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Scott Simpson, owner of Earthwise addresses a Better Business Bureau complaint found online about his business.

Updated 5/29/2020 9:32 AM

The BBB notified me that there was no reply to my response and that the complaint has been closed. My reply is to be listed on their site as "Answered: The business addressed the issues within the complaint, but the consumer either did no accept the response or did not notify the BBB as to their satisfaction."

As you read my explanation below, you'll see that the refund check for unused materials was indeed accepted despite the language in their review about not getting a check. I strongly disagree with this conclusion on my behalf because it is NOT an accurate representation of what really happened.

I have done my best to provide an objective explanation below. As you read this, know that I appreciate your time and consideration. Respectfully, Scott Simpson

Introduction:

While updating my website and SEO, I found a 6 month old BBB review I was not aware of. It was found in search results which now show up along with other results related to my business. I submitted a response but have been unable to reach the BBB to find out why this post does not reflect my response. My response outlines the fact that I was indeed completely and openly engaged with the client during that time to reach a resolution and that I refunded materials money not used. This grievance makes it sound like this is not the case and you’ll see this BBB post does not reflect the fact that we reached an agreement both parties approved.

First I’m going to go over my experience with the BBB. Next I’ll offer a few brief insights into my perspective while dealing with this. Finally, I’ll go over the experience in its entirety.

About this BBB post:

Years ago, the Better Business Bureau contacted me about creating an online profile and subscribing to their service. I declined. But in the Spring of 2020 I found that, against my wishes, a profile had been created for Earthwise by the BBB anyway. I also found that without my knowledge an online grievance was filed on that profile and made public Fall of 2019. I did not find it online until Spring 2020. This post was up for 6 months without my knowledge. Although the BBB did call me, I never got notification that the clients complaint would be posted online. I also have no idea why they posted my business name as ‘Landscape by Scott.’ My business name is Earthwise Horticultural Services LLC and you can find my articles of corporation on Sunbiz.

I recently prepared and submitted a response online, but it my profile does not reflect this and the grievance shows it has not been resolved. BUT I RESOLVED THIS GRIEVANCE directly with the client LAST YEAR. I was in regular contact with the client at that time without delay until we reached an agreement and they were issued a refund for unused materials. I want to stress that in my entire 12 year career this is the only time I’ve found myself in this situation. I’ve worked with tough clients. I always saw the job through to their satisfaction. Aside from this single case, I’ve completed every project contract I’ve been involved with.

Despite the fact that I was working to resolve this issue, they contacted the BBB anyway. The BBB then proceeded to email and harassment call me daily for nearly a month. I did not respond to the BBB because I did not see any reason to involve a third party. The harassment eventually ceased and they never informed me they had made this client complaint public and accessible online.

At this point, I’m not going to go into detail about the current reputation of the local BBB office. But I would encourage you to search for them online and read what has been posted about them.

A little bit about this client experience, from my perspective:

I have done my best to be objective in outlining what happened with this project. But I just want to give you my perspective to consider as you read my response.

Even though I maintained my poise and professionalism throughout this entire ordeal, it was incredibly upsetting. They would constantly play this game where they would give me their decisions and then change their mind, often after we had begun to work in that direction. In their comments they smooth over this like it’s not a big deal, when in fact it was single largest challenge I faced throughout my time working with them. I put very strong emphasis on communication and transparency before we start work so that we can make decisions based on facts and prevent delays once the project begins.

In their comments, the clients not only attempt to call my integrity into question, but also take several deliberate jabs at my personality. For instance they claim I’m walking around not wanting to make eye contact. This simply is not true. I remember that day, she wanted to be out there observing the work. I have no problem collaborating and even tried to encourage her participation by talking about what we were doing and why. They are simply framing their comments and including veiled insults in an attempt to give you a false impression of me. I’ve found that in business when people resort to insults meant to demean someone it not only indicates they have weak justification for what they are claiming but that it also speaks poorly to their character.

During the two months this project was active and the months before, I was met with a constant stream of emotional responses to very straight forward decisions about the layout of the patio and the materials selections. I was always understanding and helpful. It was said frequently that they were impressed by my patience and positive attitude. They were really good at eliciting an empathetic response from me.  I’m sure they could see that I sincerely wanted to help and take pride in assisting clients who otherwise have been unable to obtain satisfactory service.

