Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts? - Business - Contractor Talk

Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?

 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 11-08-2012, 09:57 PM   #1
Member
 
workingintx's Avatar
 
Trade: Door & Entryway Refinishing
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 78
Rewards Points: 75

Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


We refinish doors as a full time business. We do low price, high volume but high quality work (at least from what the pictures are telling us and our reviews). We have 3 full time crews, each one having a professional furniture or piano level re-finisher and a helper, and are doing fairly well. But, I'm starting to see an uptick in the type of customer that is never "satisfied". I'm starting to feel like I'm being scammed. I am curious how I should handle these folks because they start raising high hell to get their money back.

Here is an example.

Let me preface this by saying that before my guys start a job, they go through the terms and conditions which state that results may vary and that refinishing the door is a best effort, there may be discoloration, etc etc. Out of the 3500 doors we have done the past 3 years, we only had 5 complaints until the past few months. Now it seems we get 1 or 2 a month.

As an example:

2nd preface, we take before and after pictures of all work we do and the improvement on the door was a 200% turnaround. We even did a custom stain color for her which we rarely do and only did it after she insisted we do it for free because our ad said nothing about charging for custom colors. God now I wish we would have walked away. Anyways....

One of my crews did a job and the customer was happy with the work. We advised them that they would need to keep the door open 30 minutes to an hour to dry to the touch so that sje may close the door. She signs the paperwork that she has reviewed the work and is it has been completed to her satisfaction and pays us. The customer left it open as expected and shut it for the night. The next day we get a call from her that she is not happy and her door doesn't look like it was refinished at all. She explained that when she opened her door, there is paint stuck to the bottom right corner of it. I explained to her that this sometimes happens if the door butts up against the frame and bonds with the paint which it dries together. I told her I'd be happy to head out there to touch it up. The next day rolls around and when I get there she is extremely angry. She starts going through a list of 5 things that she is unhappy with. 1. The paint nicked area, 2. Her weatherstripping at the bottom had a drip of finish on it(only visible in certain light angles), 3. there were two small areas(eraser size) that were lighter than the rest of the door which you could only see if you were standing 1 inch away from the specific area she pointed out, 4, there was a little haze of stain on the door handle near where the wood touches the metal, and 5. She claimed that we chipped her Metal Iron Work that was attached to her glass on the door.

She goes on and on and on and says her door was not refinished at all. The long and short of it, I calmed her. I told her we'd be happy to remedy her list and while I disagreed that we were responsible for the metal iron work (because the spots, where she said we damaged, had rust in those chipped area), I offered to have a metal painter come out and paint her entire metal (at a cost to me).

So today comes and my guys go out there to start resolving the issues. They spend another 2 hours with her and she signs again that she is satisfied with the work. My crew lead calls me and tells me that she is happy. I'm thinking it was end of story.

Well no, I get a txt from her tonight sending me a picture of where my guy touched up the paint nick area which he did by sanding the paint off, then touching up with stain and respraying the area with semi-gloss spar(which is what we used originally on the door).. It was slightly glossier than the rest of the doorand she wanted to know what I planned to do to about it because she was unhappy with our work as a whole. She states that she was promised a professional job and she did not get it. I called her and explained to her that she agreed(both initialed and signed) to the terms that this is a best effort service and that there may be some discoloration in the final results. She said she "signed in good faith that the work was done" and that she has emailed me in writing per the 3 day ftc rule that she is unhappy with the work.

At this point I told her that I am refunding the price paid ($250.00) and that we will be parting ways. I also told her that I will be paying our contract metal worker to touch up the areas we supposedly damaged but that if she would like to use her own painter, we will only pay up to $100 which was what we were quoted. She went on and on that she will let everyone know not to use us and that our work sucks.

Btw, our default course of action for resolution is to try to touch up the issues and then if they are still unhappy we refund their money.

I suspect that she has done this before to other sub-contractors because she was very aware of the 3 day rule.

Anyways, it seems that even with an agreement and the fact that we tell customers in writing and verbally both onsite and during the initial call that this is a best effort service, they will find a way to go around it. We even described in the "Promised Results" clause on the agreement that there may be slight discoloration. They still have a way to screw you out of money because they threaten to make your companies name dirt in the eyes of their friends, neighbors, and the internet.

So my question is this, what do we do? I try to go above and beyond resolving issues but it seems we still get hurt by those few customers who weld the power of the internet and their check book.

Is there a way to screen these types of people? Should I just man up and reviews be damned?

