Getting Mowed Over

by admin on June 9, 2010

I live in a rented house with a medium-sized lawn, and I moved here from the other side of the US only six months ago, so I don’t own a lawn mower. As such, I hired my supervisor’s fifteen year old son (we’ll call him “Aaron”) to come mow my lawn.  It was a good arrangement, I thought; it was a simple mow and trim job, no complex landscaping or anything like that, and typically took about half an hour to do. I gave Aaron what I thought was a generous amount of money for less than an hour’s work.

That brings us to today.

It’s very hot and humid where I now live, and coming from a colder climate, I am not used to the heat yet, so mid-afternoon I dozed off on the couch in the living room for about an hour. I was awakened by knocking at the front door; it was Aaron, who informed me that he had just finished mowing my lawn.  I was not expecting him at all, the lawn actually did not really need mowing just yet, but I respected the work he had done, so I told him I would give the money for the work to his mother, my supervisor (I didn’t have any cash on me, as I had not anticipated him coming over at all).  Aaron said that was okay; we’d done that before, so everything seemed fine.  He left.

One minute later there was another knock at my front door.  I answered, still groggy from my impromptu nap, and found Aaron’s grandmother on my porch (she drove him to my house, as he is too young yet to drive himself).  Mind you, I have never in my life met this woman before; this is the first time she has come to my house.

The first words out of her mouth were, “What is your arrangement with Aaron?”

I was shocked, so I stammered a bit before explaining that I was paying him to do a very simple mow job. That was not a good enough answer, apparently, because she asked the same question again, tacking on an inquiry as to the exact dollar amount I was giving Aaron. I hedged my answer, because I don’t know this woman from Eve, and she asked again, so I caved and told her the amount (which I consider entirely appropriate for half an hour of pushing a lawn mower back and forth; not to minimize the work involved, but that is *all* Aaron had to do).

Grandmother shook her head and informed me that it was not enough, then asked me sweetly, “Would you mow this yard for that amount?”

My jaw dropped, and I began to stammer again. Grandmother cut me off, informed me that she used to clean houses for a living so she knew what she was talking about (…what?), and told me that I was seriously underpaying her grandson.  I said that he let me set the price, he had never mentioned to me that he felt I was not paying him appropriately, and one week before, after he hadn’t shown up for the job like he promised, I had to pay someone else *more* than that amount to do the job he failed to do, as I was expecting guests from out of town, the lawn was embarrassingly overgrown, and he was out of the state on vacation (I was going to fire him for that; I hadn’t had a chance to do so yet).

Grandmother again said that what I was paying him was not nearly enough and asked me *again* with a smile if *I* would mow the lawn for what I was paying him.

I was near tears from embarrassment at that point (this had been going on for almost five minutes), so I told her I was done discussing it and went back into the house.  She informed me, as I was closing the door, that I needed to discuss the amount of payment with Aaron’s mother, because I was underpaying her grandson.

I can’t say I’ve never been more embarrassed in my life, but this definitely lands near the top of that list.   0604-10

If you paid a fair price to Aaron, why would this whole scenario be embarrassing for you?  After telling Grandma, “I’m sorry but my financial arrangement is between Aaron, his mother and myself,” I would have gently but firmly backed out of the conversation and not felt a single twinge of embarrassment for myself.

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Mom June 9, 2010 at 6:09 am

It is not uncommon for a parent to oversee such arrangements – many children don’t have the skill set yet to negotiate job responsibilities and pay with an adult – but I agree with Miss Jeanne. Your arrangement is with the mother & Aaron.
I would also suggest (gently suggest) that you go easy on him for missing a week due to his family vacation; he is, at 15, still learning about work and responsibility and some guidance and discussion could go a long way. If you have hired a beginner (as opposed to a landscape professional) it comes with the territory.

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PrincessSimmi June 9, 2010 at 6:39 am

I’m with Admin. My nan pays the homecare staff $20 to mow her lawn and trim the edges. It takes them half an hour. If you’re paying the boy over $12 to do the same job you should not be embarassed. There’s more to this story. Why would Grandma
confront you? It seems really odd.

