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Online Critiques Can Be a Pain for Inspectors


hausdok
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Hello Everyone,

In the days before the internet, if a company screwed up a job, or even if the job wasn't screwed up but a customer perceived it as being screwed up, it was pretty difficult for a disgruntled client to trash one's reputation, without resorting to full-page ads in papers and magazines.

Well, those days are gone. Now we've got the internet and Angie's List and Ripoff Report, and it's just as easy for a potential client to find out the bad things being said about your company as it is to find your company on an internet search engine. Sure, one can also post positive review of a company on these sites, and business owners are allowed to post rebuttals, but once a poor report about your company goes up, the damage can be crippling. Consumers know this and today customers are voicing their displeasure in open venues like these for all to see. It ain't pretty.

During a recent search of Ripoff Report for the keyword "inspections" I got a result of 33 different complaints about companies that do various types of inspections. Of these, 14 (42%) are complaints against home inspection firms - one complaint even alleges that an inspector who is the President of one of the professional home inspection organizations had defrauded his client by doing a sub-standard inspection, and that the issue that he missed will cost the client over $7,000 to correct. Ouch!

Now, don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that any of these companies actually did anything wrong and deserve to have their name and their company name trashed in this manner. After all, I don't know the facts and these reports are kind of one-sided. However, once this kind of report makes it's way onto the net, the overwhelming response by consumers (not inspectors) is going to be, "Yeah, figures, I've heard that all of those home inspectors are......" What, I asked myself, did these inspectors not do, which they could have done better, to avoid this kind of brutally open and one-sided type of blemish against their companies. Well, if you read these complaints, some folks are complaining that the inspectors involved displayed very poor attitudes and weren't very helpful.

One of the first rules when dealing with a callback is that you must respond as quickly as possible to the customer's complaint and all experts advise that when doing so one needs to be as polite and as calm as possible. I think that being responsive to a customer's complaints, and doing whatever it takes to help the customer resolve them - including openly admitting one's mistakes and taking responsibility for them when necessary - are key to preventing this kind of customer lash back. All inspectors should visit this site, read some of these complaints, and take a very careful look at the way they're handling customer callbacks.

To read more about these cases, click here

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Mike, you raise a real concern. I recently had the BBB contact me regarding a complaint which in part stated that I did not go into the attic. The report mentions mold, leakage, open soil stack as conditions found in the attic, all photographed. In fact the husband was in the attic with me.

The other statements were of equal nature. Had the BBB not contacted me I would have never known that such statements had been made. I have no idea if the client made any postings on any online sites.

I bust butt for my clients and when something like this happens it really lets the wind out of my sails. It's beyond me how some people can be so vicious.

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Maybe it's just me, but I always thought joining the BBB would be a sure-fire way to draw unfair complaints and create pains in the aft for myself.

So, I never joined the BBB. I think it was one of the best business decisions I made. Right up there with not buying ads in reeltor publications, not funding reeltor dinners, not joining reeltor organizations, etc.

And, FWIW, none of the 5,000 or so customers ever asked if I were a member.

WJ

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Originally posted by SonOfSwamp

Maybe it's just me, but I always thought joining the BBB would be a sure-fire way to draw unfair complaints and create pains in the aft for myself.

So, I never joined the BBB. I think it was one of the best business decisions I made. Right up there with not buying ads in reeltor publications, not funding reeltor dinners, not joining reeltor organizations, etc.

And, FWIW, none of the 5,000 or so customers ever asked if I were a member.

WJ

I did join the BBB, and you're dead right. I paid extra (double stupid) to be able to put the "BBB Online" logo on my website. Got me nuttin' but a complaint that was filed for an inspection that was performed 3 years AFTER I sold my company. Different inspector, different company name. I only discovered it when I Googled my name. When I called them they didn't have a freakin' clue, but did ask if I wanted to be a member again! A letter from my attorney got it erased.

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Hi Walt, Chris,

I too did one hitch with the BBB. When I found that nobody cared whether they listed me or not, I dropped it and saved myself the $400+ a year. However, back in the day when the BBB was about the only game in town, not a whole lot of folks were checking people out. Think about it, the BBB had been around for decades before the internet came on the scene and how many times had you ever checked out a company using the BBB. Speaking for myself - never; I never saw the need and it was too much of a hassle.

So, maybe you have a client who was ecstatic with your service who'd recommended you to a co-worker. In the old days, that co-worker probably put complete trust in the word of your former client, never bothered to check with the BBB, and then called to hire you, completely oblivious to the client you had 2 years ago that's completely pissed off about something you did or didn't do. However, with the advent of the internet, the BBB is only one of a long list of the online places where people get to spout off when they're unhappy about service. All it takes is a Google search today to pull up all of that dirt. Now, even though he or she might completely trust the former client, it's very easy for the potential client to type your name, or the name of your company, into Google and in the blink of an eye pull up just about everything anyone anyplace knows or has ever known about you; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Complaints from unhappy customers are the ugly. Even before the internet, a client who was pissed about a $200 item had it within his or her power to cost you, just by virtue of talking bad about your company to friends, relatives, and co-workers, literally thousands in future referrals. Now add in the dynamic of the internet and dozens of tattle-tale sites, and former clients with a grudge have the ability to reach literally millions of people within days and can practically cripple a company in some markets.

This is why we inspectors need to work real hard at responding quickly and in a very positive manner whenever we're faced with a callback issue. Sometimes, all the customer wants to hear is that an inspector is sorry that the customer is having a bad time, and the customer has no intention of suing anyone, let alone the inspector. However, then they call the inspector and the first thing out of the inspector's mouth is a parroting of the disclaimer language from the inspector's contract and a declaration of innocence, as if to say, "Hey, don't look at me, I'm not to blame for your troubles." At the point where the client, right or wrong, gets pissed at the inspector, the inspector has missed the chance to turn lemons into lemonaide; that's all I'm saying.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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  • 10 months later...

Reading those is a really good reminder of why nobody entirely in their right mind would be in our business.

It also reinforces a couple of convictions I've had for a while now:

1) In terms of limiting financial liability the single most important thing I can do is try and make my clients understand that in most cases I have only a very limited ability to predict based on a roof's appearance today if it will leak if it rains tomorrow, let alone how it will perform if tomorrow happens to bring sixty mile-an-hour winds and driving rain

2) Contrary to the argument some inspectors make - that every photograph you take increases your potential liability - a standardized procedure of taking photographs of attics, crawl spaces, utility areas, electrical panels and the like is actually far more likely to protect your in the case of an incorrect claim of negligence than it is to condemn you for an overlooked defect.

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I personally got "Angie's List's" 'Super Service Award" for 2008 this year in their Boston "chapter". I did not 'join' them or have anything to do with them. I do not run ads in their monthly publication. I guess I got all 'A's" or something for a long period from my clients. To me, it's a plus. I'll take the positive kudos posted there by my clients. Every positive shred helps.

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