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I am always right!


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I have talked to a couple of other inspectors this morning regarding some conflict issues they are having with their "clients" and had a chance to BS a little with Chad.

While I was going off like a crazy person, I realized why I think I am always right. The attached is a sanitized letter I sent last week to a real estate agent that was being a real pain in the xxx.

The office got a call that the seller of a house I inspected was having Service Master come out and clean the vacant bedroom and closet because I had scattered toxic insulation all over the floors and she was afraid of the environmental effects caused by my laziness. In addition to the environmental incident she could not effectively shower, as I had left the hand-held shower head off the bracket. Lets see, $175.00 for cleaning and $90.00 for placing shower head back in bracket. Hmmmmmm, what is going on?

First a telephone call to the agent, immediately, and left a message.

Second make written record of every thing.

Third, call the buyer agent.

Fourth, email everyone asking for immediate response(s).

Fifth, throw a small fit in the office and make sure everyone knows that I was wrong. I did the deed and was ready to do what ever it takes to resolve it - NOW! In my inspection universe this is the right thing to do. Never, ever cuddle up to the real estate agents*, but when you screw-up, freely admit it and remember they are the folks that are dealing with the nut jobs, not me.

You will have to open the attachment to see the letter and feel free to comment.

I was right again by just admitting I was wrong. Customer service.

*remember they are not your friends. They still don't like me and they can't bitch about customer service.

Download Attachment: icon_word.gif burcham ltr 4-09 web version.doc

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That's a lot nicer than I'd have been.

I got a call from an agent last year telling me I left a light on in the attic (pull down stair), and that I should come back out and turn it off.

I told her how to turn the light off.

Jeez, me too, Kurt, except then I would have counter-complained about the bedbugs that I'd brought home after inspecting their home and said that I was going to send them my exterminator's bill. [:-devil]

tn_200946144421_DirtDevil.jpgYung and I have used an older beat-up one of these - the old style with the cloth bag - for years. I buy them for $3 to $4 each at thrift stores, replace the $.90 rubber belts and they work great. They have a nice little beater bar on them and because they don't use batteries they're powerful as hell.

We make darned sure that the agents see us using it so that there won't be any complaints about insulation, etc..

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I'd have rushed out to the house and clasped the seller around the knees while weeping and begging forgiveness. When she finally granted it, I'd have kissed the hem of her dress and backed out of the room on my hands & knees, touching the floor with my forehead as I went.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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That's a lot nicer than I'd have been.

I got a call from an agent last year telling me I left a light on in the attic (pull down stair), and that I should come back out and turn it off.

I told her how to turn the light off.

Jeez, me too, Kurt, except then I would have counter-complained about the bedbugs that I'd brought home after inspecting their home and said that I was going to send them my exterminator's bill. [:-devil]

tn_200946144421_DirtDevil.jpgYung and I have used an older beat-up one of these - the old style with the cloth bag - for years. I buy them for $3 to $4 each at thrift stores, replace the $.90 rubber belts and they work great. They have a nice little beater bar on them and because they don't use batteries they're powerful as hell.

We make darned sure that the agents see us using it so that there won't be any complaints about insulation, etc..

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Yeah, I got an old dustbuster I picked up at a garage sale. Works great for cleaning up the odd dust or insulation on jobs.

Les, you know I love you, but I object when anyone goes on the rampage about something as stupid as what you described. I don't dig into them, but I explain gently that something like a shower head can be lifted and reset quite easily by a pinhead with an IQ that's less than the number of fingers they possess, and if there's some small specks of insulation on the floor, I say I'm sorry. Period.

I am not a floormat, I have a job to do, and it's about time folks understand that job.

I'm not a guest in the house of the seller. I'm in my place of work.

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...just for the sake of discussion.

What would you do if you forgot to turn the furnace back on? Forgot about resetting a GFCI? Broke one of those little furnace door plastic twisty knobs? Left the attic hatch cover askew?

After you answer those questions, combine one or more questions with a less than professional report - ie. Missed the third layer of shingles, didn't report on flashings, missed the weep holes, called out a few misc life threatening upgrades (AFCI, knob and tube, steps with 1/2" variance in set and rise, etc).

Do you use all your education and training to perform the best inspection you can? Do you ever consider another inspector's knowledge and experience when being critical of their report?

Do all your clients know your background, experience and expertise? Does the "dis-interested third party" have expectations about your work? Does anyone really care?

BTW, my usual response is very much like the above responders.

Jim,

Cotten skirt hems are quite tastless along with some nice fava beans and a good chianti!

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Somewhere around here I've got a little old "Little Green Clean Machine" that I picked up about 20+ years ago while in the army. After a lady called me up carping that I'd stained her white carpeting ("Jeez, Lady, I didn't even wear shoes in the house, the realtor and my client will attest to that!") I went out and touched up her carpeting and then hauled that cleaning device around in my truck for the next 4-5 years until I got tired of the danged thing. Now it sits around here collecting dust.

