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When the landscape crew bails half way through the job

I've just had NO luck with contractors for the last few years, and it's becoming overwhelming.

Most recently, I hired a crew to mulch 17 large piles of brush for me, then grind 30 stumps that ranged in size from 8" to 48". They were supposed to blast the mulch into a large pile for me, then grind the stumps to below ground level, then use their tractor to smooth out my front yard and fill in the holes left by the stump grinding. I told them repeatedly that I needed the area to be prepared for grass, and that I needed the mulch in a large pile so that I could spread it around in my gardens.

The cost for the job was $5500. I gave a 50% deposit, and they came out 2 days later.

The first day was great, they got a lot of the wood chipped into a big pile.

The second day, I came home to see that they had started blasting the rest of the mulch into the woods! Completely unsalvageable :-( But it was already sone, so nothing I could do about it.

The third and fourth days, they were grinding stumps. I noticed, though, that they were stopping about 6" above the ground level! I pointed it out to them, and they said they would go back over it and do better. It was clear that they had never used a stump grinder before, they kept talking about "the rental company said to blah blah blah".

Fifth day, I came home to see that they had used the tractor to spread my big pile of mulch over the entire front yard, in an attempt to hide the stumps! And I mean, like 8-12" deep!

I called the owner, he said that he had seen the same thing the evening before and had fired two of the employees that had done it. His words was that he could clearly see that his workers had gotten lazy and just tried to cheat me. He said that he would send another (more experienced) guy the next day to push the mulch back into a pile for me, and then use an excavator to remove the stumps and finish up the yard.

Next day the guy came out with an excavator, stayed in his truck for about 15 minutes while on the phone, and left.

That evening I texted the owner to see what's up. He said that the guy realized he would need a bigger excavator and come back the next day. I reminded him that 8 of the stumps are along the buried power line and HAVE to be ground, which he said that he remembered and is no problem.

That was 6 days ago, and I haven't heard from anyone since.

I'm pretty angry at this point. Somehow, everything is worse than before I hired them! Half of my mulch has been lost in the woods, the other half of my mulch is spread out over the area where I intended to have grass, and the stumps are still there so I couldn't sow grass over it anyway. All they really did was waste all of my mulch... I had justified the expense of the job in that I wouldn't have to buy more mulch, and this is about $2,000 worth of mulch that's been lost.

I've been out there every day for the last week with a leaf blower, trying to push all of the mulch and stump grindings into piles away from the lawn. But that's slow going, and would probably take me the rest of the year to finish! Even if I didn't have my own job to do and could just devote my life to cleaning up their mess :-/

I had another company give me a quote to finish the job. By time they clean up the mess that the original crew left and then grind the stumps and smooth out the lawn, I'm looking at another $6,000!!

Even if the original company does come back, I know that they're just going to try to rush and bodge it.

What's a guy to do? I had $5500 budgeted and spent $2750 on the first crew, so I don't have $6,000 more to spend.

Would it be unfair to demand them to return the $2750 deposit so that I can at least have most of the money to hire the new company to clean up their mess?

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