I suck at watering plants. I know, it's not hard. You just put water on the dry part. But somehow this challenges me. So much so, that I have put a line in my service contract saying I am not responsible for what happens to plants while in my care. Here's what happened ...
It was mid September and a client called me up to check on her cats and her plants for a week. She even toyed with the idea of having me come over to see how she watered the plants. Well that's just about the last thing I want to do with my spare time, free of charge, so I told her I could handle it. The only caveat was that my out-of-state grandpa was reaching the end of his life and I needed her to have a backup person in case I had to skip town to be with family. No worries, she provided me with a backup friend and prayers for my grandpa.
All went fine during the pet sits. I was able to come every time as scheduled, spending 30 wonderful minutes snuggling her cats and listening to the sound of the rain falling outside. "It's raining," I thought, "no need to water the outside plants."
Except they were hanging baskets. And partially covered by the deck.
By the time I checked on them at the end of the week, they looked a lot more brown then I had remembered. Panicked, I quickly drowned them in as much water as possible. To no avail. I reasoned that it was mid September, and plants have a tendency to die around this time of year anyway. And my daily notes clearly stated that I thought the rain had taken care of it. Woops. At least the cats were fine.
Relaxing at home that Sunday evening, all the bells and whistles on my cell phone started going off. The client was pissed. She wanted to make sure "nothing tragic had happened" to my grandpa. I took the bait and said no, knowing she couldn't possibly be insinuating he should have died this week. Well apparently she was, because only that would explain why her plants were brown and crispy and dead. I apologized profusely for my oversight and explained that I thought the rain had been ample for the plants. She went on and on about how upset she was because hundreds of dollars of plants were now dead.
I'm going to take a break here to ask: Who the hell buys hundreds of dollars worth of plants?!
I offered her a full refund. She refused, and asked only that I reimburse her for the tip she left. This made me feel lower than scum, so I sent her tip back with a note that the remainder was sent to the local Humane Society in honor of her cats (not her, the cats.)
In retrospect, I should have gotten my insurance company on the horn. But it's such a shock to have a disappointed client, let alone a meltdown based on plant life, that I wasn't thinking straight.
Plant watering is a very common part of pet sitting. And no matter how good your company is, unsatisfied customers come with the territory every now and then. It's unavoidable, but I can be honest with my flaws and fully inform my clients in advance from now on.