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Wendy June 9, 2010 at 6:48 am

Asking somebody who is paying somebody else if he/she would do the work for that amount of money is silly. If the answer was yes, why would you pay somebody else to do it? We all pay other people to do things for us – things that either we don’t have the skills or ability to do, or things that we’d rather pay to have somebody else do. When did this become something about which to be embarrassed?

Grandma sounds like a bully who justifies it by telling herself she protecting her family. I”m sorry this happened to you.

Did you find somebody else to do your mowing after this incident?

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NKKingston June 9, 2010 at 7:17 am

I’m a little confused. If you’d paid someone else *less* than Aaron the week he skipped, I could see how that justified what you’re paying him. Saying you paid them more almost proves the grandmother’s point, that you’re not paying him the going rate. Now, he’s fifteen and doing an easy job, so the going rate probably isn’t appropriate, but the grandmother seems to think that’s what he deserves. I don’t know about minimum wage in the US (in the UK it varies depending on age, so he wouldn’t be entitled to the same wage as an adult), but I assume you’re paying at least that? If so, from what you’ve described, that does sound appropriate for the job. “Amateur landscaper” doesn’t exactly earn big bucks.

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Casey June 9, 2010 at 7:21 am

I would be embarrassed too but for no other reason than I embarrass easily. I turn red and tongue tied at confrontation regardless of who is in the right. I’ve learned recently though that a “I don’t have to discuss anything with you” helps A LOT.
Perhaps the kid didn’t know he shouldn’t just assume he can come over and mow the yard when you need an extra $10 or that he should let you know when he won’t be there to perform a scheduled task. Usually a talk smooths things over as most kids aren’t lazy jerks but genuinely don’t know. But I would consider backing out for Bulldog Grandma alone. No way would I want that on my front yard every week.

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Kat June 9, 2010 at 7:36 am

If she feels like you need to discuss the amount with Aaron’s mother, she ought to get off your doorstep and have Aaron’s mother give you a call.

And I agree with Mom – you’re dealing with an amateur, a pre-professional, and it’s only natural that he be paid less than a professional in the same job. Give him a break on the week he missed. At the age of 15, he probably isn’t in charge of scheduling family vacations. Make this a learning experience for him and let him know that if something like that comes up again, you expect him to find a replacement.

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auntmeegs June 9, 2010 at 8:35 am

She was going to fire him for being out of town on vacation?

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Lisa June 9, 2010 at 8:51 am

I think grandma is being a bully. Both Aaron and his mother obviously know what you are paying him and don’t have a problem? Her question was a typical bully’s set-up. Of course, you wouldn’t mow the lawn for what you are paying him, you are not a 15 year old getting one of his first jobs.

The best thing to do is to talk to Aaron’s mom, expalin what happened and then let her know you are getting someone else to do the job in the future. Maybe grandma can replace that income with a high paying job of doing chores around her house.

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yarngirl June 9, 2010 at 9:04 am

Considering that a fifteen year old can’t even legally get a job paying minimum wage in most states (employers won’t hire under 16), and that minimum wage usually parks in under $10 an hour, if you’re paying him anything over $10 for half an hours work you’re doing just fine. I don’t think Grandma here gets that kids don’t get paid the same rate as adults who are more experienced, reliable and frankly, need the money.

Sounds to me like the grandson grumbled and Grandma swooped into action inappropriately. I would be embarassed too, to suddenly get a verbal reprimand from a complete stranger. That doesn’t mean the arrangement is wrong. If I were the OP I would be calling the kid’s mother, and explaining that if hiring her son means having random relatives stop by to haggle pricing you’ll find someone else.

NKKingston- it is customary to pay more for last minute service with another vendor. You aren’t their customer, you need their help immediately, therefore you pay more. The fact that the hired kid backed out forcing the OP to pay more money than they wanted is a reason to pay the kid less- he’s proven unreliable and cost his client money.

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Lizajane June 9, 2010 at 9:06 am

I wouldn’t expect him to find a replacement. I would have expected him to let me know so that I could find someone else. Or maybe they would have agreed that he would mow the last day before he left and the first day after he returned.

