Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pick Up The Phone!

The house we just bought did not have a fenced yard. I have a greyhound. Greyhounds run. Faster than me (I know this from personal experience). We need a fence. We called a couple of fence companies. We got estimates. We chose Fence Company A - we liked their product and their price. Fence Company A said "sure, we can install it the first week of December." Fence Company A also said the deposit would be a certain amount, due when the work started. We said "yay, you're hired." We signed a contract to that effect.

Sounds simple, right? Well, no. We did not get our fence the first week of December, as promised. As we were a little pre-occupied with the moving and unpacking and wallpaper from hell, we didn't think about the fence until late Wednesday, when we realized we hadn't heard from them.

I called the company on Thursday, and left a message. I did not receive a call back.

On Friday I received a message on my house phone (not my cell phone, was the number listed on our contract). The message stated the manufacturer's shipment was late, and the fence should be installed on Tuesday of the following week. He also asked about getting the deposit, and when he said the amount, it was double the original quote. Uh, como say wha?

Of course they aren't open on Saturday, so I stewed about this until Monday. I called them at 8am on Monday morning, and again, left a message saying I understood about shipping companies, however, it would have been nice to get a call prior to Friday, and oh, about that deposit amount? You'll get the original amount you told us, kthxbai.

At 4:25 on Monday afternoon, I finally got a call back - the fence installation will start Tuesday afternoon, or Wednesday morning, and could they come by the house and pick up the deposit? Since I wouldn't be home until after 5, I suggested that the deposit just be given to the installer on Tuesday afternoon, since it was so late in the day already. She agreed. No problem.

No one showed up on Tuesday afternoon . As it was drizzling, we weren't surprised. Of course, we didn't get a phone call.

No one showed up on Wednesday, even though it was sunny. At 9:30 am I called and left a message - was someone coming today? At 11:30 am I called and left a message - Bueller, Bueller, anyone?

At 2:30 am I called and left a message - something to the effect of "am I going to get a fence this year? Because if not, let me know and I'll go to your competitor, who although more expensive than you, would have had this fence installed last week. We are taking time off work to be home for the installation and it's been almost two weeks what the hell?"

At 4:30 on Wednesday afternoon, guess who showed up? Again, no phone call. Although he was quite apologetic, and even said they'd work on Saturday if they had too, that cuts no ice with me. If you'd done what you said you were going to do last week, you wouldn't have to be working on the weekend.

The moral to this tirade? Answer your phone. If you are a small business and can't afford a receptionist, forward your business phone to your cell phone. Return phone calls in a timely manner. Even if you don't have an answer, call and say you're working on it. I'd rather get a "sorry, I don't know" response than radio silence. Heck, call me at 7:00 in the evening, I don't care. Just don't ignore your customer.

Also, don't jack up the deposit on me after we've signed the contract. That's just rude. I understand times are tight and you might need the cash flow, but again, had you done last week ago, you'd be paid in full by now.

The only reason we stayed with this company is because we'd be farther behind schedule on the installation if we went with someone else. Luckily we're not living into the house yet, but regardless of my ability to have a backup plan for my dog, a deal is a deal. December 1 means December 1, not December 12.

Suffice it to say I probably won't be recommending this company.

We have decided that we need to hire an electrician. Today I called three electricians, left messages for the first two, and on the third try, I got a live person. She said she'd call me back after checking the schedule. Within 10 minutes I had a return call. We set up a time for the guy to come look at what we need (which happens to be after 5:00, so I don't have to take off work - bonus!) When she asked how I was referred to her, I said I found them through Google, and also told her she was the only one that answered the phone.

I haven't met the guy yet, and I don't even know what he's going to charge. But I guarantee you that if even if he's a little more expensive that the other companies, I might feel more inclined to give him my business, because of his customer service.

/end rant


MaLeah said...

Oh the joys of contractors! I'm glad to hear your electrician experience is going (so far) better than your fence experience. And, I know about those greyhounds and their fences. :)

Sarah said...

Hmmm, I'm wondering if you called the same company my parents did. It took them several months and 3 different companies before they found someone who would actually show up and install the dang fence!

Krys72599 said...

I am SO with you on this one! I am abso-tively and posi-lutely anti-bad-customer-service.

Whatever happened to responsibility and accountability? Whatever happened to doing a good job and taking pride in it?

I am such an old fogey...

jill said...

It must have something to do with fencing people, when we were trying to replace our back fence we called about 5 or 6 companies and only one ever called us back and that took about a week. Must be the business to be in because they must not need costumers!

minniemama68 said...

I have yet to find a decent contractor. Maybe being an insensitive moron with no values is considered a virtue in their business.

I love greyhounds. You'll have to post a picture.

Frogdancer said...

You realise that you were talking about electricians and then you got a live person. Live person. Get it??

By the way, does Aussie chocolate taste different to American? Apparently English chocolate is different, so I just wondered...

Marrdy said...

There's a lot to be said for good customer service. More businesses need to learn this. Maybe Nordstrom could do training classes.

Anonymous said...

Try having the contractor not show up after removing ALL the windows in your house! Then when you reach someone you end up with tarps covering your windows for 10 days! The excuse "Well, you special ordered the windows from Pella, they take longer". THEN WHY REMOVE THE OLD ONES IF THE NEW ONES AREN'T HERE!!! Contractors might be handy but they aren't the sharpest tools in the shed!

Tattooed Dorothy said...

Oh yikes! We just bought our home in April and will begin some improvements when we get our tax refund :) Not sure I'm looking forward to it now!! Do spill...who's the company so I know who to avoid!