Mow-It-Right Mows Down Vegetable Garden, Won't Replace It

Jason hired a lawn company in Memphis, Tennessee, and then recommended them to a friend. He regrets that now, because they mowed down the friend’s vegetable garden, and seven weeks later they still haven’t replaced it and have stopped communicating with the garden’s owner.

This story is an example for any small business owner who wants their business to fail.

I live in Memphis, TN, and the summer heat can be quite stifling. I’ve never been one who has enjoyed yardwork, and this spring decided to hire a lawn service to attend to my lawn care and finally avoid hours of sweaty drudgery. After comparing several local services that didn’t seem to be fly-by-night, I chose Mow-It-Right lawn service (http://www.mowitright.com/). Service began, and was satisfactory. Quite frankly, a cut yard is a cut yard to me.

A friend and co-worker of mine was looking for lawn care as well, and I mentioned Mow-It-Right, as I had no negative experience yet. They showed up when they said they would, and billed me what they said they would. [My friend] began lawn service with Mow-It-Right.

The fourth week they came to mow, the workers mowed over his vegetable garden. The garden that happens to be his wife’s primary hobby and a decent source of food for his family. The garden that was clearly staked and roped off with bright orange rope.

Trey was understandably upset and called to speak with the owner, Chris. Chris apologized, blaming a “new crew” for the foul-up. Chris also offered, of his own volition, to replace the plants that had been destroyed. Fair enough, right?

If that were the end of the story, would I be writing you? J

Seven weeks later, my friend has no garden, no new plants. A string of broken appointments, the supposed inability to find extremely rare botanicals such as tomatoes, peppers, and okra, and finally stonewalled silence have been all that has come to, um, fruition in the interval. Mow-It-Right has been given the opportunity to make good on a promise they proffered and has not even made a good faith attempt to do so, so today I called Mow-It-Right to cancel my service based on the treatment of a friend to whom I had recommended their service.

A woman named Christy answered the phone for Mow-It-Right. I informed her I was recording the phone call. I explained that I was cancelling, and when asked why, informed her that I would not patronize a business that had done a good friend of mine so horribly wrong; that they had a clear idea of what it would take to rectify the situation, had been given ample time to do so, and obviously had no intention of doing so. Also, that if the crew had not made it to my house yet to cut my lawn today, call them off, and that if they arrived after the phone call ended (~3:30) I would not pay for the service. If they had already been at or were presently cutting, I would pay for the mow and that would be the end of it.

Christy then proceeds to tell me that she cannot get in touch with the crews around town, that I have declared I my intent to defraud the company by not paying for service, and that recording the phone call was “illegal.” (TN is a one-party notification state, so I didn’t even have to tell her.) She tells me that “we don’t need customers like you” and “why would you cancel a service you’re happy with (big assumption) because of something that might have happened to someone else? That’s just stupid.” I laughed, congratulated her on becoming a Consumerist post, and hung up the phone, figuring that unless another charge went through on my card, that was the end of it.

Half an hour later, my cell phone rings. I am at work and ignore it, and was left this voicemail, transcribed verbatim:

“Hey Jason, this is Chris with Mow-It-Right lawn service. I just wanted to give you a call and tell you that your yard already has been cut for today, and if you’ve got a problem with something my company has done or said, you are more than welcome to give me a call @ [phoneNumber]. I definitely do not appreciate you calling and giving Christy a hard time, and I think you should learn both sides of a story before you start running your trap. That really is what I believe there, bud. And by the way, if you recorded that conversation, it is illegal to record a conversation without both parties knowing, and if you did you’ll hear from my lawyer. We try to do people as right as we possibly can, and don’t think I did Trey wrong at all. You know one side of a story.

[and then the coup de grace...]

Anyway, I hope you have a great day, best of luck to you big guy, have a good one.

In addition to the Consumerist, we’ve sent a complaint to the BBB, submitted a negative review to Angie’s List, and we’re likely going to call the INS because of the strong suspicion that the bulk of his workers are not legal. I’m waiting for a Mow-It-Right charge to show up on my credit card this week.

Wow. Even in other countries they have tomato plants, we’re pretty sure, so unless he’s hiring the legally blind we can’t understand how someone would julienne an entire vegetable garden, orange barrier and all.

Don’t ever let a business intimidate you out of recording a phone call. You can determine whether recording a call is legal in your state, and what sort of notice is required, at this site. Also check out our list of tips on recording calls.

(Photo: Shmoomeema)