We keep hearing about how bad the economy is, about how desperate people are for work, and how people are doing pretty much everything they can to get by. Perhaps this is true some places - and yes, my belt has gotten a little tighter (but I really don't want to get into my belt size) - but it sure doesn't seem to be true around where I live.
Which is doubly odd, since the last I checked unemployment in Oregon was something around 12%, among the worst in the nation.
This year it was time to get my roof re-done. I set the money aside and even found a roofer, recommended by my father. In early February I noticed some water in the attic during heavy rains, so I called the roofer to see if he could check it out - call it a test run before I wrote the big check. He came out the next day, looked around a bit, couldn't find anything obvious, added in some caulking near the area it seemed to be leaking, and said to call him if that didn't work and he'd come back.
He didn't even charge me for it, because he didn't feel comfortable saying it worked.
Now me, as a consumer, was extremely pleased with this attitude and the job (it did work, in fact). I asked him for a quote to do the roof (not a tear-off, just a new layer of shingles per his recommendation) and he gave me a very excellent quote. He had just done my parents' roof and they were pleased, plus they had hired him on a recommendation from someone else. The roofer said to just call him when we wanted to get on the schedule and he'd get it done this summer.
Sounds fantastic, right? Yeah, I thought so too.
Now, admittedly, I probably waited too long to call him - it was the middle of June. I should have done it in April to get on his schedule - he's apparently popular. But still, I called, left a message, and he called me back a couple of days later. He said he would get out a sample board to me that week so we could choose a color for our shingles (something I never even knew was possible, nor really care, honestly). Great, let's do it.
A week passes. Two weeks pass. I call and leave a message, then two. Another week passes...then another... Apparently the roof getting done is not happening. At this point I'm sick of this. I mean, seriously? If I can't get a phone call back - and email wasn't an option - then what exactly should I do? By this point it's later in the summer and I've resigned myself to the fact I'll just have to start the process all over (well, preferably without the leak). And, it's late enough in the summer it will probably be next year.
Then, about a week after I decide this, I get a phone call. He is very polite, apologizes for not getting back to me (but he was "busy"), and says the sample board will be out that week. And this time it was. And I said okay like I didn't have enough self-respect at that point to walk away - I mean, he did have something I wanted (sure as hell wasn't doing the roof myself). The board did come out, we made a choice, and then a week later they started work.
Now, they did good work, even pointing out and replacing a couple pieces of plywood that were starting to get a little soft. It took five days, but could have been faster if they worked more than four hours a day.
I can't be mad at the price nor the quality of work - I was pleased with both; what drives me crazy is the communication. I would have been fine if after the initial summer call I had been told we'll get back to you in September. Great, fine, I'm cool with that. But no reply? No indication of anything whatsoever? Here I was, practically waving my money around, and seemingly being ignored.
Then again, I just validated the entire business model (and the communication) by being there ready and willing when the call came. (Make your own similes here please, I have mine.) Apparently I'm just an enabler.
Then there is the sunroom window. Remember that? Click this link for a little recap, but here's a quick reminder in a picture:
That was back in July and I haven't had it fixed it yet. However, with winter and rain coming, I figured it would be a good idea. I figured this a few weeks ago and still can't get anyone to look at it.
Believe it or not, finding a place that replaces windows is much harder than you think. I contacted a few window places who either don't do sunrooms or don't do one-off type of projects - they only do replacing windows on an entire house. Finally, though, one of them recommended a place that does do fixes and replacements. I checked out the website and this seemed exactly like what I wanted, so emailed them to be sure sunroom windows was something they did.
Yes, sure, they absolutely do that. They even gave me a very rough quote, which was within the range I was hoping, so that was fine with me. I said sure, send someone out, and was told someone from Scheduling would give me a call. That was over a week ago and still I haven't heard anything. How backed up is Scheduling they can't make a phone call?!
And no, I didn't follow up until just yesterday, but even then I called the number and left a message (the voice mail said all lines were busy, whatever that means), explaining who I was, that we had talked, and I just need to schedule someone to come check it out. That was in the morning, and typically one would expect a call back later in the day, right? Well, almost 24 hours later still no call.
Again, I'm basically waving money around, begging someone to come do a little work for which I will gladly pay, and still I can't get anyone to even return a freaking phone call. How ridiculous is that? Are these companies, in this area with this unemployment in this economy, really that busy? They have so much work coming out of their ears they can't make a call? I don't ask for much - just give me a timeline.
Of course, again, when they do call I will be very happy and bend over backwards to get this done, because I need it done. And, again, I will have validated both the business model and the way they communicate. Again, I'm the enabler.
Just on principal, I hate myself for that, honestly. I hate the fact businesses jerk you around with little regard for customer service - again, I'm just talking very simple communication, I'm not asking for dinner and flowers - and we just have to deal with it. I'd love to be able to say screw it and find someone else, but that's much more difficult than it sounds. And even then, who knows what you are getting? You choose a place for a reason - usually recommendation - and if those don't meet basic standards how can you expect better from a place where you have no recommendation? It's not like a restaurant where if you have one bad meal you are out $20-30 and simply don't return - these are things I'll have to deal with for a much longer time (and every day) if they aren't done right.
From where I stand it makes no sense. Seriously, what do I have to do in order to make people want my money bad enough to do something that is there specialty? That they purportedly have a business that does this work on a daily basis?
Why do I have to deal with this when it's their business?
I guess I need a recommendation for a place that will replace a single window. I must just not be looking in the right places, because I only seem to find the ones with absolutely no business sense whatsoever. All I want is for someone to fix my window and take some money...one wouldn't think that would be too difficult to find.