Me vs. the customer

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macmikeman

Senior Member
You did a service upgrade, did you cut your neutral first, and the hot conductors after that? Was the main in the off position and the meter pulled before any service drop conductors were cut? I'm sure the answer was no to the first question and yes to the second. If so tell her to something or other about flying rolling doughnut.....
 

bradleyelectric

Senior Member
Location
forest hill, md
You did a service upgrade, did you cut your neutral first, and the hot conductors after that? Was the main in the off position and the meter pulled before any service drop conductors were cut? I'm sure the answer was no to the first question and yes to the second. If so tell her to something or other about flying rolling doughnut.....

Who's Sandy?
 

macmikeman

Senior Member
Who's Sandy?

Sandy Beach Park. Prone to breaking necks, use caution when approaching.
sandyBeach.jpg
 

charlie b

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Seattle, WA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
I just feel if i'm right then i'm right, and will give no concessions to her if I am right. I won't bow down to a con artist or a crook.
I agree. And before anybody reads the rest of this posting, let me assert that I believe that under no circumstances would I consider you to be at fault, and that I believe you do not owe her anything with regard to the TV issue.

However, I will say that it is not impossible that the TV worked before you started, and it is known that the TV did not work after you were finished. The only things that happened in the interval had to do with your work. I infer that it is not impossible that some aspect of the work caused the failure. What aspect? My only guess is either the act of turning off power at the beginning, or the act of turning on power at the end. Of these, my money would be on the later.

PLEASE NOTE that I am not saying that this would have been any fault of yours, for I believe that you did everything correctly, and nobody would have done it better. What I am suggesting is that the failure could have been similar to that of a blown light bulb. When do light bulbs fail? From my observation, 99% of light bulbs fail at the moment you try to turn them on. It is the surge of applied power that turns a nearly-dead-anyway bulb into a fully-dead bulb. In other words, if the day before you showed up at the house, a person (just for the pure fun of it) opened the breaker that feeds the TV's receptacle, and then closed it again, that may have caused the TV to fail.

Possible lesson learned: Recommend to future customers for whom you are performing work that requires a whole house power outage that they first turn off all electronic equipment, unplug all of it from the wall outlets, and not plug it back in until your work is done.
 

Mr. Wizard

Senior Member
Location
Texas
You did a service upgrade, did you cut your neutral first, and the hot conductors after that? Was the main in the off position and the meter pulled before any service drop conductors were cut? I'm sure the answer was no to the first question and yes to the second. If so tell her to something or other about flying rolling doughnut.....

I followed protocol with the new service. I opened the main, and then opened each breaker. Down here we usually don't cut the service feeders - we wait for the POCO to do that. But with the main being open, I don't think it would matter after that if the neutral was cut first, would it? My stubborness makes it hard for me to admit guilt to something I didn't do, but I do understand about keeping the customer happy. However, in that regard, I will never do anymore work for her, so her happiness can take a flying leap. I'm still dwelling on what to do, but I think this will be a bitter pill to swallow.
 

Mr. Wizard

Senior Member
Location
Texas

I agree. And before anybody reads the rest of this posting, let me assert that I believe that under no circumstances would I consider you to be at fault, and that I believe you do not owe her anything with regard to the TV issue.

However, I will say that it is not impossible that the TV worked before you started, and it is known that the TV did not work after you were finished. The only things that happened in the interval had to do with your work. I infer that it is not impossible that some aspect of the work caused the failure. What aspect? My only guess is either the act of turning off power at the beginning, or the act of turning on power at the end. Of these, my money would be on the later.

PLEASE NOTE that I am not saying that this would have been any fault of yours, for I believe that you did everything correctly, and nobody would have done it better. What I am suggesting is that the failure could have been similar to that of a blown light bulb. When do light bulbs fail? From my observation, 99% of light bulbs fail at the moment you try to turn them on. It is the surge of applied power that turns a nearly-dead-anyway bulb into a fully-dead bulb. In other words, if the day before you showed up at the house, a person (just for the pure fun of it) opened the breaker that feeds the TV's receptacle, and then closed it again, that may have caused the TV to fail.

Possible lesson learned: Recommend to future customers for whom you are performing work that requires a whole house power outage that they first turn off all electronic equipment, unplug all of it from the wall outlets, and not plug it back in until your work is done.

With that in mind, and the fact that she told me that all of her TV's stay on 24 hours a day, it could have been just worn out and ready to expire. Let's see, a TV on for 24 hours a day runs approximately 8,760 hours a year. My TV's, which are on around 5 hours a day, run about 1825 hours a year. Her TV, being over ten years old, has, by her account, nearly 90,000 hours on it. That is a lot of hours for a TV. I will take your advice, Charlie B, and see to it myself to unplug all electronics when I do any more service upgrades - whether this particular instance was my fault or not. What you replied to do is a very good practice, and it is definently a lesson learned.
 

ceb58

Senior Member
Location
Raeford, NC
but I always try to be prepared for other peoples' stupidity.
I have found that there is not enough preparing in the world, they will always surprise you.

This solves the problem of getting paid, having an unhappy customer who will likely cost you more in negative speaking than (loss of even one job?) and putting the matter to rest so your time can get to more productive issues. Be sure to get a signed release for damages. Scripture tells us it's the little foxes that eats the grapes. this can be equated to that the little things destroys a business or us as individuals. It's not fair, but it's logical to move on.

