The client was leaving the next day on vacation so our designer left the clients house at 6:20pm and returned to the office to make a second set of revisions to the landscape plan as well as revised 6 different 3D renderings for the client, because the client was concerned they would have limited internet access on their vacation.  At 8:30pm on July 30th our designer emailed the client the revised drawings and renderings. The client left town for 11 days.

Our designer reached out to the client on August 13th to see how the client’s trip went, and update them on samples and materials that had been collected while the client was out on vacation.  Our designer told the client that he was still waiting on a stone sample and would like to meet as soon as it arrives.  The client responded with appreciation for the email and said to contact him once he was ready to meet.

The client emailed a spreadsheet to our designer expressing his desire to reduce costs on the project on the evening of Sunday August 18th. Our designer replied that evening that he would get back to the client after he had a chance to review the spreadsheet.

Our designer received the stone samples at the end of the day on August 21st and emailed the client the following morning that he had received the last of the samples and was ready to meet to review samples and present budget options.

On the morning of August 23rd our designer received a voicemail from the client stating that they have decided to pull the plug on the project and would like to get their deposit back.  Our designer returned the call at the time the client stated would be a good time to talk.  The client mentioned they didn’t feel comfortable with the scope and they had spoken with a financial advisor and wanted to put a hold on the project.  Our designer explained to the client that their deposit was non-refundable, but that he would speak with the owners.

August 24th our designer received another voicemail from the client stating another reason for halting the project was because they did not feel they had great communication with their designer.  ***** replied that he received the voicemail and would discuss with his boss.

August 29th our designer emailed the client that he had a chance to discuss the deposit with his boss and he would be contacting them soon.

September 3rd Client left *** ******** a voicemail.

September 4th *** talked to client on phone.  Client told *** that he would like his deposit back because he felt that our designer did not get back to them in a timely manner, the project was too expensive, and they had been moved on the construction schedule.  I told him that I would discuss his concerns with their designer and our production manager.  The client then emailed me his recollection of the timeline.  I discussed the issues with our designer and asked him to re-create a timeline based on his calendar, phone logs, voicemails, notes, and emails.  I then emailed the client with our version of the timeline and the following response:

This project started during our busiest time of year, during one of our busiest seasons in 18 years. Our designers will have 10-16 clients they work with at any given time.  In addition, our designers will also oversee their projects that are currently under construction. It is not uncommon for our designers to book initial consultations 3 weeks after the initial request, and design/build projects can be shovel ready in as short a time as 3-4 weeks, and as long as 12 months.  Looking at your project timeline, and knowing that we are closed on the weekends, 4th of July extended holiday, emergency surgery, Designer vacation,  and your vacation, it appears that the 2 month timeframe has been reasonable.  Much of his timeframe on this project is at the mercy of the sub-contractors that he is waiting on for bids and samples.  Your project is heavy in hardscape and requires much more time to design and plan than most softscape projects.

We received a deposit from you on July 31st at which point your designer conveyed the installation schedule was booking for mid-September.  You are currently on our schedule for the 1st week in October.  We are constantly adjusting our schedule to accommodate weather, man power, and change orders.  Your project has moved 2 weeks.  During the spring and summer months it is not uncommon for our construction schedule to be 3-6 months out, so it is unusual to be scheduled 6 weeks after deposit.  If a client adds work, we underestimate man hours, weather happens, employees get sick, vacation, etc. it can dramatically change our schedule.  A combination of these caused your project start date to delay.

It does not appear to be unreasonable to get your project below 50k.  Some items will need to be removed, and some items will need to be phased, but we can get to your budget.

In summary; we lose work on a weekly basis because our construction schedule can be so far out.  We take scheduling very seriously and we have a strict policy that nobody can get on the schedule without a deposit.  Our deposits are non-refundable because our schedule is so valuable.  I am very sorry that you are not happy with the process so far.  We work very hard to accommodate as many people as we can, but sometimes we fall short.  I am at fault for overloading our designers.  We are a lot like farmers in that we have a short growing season in which we need to produce enough revenue to sustain during the winter months.  This requires me to push our people more than I would like.

I am happy to offer you any designer on our team to work with.  Historically we slowdown in the fall and will be able to dedicate more time to your project (although we have not seen this happen yet).  I cannot move you up on the schedule because we have commitments to other clients who provided a deposit prior.  We can definitely reduce the cost of your project.  It will be difficult to have a new design and estimates shovel ready in 3 weeks, especially with a new designer, but we should be able to make that happen.  We can also postpone your project if it’s not ready to go in time.