Last edited by workingintx; 11-08-2012 at 10:11 PM.
workingintx is offline  

Warning: The topics covered on this site include activities in which there exists the potential for serious injury or death. ContractorTalk.com DOES NOT guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information contained on this site. Always use proper safety precaution and reference reliable outside sources before attempting any construction or remodeling task!

   

Advertisement

 

Old 11-08-2012, 10:08 PM   #2
Pro
 
BamBamm5144's Avatar
 
Trade: Everything Exterior, Mostly Roofing.
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 7,181
Rewards Points: 2,786

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


Raise your prices, get higher quality customers.

Advertisement

BamBamm5144 is offline  
Old 11-08-2012, 10:08 PM   #3
Pro
 
rselectric1's Avatar
 
Trade: Licensed Electrical Contractor and Remodeler
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Chicago Suburbs
Posts: 11,764
Rewards Points: 868

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


You're a stand up guy! You do business the right way IMO.

When 1% of your customer base creates 99% of your headaches, it's time to get rid of that customer regardless of the loss. Some people will never ever ever ever ever be satisfied and I think you stumbled upon one of those.

We're only talking 250 bucks here, so I would do what you said and just give them their stinking money back to avoid them accusing you later of killing their cat, ruining their carpet, making a mark on their blacktop driveway, etc.

Take some comfort in knowing that the next guy (if there is one) will have the same headaches with this client.

Cut and run IMO.
__________________
220...221...whatever it takes!
rselectric1 is online now  
The Following User Says Thank You to rselectric1 For This Useful Post:
flashheatingand (11-15-2012)
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 11-08-2012, 10:16 PM   #4
Contractor of the Month
 
Inner10's Avatar
 
Trade: Control Systems
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Ottawa, ON
Posts: 25,575
Rewards Points: 3,866

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


People like that are one in a million, sorry you had to win the asshole lottery. Refund her money and tell her to fvck off.
__________________
The Following User Says Thank You to Inner10 For This Useful Post: Leo G
Inner10 is online now  
Old 11-08-2012, 10:31 PM   #5
Pro
 
VinylHanger's Avatar
 
Trade: I'll do that for 500 bucks.
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Oregon
Posts: 9,491
Rewards Points: 9,896

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


Are you letting people know ahead of time that your default is a refund? If so, they are scamming you. Maybe your guys are letting it slip and the customers now know.

Other than that, 250 bucks isn't much money for a door refinish. They should be expecting a decent workmanlike job and not perfection. Tell her to F off.
__________________
Your emergency does not constitute a problem with my Constitution.
VinylHanger is online now  
Old 11-08-2012, 10:41 PM   #6
Fire up the BBQ
 
griz's Avatar
 
Trade: GC
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: CA
Posts: 21,537
Rewards Points: 1,802

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


Tis the season....

Money is getting tight....

NO ONE will admit they have no money....

and people expect free chit...the government gives chit away all the time..

and spends money they don't have....
__________________
SOME JOBS JUST AREN'T WORTH DOING:
griz is online now  
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to griz For This Useful Post:
A-1 Interiors (11-12-2012), Bone Saw (11-09-2012), J F (11-12-2012)
Old 11-12-2012, 09:27 AM   #7
Pro
 
fast fred's Avatar
 
Trade: carpentry
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: trailer in colorado where the rich live
Posts: 743
Rewards Points: 828

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


a buddy of mine fired a customer this summer, the final bit of the story goes:

they were at the end of the driveway, where the masons were installing a flagstone address marker, engraved, the customer is complaining about the discoloration of natural stone and how she doesn't like it

the two masons are speaking in spanish and the contractor and customer in english, my buddy catches onto what they are saying and is like oh-no. One of the masons picks up the marker smashes it into pieces, they clean up their tools, the mess, tell her there will be no charge and leave.

probably the best way to deal with things, cut your loses and leave

On the other hand I had a door issue a week ago. boy I hadn't gotten beat up on a job in a long time, i replaced all the interior doors in a house, ended up going from door to door with the customer as she nit picked, we finally got to one door and I told her I'd replace it at my cost, don't worry. that ended the conversation real quick.
fast fred is offline  
Old 11-12-2012, 09:57 AM   #8
Member
 
workingintx's Avatar
 
Trade: Door & Entryway Refinishing
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 78
Rewards Points: 75

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


Now I know why many friends have either gotten out of home service businesses or have converted to selling products only. This business has made me literally hate people.
workingintx is offline  
Old 11-12-2012, 11:27 AM   #9
Kitchen Customizer
 
ryanshull's Avatar
 
Trade: Interior Remodeling
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Central Kansas
Posts: 422
Rewards Points: 310