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Louise June 9, 2010 at 9:33 am

Did Aaron not tell you he was going on vacation that one week? If not, he should have; he likely has no say in when and where family vacations take place, but if he knows they are coming, he should tell his clients he won’t be available. Still, I hope you don’t fire him instead of just asking him to give you proper notice next time. At 15, he might not understand why it’s necessary.

Grandma is pushy. I agree that you should have told her the arrangement is between you, Aaron and his mother, but it’s tough when you’re put on the spot like that. Oh, well, live and learn!

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Shayna June 9, 2010 at 9:49 am

Grandma should keep her nose out of it, quite honestly. (Did I just breach etiquette by saying that?) If I would do it for the same pay as I’m giving someone else, I’d just do it myself and save the money. I would consider $12 – $15 more than adequate an amount for a 15-year-old with no experience to spend 30 minutes mowing my lawn. I also agree with other posters: give him a break. I’m sure he’s not in charge of scheduling vacations and probably didn’t even think to mention that he would be out of state at that time. A talk with him about what you expect him to do when this situation arises will go a long way.

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Amava June 9, 2010 at 10:53 am

I would have cut the conversation short, too. Why be embarrassed? It’s none of the grandmother’s business. Now, if I were Aaron, in this situation, I would have been embarrassed. He probably was, poor kid. Hiding deep in the car, wishing granny-bear would give it a rest already.

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dootle June 9, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Unless Aaron gave advance notice, I wouldn’t give him a break for just not showing up. When I was 15 (which wasn’t that long ago), I knew better than to not show up to work or some other scheduled appointment without letting the person know beforehand. Yes, it’s true he isn’t that he isn’t in charge of scheduling family events, but it’s common sense to let people know if you can’t fulfill your obligations, even at that age.

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AS June 9, 2010 at 1:22 pm

As NKKingston mentioned, why did you pay someone else more than Aaron to do the same job when Aaron wasn’t around? Was that other person a professional? If not, then you probably are paying Aaron less than what he deserves.
But that does not mean that grandma should negotiate with you, but rather she should allow Aaron’s mother/your boss to do the negotiation. As other posters said, Aaron is too young yet, and I remember when I was 15, I couldn’t negotiate to save myself! The kid needs to learn. If you tell him in a motherly way that he should inform you when he will not be working, and that he should not come anytime and mow, it might be good. It sounds patronizing, but when I was 15, I did not mind my older neighbours advising me (people wouldn’t do that if the 15-year old is a rude person).

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Xtina June 9, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Agree with others who have said that this is none of grandma’s affair, and if I were the OP, I’d have told grandma politely that this was a matter between OP, Aaron, and Aaron’s mother that will be discussed, but that Aaron agreed to the pay. Since pay arrangements had been worked out and agreed upon previously, perhaps at the age of 15, if Aaron felt he was being underpaid, then he should speak up, or have his mother speak to the OP about it (however, let that be a lesson to Aaron that he needs to check local going rates before he names his price). However, it is very common for “junior” or inexperienced laborers to be paid less than professionals.

I think this would be a good time to sit down and have a chat with Aaron about expectations, frequency, and pay for the job. As for the missed week of work, the OP should give him another chance but tell him that this is his one strike and he needs to notify her if he has other obligations that will prevent him from doing his job on schedule. Making up for it by mowing the OP’s lawn at another random, un-agreed upon time is not the proper way to do it.

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Vee June 9, 2010 at 2:28 pm

The lowest fair price for lawn mowing should be at least $10 for the first hour and $7.50 for every hour after that.
Of course professional lawn mowing/care is about $60 and hour.

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Mel June 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm

My feeling is that she was trying to intimidate you into paying more. The simple fact of the matter is that you made this arrangement with the understanding that it was a 15 year old doing the mowing and you were paying what you both agreed was the price. If someone confronted me about this, my immediate -you can’t tell me what to do- response would be that if he is unworkman like enough to send his grandmother to intimidate me, I will get someone else. I am willing to pay more if it means that it is a professional who won’t confront me in the middle of a nap. I pay more, he doesn’t have that income at all.