We will work hard to exceed your expectations from this point forward and I am sorry for your frustrations.  Let me know how you would like to proceed.

The Client responded on September 9th that they would still like their deposit returned.

I responded the following day on September 10th explaining the purpose of the deposit and why it does not make sense to make our deposits refundable.  I went on to explain that we should have no problems value engineering his project in order to reach his budget.  I offered to allow them to use their deposit on other services our company provides or to hang onto it for up to a year so they could decide how they wanted to proceed.  I then told them that I was going on vacation for 10 days and would be happy to discuss further when I returned.

The client emailed and called our office while I was out of town requesting to meet in person with the designer and myself.  We scheduled a meeting when I returned and met on October 8th.  During the meeting the client expressed concerns that the price of the project had exceeded the amount set aside from an inheritance check they had recently received and that they were concerned about the time that has elapsed since the initial meeting.  The client expressed appreciation for the landscape design and wanted us to be aware that they love the design and felt the design fee was money well spent.  They told us that they are not sure when they will resume the project.  The client told us that a relative has health issues and has demanded a lot of time and support which has added to the need to halt the project.  They mentioned that they may have ******** Landscape do the installation in the future, “if we would consider working with them again”.  We had decided prior to the meeting that it was not in our best interest to continue a working relationship with this client and told the client we would return the clients deposit less an invoice we had received from a subcontractor.  I explained that we gave the deck contractor the go-ahead to start the permitting process upon receiving their deposit as this was the primary focus of the landscape remodel and the permitting process can be time consuming.  The sub-contractor proceeded to create detail drawings necessary for permitting and filed for permits with the city.  We received an invoice from the subcontractor for their time and expenses to create the drawings and permit fees which we deducted from the refund.  A check was mailed to the client along with a copy of the invoice from the sub-contractor.

 In summary the client has expressed several reasons for wanting to pull the plug on the project which I will respond to below:

The
designer did not communicate in a timely manner:

This was a curious complaint for me as this particular
designer has a track record of being very accommodating and prompt.  After interviewing the designer and reviewing
the timeline it appears that the designer has gone above and beyond with this
client.  In several instances the
designer worked well into the evening to provide exemplary service to this
client.  Our designers are not required
to communicate on weekends and holidays, and are not expected to communicate
while on vacation or sick leave.  

The
process of creating the plan has taken and excessively long time:

The preliminary design was presented to the client within
2-3 weeks after receiving the client’s deposit for design, which is a normal
timeframe for preliminary designs.  The
first set of revisions were completed and returned within 24 hours.  The second set of revisions were completed
and returned within 3 hours. 

The
client never received a final plan:

Our design contract is very clear that our obligation is to
provide the client with 1 preliminary landscape design and 1 set of revisions,
any additional revisions will be invoiced at our hourly design rate.  This client received a preliminary design and
2 sets of revisions.  We have not
invoiced the client for an additional set of revisions.  Budgeting, estimating, planning, project
phasing, and sample collection is above and beyond the design contract.  The client mentioned multiple times that $650
of the deposit check was to be used to pay the balance of the design contract.  In our meeting on October 8th the
client mentioned several times how pleased they are with the design and wanted
us to know that they are in no way arguing the balance of the design fees. The
$500 credit has never been mentioned to the designer or me.

The planning and budgeting phase historically takes longer
than clients expect, especially with projects that are heavy in hardscape.  The designer is required to get drawings to
all subcontractors and then wait to receive bids and material samples.  Every time the plans and/or budget change,
the process starts over again.  This can
be a very slow process and I understand the client’s frustrations.

The
project has moved on the construction schedule.

This happens with almost every project.  Reserving a spot on the construction schedule
is always a moving target and can be very frustrating for clients.  We are typically booking projects 2 to 6
months in advance and many things can cause a project to be delayed during that
timeframe.  Weather, change orders, labor,
equipment, etc. require that we constantly update our construction schedule.

The
designer did not tell the client the deposit was non-refundable.

This may be true; our designer could not recall the
conversation.

The
project was too expensive.

The client wrote a check for a deposit to get on our
construction schedule within minutes of receiving a quote for almost
$80,000.  The client requested that the
designer work with them to help value engineer the project to bring the price
down.  The designer was in the process of
reducing the construction budget and was ready to present options when the
client stopped the project.  It was the designer’s
goal to reduce the budget and I have mentioned to the client several times that
we would be more than happy to get the cost to any budget they are comfortable
with.