I guess I'm just getting too old and crotchety to put up with whiners that are mad at me 'cuz I didn't agree that their home was in "move in" condition.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I am all for exemplary customer service, and I sincerely applaud Les' efforts. We all have a lot to learn from him.

What would I have done? Well, I don't think I have it in me to make the kind of a person who asks me for 90 of my dollars to replace a hand-held shower massager back into its holder, happy. It mightn't have been the right thing to do, but I'd likely have spent all of about 5 minutes thinking of an obnoxiously snarky way to advise the owner to pound sand up their arse.

Like Les, though, I'd also have posted said snarkiness on this message board and invited comment.

There's just no making some folks happy. And I'm OK with that.

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Co-inspector Rick and I carried a mid-sized vacuum in the company vehicle. That said, if nobody was around for a little insulation spill, I just used the homeowner's vacuum, which was usually stored in the very closet with the insulation.

We also carried a box-o-rags from Home Depot, for little spills.

I'm a little curmodgeonly, so I would've said something like this about the shower attachment: "I had to take it out to test it. Sorry I left it dangling. It'll take two seconds to put it back. Feel free to bill me for two seconds. Heck, make it four seconds."

I busted one window. Dropped a ladder on it. I called the owner, explained, and replaced the window before he got home. I broke one fancy teapot. I left a note: "I broke your teapot. I'm sorry. Please tell me what it will take to satisfy you." Some months later, the nice owner sent me a letter saying that he couldn't find a replacement, and he'd be happy with fifty bucks. I sent him a hundred. Co-inspector Rick broke one figurine. I took it to the owner and said, "I broke your figurine. What will it take to make it right?" She wouldn't accept any money.

Funniest foulup was the time co-inspector Rick walked to the top of the garage stair and waited for me to finish up with the customers. He didn't come in the house; his shoes were muddy. Just then, my phone rang, I tossed it to Rick, and he walked across the white carpet so he could talk without disturbing anybody. I offered to pay for a cleaning, or even the carpet itself. The customer wouldn't take any money.

I think it's a Nashville thing.

And, as I've explained before, customers knew my life history before they ever saw me. And they knew Rick pretty well, too. I think that helped.

WJ

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I broke one fancy teapot. I left a note: "I broke your teapot. I'm sorry. Please tell me what it will take to satisfy you." Some months later, the nice owner sent me a letter saying that he couldn't find a replacement

WJ

Hi,

If you ever experience that again, go to these guys.

My wife broke the handle off of a hard-to-find teacup that was pretty old. I went to an antique dish dealer and asked him and he referred me to these guys. They sent me a complete inventory of what they had in stock on that brand and series along with prices. Ever since then, I get an update once a month on their current inventory in everything in that brand and series.

Talk about inflation! Those friggin teacups have quadrupled in price since then. Apparently, there's a pretty good amount of buying and selling in that crap 'cuz the inventory seems to constantly go up and down.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Sure, I'll fix something or pay for it if I break it. A sump pump pipe (crumbled in my hands), 2 broken windows (flukes), I'm sure I've left a half dozen acoustical tiles askew in their grids (didn't fit), innumerable little plastic knobby things on those cheap ass furnaces lids, one furnace left on (you only do that once), but never broken personal effects, or threw up on the white shag carpet.

It's real simple. Treat me like a cognizant human. Ask me for a C note to set a shower in it's holder or tell me there's toxic insulation on the floor that requires Servicemaster (i carry a dustbuster, dammit, how bad could it be?), and I'll get a little testy.

I tinkled in an attic once when the realtor and seller were just being complete downright arses.............kinda like the waiter spittin' on the sandwich if you treat 'em nasty...........small minded and mean spirited but curiously satisfying.........

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I tinkled in an attic once when the realtor and seller were just being complete downright arses.............kinda like the waiter spittin' on the sandwich if you treat 'em nasty...........small minded and mean spirited but curiously satisfying.........

[:-bigeyes

Well, I guess it's better than taking a dump in the crawlspace where your fellow inspectors are liable to have to eventually crawl through it.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I have a 8x10 painters drop cloth I spread out under the attic entrance before I lower the ladder or move the scuttle opening. Any debris falls onto the tarp. Fold up tarp, take outside and shake out debris. Only takes a brief moment to unfold and refold the tarp. The tarp is part of the normal stuff I carry into each inspection. It stays at the front door until the need. If no need, it just goes back into the truck.

I wear plastic booties over my shoes. When I step out of the living space into garages, decks, etc, I remove the booties and leave then by the door. I frequently exit via bedroom windows to walk porch roofs.

One time I removed the booties, climbed out the window, wandered around the porch roof and climbed back into the room. A few of the black roof granules stuck to the bottom of my shoes. I left a few footprints on the white master bedroom carpet. I had seen the vacumn during an earlier part of the inspection. Put on my booties, gathered the vacumn and cleaned up. No calls from the seller.

