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Thread: What's a Nasty Customer Look Like for You?

  1. #1
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    What's a Nasty Customer Look Like for You?

    In the show Criminal Minds they attempt to outline the psychological profile of the criminals. What type of customer (ie profile) do you guys struggle with the most? I've listed a few below that seem to be pattern conflicts for me.

    1) I've had two occasions with managers (both female) that tried to boss me around at a service call. When I respectfully explained that I simply cannot do it that way, they got super nasty and literally tried to destroy me behind my back with character assassination.

    2) I've have a handful of old retired guys that hang over my shoulder the entire time (which I can handle). But then they proceed to give me advice and/or make smart comments. I can tell by their comments that they are actually completely ignorant and are simply trying to act like they are somebody...it's a power play for sure.

    I've worked with awesome female managers and awesome old retired guys that are super good people but when I run into the two types I described above it's game over.

    Anyway it was on my mind because I'll be working for one of those super annoying old guys tomorrow hahahaha.

    Who do you all find challenging?

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
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    "Call a technician for God's sake. Or we'll see you on the news or the Dark Side of the Moon."

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    For the most part... we do not have that many 'annoying' customers...
    We are a 100% referral co... so we do not do a lot of blind service.

    Now and then, we do get referred to somebody's outlaws (in-laws... grin)... and the person is difficult.

    The one personality style that I have a hard time with:
    Is the person who has an elitist attitude, and tries to manipulate me.
    Generally, I can blow it off... until the customer gets really difficult.

    Had one years ago... who I had to say: I am sorry... however you are dis-respecting me... and in our company handbook, we are directed to respectfully decline to offer our services to folks that dis-respect us.
    The person just stood there... I started to packed up my tools... they asked me what I was doing... I said I am leaving... no charge, sorry to waste your time.
    They started cursing at me...
    I turned around and pointed to my iphone in my shirt pocket, with the camera pointing towards them... and said: 'Smile for the camera' (insinuation was I had their behavior on video)...
    Talk about someone zipping up their mouth in a split second.
    I left, never heard a word from them again.

    Yeah, I heard from my customer whose wifey sent me to see her sister...
    He apologized for his SIL... said he should have warned me...
    I asked if the wife was upset... he said naaah... wife knows she is a b*tch... and laughed.

    As long as they are not aggressively manipulative... I can deal with them.
    When it gets obvious the customer sees themselves as the press core at the WH news room, and sees me as Trump...
    Well that is when I just leave!
    GA-HVAC-Tech

    Your comfort, Your way, Everyday!

    GA's basic rules of home heating and AC upgrades:
    *Installation is more important than the brand of equipment
    *The duct system keeps the house comfortable; the equipment only heats and cools (and dehumidifies)
    *The value of comfort, over the long term; leave economic choices behind!
    Choose your contractor wisely!

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  5. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by ga-hvac-tech View Post
    For the most part... we do not have that many 'annoying' customers...
    We are a 100% referral co... so we do not do a lot of blind service.

    Now and then, we do get referred to somebody'... and the person is difficult.
    Same as you, with repeat and referral, there's usually no problems. Been years since my last bad experience (a demanding type) but after getting out of it, I never went back...in fact, after satisfying his demands, I think I told him to not bother calling me again.

    Dealing with equipment is difficult enough...I ain't gonna' deal with difficult owners.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ga-hvac-tech View Post
    Had one years ago... who I had to say: I am sorry... however you are dis-respecting me... and in our company handbook, we are directed to respectfully decline to offer our services to folks that dis-respect us.
    In the company handbook...that's freaking awesome! Yeah sometimes it's best just to walk away. I think sometimes the customer knows deep down that they are being crazy.



    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saturatedpsi View Post
    Same as you, with repeat and referral, there's usually no problems. Been years since my last bad experience (a demanding type) but after getting out of it, I never went back...in fact, after satisfying his demands, I think I told him to not bother calling me again.

    Dealing with equipment is difficult enough...I ain't gonna' deal with difficult owners.
    We do all the installs for the big box stores around the area and run ads on tv so needless to say we draw people out of the woodwork.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    "I think Quantum tunneling would work great... "

    "Call a technician for God's sake. Or we'll see you on the news or the Dark Side of the Moon."

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  11. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayMan7 View Post
    In the company handbook...that's freaking awesome! Yeah sometimes it's best just to walk away. I think sometimes the customer knows deep down that they are being crazy.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    There is a little more than meets the eye...

    I am a one man shop... with a helper and an install crew...

    So the company handbook is what I chose to write into it...

    I learned decades ago... there are corrupt folks out there who take pride in screwing anyone they can...
    Best thing is to be polite, respectful, and professional... yet do NOT let them walk on you.
    If one sees there is no room for an equitable and fair middle ground... then cut ones losses and just leave!

    Kinda like playing the gambling casino called the stock market...
    If a trade is going against you... just get out!
    GA-HVAC-Tech

    Your comfort, Your way, Everyday!