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Fanboy Wife June 9, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Why would anyone provide a service without being asked first? Wouldn’t Aaron have called ahead of time, especially since his grandmother had to drive him? His age isn’t an excuse.

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kero June 9, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Whatever price you set with Aaron is none of gramma’s business. If Aaron’s mother and Aaron are okay with it then there’s nothing to be embarassed about. Personally for me $8-10/half hour sounds fair since it seems like very basic work is done. Besides, you’re not a company so you are not required to pay minimum wage ($8/hour in California) anyway. If gramma had worked with a cleaning company then of course the pay is going to be different as they have to follow laws concerning wages, etc. Don’t feel embarassed.

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Ginger June 10, 2010 at 5:19 am

I don’t know. There seems to be more to this story. We are accepting that the OP’s ‘fair price’ is indeed a fair price but we really don’t know. It really should be left to the mother to talk to you about it but then again, it is awkward when she is already your boss. Very few 15 year olds are capable of negotiating their wage. I just wonder why the OP was so embarrassed if she truly believed that she was paying a generous amount? I can understand feeling flustered and bulldozed, but not embarressed if the price is generous.

Also, why on earth would you sack a kid for going on a family holiday? The OP says his mother is her boss so she would have known that he had gone away. It sounds like he has come around once he got back to do it (she says he was away the previous week). I also agree, that saying you had to pay someone more doesn’t sell the argument that payment is generous.

At any rate, I will agree that it was rude of the Grandmother to show up to her house like that. The Grandmother should have let his mother deal with it. It may well be better for all involved to just end this arrangement.

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yarngirl June 10, 2010 at 8:50 am

Ginger- are you saying you wouldn’t be embarrassed if some random, elderly stranger came to your door and accused you of being cheap? Even if you know it isn’t true, that’s still embarrassing. I know I would be even if I knew I was in the right.

I just don’t get all the kerfuffle over whether or not the OP set a fair price or not. First of all- it doesn’t matter since even if the OP was paying a nickle an hour, Grandma does not get to storm the house and demand more. Second- we’re talking giving a 15 year old a summer job. There is not standard rate, a lot of it depends on where you live and how much the teenager wants pocket money. This is not the kids livelihood, this is not a situation where you have to keep up with the going rate. If there are so many great paying lawn jobs elsewhere, the kid could do those. Or try babysitting, or a paper route. Thing is, none of those options pay well.

I think Grandma is just living in a dream world, and will probably next be demanding lunch breaks, health insurance and an investment plan. She’s treating this like a professional gig, which it is not.

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TheBardess June 10, 2010 at 10:12 am

@Ginger- I don’t think she was upset that Aaron was away on vacation, per se. If you notice, the OP says that the week he was gone Aaron had “hadn’t shown up for the job like he promised.” So it sounds like Aaron didn’t tell the OP ahead of time that he was going to be gone- instead he just left without telling her and the unexplained absence without warning was her problem. I tend to agree though that this one time (especially if it was the first time) I would let it go, and instead talk to Aaron and make sure that the expectations are clear (“If you can’t make it, I expect you to let me know X days in advance so I can make alternate arrangements.”).

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Kymberly June 10, 2010 at 1:22 pm

I used to mow the a quarter acre for 10 bucks when I was 15. It took WAY longer than half an hour, and it was the best 10 bucks I got each week.

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OP - "Mowed Over" June 10, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I think I should clarify a little the situation. “Aaron” specifically told me (via his mother) that he would come and mow the lawn one or two days before they left on vacation. He did not come, and I had to spend two days scrambling to find someone else; since the lawn was very overgrown by that point, it cost me more to get it taken care of.

As for my embarassment, a previous poster nailed it; when confronted unexpectedly, I get very flustered and uncomfortable, and this woman didn’t even bother telling me her name before she launched into her spiel. I agree with all the posters here that, if I was not paying Aaron sufficiently, it should have been left between me, Aaron, and his mother.