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


I had a short stint of people pulling that crap on me. I am a lot more cautious of who I work for now. If I see a hint of crazy, or they are talking on other contractors during the entire estimate process, I cut and run before it ever starts.
ryanshull is offline  
Old 11-12-2012, 12:52 PM   #10
Pro
 
Gary H's Avatar
 
Trade: Framer
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Munger Michigan
Posts: 2,910
Rewards Points: 2,342

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


Some people are not worth working for no matter how much money they claim to have. I am down to about 2 customers a year that slip by the rader. My goal in 2013 is make that number zero.
Gary H is offline  
Old 11-12-2012, 06:16 PM   #11
Licensed Gas contractor
 
gastek's Avatar
 
Trade: Pools
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: FL
Posts: 708
Rewards Points: 1,012

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


Like another poster here said, everyone wants something for nothing. They are so used to getting things from the govt fro doing nothing that they feel entitled and should get everything for nothing.

Raise you prices and stick to your guns. You're always going to find crappy customers.
gastek is offline  
Old 11-12-2012, 07:00 PM   #12
Pro
 
A-1 Interiors's Avatar
 
Trade: Home Improvement
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: mass
Posts: 480
Rewards Points: 298

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


Some peole just suck
A-1 Interiors is offline  
Old 11-12-2012, 07:17 PM   #13
New York City
 
eastend's Avatar
 
Trade: historic woodwork restorations
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: New York
Posts: 284
Rewards Points: 392

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


according to your comment that you've refinished 3500 doors in 3 years, with three crews- that means your doing better than a door a day per crew for almost everyday of the year.

Doesn't sound realistic, but, hey, if that's what you do, more power to you.

Refinishing means stripping to bare wood,then sanding, patching, filling, staining, sealing and topcoating. For exterior applications, usually at least 5 coats are recommended. ( interior would require less).

So are you doing all that in one day?

And only charging $250 for it?

Or are you actually performing a refurbishment that doesn't include stripping- but just cleaning , color touch-up and a single recoat? That would seem more likely.

And if it is a refurbishment, then there's a good chance that some customers ( who really want a newly refinished door) would not be happy with that job.

It does seem that you try to inform the client as to what to expect. Yet, I've found that often - even though you explain it- they will not be satisfied, because they really wanted champagne even though they paid for and you gave them table wine.
eastend is offline  
Old 11-12-2012, 08:35 PM   #14
Noob
 
Andrew6127's Avatar
 
Trade: Framing
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: SE, MI
Posts: 243
Rewards Points: 80

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


Hmmmm.....I see no one has mentioned that finding a way to make her happy could lead to more work.

If this was in a neighborhood with money it might be worth it.

See working for a hard to please never happy with anything type of customer might suck, but her neighbors probably know how she is.

Bitter people are always bitter, she might be the streets b---- no one wants to deal with.

Anyway a friend of mine did some painting and drywall for a woman. It took him two weeks to do a 4 day job. Complaints daily about something, he would tell her it isn't finished yet etc.

After she was made happy within a year he had gotten four more good size jobs from her neighbors. Three of them had hired him based on a if she's talking him up hr must be good reasoning.

Two of them are still his customers 8 years later.

A rare instance I'm sure but strange stuff happens all the time.
Andrew6127 is offline  
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Andrew6127 For This Useful Post:
flashheatingand (11-15-2012), SmallTownGuy (11-12-2012)
Old 11-13-2012, 04:24 PM   #15
A stickler for excellence
 
CSB's Avatar
 
Trade: Roofing
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 117
Rewards Points: 91

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Inner10 View Post
tell her to fvck off.
Don't do this or anything close to it. Give her the money back, apologize for not being able to meet her needs, and move on. You treat her like you would any other employer from whom you want a reference. Calling her out for being a huge pain in the ass isn't going to help anything; it won't change her mind and will just ensure that she really does spread the news of her dissatisfaction with your services. In time the sweetness you derive from telling her off will wear away and the bitterness of burning a bridge will take its place.

Last edited by CSB; 11-13-2012 at 04:29 PM.
CSB is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to CSB For This Useful Post:
flashheatingand (11-15-2012)
Old 11-13-2012, 05:24 PM   #16
Member
 
Calgaryfence's Avatar
 
Trade: Residential fence and deck sales and installation
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Calgary, Alberta
Posts: 56
Rewards Points: 75

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Inner10 View Post
tell her to fvck off.
That's what I would tell her... but I wouldn't give the money back.

I live in Canada where the rules are different, but I looked it up quickly and discovered that maybe you aren't aware of certain exceptions to the FTC 3 day cooling off rule.

The first exception you should know about is that it doesn't apply to maintenance or repairs. Your service sure sounds like it falls in that category.