    GA's basic rules of home heating and AC upgrades:
    *Installation is more important than the brand of equipment
    *The duct system keeps the house comfortable; the equipment only heats and cools (and dehumidifies)
    *The value of comfort, over the long term; leave economic choices behind!
    Choose your contractor wisely!

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  13. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayMan7 View Post
    We do all the installs for the big box stores around the area and run ads on tv so needless to say we draw people out of the woodwork.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    I sold for a local shop that did HD work... interesting business model...
    The reason I did it... I got to go to Trane Boot Camp sales school... and had a season (spring/summer) selling...
    LOTS of good experience... both in how to sell and what NOT to do!

    The following year, went back out on my own (was already licensed, wanted the training)...
    Worked out well for me!
    GA-HVAC-Tech

    Your comfort, Your way, Everyday!

    GA's basic rules of home heating and AC upgrades:
    *Installation is more important than the brand of equipment
    *The duct system keeps the house comfortable; the equipment only heats and cools (and dehumidifies)
    *The value of comfort, over the long term; leave economic choices behind!
    Choose your contractor wisely!

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    I have pretty thick skin and don't get offended or intimidated by someone's attitude.

    In almost every case the customer is reasonably upset at the situation, just taking it out on the wrong people. My approach is to just calmly acknowledge that yes, the situation sucks big time, but we are only the installing contractor of the equipment, we didn't manufacture it. I can certainly help them out but no, I can't do it for free and the price is the price.

    But I will also do everything in my power to make things right.

    Had one customer who's condenser fan capacitor went out. Tech replaced it and The condenser fan motor went out several days later. Tech replaced the motor with a truck-stock motor and after a week the shaft literally broke apart on it (I cannot for the life of me figure out why, other than a manufacturing defect). The failure caused the blade to bounce around and damage some fins on the condenser coil.

    He calls in ranting about how we should install an entire unit at cost due to the damage our motor did to his system and how long it took us to figure things out in the first place, yada yada yada. I told him that while it wasn't reasonable to ask for a full replacement (at cost) when his system is 9 years old as it is, I would be happy to replace his dinged up fan blade and install the OEM motor. In addition to that, I would warranty the condenser coil for leaks (at the point of impact, verified by pictures taken by the technician) for 90 days.

    So I drove my happy-ass an hour and a half up to the only supply house that had the motor and fan blade and drive right back down so that guy could have A/C again that same day.

    My dispatcher told me he called while I was gone, sounding like he was poised for conflict, asking about what the update was. She told him what I was doing (taking 3 hours out of my day to get him the parts so that he'd be cooling) and he was silent.

    A few days after the repair he called the office back, we expected the worst (no good deed goes unpunished, after all). He gave us the biggest compliment and mentioned how that was so far above and beyond his expectation.

    So yeah, we could have just dismissed him for his attitude, but instead we turned the situation around and he's going to refer us to his neighbors when they tell him horror stories about the clowns they use.

    Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk

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  16. #9
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    Well it seems like what happened is that you called his bluff...either that or he's bipolar hahaha. I think some people try and see first if they can push you around. You're right though, it's best to just treat them fairly even if you have to refuse to meet some demands.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    "I think Quantum tunneling would work great... "

    "Call a technician for God's sake. Or we'll see you on the news or the Dark Side of the Moon."

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    When doing TAB work I was NEBB certified. When anyone tried to get me to do something stupid I told them the work had to be certified and ask them if they were going to do the certification. They of course knew they could only sign a release which made them entirely responsible.
    I suggest you guys try something like that and get a form set up that in bold capitol letters states the job was done as directed by the owner or the owner's representative and there is no warranty. If they don't sign do it your way or walk off.
    No man can be both ignorant and free.
    Thomas Jefferson

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    Quote Originally Posted by WAYNE3298 View Post
    When doing TAB work I was NEBB certified. When anyone tried to get me to do something stupid I told them the work had to be certified and ask them if they were going to do the certification. They of course knew they could only sign a release which made them entirely responsible.
    I suggest you guys try something like that and get a form set up that in bold capitol letters states the job was done as directed by the owner or the owner's representative and there is no warranty. If they don't sign do it your way or walk off.
    That's a great idea! Thanks!

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    "I think Quantum tunneling would work great... "

    "Call a technician for God's sake. Or we'll see you on the news or the Dark Side of the Moon."