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karmabottle June 10, 2010 at 6:56 pm

I agree that it is not grandma’s business, but I disagree that $10-12 is sufficient for a mow job on a medium-sized lawn. It’s not about the time, it’s about the job size.
I would never ask a teen to mow a yard for less than $30. One, he is providing the lawn mower, two, he is providing the gas, and three someone is having to drive him to your house. That is also time and money.
It’s not about the kid’s age, it’s about the fact that you are paying for a service that you would normally have to do. It’s opportunity cost.

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gramma dishes June 10, 2010 at 9:40 pm

I think the reason the OP was flustered was that this is the son of her direct supervisor at work. This produces an uncomfortable situation, to say the least. Maybe, in retrospect, it would have been better to have hired a different teenager to do the work.
But this was an arrangement that seemed to be working and Grandma was totally out of line here.
I would mention this encounter with the Grandma to the mother at work when the OP pays her for Aaron’s unexpected visit, but I would ask politely if Aaron was unhappy with the pay arrangement that had been agreed upon and if the mother indicated that he no longer considered it an acceptable amount, then I would say that I wished Aaron had mentioned that himself instead of sending Grandma to the door for him and that I would then find a neighborhood boy to do the work instead.
But as I mentioned, since the OP works (in essence) for Aaron’s mother, this is trickier than it would be under other circumstances.

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Kendra June 11, 2010 at 1:20 am

Wow! Karmabottle, my son’s on his way to mow your lawn, especially for that rate! The going rate here (Nv) is $10-15. Which is fine. When you think about it minimum wage is around $8. The typical laws takes about a half hour. Doing the math, that would be about $4 and $8 to mow a lawn. So $10-15 actually works out to $20-30 per hour. I wish I made that much. By the way, the lawnmower my son uses to mow the neighbors yards is mine and I put the gasin it, so actually what he earns, he keeps. That being said, Grandma was so far out of line barging in on you like that, but I wouldn’t necessarily blame the kid. A lot of times kids are fine with things, but the adults, not so much. It’s when the adult decides to “fix” it that makes a muck out of the situation. OP how did things turn out? Did you work things out, or did you have to find a new kid?

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karmabottle June 11, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Well, Kendra, like I said: it’s not about the time, it’s about the job size. I think people also tend to confuse a teen’s age with their value. People say things like, “Well, since she’s 14 she’ll be happy to make $3 an hour babysitting”. Really? Is that the value you place on a person who cares for your child? If the person can handle it, pay ‘em a fair wage for it.
Or, “He’s only 13 so $10 to mow my yard is fair. Ten is better than nothing!” I don’t buy that. If the kid can do the job, he can do the job—despite his age.
I’m not saying that you’d pay an inexperienced teen the same as you would a professional yard service or a day care, but geez, no reason to be cheap because of their age. I think that is how a lot of people do though. They justify being a cheap azz because of the kid’s age. I’d never offer a grown man $10 to cut my yard, so why would I do that to a 15 year old?

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OP June 11, 2010 at 6:44 pm

In the end I paid my neighbors to take care of the lawn for the time being, and I’m in the process of finding a service. I did discontinue the arrangement with Aaron after a discussion with his mother, who so far seems to be very understanding as to why. This is the first house I’ve ever rented on my own; next time, I’ll know better than to hire a relative of a co-worker/supervisor. It’s simply too awkward.

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Anonymous June 11, 2010 at 9:59 pm

Karma, I agree with you–I can’t believe how many people here feel it’s generous to pay $12 for a front and back lawn mowing job, just because the person doing it is a teenager. $20, in my opinion, is the bare minimum, depending on the size of the lawn and the difficulty of the job. (For instance, around our yard, you have to get all the pinecones up before you can mow.) There’s a reason there’s not a separate minimum wage for teenagers and adults: If you’re doing the job, you’re doing the job.

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Heather June 12, 2010 at 1:28 am

I mowed yards that size in 1991/1992 for $15 a pop and that did not include a trim job. I live in Texas. I had to use my own mower and gas. I would say that would be almost $25-$30 now. I think this would be reasonable if they are mowing and trimming. Trimming adds cost to your landscaping whether it is simple, they still charge a lot for it. Also, you can’t judge on time but on the job. Who cares if it takes him 30 minutes. Perhaps he is really efficient at it and is moving fast. It might take someone else an hour or more to do it. Would you pay them more?