Some times you have to know which battles to fight. A customer of mine who is very successful in his business told me something once and it is very true. " If the customer is happy they will tell one or two of their friends, but if they are unhappy they will tell ten or more"

When do light bulbs fail? From my observation, 99% of light bulbs fail at the moment you try to turn them on. It is the surge of applied power that turns a nearly-dead-anyway bulb into a fully-dead bulb. In other words, if the day before you showed up at the house, a person (just for the pure fun of it) opened the breaker that feeds the TV's receptacle, and then closed it again, that may have caused the TV to fail.

Very true. I had a 2ft flor. light over the sink, it burns 24/7 for 5 years. We had an outage and it would not restart. It was just its time to go.

Some people, when given a hundred-dollar bill, will complain it's not 5 twenties.

480, send me 20 fives. I will not complain:D
 

satcom

Senior Member
One lesson learned over the years, is if you have a claim, do not try to resolve it yourself. turn it over to your insurance, even if it is below your limit, they have the experience and proper paper work to clear you from future liability, the biggest mistake in claims is trying to resolve it yourself, it leaves you open to future liability, and cost you more in the long haul, if the claim is settled by an insurance adjustment, there is less chance of the customer bad mouthing your business, the settlement papers had remedies for customers that bad mouth after accepting a settlement. Just my 2 cents
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
For instance, if we're in court for 4 hours, I could have made $260 taking calls in that same amount of time. Could I countersue for that?
Well, you could certainly use the threat as ammunition, but you should know whether you can first. We have a cost-of-collection clause in our contract which specifies an interest rate and all legal costs.
 

LarryFine

Master Electrician Electric Contractor Richmond VA
Location
Henrico County, VA
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
My concern with the go-ahead-and-pay-for-the-TV-to-get-more-referrals train of thought is having the referrals sound something like: "Hey, need some wiring done and have something electrical that's broken? Well, have I got an electrician for you!"
 

jrannis

Senior Member
OK this is a bit long but might be helpful to someone.

I had a small service upgrade/ panel change/ ac installation job total price was $4,357.00, estimated cost $3,311.00 gross margin was 24% gross profit $1045.40.
I spent many hours with the customer. He was a story teller. He and his wife have lots of antiques throughout the house.
He was an engineer and worked on aircraft all over the world.
We spoke about the scope of work, where we were going to be in the house, what they should cover up, even where to take pictures off of the wall.
D-day arrives. We take pictures off the wall and see a shelf behind the panel we are changing. We asked him to remove the items from the shelf.
He takes about 3/4 of the stuff off and leaves the stuff about 10' away from the panel on the shelf.
I left for the day, the guys were working hard and the inspector was going to be by later that day. I get back around 2PM and he customer asks me if I have a minute to talk.
The customer said that when we were cutting a stud out of the wall with a sawsall, a 100 year old Porcelain Mantle Clock his deceased aunt had left him, drifted off of the shelf, hit the floor, and was now broken. It was. Needed a little Elmer's Glue in my opinion.
I asked the guy working on the panel what had happened. He was surprised that the guy mentioned it. I asked why.
The guy working on it, which happened to be my brother, said that he told the guy that all of the stuff on that shelf had to be removed. The guy said that he was an aircraft engineer, designed helicopters and had extensive knowledge about vibration theory and that the items on the shelf were just fine.
I sat down and asked him about the conversation. He acknowledged it.
He also mentioned that the clock was a Gilbert 417 and could not be replaced.
I got back to the shop and looked up the clock on the Internet. It was worth between $150 and $350 depending on condition.
I called my brother and told him that the clock was worth between $50,000 and $65,000 and that we could take it out of his check over the next 10 years if he was OK with it. LOL.
He calmly said that he didn't care what it was worth, the guy was the vibration expert and refused to move it as he directed him to.
I called the customer and said that if we gave him the full value of the clock that we would have to keep it. That wasn't an option.
I spoke to our Service Manager about the situation. We decided to knock off $100 from the bill as a good will gesture.
That was many months ago, the $100 long forgotten by the bean counters, and the embarrassed customer can get his clock repaired.

I know the customer was wrong and we were right. The $100 was nothing but good will, he really didn't need $100 and didn't hurt us a bit.

The next time we cut a stud out of a wall. Everything comes off the wall before we start!
 

growler

Senior Member
Location
Atlanta,GA
We asked him to remove the items from the shelf. he told the guy that all of the stuff on that shelf had to be removed.

I know the customer was wrong and we were right. The $100 was nothing but good will.

You make three very good points here. The first is always have the customer remove their own items from shelves and closets because half the stuff may be glued togather in the first place.

Second is never trust the customer to give expert advise. Go ahead and do what needs doing. Make sure that the customer removes his possessions from harm' way.

Third is that a $100 can go a long way as a good will jesture and is not that big of a deal. It really doesn't matter who's right and who's wrong we are dealing with human nature here and I'm sure the customer knew he was wrong and wasn't trying to scam anyone he was just unwilling to admit that this was all his fault ( hard headed & embarrassed ).

The good thing is that you got paid and the customer saves face and really deep down he knows that you didn't have to pay him and it was all his own fault.

Wars have been fought because someone had to prove that they were right and they may have proved it but at what cost. Diplomacy is where it at ( people skills ).


I say, good post with a good lesson jrannis.
 
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