You see, they had confided in me several times about the numerous bad experiences they had with previous landscape companies bidding on the work. Not only that, but getting their driveway and house completed had also been wrought with difficulties. As they told me their saga, I should have realized at that point why they had so many troubles. I would soon learn why.

The project experience summarized:

In response to these comments, I’m going to summarize my experience and objectively give you the facts that directly address the claims in this review.

When I first met Hank and Teresa Heald, they seemed really nice and agreeable. Over the next few weeks, we walked through my consultation process. We talked in great length about the various components they desired. I presented the plans and they approved the job right away.

This was an incredibly detailed job and required a lot of materials that had to be special ordered. As we neared the project start date, Teresa began bringing up new ideas about the plans or failed to recall decisions made along with her husband and me. These decisions involved the primary components that I had already provided numerous pictures of, illustrations, discussed in meetings, emails (many of which I never got a reply to) detailing what we were doing and why. Several times she requested I either push the start date or stop working so we could go back over the plans and change patio dimensions, shape, position, and numerous other components of the project. At every step I maintained my poise, professionalism, and composure while doing my best to accommodate the constant flow of change requests and how they affected project logistics.

The primary holdup turned out to be their choice of patio stone. She deliberated over this choice for weeks. A choice that would be special order and not returnable. Teresa got in the habit of telling me ‘100% this is what we want’ go ahead and order it. Then after that, she would frantically contact me after the order was to be placed asking if we could stop the order and go over the options again. She had catalogues of stone and tile. We had sat down and gone over the various websites, met at the rock yard, the tile store, picked up and delivered 3 or 4 rounds of samples. We even did heat tests to see what the temperature of each tile option was at midday.

I really want to emphasize that I maintained my composure during this entire process. I enjoy helping and working with people through this process. And this was how I approached every day I spent working with Hank and Teresa.

Given that, after a few weeks we were having a really hard time making progress on this job because of the indecision. But I understand how important it is for people to go through their process and I wanted to do everything I could to oblige them. But we had reached the point where Teresa needed to select the patio stone for us to continue working. I kept telling her, way ahead of time, that we were reaching the point that this decision would cause a delay in the job. I had even offered to custom build the pergola to her spec as we went so she could focus on the stone choice. The cedar wood we were using was also special order and, at my own expense, I ordered multiple board sizes so we could have options and then any extras I would put into inventory only charging her for what was used. I was under the impression this gesture was appreciated but in her review it is criticized.

Teresa was never able to give me a clear cut decision on the stone and this was where we reached the point we could no longer agree. The project was at the point the patio stone needed to go in next before we could do anything else. It seems extremely odd this is not mentioned in her comments. It was the biggest hang up. I had no choice but to pause this job. I have never had to do this before in my entire 12 year career. The special order of the stone would likely take 3-6 weeks depending on choice. I thought if I gave her this time she could consider the final choice and we could place the order at her leisure and without pressure. They agreed and I left her yard buttoned up, neat, and clean as I always did. Everything was approved by Mr. Heald and they paid for my work to that point. I agreed to return after I completed another job. A job I had pushed the start date more than a month to accommodate all the changes and stop/start requests by Teresa.

At that point, Teresa informed me she had been cultivating bids from another paver/patio contractor to finish the work sooner (also not mentioned). Work for which I had an existing contract with them. This was a shot in the gut because I had given selflessly of my time over the previous four months patiently developing these plans. Her husband Hank commented numerous times on my patience and clarity when working through Teresa’s analysis paralysis. In the end I had personally accumulated nearly 80 more hours of time outside the original design agreement and project management at my expense. I did this without complaint and did not make the point until it became clear we were not going to be able to find middle ground. This gesture of time was callously dismissed.

In one of the last conversations I had with Teresa, I was saying that, despite everything, I wanted to finish the job. All she had to do was decide on the patio stone so I could order it. I explained once again that I had another client who had been patiently agreeing to all the delays caused by Teresa’s indecision. Teresa then began screaming at me into the phone ‘NO!! NO!! MY PROJECT, MY PROJECT IS ALL THAT MATTERS!!’ I knew then I could not do anymore for them. I settled the contract and sent them a 4,100 refund for materials not purchased.

