Handling Customers Is at the Heart of the Matter

[Editor’s note: This letter is in response to Joanna Turpin’s editorial “What To Do With Nutty Customers,” Sept. 28, 2009.]

I had a customer (we will call them the Smiths) who had been using other companies for their services. They had an oil smell and were told that they needed a new furnace. Not happy with that diagnosis, they found out about us through a contractor and called for our opinion. I sent a tech out, as well as went myself, and determined that the furnace (although not one I admired) was not faulty. We did clean the furnace and left.

The smell was still there, and they did have a new furnace put in and found that the odor was coming from a broken return oil line under the house. They probably refused to pay the bill or negotiated.

They did call us back to do some work after the other company refused. They needed some duct replaced under the house. The house was an old house built close to the water and close to the ground. I advised the customer to have someone dig out under the house in order to get duct in. They stuck the person who was hired to dig it out for about $1,000.

After we installed our duct, they felt that they were overcharged and refused to pay some of the charges. After letters back and forth, I decided someone had to take them to court. They had stuck numerous contractors over the years, and no one has done anything about it. They only owed us about $500, but it was the principle of the matter.

After they postponed court twice, we were awarded payment. They had convinced a neighbor that we were bad people to hire. When that neighbor confronted one of my contractors and found out the truth, she was embarrassed and called me to apologize. By the way, the neighbor worked under Jimmy Carter and was instrumental in introducing one of the first energy bills. She has now become a customer of ours.

I provide a professional service, and in return expect to get compensated for it. I have no problem firing a customer. Most of the time, other people know what these customers are all about.

I like dealing with difficult people because we are good at what we do, and if I can please the most fickle, I can please anyone.

Jim Walder
Redlaw Mechanical Inc.
Lancaster, Va.

Who's Controlling Your Thermostat?

[Editor’s Note: This letter is in response to the article “Homeowners Can Log On to Thermostats,” Dec. 14.]

I have received those wonderfully worded offers for deeply discounted Internet thermostats - “Act now and receive a $450 value for only $75!” I know it’s probably inevitable because it will eventually be legislated, but I for one will drag my feet as long as possible before giving Al Gore and his clan access to my thermostat. Anyone who doesn’t believe that the government wants to control your energy usage needs to stop and look at what’s going on in Washington these days.

Jim Rutz
Marketing & Sales Manager
Magic Aire
Wichita Falls, Texas

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Publication date:12/28/2009