Lindgren
showed lack of business ethics for trying to keep the clients deposit.

The client gave a verbal and monetary commitment that they
wanted to hire ******** Landscape to install a landscape/hardscape project for
them, and requested that we reserve a spot on our construction schedule. We
placed them on our construction schedule and have worked to help the client
reduce costs.  The client chose to break
their verbal and monetary commitment with ******** Landscape, and as a
responsible business owner, have tried to salvage the contract that our
designer and subcontractors have worked so hard to achieve.  I chose to refund the clients deposit even
though I believe I have no legal obligation to do so.

Lindgren
kept $400 of the deposit with absolutely no justification for keeping the
money.

I told the client in person and in an email that they have
incurred expenses from our framing contractor for the permit submittal
process.  The invoice was placed in the
same envelope as the refund check along with a copy of an email from the
sub-contractor stating that they would be happy to give the clients the
drawings and permit once the invoice is paid.

This client has chosen to sever a verbal and monetary
commitment to ******** Landscape and our subcontractors, which has required
much of our time and resources.  We have
worked very hard to earn this clients business and to keep this clients
business after they chose to stop the project. 
Once we realized that this is not a relationship that we would like to
pursue, we refunded the clients deposit. 
We are aware that we are not a perfect fit for everyone and understand
that we will not be able to please every client.  We are confident that we have fulfilled our
obligations to this client, have been professional, and have treated this
client with respect every step of the way. 


 

Sincerely,

 

*** Lindgren

Consumer Response: Complaint: *******

I am rejecting this response because:

See response (03 - BBB Our response to ******** 11-13-13)

Also attached is a copy of all emails between ******** and ourselves, as well as a copy of the "Design Build Process Sheet" that is referred to in our response.
There are numerous half-truths and
several complete untruths listed in the ******** response:

There are numerous half-truths and several complete untruths listed in the ******** response:

> After receiving the signed contract and deposit around June 29th, our designer returned 
> to the site to take site measurements and photographs.  
We sent the signed deposit and a check for $675 to ******** on the 22nd (the day after we received the email from *****), so they had a signed contract by either Monday (24th) or Tuesday (25th).  Unfortunately, I had forgotten to write in the amount of the check (I wrote in the number, but not the words).  We got a call from someone at Lindgren’s office on Monday or Tuesday (I don’t remember which) to let us know they were sending the check back for me to write in the amount in words.  They sent the check back to us, and I promptly wrote in the words and sent it back to them.  While it’s possible that they didn’t get the check the 2nd time until the 29th, the important fact is this:  We were told by ***** (the designer) in his email on the 21st that “if you are ready to move forth feel free to just shoot me a call or email saying the contract and check are in the mail and I can start at that point even if we haven’t received it yet”.  We did indeed send an email to him on Saturday (22nd) saying that “the check and contract are in the mail this morning”.   The clear impression (and expectation) we were given was that since we told ***** on the 22nd that the signed contract and check were in the mail, then he would be able to start working on the design on Monday (24th) or very soon thereafter.  However, according to Lindgren’s response to the BBB, apparently nothing was done for at least a week, since he claims to not have received the signed contract until “around June 29th”).  

> Our designer completed the “preliminary landscape plan” and left a voice message to schedule 
> the design review.  The designer was out of the office for several days after the voicemail for 
> emergency surgery and the meeting was scheduled for July 16th.
We did not receive any voice message to schedule the design review.  The request for a design review meeting came to us in an email from ***** on Friday, July 12th, a full three weeks after our initial meeting with him.  That is the first notification we received that there was a design ready and that he was ready to review it with us.  That email is also where we learned about *****’s emergency surgery.  Nobody else from ******** bothered to contact us during those 3 weeks to give an update on what was going on.  