Also it is generally supposed to apply to a "product" or some type of tangible that could be "returned" to the seller. If your customer can't "return" it then chances are the rule doesn't apply.

I certainly wouldn't give the money back, especially with signed/initialed form that indicates satisfaction. The FTC rule is a "cooling off" period, not a "buyers remorse" period.

Also I highly doubt a customer could take legal action to recover $250 without it costing them a lot more than that in fees. If they haven't a care about costing you time & money, then why should you care about their time or money?
__________________
Calgary Fence Construction
Calgaryfence is offline  
Old 11-13-2012, 05:38 PM   #17
Noob
 
Andrew6127's Avatar
 
Trade: Framing
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: SE, MI
Posts: 243
Rewards Points: 80

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


You should care because they are a customer.

They aren't all peaches and sometimes in business you have to suck it up and lose a little money.

It's the cost of being in business. That's common sense.
Andrew6127 is offline  
Old 11-14-2012, 12:01 AM   #18
Pro
 
BC Carpenter's Avatar
 
Trade: renovations and repairs
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: vancouver
Posts: 495
Rewards Points: 250

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


Some people just aren't worth the effort of trying to please. I am the type who will go that extra mile to make sure everyone is happy.. But once in awhile (thank god it's not too often) you run into someone who is just crazy or just wants a freebe and tries to play people.

If she had complained right after the door was finished, (before signing) I would have given her money back, or rectify the issues as you did.

Even after, I would have either given her money back or sent out someone to do the deficencies (as you did). However, I would not give her money back after this, especially since she signed twice stating satisfaction. Let her whine all she wants, you can always state your rebuttal.. she did sign after all.

I'd be polite, but at the end of the day it sounds like you have plenty of good customers to rely on to spread the word. Screw her, nothing worse than people who don't appreciate honest effort and just want an unrealistic version of perfection for an eighth of the price.
BC Carpenter is offline  
Old 11-15-2012, 12:35 AM   #19
Pro
 
Bonzai's Avatar
 
Trade: Home Renovations & Repairs
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Squamish, BC
Posts: 311
Rewards Points: 252

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


I feel with some clients it is a fine line between doing all you can to please them and being an honorable person versus being taken advantage of by those that play games and get a kick from wasting your time or being an ass. I am a lot better than I used to be at filtering out the latter group but one always squeaks through from time to time ... Bit like a fart in a busy elevator ... You hope it'll never be you but once in a while ;-)
__________________
Renovations & Repairs. Bathrooms, decks, tile, paint & much more.
North Vancouver to Whistler and between.
TOLL FREE 1-877-804-3326
http://www.adventhomesolutions.com
Bonzai is offline  
Old 11-15-2012, 12:57 AM   #20
Pro
 
SuperiorHIP's Avatar
 
Trade: Home Improvement Contractor
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Louisiana
Posts: 1,494
Rewards Points: 1,450

Re: Is There An Uptick In Homeowners/scammers Happening Or Am I Going Nuts?


$250 for a door refinish? I figure 5-8 hours just to strip and stain a single door and frame, double doors with single glass in each I figure on around 16-20 hours total depending on how many times the HO figured they could just add another coat of varnish. We strip, stain, and do 3 coats of varnish that, at most can have 2 coats in a day. So thats 1 day strip and stain, 2 days for varnish, an hour to put the weather stripping back in and clean the windows.
How the hell do you do all this for $250?? I pay my guys way more than this just to do the job.

Advertisement

SuperiorHIP is offline  
The Following User Says Thank You to SuperiorHIP For This Useful Post:
VinylHanger (11-15-2012)


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Made in USA product list J.C. General Discussion 378 04-23-2019 05:16 AM
Mounting Equiptment - Cage Nuts vs 12-24 Rails ICC Marco Low Voltage 4 09-15-2011 12:40 PM
What's the limit for wire nuts Irishslave Electrical 30 03-12-2011 09:58 PM
Finding the little 'doohickey' nuts to hold up light fixtures... Panzer5 Electrical 15 03-09-2011 05:13 PM

Join Now... It's Fast and FREE!

I am a professional contractor
I am a DIY Homeowner
Drywall Talk is for
PROFESSIONAL CONTRACTORS ONLY!

At DrywallTalk.com we cater exlusivly to professional contractors who make their living as a contractor. Knowing that many homeowners and DIYers are looking for a community to call home, we've created www.DIYChatroom.com DIY Chatroom is full of helpful advices and perfect for DIY homeowners.

Redirecing in 10 seconds
No Thanks
terms of service

Already Have an Account?