Monday, April 28, 2014

In Which I Rant About Contractors

Can someone explain something to me?  Why are contractors unable to make appointments?  Is it really that difficult to figure out when you will arrive somewhere and then arrive at that time?

If you don't know what I'm talking about, think about the last time you had a problem with your cable, or you hired someone to do some repairs around your house, or you had furniture delivered.  In all of these cases, they don't tell you when they'll be there, they give you a range of time.  I've had situations where that range of time is as long as six hours.  They expect you to sit there and wait for them for six hours.

Imagine how unacceptable that would be in any other venue.

Let's say you ask a cute girl on a date.

You:  Can I buy you dinner?

Cute Girl:  Sure, what time?

You:  Meet me at the restaurant between 5:00 and 8:00.

Cute Girl:  I don't understand, what time should I be there?

You:  Be there at 5:00, just in case I decide to show up at that time.

Cute Girl:  Are you going to be there at 5?

You:  Probably not.  But you should definitely be there.  I'm more likely to show up at about 7:55.  But definitely be there at 5, just in case.

News flash:  You're not going on a date with that girl.

This morning, I was meeting a contractor at our rental property.  He said he would arrive sometime between 8 and 8:30 AM.   Naturally, he arrived at 9:01.  He got lost and had trouble finding the house.  Never mind that he could have googled it the night before to make sure he knew where he was going.  I understand that people get lost and it makes them late.  But, he was clearly planning on being there at 8:30 and it took him an extra half hour to find it. But he made sure I was there at 8 just in case he decided to get up extra early.  And I got to sit in my car for an hour.

In my own industry, I don't generally have to meet with people in person.  However, I get on conference calls with clients all the time.  Imagine if I treated my clients the way general contractors treat theirs.

Client:  When is a good time to get on the phone with you to discuss an upcoming project?

Me:  I will be available some time between 10 AM and 4 PM.

Client:  I can be available in that time period.  What time should I call in to the conference?

Me:  Definitely call in at 10.  I'll join the conference before 4.

Client:  You want me to sit on the conference call for 6 hours just in case you call in?

Me:  Yes, definitely.  Don't ever get up and leave your desk, either.  If you're not there when I call in we'll have to reschedule for a different day.

Client:  I have other things I need to do.  I can't just sit and wait for you all day.

Me:  Haven't you ever heard that the consultant is always right?  You pay the bills.  That means you should bend to my every need and whim.

Client:  I thought the customer was always right.  Perhaps I'll take my money else where.

That is what any self respecting client would say to something that ridiculous.  Yet, somehow it's totally okay that contractors treat us that way.

I don't see it changing any time soon.  I understand there is come complexity in trying to predict when one job will be complete and how long it takes to get to the next.  (Though that doesn't have any bearing on an 8 AM appointment.)  I mostly just needed to rant, and I have achieved that objective.  Thanks for participating in my ranting.


  1. The question is.. Are you going with this guy?

    1. We were meeting him to start the project. So, yes, we're going with him.

  2. At least your guy made an appt. After repeatedly asking to be given notice before contractors showed up to demolish and redo our front walk (under warranty from our home builder), I came home to find workers unloading unexpectedly and getting ready to start work. At least I happened to get home at the right time. Otherwise, they would have done the job wrong (I have learned to be very explicit with workers about what is supposed to happen, and where, and how), since they thought they were only doing 1/3 of the work I had been promised by the builder. Oh, the joys of home ownership when you can't do everything yourself!

  3. In your rant you mentioned cable peeps, at least I can give a little feed back as to why they are late.

    As you said they have mutliple jobs in a day and it can become hard to predict, however, most of it is because your setting up an appointment with a call center and they are sending it to a dispatch office and they are sending it to individual contractors in the area for the actual appointment.

    Now why is it done that way? To make things even better when you do need to reschedule your calling the same call center and they are submitting a request to the dispatcher, as a call center employee all you can do is hope that the message is sent and received on time. Again I don't know why it is done that way or why they 3, or narrow it down to 2, parties can't communicate directly that just sounds absurd.

  4. I had someone that aerated my lawn that gave me a time period that I had to be home. He told me that if I was not there that he would charge me more. Well he didn't show up during the prearranged period and I left. When I came home he had aerated and charged me extra. I sent a check with the first amount and did not give him the extra. I also called and told him this was what I was doing. My question is similar to yours...Why is it okay that you can treat me like crap and charge me extra for it?

  5. With today's technology it seems a delivery could be pretty precise. They could give you a range of time then when they load the truck they know what order they are going to be in and where they are going. There aren't a lot of variables, but some do occur so they could give you a 30-60 minute range. I know with plumbers they give me a 2 hour range and are never in it. I think the reason is because they do with everyone what they do with me and that is come in to do one job and try to sell me on 3 more. So if the customer bites they won't make it to the next one on time. (My little rant, too)


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