> The design was presented on July 16th and the clients expressed strong approval for the 
> “preliminary landscape plan”.  Our design contract includes one set of revisions, and the 
> designer made these revisions along with a full set of 3-D renderings and emailed them to the 
> client by 11am the following morning.  Our designer communicated to the client that he would 
> be on vacation the week of the July 22nd and would not be able to meet until the following 
> Monday.
The claim that we were told that ***** would be on vacation the week of July 22nd is a flat-out lie.  We were not told anything of the sort.  On July 18th, A couple of days after our meeting with *****, we emailed him with some questions and revisions.  We didn’t hear anything back.  Five days later (July 23rd) I sent ***** an email simply asking “any updates on where we stand with the design”?  Still no response.   A few days later, I called the ******** office and asked to speak with *****, and was told that he was out of the office and wouldn’t be back until the following Monday (29th).  Finally on Monday the 29th, we got an email from ***** saying that he’d like to meet with us later that week to “review design changes and preliminary numbers”.    Nearly 2 weeks had gone by since our meeting with him on the 16th, and we hadn’t heard anything.  It was only later that we found out he had been on vacation.
> Our designer met with the client at 4:30 pm on July 30th to review the final landscape plans and 
> present construction estimates.  The client wrote a check to pay for the balance of the 
> landscape design as well as a $10,000 deposit to secure a spot on our construction schedule.  
> The client was leaving the next day on vacation so our designer left the clients house at
> 6:20pm and returned to the office to make a second set of revisions to the landscape plan as 
> well as revised 6 different 3D renderings for the client, because the client was concerned they 
> would have limited internet access on their vacation.  At 8:30pm on July 30th our designer 
> emailed the client the revised drawings and renderings. The client left town for 11 days.

Several things should be noted here about this meeting:
1. We were presented with a cost estimate of $79k, which was more than twice the “rough estimate” of $38k” that we’d been given by ***** on June 21st. In fact, in that email on the 21st, ***** had written “I have probably overprice (sic) many of these but at least you can have a general idea of the costs.”
2. We made it very clear to ***** that $80k was WAY beyond our budget.  We asked him to please work on alternatives for how we could bring the costs down significantly.  We also said we would go through the plan & estimates to try to see where costs could be cut.
3. When we wrote the check for the $10k deposit to get on the schedule, it was with the clear understanding that there would need to be serious revisions in the project plan to be able to meet our budget.  
4. There were items included in the plan that we had specifically indicated in our initial meeting with ***** that we did not want, such as trees, shrubs, perennials, mulch, and irrigation work.  We had made it clear to ***** (or at least we thought) in the initial meeting that we wanted him to focus on the hardscape plan, and that we would take care of the items mentioned above.  Nevertheless, he went ahead and included them in the plan.  
5. Conversely, we had specifically asked for a lighting design to be included in the plan.  ***** had included that cost in his early “rough estimate” on June 21st, but it did not appear in the preliminary plan/cost estimate that we received on July 30th.
6. ***** did indeed send us revised 3D renderings later on the evening of July 30th which included some revisions we had asked for.  However, we did NOT receive an updated version of the plan.
7. In the email where ***** sent us the revised 3D renderings, he wrote “I will get those final numbers around here and email them off to you on your trip”.  We never received any email from ***** while we were on our trip or after we got back that included any “final numbers” or suggestions on how to cut costs.


> Our designer reached out to the client on August 13th to see how the client’s trip went, and 
> update them on samples and materials that had been collected while the client was out on 
> vacation.  Our designer told the client that he was still waiting on a stone sample and would 
> like to meet as soon as it arrives.  The client responded with appreciation for the email and said 
> to contact him once he was ready to meet.

> The client emailed a spreadsheet to our designer expressing his desire to reduce costs on the 
> project on the evening of Sunday August 18th.
I sent the email on the morning of August 18th, not the evening.

> Our designer replied that evening that he would get back to the client after he had a chance to 
> review the spreadsheet.
Specifically, ***** said this: “Let me poke around your spreadsheet and I’ll get back to you tomorrow”.  Well, “tomorrow” (which was Monday) came and went with no word from *****.  Same for Tuesday.  Same for Wednesday.  We didn’t hear from him until Thursday.

> Our designer received the stone samples at the end of the day on August 21st and emailed the 
> client the following morning that he had received the last of the samples and was ready to meet 
> to review samples and present budget options.
In that email, ***** proposed getting together for a meeting the following week.  Over three weeks had already elapsed since ***** said he would send us updated numbers, and now it was looking like we wouldn’t know anything until the next week, making it almost 4 weeks since we’d asked him to see what could be done about significantly cutting costs.  In the meantime, the clock continued to move toward what we thought the start date of the project would be (we’d been told initially that it would be sometime late August or early September).