I would like to address two specific claims in the review:

Pavers: We had agreed to repurpose a small amount (maybe 100 square feet) of old pavers removed from the backyard and use them to widen her existing path and driveway approximately 18 inches. She claims I had ‘untrained’ people doing paver work when in fact it was me, the owner, doing the work. Any skilled labor like pavers, retaining walls, and pergolas; I do myself with laborers there to assist me. Pavers are in fact well within my scope of expertise. Taking apart the edges of an existing driveway is not simple and when we were done it was perfect. I was questioned about this and demonstrated with a level that it matched the driveway slope perfectly. Teresa was not happy with a top corner of the tie in for the sidewalk and we took it apart and reset it the next day. I am always glad to help and Hank approved it. Even though Teresa liked to hover over us and monitor/question the work, I was never annoyed and answered all questions. I don’t know what she is talking about with this eye contact nonsense. I even encouraged her input because I sensed she wanted to be involved. When you meet me you’ll see I’m straight forward and communicate clearly and professionally without fail.

Project Costs: The last plan revision estimated the total cost to be just under 47,000 for the project. I’d like to know where this 15,000 figure came from. That number would barely pay for the materials they received much less two months of labor for a 3-5 man team 5 days a week. And why is there no mention of the 4,100 dollar refund check I gave them for the materials that were not used? They did not subtract that when they stated the 30k cost and it is a primary grievance at the end of this review. When we left that last day, the hardest parts of the project were done. All that was left was to set the stone (the stone that had to be special ordered), assemble to top portion of the pergola, install a few trees and wrap up some details like lights and mulch. The sod damage she mentioned? This was an area that was slated for a step stone path.

Summary and a few closing thoughts: Working with Harold and Teresa Heald

As I read this review for the first time, I was shocked by these comments on my personality. I do not give smart or short answers to clients. They had a lot of questions about the wall. I was unfailingly patient and professional. I explained everything and demonstrated daily that the measurements and level were spot on. I took as much time as needed to satisfy anything they brought up. But in the end it didn’t matter and this client experience turned out to be the worst of my career by a very long shot. I’ve never had to deal with this kind of behavior.

Quality in workmanship leads to customer satisfaction making it the top priority. If I had been given the chance to finish my work, everything would have been set in perfectly. Occasionally you come across people who become unreasonable and cannot be satisfied. I would encourage you to read my reviews across the web, written by customers who were great to work with and satisfied with the results. I would also encourage you to visit my website where you’ll see examples of my best work. Earthwise Horticultural Services has several hundred completed projects and this review is the first of its kind to pull my integrity into question. Gut wrenching as it is, unsubstantiated reviews filled with personal insults like this are part of the business landscape nowadays. My hope is that in reading my detailed response you’ll see just how much effort I put into everything I do. This same effort goes into the quality of my work.

I also hope that by this point the differences in character and professionalism between the client and myself are evident. On the one hand I maintained professionalism and advocated for being allowed to finish my work right to the bitter end. On the other hand they were recording conversations without my knowledge, entertaining competing bids for work they had a contract with me for, involving a 3rd party to harass me even though I was in regular contact with them about the resolution, and finally posting an exaggerated, slanted complaint that has many mistruths in it.

  1. One of the man mistruths is the speculative opinions about my attitude and eye contact. This simply wasn’t the case. I'm a very engaging extrovert who is always a positive influence on my job sites.
  2. The second is the fact that they do not mention I did indeed issue a refund of 4,100 to them. This refund was completed at the same time they posted these comments with the BBB.
  3. The third is that the felt the job should have cost 15,000. When all the expenses are added up for this project including supply, labor, transportation, and overhead the total is over 30,000 and they wound up paying approximately 27,000.
  4. Finally, one of the biggest exaggerations is that they had to have their driveway redone when in fact the only work we did in regard to the paver driveway was to use old pavers from the backyard to add a narrow 18” strip along the sides. They questioned me about this constantly. Teresa was even standing out there monitoring our progress that day and both her and Hank approved the work. It was maybe 100 sqft of pavers.

Teresa once told me ‘it’s not personal’ but I could not disagree more. This business is very personal to me because for the past 12+ years I’ve put everything into it and care very much not only about the results but also about the people around me. That personal touch is why small businesses around the world thrive. I strive in every transaction to have as much transparency needed so that you feel comfortable about what we are doing and why. I am extremely diligent about going over details, pros/cons, and options before starting a project. I hope I get to work with you.

I appreciate being able to respond here and thank you for your time reading this.