If you are paying under $20 I would say you are taking advantage but if that is what the parties agreed to, then that is their loss. Grandma should stay out. Give the kid a break….

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Tanz June 12, 2010 at 2:57 pm

I think it’s obvious you *are* paying Aaron less than he deserves, if a replacement cost more than you usually pay him. His age and experience don’t, and shouldn’t, come into play here; a 15 year old is quite capable of doing the same job as an adult, especially when the job is just mowing a lawn.

That said, the Grandma should have encouraged Aaron to raise the issue with you himself, rather than wading in herself. It wasn’t her place.

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Me June 12, 2010 at 9:52 pm

All this talk about the right payment for the job and accusations of people being cheap because they’re paying someone under $20 doesn’t take in to account that the OP hasn’t actually mentioned how much she was paying the kid – for all we know, she could have been paying $20 or more.

Having said that, you can’t compare what you would pay a kid and what you would pay an adult – there’s a reason that there’s a different minimum wage for adults and teenagers so it’s not not exactly correct to say you can’t pay a kid $10 because you wouldn’t charge an adult the same amount. Furthermore, professional businesses have overheads that a teenager earning a little extra pocket money does not.

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Alohagirl June 13, 2010 at 1:37 am

I’m sorry, but I don’t understand the OP’s problem here. Yes, grandma was rude, but you planned to fire a 15 year old for not mowing your lawn while you were on vacation? You said yourself the boy can’t yet drive himself; perhaps it wasn’t his fault he didn’t show up as expected. Did you ever call him to find out what the problem was? The simple fact that you paid someone else more money to do the same job Aaron was supposed to do and then admitted it to his grandmother indicates that you ARE underpaying him. After all, he IS using his own (or his family’s) lawnmower to cut YOUR grass. You’re out of line here.

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Interestingly Laura June 14, 2010 at 10:17 am

My fiance owns and manages a lawn care business in our mid-size university town. Generally, people who mow & edge lawns in this town (not professional landscapers) make around $8/hr. My fiance hires people with a little more experience, and pays them $10/hr. If a particular job takes less than an hour, he still pays the person the $10. For a typical lawn, he charges $30 (because he pays for the gas, the equipment, the truck & trailer, insurance, etc.)
If Aaron is providing his own equipment and gas, the price should be at least around $25. If not, I don’t see why $10 would be unreasonable.

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belle June 14, 2010 at 11:46 am

The boy said he would do the yard BEFORE he left on his vacation. They had an agreed upon price. Neither party had done this before (OP as a renter, 15 tr old as a first job.)

OP had a party and had relied on the boy to do the yard. He bailed without telling, and left her scrambling to find a professional, last-minute one time, thus more expensive hire. She was stressed on top of party planning.

Grandma dropped boy off without calling (what if OP was not home? Would he have still mowed? As it was, she had no cash to pay him.)
We do not know how much OP paid him. Babysitters, lawn care, house services all vary depending on size, location, experience, etc… yet many are quoting their local area prices and assuming the OP undercut the 15 yead old.

And Grandma should have id’d herself instead of being sweetly confrontational. The parents should have had a chat with the boy about wages and job responsibility. 15 is young, but it is too old to have Grandma come and clean up after you!

Lesson learned here–rent a neighborhood kid if you just want to the job done, and maybe not done well. And do not hire a co-workers kid, let alone your bosses kid! Too many politics.

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Annie June 14, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Alohagirl–the OP wasn’t planning on firing him for not mowing the lawn while *she* was on vacation. Aaron went on vacation. Furthermore, the OP states in comment #25, ““Aaron” specifically told me (via his mother) that he would come and mow the lawn one or two days before they left on vacation. He did not come…”

If you are old enough to work, you (not your Mom, Dad, grandma, grandpa) are old enough to let your employer know when you are going to be out of town, if you are sick, or if you are going to be late because your ride doesn’t show up.