> On the morning of August 23rd our designer received a voicemail from the client stating that 
> they have decided to pull the plug on the project and would like to get their deposit back.  Our 
> designer returned the call at the time the client stated would be a good time to talk. 
> The client mentioned they didn’t feel comfortable with the scope and they had spoken with a
> financial advisor and wanted to put a hold on the project.  Our designer explained to the
> client that their deposit was non-refundable, but that he would speak with the owners.
This was the first mention that we had heard anything about the deposit being non-refundable

> August 24th our designer received another voicemail from the client stating another reason for 
> halting the project was because they did not feel they had great communication with their
> designer.  ***** replied that he received the voicemail and would discuss with his boss.
In that email, ***** stated that he would schedule a meeting with *** ******** and “try to get you your deposit back as soon as possible”.


In *** Lindgren’s initial email to me, the following statements deserve attention:
> “This project started during our busiest time of year, during one of our busiest seasons in 18
> years.” and… “We are a lot like farmers in that we have a short growing season in which we 
> need to produce enough revenue to sustain during the winter months.”
I fully understand this, and the slip in schedule is understandable as well.  I used to have my own landscape/irrigation company, and know full well the conditions around that type of work.  Furthermore, my grandparents on both sides were farmers, so I fully comprehend the concept of having to produce enough revenue to sustain during the winter months.  That’s why I find it puzzling that employees and the owner of ******** would take week-long vacations or work-day afternoons off to play paintball (per their website) in the midst of “the busiest time of their busiest year”.  

Regarding *** Lindgren’s account of the meeting he had with ***** ********:
> told the client we would return the clients deposit less an invoice we had received from a 
> subcontractor.  I explained that we gave the deck contractor the go-ahead to start the permitting
> process upon receiving their deposit as this was the primary focus of the landscape
> remodel and the permitting process can be time consuming.  The sub-contractor proceeded to 
> create detail drawings necessary for permitting and filed for permits with the city.  We 
> received an invoice from the subcontractor for their time and expenses to create the drawings 
> and permit fees which we deducted from the refund.  A check was mailed to the client along 
> with a copy of the invoice from the sub-contractor.
This action by ******** (to request a design/permit from the subcontractor) is most curious given these facts:
• There was no signed contract to do the project, nor even a verbal agreement that the preliminary design was approved.  
• We asked for, but never received, specific ideas for cost reductions to the project.  Going forward with the project was completely contingent on whether we could get the cost of the project significantly reduced. 
• We already have an existing deck.  What if one of the cost reduction ideas would have been to keep the deck we currently have and simply add on a couple of sections?  
• How could the subcontractor proceed with making “detailed drawings” of a deck that had not reached the final design stage?
• The deck permit was applied for at the City office on September 6th, a full 2 weeks after we notified ******** that we wanted to pull the plug on the project.
• The subcontractor only paid $89.70 for the permit, which we were willing to cover, since we could still theoretically use the permit ourselves.  
• The $400 invoice from the subcontractor was not included with the check for $9600.  It was sent to us in an email.  The date on that invoice was 10/9/13, over 6 weeks after we had cancelled the project.   Clearly, ******** either did not notify the subcontractor that the project was cancelled, or they colluded with the contractor to create some charges that they thought they could collect from us.

> In summary the client has expressed several reasons for wanting to pull the plug on the project 
> which I will respond to below:

> The designer did not communicate in a timely manner:
> This was a curious complaint for me as this particular designer has a track record of being very 
> accommodating and prompt.  After interviewing the designer and reviewing the timeline it 
> appears that the designer has gone above and beyond with this client.  In several instances the
> designer worked well into the evening to provide exemplary service to this client.  Our
> designers are not required to communicate on weekends and holidays, and are not expected to 
> communicate while on vacation or sick leave.   
The email record speaks for itself.  I will provide the BBB with a complete transcript of all emails between ***** and us.  What it shows is the following:
• 3 weeks elapsed between our initial meeting with ***** and an email from him saying that he had a first draft of the plan ready. 
• 11 days elapsed between an email we sent asking for revisions and a response from *****.
• When we left on vacation, it was with the understanding that ***** would work on coming up with some alternatives to cutting costs and he would email those to us.  That didn’t happen while we were on vacation, nor did it happen after we returned from vacation. 
• We were never told about *****’s vacation or sick leave until after the fact.  While it is understandable that ******** does not require employees to communicate with clients while on sick leave or on vacation, they apparently also feel it isn’t necessary to notify clients that there will there will be a gap in contact.  That is just lousy customer service.
This responsiveness issue is the primary reason (along with the outrageous inflation in the cost of the project) that we decided to cancel the project.  Why would we ever want to commit to paying tens of thousands of dollars to a company that exhibits such disregard in communicating with their customers?  And that’s BEFORE we gave them any serious money.  What kind of communication/responsiveness could we expect during or after the project once they already had all of our money?  

