6/2/09 - Why I probably won't ever use TruGreen again.

As most people know, I enjoy working outside. The problem is that I prefer mowing the grass as opposed to doing things to help it grow. At our first house, the yard had been sodded just before we moved in so it was very simply to maintain. In fact, the guy across the street worked for a lawncare company so I got a great deal on chemical applications to control weeds and promote good lawn growth. After the first year, the thing was set so I just applied 13-13-13 fertilizer every month or so to keep it nice and thick and green.

Since we moved into our current house, the previous owners did not care for the lawn so there are dead spots, areas full of weeds and overall the quality of the bermuda is just poor. I was starting to get tired of seeing all the junk in our yard, so I made the decision to hire a professional to treat our lawn to help get it under control.

TruGreen came out one day and gave me a quote of $55. That seemed WAY too high considering that for my lawn, I would charge maybe $50 to mow it, and that requires much less work than chemical applications. After he gave me the quote though, we talked for a while and I started to come around to the idea of having them service my lawn.

A couple days later, when I realized I was too lazy to call around and get any other quotes (plus I got a coupon for a discount on the first application by TruGreen in the mail) I decided to call them up. First of all, they asked if I had received a quote and I explained that yes, I had been told it would be $45, but was wondering if they would be able to do it for $40. (See next paragraph why this does not bother me morally). They quickly agreed and said this would be no problem, that they would be giving me a call later that day to finalize the paperwork and get me in the system.

(Disclaimer: Yes, I lied. However, I spoke with one of my customers the day after I received my quote and she explained she had also gotten a quote and it was $45. Having worked extensively on both of these properties, I knew that my customers lawn was quite a bit bigger. She is a fairly attractive female, and I'm pretty sure that she was giving a better deal simply because of that. I also have experience in quoting these types of things and although I typically don't intentionally over estimate lawns to give me a some bargaining room if needed, I know that other companies do this on purpose. Therefore, I felt like I was playing the game, and in this case, won....although it only costs them about $20 to do my lawn).

Back to getting setup, they did in fact call me back that day to get more information and stuff and although there were some fishy parts during the conversation, everything was pretty smooth. I was to receive service in the next couple of days.

About a week after I set everything up, no one had come by yet, but I assumed it was because we had gotten quite a bit of rain and they were waiting for things to dry off or stay dry. About a week after that, still no service, and what made it worse was...no rain either. They had forgotten about me.

I gave them a call only to find out that their automated system had been calling me every day to setup an appointment. The problem is, they had my cell phone number in their system correctly and I had never received a call, no voice mail or missed call on my phone. They decided to manually setup a time for the next Monday (I called on a Friday) and I assumed everything was good to go. I just looked over the fact that they would have never done anything about my service had I not called them.

Monday - no one showed up.
Tuesday - no one showed up.
Wednesday - I called to find out what happened. They said the address was wrong. They decided just to not call to correct it though. We got it fixed, they said they would be out the next day and if his employers didn't get it done, he would be out personally to do it. He also said the first application would be free for my troubles, this pleased me and I was willing to give them another chance.
Thursday - no one showed up.
Friday - I call again, the manager guy says there was some confusion and he thought someone else had done it. He would be out that evening to do it. Sure enough, he shows up at 6:00 that night and does the application. He was very nice and I was pleased with the service he provided at that time.

So, after three weeks, I finally got service, the weeds started dying and I was happy. Since the guy volunteered a free application, I was going to give them another chance to make up for it. That is...until I received an invoice in the mail.

They decided to go ahead and charge me for the first service which told me that this company was completely unable to provide any level of reasonable, consistent service. I called the next day to cancel service. What amazed me about that phone call is the lady on the other end of the line was very polite and gave me the impression that a majority of her day was spent taking complaints from customers who want to cancel service, there was no hesitiation in her response that she would take care of it immediately.

I will end this post on a slightly positive note though. About a week after I cancelled service, I got a call from someone else at the company whose title I have forgotten, but I believe it was a PR type person mainly responsible for damage control. The first thing he said to me was basically this, "Sir, I'm not going to beat around the bush here, I can not blame you for cancelling our service because it looks like you got jerked around. I'm not going to make any excuses, we did you wrong."

That right there made me happy, honestly, almost to the point of maybe considering to use TruGreen again in the future. I have come to expect calls like that to be full of excuses and finger pointing and counter offers to get you to come back. This guy actually called simply to apologize. He said that in the future if I ever changed my mind to call back and ask for him so that he could do everything he could to make my return as painless as possible. I wish I remembered his name because in all my dealings with customer service over the last 5 years or so, he is the ONLY person I have dealt with who I felt not only met my expectation of what customer service is, but went above and beyond anything I could have imagined.

To summarize: I will not go back to TruGreen, they proved and time and time again over the course of a month that they were not able to provide the service that I was willing to pay for. If they don't want my money, I don't want their service.

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