Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Customer handling

billtheplmbr3845 Member Posts: 41
edited April 2018 in THE MAIN WALL
Some advise on a customer, not sure if I handled this correct or not, let me know what you think. Got an emergency call from a customer this past Thursday afternoon. I pulled a licensed plumber off a job to go take care of the situation, when he arrived at the customers door, with the repair part and tools in hand, the customer turned him away because he was going to have more work done in a couple of weeks and didn't want to pay an additional service fee (50.00) . Now he calls Saturday, wants someone to come out for the original service call, at the same rate. I told him absolutely not, it would have to be scheduled, would not pull someone off a job to go there, in case he was to cancel again. Can get there middle of the week this week but he has called the emergency service about 2 to 3 times today. Was i wrong, I don't take credit cards in advance to charge for cancelations, maybee I should.


  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,919
    I think you handled it correctly considering that he cancelled when you were ready to take care of the problem originally. After he did that he can wait.
    kcoppGBartrick in Alaska
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,537
    Done correctly. Maybe start taking credit cards for this type of issue, if they have frequency. This will put the money you lost this time in your wallet, and get people to think twice about their actions since the money comes out of their wallet.
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,405
    Yup, I'll bend over backwards for customers, but the first time I get poked in the rear I'm done.

    Don't feel too bad about what he's done to himself.

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 21,111
    In my view you handled that exactly right. If I call someone for emergency service -- and I do have to, once in a while! -- I expect to pay the person well, and promptly (usually by cheque handed over on the spot). If, by some freak, I manage to solve the problem myself, I still expect to pay the emergency service fee and for the call at least (if possible, I will call and tell the person, to save them the trip at least) -- though not necessarily for more than the time it took to get to my job and back -- unless I am quite certain that the person I've inconvenienced had something else to do instead.

    And your emergency service fee -- $50? That, my good friend, is cheap at the price.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • delta T
    delta T Member Posts: 883
    You are absolutely in the right. Let him find someone else to harass.

    If you pulled a plumber off of a job to respond to his emergency, and then he bails, you already spent the money. You spent it twice in fact, once for the lost chargeable time from another job, and once more to your employee for spending and hour (or however long) doing nothing (effectively). To say nothing of gas, wear and tear on truck, etc. If he wants you to come out on the emergency call again, he has to pay the original emergency fee, AND the next emergency fee for the following call. If he is not amenable to those terms, given that the lost money on your part was entirely his fault, then he doesn't deserve the expert responsive service that you provide.

    There is a reason that we have to charge for emergency service.

    Plain and simple, if we have to pull off of another job to handle an emergency, it costs money. I think most average people would be shocked at what the actual hourly operating costs come out to for small plumbing and/or heating business. We do not run charities, nor are we banks. We provide a service for a fee.

    If I am to give the benefit of the doubt to a customer that they will pay me once I'm finished, why should they not have to trust us that we are not gouging them on price?

    As a business owner, especially a skilled trade, you become responsible for the livelihoods of your employees and their families. Ensuring that the business as a whole is fiscally sound, and sustainable is your top priority. If you lose money it affects the whole thing. If you loose too much money, the whole thing collapses and all those families (not to mention your own) are left in the dust.

    What really makes the entire thing work is trust. If I don't trust a customer, or if they don't trust me, whatever the reason is, our relationship will not be sturdy. Building a customer base of people who you trust and who trust you is what makes a small business strong and sustainable.

    I do not think that this customer trusted you (not to say you did anything wrong, you didn't) and as such wanted you to give him a break on the emergency fee as a way to gain HIS trust back. I don't enjoy playing games do you?

    A customer like that will give you nothing but headaches. I mean lets be real.....he's complaining about a $50 service fee here, how do you think he will react if you do a bigger job for him?

    Don't waste any more of your most valuable resource. TIME.

  • GBart
    GBart Member Posts: 746
    You did it exactly right, there are many people in the US who seem to think they are the stars of their own movie and we are all merely extras, supporting cast.

    If you have plenty of work I would never deal with this person again, they have shown how they operate and this will probably not change ever.
  • Leonard
    Leonard Member Posts: 903
    edited April 2018
    Not going to make any money on him. Might have been a blessing in disguise, he might not have paid you for parts had you installed them. And if he does pay will likely argue the cost after install. Put him on your list of people to not do business with. You've already established he's a cheapskate. I never wind up making reasonable money on cheapskates.

    Guy is a jerk. He calls you for service. You spend your time doing work going to his house to respond to him, then he won't pay for that work ....... forget him....in my book he owes you something for that call even though you didn't look at the burner.

    Only way I'ld consider working on his stuff is a non-refundable up front payment for your drive there and at least some troubleshooting time, since he's proven himself a bad credit risk (non-payment risk). At least 50% up front payment on any work ( that way will at least cover any equipment you install)
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,239
    when he arrived at the customers door, with the repair part and tools in hand, the customer turned him away because he was going to have more work done in a couple of weeks and didn't want to pay an additional service fee (50.00) . Now he calls Saturday, wants someone to come out for the original service call, at the same rate.

    I am just curious .... What was the part ? What and who is doing the work if a few weeks ... Did he call back for the same part ? What was down ?
    I have enough experience to know , that I dont know it all
  • billtheplmbr3845
    billtheplmbr3845 Member Posts: 41
    It was a leaking washing machine valve (Iknow, not heating but I value advice from here, and it just as well could have been a heating issue). It was leaking on the floor and the appliance company would not hook up his new washing machine so they didn't leave the new one and left the hoses into a bucket and told him it had to be replaced before they would come back with the machine. The addotional work was to replace some faucets after he went out and bought them. I suspect his wife was not happy with him not having the valve replaced so the new mavhine could be brought back, je probably didn't do the laundry. I'll still work for him in the future, just pull anyone from other jobs for his emergency issues, it will have to be at a scheduled time.
  • ratio
    ratio Member Posts: 3,405
    Not every customer needs to be our customer.
  • SuperTech
    SuperTech Member Posts: 1,919
    I definitely think $50 is too low. With pricing like that you will attract all the cheapskates.
  • Tinman
    Tinman Member Posts: 2,804
    I agree with everything, everyone, said. I don't have the time or patience for that.
    Steve Minnich
  • Tinman
    Tinman Member Posts: 2,804
    I had a customer refuse to pay me after he called me out for a service call. I replaced a solenoid valve that had failed after 5 years. He insisted it should've been under warranty.

    I told him to keep the money but lose my phone number. He wrote a check right there and then.
    Steve Minnich
    kcoppSuperTechdelta TSuperJ
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 4,870
    You did Everything right. I'd be more clear on ALL phone calls going foward. I wouldnt add CC's for the occasional userer like him. Besides, people can dispute the charges after the fact and I've usually seen the companies favor the card holder. I dont know what your cost of doing business and overheard is, but in Metropolitan NY, its,been 35 or 40 yrs since the averaged
    A 50 dollar service charge. Not being cute, but Do you know what you need to charge to
    Run your business ? Hate to see a good man short himself. Mad Dog
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,442
    have to charge at least 3 x what you want to pay yourself
  • newagedawn
    newagedawn Member Posts: 586
    no soup for you (the customer)
    "The bitter taste of a poor install lasts far longer than the JOY of the lowest price"