> The process of creating the plan has taken and excessively long time:
> The preliminary design was presented to the client within 2-3 weeks after receiving the client’s 
> deposit for design, which is a normal timeframe for preliminary designs.  The first set of 
> revisions were completed and returned within 24 hours.  The second set of revisions were 
> completed and returned within 3 hours.  
We were told by ***** that he would start working on the project upon his receipt of an email from us that our signed contract and check were in the mail.  That occurred on Saturday, June 22nd.  The preliminary design was presented to us on Tuesday, July 16th.   Elapsed time was over 3 weeks.

> The client never received a final plan:
> Our design contract is very clear that our obligation is to provide the client with 1 preliminary 
> landscape design and 1 set of revisions, any additional revisions will be invoiced at our hourly 
> design rate.  This client received a preliminary design and 2 sets of revisions.  We have not
> invoiced the client for an additional set of revisions.  Budgeting, estimating, planning, project
> phasing, and sample collection is above and beyond the design contract.  The client mentioned
> multiple times that $650 of the deposit check was to be used to pay the balance of the design 
> contract.  In our meeting on October 8th the client mentioned several times how pleased they
> are with the design and wanted us to know that they are in no way arguing the balance of the
> design fees. The $500 credit has never been mentioned to the designer or me.
Along with the design contract that we signed, we were given a “Design/Build Process Sheet”.  I will send a copy to the BBB.  On that sheet, it outlined the following process followed by Lindgren:
• Initial Consultation (on site).  This occurred on June 21st.  It was immediately following this meeting that we were given a “rough estimate” that the project would cost $38k (which we were told was probably on the high side).
• Preliminary Design Presentation. This occurred on July 16th.  At this point, no updated costs were mentioned, and we were still operating on the assumption that they would be somewhere in the neighborhood of the $38k “rough estimate” that we were given on June 21st. 
• Preliminary Design Review. We gave ***** some feedback in our meeting on July 16th, and that evening he immediately turned around and sent us updated 3D renderings.  We sent him some further feedback a few days later after we’d had some time to think about the design.
• Revised Design & Estimate Review.  This occurred on July 3oth.  This design did not include lighting plans (which we’d asked for originally, and had assumed would be added after the preliminary design).  It also included an estimate that was more than twice what the original estimate had been!  At this point, we made it clear that there was no way we could afford that, and that we needed a revised plan.  Had we known that the Preliminary Design on July 16th was in the range of $79k, we would have immediately asked for major changes then, but we weren’t given any cost information then, so we didn’t have that opportunity. 
• Final Design & Estimate Presentation.  This never occurred.  We never received a final design, nor did we ever get a revised installation estimate.  
It is indeed true that when we initially asked for our $10k deposit back, our position was that we just wanted the full deposit back, so that both ******** and we could all move on.  Indeed, I wrote this in an email to *** ******** on September 8th:
As of today (9/8/13), we still do not have a "Final Design & Estimate Presentation".  The estimates provided in the proposal shown to us on July 30th were "very rough, and on the high end" according to *****, and the proposal called for a project that would cost more than twice what we were thinking we would spend on the project. Unfortunately, we never got to the point where we had a workable, affordable design and realistic estimates, but we're willing to call that chapter closed.
In retrospect, that was a dumb thing to do on our part, since it didn’t seem to have any effect on getting our money back.  ******** kept our $10k for another 6 ½ weeks.  And even then they didn’t return all of it.  In thinking about it more, it only seemed fair that we should either get:
• What was promised us in the design contract - a final plan, with lighting included and their updated estimates with suggestions about how they would lower the costs significantly to something closer to their original rough estimate of the project, or
• $500, since they never delivered the “Final Design & Estimate Presentation”.

> The project has moved on the construction schedule.

> (explanation of why schedule changes deleted)
Where in our complaint to the BBB is it mentioned that we were unhappy that the project had moved on the construction schedule?  That happens on all kinds of projects.  I’ve been a project manager on many different projects over the course of my career.  One thing that is fundamental to good project management is that when a project schedule changes (and they almost always do), it is important to communicate any changes to the parties involved.  The lack of communication is what we’re unsatisfied with, not the fact that the schedule slipped.

