Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Professionally Unprompt

Twice in the past few weeks, we've needed a professional to come to the house for one reason or another. I get the impression that companies around here aren't really interested in wooing new customers. It's either that, or I've been spoiled with the notion of someone saying they would be by on a certain day to fix something, and they actually show up on that day.

Last month, I tried to get landscapers over to tend to our neglected and overgrown lawn. We didn't need anything special, just people to come over and cut the grass in our yard. I had contacted a few local landscaping companies. Four, actually. One got back to me rather quickly, but only to tell me that I lived outside of their service area. After a day or so, I only heard from one other company. I'm left to assume that either those other two aren't really interested in getting any customers, or they didn't think our we presented enough of a challenge.

The company I did hear from told me he'd stop by to get a look at my yard and to give me an estimate. He gave me a one-hour window of when he would come over. Almost two hours after that window passed, I called him and left a message. He called back 45 minutes later to tell me that he was running late. Looking back, I know that his "I'll be there by 2:30" actually meant "I'll be there by 6." I'm not blaming him for being late. It would just be nice to get a heads up.

He eventually emailed me an estimate, I agreed, and we were all set. He told me his people would be there Friday at 2 pm. Great!

Friday came, and it rained most of the day. I didn't want to bug him to ask if he was coming, because I didn't want to be that high-strung customer, high maintenance customer that annoys him to the point that he resented me. I had just assumed that his people wouldn't be working on that day and that they'll be by either Saturday (if they work weekends) or Monday.

Saturday came and went with nothing. I didn't hear anything Monday. I emailed him late Monday asking what was up. The following day, he emailed me saying that they would be there on that day.

They came by on Wednesday.

Luckily, the issue was overgrown grass, not something malfunctioning in the house.

Weeks later, we decided to take care of our leaky bathroom faucet. I looked online to see if this was something even someone like me could fix. According to videos found on YouTube, yes, it was. When I actually attempted to fix it, I figured out that either all of those videos were lying or our faucet was completely different than the ones featured in the videos. Either scenario wouldn't have surprised me.

I called a plumber, who told me he would be by tomorrow. He didn't give me a time... just "tomorrow." Even the cable guy gives me a four-hour window. I shouldn't have to use the cable company as an example of fine customer service. Luckily, I'm home most of the day, so I can stay in all day and wait for a plumber if I had to. He never showed up. I called him to find out what was going on, and he never called me back.

I called plumber #2, and they also told me they would be by the next day. When asked for a general estimate, they said sometime after 12. When 5 rolled around, I called to find out if they were still coming. I had figured that they were running behind, their day would be ending soon and they'd get to me the next day. The guy, almost impatiently, told me that he was running behind. Basically, he was coming over when he was coming over.

He came at 7:30. Technically, it was after 12. But again, I'm glad I was able to stay home so that I could wait for these people who would be coming by late enough to disturb dinner. My problem was more complicated than I had thought, and he would have to return. He couldn't tell me when, but judging from the tone of his voice, the following day (Tuesday) wasn't likely.

I didn't hear anything until Wednesday at 7pm, when he called to ask if it was a good time for him to come by for him to do the thing he said could take an hour or two. We didn't want to have the plumber over until 9pm, so I asked if it was okay if he put us off until the next day.

My assumption was that since I had been waiting since Tuesday, and they couldn't get to me Wednesday night, I would be first in line to get a visit on Thursday. They came Friday afternoon.

I'd have to say that both the landscapers and the plumber did a good job. When they eventually got here. I don't know what message I should get out of all of this. Are they telling me I should become a master of DIY home projects? Is time not really an issue here? Or are all of the professionals have a pact to be bad at this promptness thing?

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