And a person isn’t necessarily underpaying if (s)he pays A more than B for the same job. I may ask Person B to babysit for $15 per hour, but if B cancels days before, and I’m stuck with trying to find a babysitter, I may have to pay $20 per hour to A, who charges $20/hour.

The only one out of line here was grandma. She needed to mind her own business. If Aaron was complaining about his wages to her, she should have counseled him to speak to the OP rather than showing up like that.

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Age July 6, 2010 at 12:07 am

Heheh. My grandfather paid my cousin a whopping 5 bucks to mow his lawn… and believe me, it takes way more than a half an hour. The worse part is that he actually had the nerve to brag about how he’s really “getting a good deal” to my uncle. He hasn’t quite figured out that Brad was in no way doing it for the money…

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Chelsey July 14, 2010 at 12:32 pm

Considering he’s only 15 and he is not an actual employee (meaning that you are not required by law to pay him any set amount), there is no set amount that you have to pay him. You pay him whatever he agrees to, I say. When my brother and I were teenagers, he was paid $20 a week to pay our neighbor’s yard, which was pretty good. Teenagers don’t generally have bills to pay–they go to the mall or a school football game or something. Basically, you’re just giving him play money. Teaching him the value of a dollar. There is no reason to feel embarrassed about what you’re paying him, even if it’s not very much. His grandmother may have been a professional, but he is not, so it doesn’t matter if he’s not getting paid enough in comparison to what *she* was paid. You also didn’t mention that his parents have complained about this situation, so I’m guessing they have no problem with what you’re paying him. Grandma’s can be weird sometimes.

And I do agree with whoever has said that you should be easy on the boy for not showing up that one week. He is only 15 and probably doesn’t know quite yet the responsibilities of having a job. Just pull him aside and have a talk with him. Explain that next time, he should let you know. If he does it a second time, then you should fire him.

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Jill August 10, 2010 at 11:33 am

I think it’s completely acceptable to pay a teenager less than you would pay an adult. An adult probably has more skills and experience and would do a better job, and on top of that their time may be more valuable as they could otherwise be working in a higher paying job or doing other more imporant things (you’d surely want more money to miss out on time with your partner and kids than just to miss an hour playing video games). Even governments set higher wages for adults than for teens. (And if it seems like I am being dismissive of teens, I’d like to point out that until a few months ago I was one. As a student working the usual part-time jobs in cafes and such, I earn an awful lot less than most adults, and I’m cool with it.)

The fact that the OP paid more to have someone else do the job doesn’t mean she underpaid Aaron. Perhaps the other person was a professional or was more experienced or did a better job. Besides, that was an emergency situation – when a person needs something more urgently, they will pay more for it than they pay under normal circumstances.

Of course, we don’t know for sure that the OP wasn’t ripping Aaron off. But Aaron’s mother obviously knew what he was being paid (as the OP paid him via the mother) and must have been ok with it as she let Aaron continue and as far as we are told, made no complaints. The fact that the OP was embarassed by the grandma’s carry-on doesn’t prove anything either – I’m sure many people would be embarassed to have a stranger accuse them of being cheap and, worse, taking advantage of someone who might not know better, even if the accusations were false.

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Dazee September 18, 2010 at 6:37 pm

And the only thing I could think of for an answer to the grandmother is, “If I had my own lawn mower, I’d be mowing it for free.” Or I use the famous “What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?” to attempt to point out that the person is being unreasonable.. it usually at least throws them off enough that I can gain some control of the conversation. If she continued then I would have said. “Well, if Aaron is unhappy with the price, then he can bring that up to me.”
I will say, I have been in the underpaid situation before, I felt the asking price was way below what I should be paid… usually for baby sitting… but I didn’t want to seem rude for asking for more.

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PO'd reader November 5, 2010 at 5:18 am

Okay to the one about minimum wage was fair game. It’s nearly $8.00 per hour here so for 30 minutes he should only get paid $4.00? Hey let’s hire the minimum wage nuts who want to work hard for only $8.00 an hour. Come over once a week to do my 4 hour babysitting job and I’ll gladly pay you minimum wage but only when she’s actually awake since you’re free to do what you want while she naps.

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