> The designer did not tell the client the deposit was non-refundable.

> This may be true; our designer could not recall the conversation.
It IS true.  It was never mentioned in conversation, nor in emails (until after we communicated that we wanted the deposit back).

> The project was too expensive.

> The client wrote a check for a deposit to get on our construction schedule within minutes of 
> receiving a quote for almost $80,000.  The client requested that the designer work with them to 
> help value engineer the project to bring the price down.  The designer was in the process of
> reducing the construction budget and was ready to present options when the client stopped the 
> project.  It was the designer’s goal to reduce the budget and I have mentioned to the client 
> several times that we would be more than happy to get the cost to any budget they are
> comfortable with.
We wrote the deposit check with the clear message to the designer that we could only afford a project that was significantly less expensive than $80,000.  The designer assured us he would send us a new set of cost estimates in email while we were on our vacation.  That never happened.  Then, a week after we returned from vacation, when I sent him our proposal for cutting costs and asked to meet with him the next week to get his updated proposal, he replied that he would get back to us the next day.  Another 3 days went by before we heard from him, and that was to tell us that he was going through our list, but would like to meet the week after that to go over things.  By that point, we had lost trust in the ******** business.  They had low-balled us with an original estimate of $38k, and then presented us with a plan that called for more than twice that amount.  Then, when we asked for ideas how to get the costs back closer to the original estimate, we were strung along for 3 weeks with no response from them about how to get the cost down.  And now we’re supposed to believe them when they say that they “would be more than happy to get the cost to any budget we are comfortable with”?

> ******** showed lack of business ethics for trying to keep the clients deposit.

> The client gave a verbal and monetary commitment that they wanted to hire Lindgren 
> Landscape to install a landscape/hardscape project for them, and requested that we reserve a 
> spot on our construction schedule. We placed them on our construction schedule and have 
> worked to help the client reduce costs.  The client chose to break their verbal and monetary 
> commitment with ******** Landscape, and as a responsible business owner, have tried to 
> salvage the contract that our designer and subcontractors have worked so hard to achieve.  I 
> chose to refund the clients deposit even though I believe I have no legal obligation to do so.
The “monetary commitment” was to secure a place in Lindgren’s project queue.  Whether or not ******** would do the work depended on us reaching an agreement on an acceptable level of costs.  No contract was signed, and no verbal contract was agreed upon.  Had we been told that the $10k was non-refundable, we would not have signed the check.  



> ******** kept $400 of the deposit with absolutely no justification for keeping the money. 

> I told the client in person and in an email that they have incurred expenses from our framing 
> contractor for the permit submittal process.  The invoice was placed in the same envelope as 
> the refund check along with a copy of an email from the sub-contractor stating that they would 
> be happy to give the clients the drawings and permit once the invoice is paid. 
As described earlier, the deck permit was pulled AFTER we had already notified ******** we wanted our money back.  And the invoice from the subcontractor was sent to ******** LONG after we had cancelled the project.   That just seems a little sketchy.  And – as I said earlier, how could the deck subcontractor design a deck that may either be substantially changed to save costs or not done at all to save costs?   

This client has chosen to sever a verbal and monetary commitment to ******** Landscape and our subcontractors, which has required much of our time and resources.  We have worked very hard to earn this clients business and to keep this clients business after they chose to stop the project. 
What’s not mentioned here is that this entire process has consumed “this client’s” time and resources as well.  From our perspective, we wanted to settle this back in August, and ******** kept our money for another 9 weeks.  We did not have the use of our money during that time, and we had to spend time talking to friends, lawyers, the BBB, etc. seeking advice on how to resolve this.  ******** could have salvaged at least some goodwill out of this had they just apologized for the lousy customer service and refunded our deposit, but instead they chose to stonewall our request.  As I mentioned in our original communication to the BBB, we have lived in this community for 26 years.  Over that time period, we have paid for the services and products of many, many local companies.  Until now, we have never felt the need to contact the BBB about any of our experiences with a local business.  However, in this case we felt compelled to file a complaint.

Consumer Response:

Better Business Bureau:

I would like my complaint ID *******, to be handled through an Arbitration hearing with BBB.

Regards,

*** ********

Business Response:

Better Business Bureau:

The business indicated via telephone that he wishes the case to be handled through an Arbitration hearing with BBB.

BBB's Final Determination: Complaint was resolved through BBB Arbitration