I did have one upset seller who complained to the seller's agent that I had obviously stood on his couch. I had kneeled on the faux suede and disrupted the pattern when I opened the window behind the couch.

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I tinkled in an attic once when the realtor and seller were just being complete downright arses.............kinda like the waiter spittin' on the sandwich if you treat 'em nasty...........small minded and mean spirited but curiously satisfying.........

[:-bigeyes

Well, I guess it's better than taking a dump in the crawlspace where your fellow inspectors are liable to have to eventually crawl through it.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

It was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. In fact, I think it was over in Les' territory.......

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I put a drop cloth under the attic hatch, wear disposable nitrile gloves if I have to touch a painted surface (again, attic hatch), I bring a vacuum with me, etc... but sometimes the homeowner finds some minor (to me) reason to get worked up. That's when I have to remind myself that while it is a minor concern to me, it is still their home. Fortunately I am reasonably well paid for what I do and if every now and then I have to pay up, so be it - it is a cost of doing business. I would rather be out of pocket 50 bucks than have the homeowner telling everyone they know how I busted their vintage 1973 Felix the Cat clock.

Homeowners can be "interesting", but they're just one more thing that keep this job from being boring.

-Brad

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With ten years of inspecting behind me, I'm not exactly a young pup, but I'm not exactly an old fart either. Admittedly, at 49 years old, I'm probably closer to curmudgeonly status than I like to think about. If requested, I'll let ya'll know when I start farting dust as old age really hits.

But seriously...

I was thinking about any calls I had gotten about messing something up. Maybe I'm lucky, or maybe it's just an extension of southern hospitality, but those sorts of calls simply have not been an issue. OK, there was that time the "cat lady" called to complain that I had caused her dollar-store electric stove burner cover to discolor since I put it back on before the burner had completely cooled. In my defense, I was mostly worried about one of the dozen or so visible felines jumping up on the stove and burning a paw. God knows they were all over the countertop the whole time I was there. This was also one of those houses where I put on my shoe covers to protect my shoes from the floor, not the other way around.

When I'm in the home of a seller, I am always cognizant of the fact that I am not exactly an invited guest. More like a reluctantly allowed intruder. With some sellers, I'm sure I'm considered to be the "enemy." Most sellers aren't home when I am there, of course, and those that are present when I am there are not generally hostile. (Don't get me started on retired engineers...)

But the cold hard fact is that we cost them money! Human nature being what it is, some feel the need to vent after we write a report that they view as critical of their home. I've had some of those calls, and early in my career I would cringe when a seller called and started complaining about something I wrote. But when about half of the few who did complain about my report hired me at the end of that same call, I realized that it was just frustration talking. I like to think it was foolish pride that kept the other half from doing likewise...[;)]

It's been years since I've gotten a complaint call. Maybe I'm better; maybe it's the change in the report format I use. It's hard to argue with a photo and solid explanations. I would note that I never used deliberately inflammatory language -- despite how stupid some of the things I saw were and how tempted I was to write a snarky comment when I could tell a seller deliberately tried to cover something up. Like the idiot who took a magic marker and blacked out the "Federal Pacific Electric" name on a panel cover, as though I was too ignorant to know what I was seeing ...

Anyway, Les, your letter is probably both a little more verbose and conciliatory than mine would have been; I wouldn't be as liberal with the mea culpas as you were. The complainer was a female, right? It appears that your reputation as the charmer may be well deserved!

I would have briefly (but sincerely) apologized and made it known that I would have come over personally and "fixed" the things being complained about had I been notified prior to costs being incurred. We all know that offer would have been declined, but it would usually make the complainant feel better since it looks like you actually care about their situation. And while I don't try to kiss the posterior regions of any agents, I can't see that it would cast me in a bad light with them either.

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I have paid for the things that I have damaged that folks wanted paid for.

I carry a small vacuum and a broom and dust pan to clean up with.

I have shoes that I only wear on the inside and I try to leave everything as I find it.

I do response to any complaint that comes in.

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I am going to add a little to the story.

We always wear shoecovers. We try to get the most unusual ones possible so they stand out and never wear the ones provided at the door.

We do not carry vacuums, however we are very aware of any insulation that gets away from us. Around here most newer houses are blown cellulose without any barriers around the hatch, so having a half bushel fall out is not uncommon.

I was not following my own, set in stone or I'll kill ya, protocols and rules.

We do carry super glue for a number of reasons. We carry the super compressed handi-wipes. One sompressed wipe will soak up abt a quart of water. Most of us have a single use vehicle, so have a bunch of unusual tools and materials in the back.

update: the homeowner's agent emailed me and asked that I contact my client, the potential buyer, and have him sign my letter of apology. She won't be using my company in the future because that was the last straw! I lost my temper, regained my business senses, called my client and all other agents involved and the subject homeowner. I win - listing agent loses and I am back being right again!

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