Educated Consumers

I agree with John R. Hall’s comments about some of the “lousy contractors” in his July 16 column [“Hvacr Trade Is Scorched by NBC’s Dateline — Again”], but I think he missed some other points.

In every trade, there are charlatans and crooks — people who would rather make $0.50 crookedly than $1.00 honestly. This is precisely what makes it possible for the honest guys to stay in business year after year. You can’t fool all of the people all of the time. As some portion of the customer base gets educated, they seek out the good guys and establish a business relationship.

And the educated customer is the most valuable client for a reputable, repeat business-oriented firm in any trade. Of course, no one can reasonably expect value for a $29.95 clean and inspect; just like they can’t expect value for a $49.95 brake job, or a $79.95 paint job.

But the people who have promoted this approach for the past 60 years have reinforced in the customer’s mind why a repeat relationship with reputable companies makes sense. Don’t you teach this to your children? And don’t you think others do as well? And don’t you think your kids remember this after getting burned once or twice?

I think I did pretty much the same thing myself, after the burn marks healed up.

I suspect that the 30,000 nationwide contractor figure may be on the low side, even if you only count established companies with a real business address. I would guess that 40%-50% are more than 10 years old. Most of them would not have gotten where they are without learning that employing Neanderthals as service techs is counterproductive. Those who haven’t learned, or who have had management changes and thereby forgot, will go away — and good riddance.

News organizations will do what they need to do to move their product. Mr. Hearst may be gone, but he is not forgotten. I say more power to them, because they produce the environment that leads the smarter and more rational customers to seek to form long-term business relationships, and that is 100% to the benefit of good contractors.

Michael Gallagher Western Allied Service Company Santa Fe Springs, CA

A Fitting Epitaph

Great July 30 editorial [“Me and You and a Dog Named Pee-Wee”]. I’m sorry about your pet. Your words brought both a tightness and a wry smile to me. I especially liked “Never bite when a growl will suffice.” That’s a good enough memorial for any of us.

Carl Smith Director of Marketing & Public Relations North American Technician Excellence, Inc. (NATE) McLean, VA

Going to the Dogs

Your July 30 article about your dog Pee-Wee really hit home with me [“Me and You and a Dog Named Pee-Wee”]. Having gone through the same thing twice with two family dogs over the years, it never gets any easier. It seems that both times I came to realize more of the things you said in your article. Life is too short to be all work and no play.

If everyone in this world took life with the attitude that a dog does, maybe the world would be a better place. Thanks for the inspiration I needed for a hectic day to come, here in Kentucky. The temperature is headed for 95?F and, like most of my competitors, I need more servicemen.

Leonard Heuser Vice President ACCO Inc. Louisville, KY

To Save a Life

I wanted to comment on John R. Hall’s editorial on Lee Curtes and his Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) [“The Human Side of Lifesaving Devices,” July 9]. Lee is a living example of the benefit of making AEDs available to the public. We have corresponded several times, and he is a great cheerleader for the cause.

I wanted to clarify Carrier’s AED program (which we call “Operation Jumpstart”). The program has been in place for over a year and provides a mechanism for any of our sites to easily purchase units and establish training programs. This program is actually available for any of the companies of United Technologies.

While the program was already in place, certainly Lee’s experience spurred interest and support from our senior management. We now have 14 devices on our Syracuse campus, with two at world headquarters in Farmington, CT. Nationwide we have about 30 devices in service. Just in Syracuse alone, we have about 150 laypersons trained. The program is growing, and plans are to expand it worldwide.

On June 11, one of our employees went into cardiac arrest and was revived with the use of an AED. We expect him back to work within the month. Just two weeks ago, another employee saved a coworker from choking with the techniques he learned in this training.

Anytime we can get the word out is another opportunity to save a life.

Sammy F. Suriani, RPA-C, MS, EMT-P Clinical Coordinator of Medical Services Carrier Corporation Syracuse, NY