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    Fortunately, as mentioned above, all my new work is referral, and usually new work is referred when someone has a problem they couldn't get resolved with another company. So I know that going in.
    My motto is I just treat people a little nicer than they treat me. I'm nice until it's time not to be nice. And that almost has never happened. I think people in general have their horns twisted because even outside of HVAC, practically every one of their relations with any type of customer service is just abysmal. So they're expecting incompetence and unresolved frustration.
    Regardless of the situation and even regular service calls, just treating them the way you want to be treated is the key. I never walk in, say hi, heard the heater isn't working and bee-line to the equipment. I'll talk and ask them as many questions as I can think of. It helps save me some time, and they start to warm up and realize I'm going to help them.
    If it's a husband and wife, talk to both. Don't just talk to the husband and/or 'mansplain' to the wife. Actually in these times, seems like the wife knows as much about what is going on, as the husband-mechanically (usually more). Then talk to them after the diagnosis, and show them what you did. If they want to watch and ask some questions, even better.
    Now of that being said, people I mostly avoid (without a strong trusted referral):
    -Attorneys
    -Attorneys-so annoying I said it twice.
    -Engineers, especially mechanical, and especially if on the phone they want to tell me whats wrong, what parts to bring, etc.
    -Cheap landlords (usually redundant to use 'cheap').

    --My worse encounter was a guy who was on my ass immediately, complaining about all the stuff the other guy tried, and just screaming and yelling as I started working. Then he started with "The other guy already tried that. Jesus Christ here we go again...blah blah blah".
    So I wrapped up my tools, grabbed my bucket, and started walking out. He yells "What are you doing?" I said, "Well obviously you're looking for a fight. So we have 3 options. I put my tools away and leave. You walk away and let me do my job. Or we fight. Which one?"
    He walked away muttering. I fixed his heater. His wife payed me. And he referred 2 people shortly after. That was about 15 years ago. Definitely get too old for that.
    If I do a job in 30 minutes it's because I spent 30 years learning how to do that in 30 minutes. You owe me for the years, not the minutes.

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  23. #13
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    Wow great story hahaha. And I hear ya on the engineers. I ran into that recently. It turned out ok but I had to get past the superiority complex first hahaha.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    "I think Quantum tunneling would work great... "

    "Call a technician for God's sake. Or we'll see you on the news or the Dark Side of the Moon."

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  25. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by JayMan7 View Post
    In the show Criminal Minds they attempt to outline the psychological profile of the criminals. What type of customer (ie profile) do you guys struggle with the most? I've listed a few below that seem to be pattern conflicts for me.

    1) I've had two occasions with managers (both female) that tried to boss me around at a service call. When I respectfully explained that I simply cannot do it that way, they got super nasty and literally tried to destroy me behind my back with character assassination.

    2) I've have a handful of old retired guys that hang over my shoulder the entire time (which I can handle). But then they proceed to give me advice and/or make smart comments. I can tell by their comments that they are actually completely ignorant and are simply trying to act like they are somebody...it's a power play for sure.

    I've worked with awesome female managers and awesome old retired guys that are super good people but when I run into the two types I described above it's game over.

    Anyway it was on my mind because I'll be working for one of those super annoying old guys tomorrow hahahaha.

    Who do you all find challenging?

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    I vote for engineers..
    First they waste a ton of time explaining over the phone what they think is wrong with the system even going so far as creating a block diagram that they insist you look at even though you already have a good idea what’s wrong. Then I’ve had several lie to me and say they didn’t touch the system yet I find at least 5 spare parts sitting next to the system that he thought would fix it. Then after fixing it they moan over the bill. SMH.
    Feel like creating a litmus test for all new customers to avoid the bad ones that think they’re smarter than me.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Engineers, no sweat. Arrogant jerks, stand over you and critic, even guys who try to talk you down in price, their all duck soup. People I hate workin for are just plain filthy people in general. Fecal matter in abundance throughout the home,trash, unwashed dishes piled up for weeks. If you got no heat and no common decency to shovel the st bernard crap from in front of the furnace where I need to work, I wish you would have never called me. Common courtesy for fellow man please.

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    LOLALOT, "they" look meek and mild compared to me once they aggravate the crap out of me, HO HO HO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by navyguy1 View Post
    I vote for engineers..
    First they waste a ton of time explaining over the phone what they think is wrong with the system even going so far as creating a block diagram that they insist you look at even though you already have a good idea what’s wrong. Then I’ve had several lie to me and say they didn’t touch the system yet I find at least 5 spare parts sitting next to the system that he thought would fix it. Then after fixing it they moan over the bill. SMH.
    Feel like creating a litmus test for all new customers to avoid the bad ones that think they’re smarter than me.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    If an enginerd handed me a block diagram on the job I'd loose my freaking mind hahaha. And when they try and talk technical about their system but are actually using the wrong words...oh man Ive got to one day try and get that on video.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    "I think Quantum tunneling would work great... "

    "Call a technician for God's sake. Or we'll see you on the news or the Dark Side of the Moon."

  30. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by theoldscroll View Post
    Engineers, no sweat. Arrogant jerks, stand over you and critic, even guys who try to talk you down in price, their all duck soup. People I hate workin for are just plain filthy people in general. Fecal matter in abundance throughout the home,trash, unwashed dishes piled up for weeks. If you got no heat and no common decency to shovel the st bernard crap from in front of the furnace where I need to work, I wish you would have never called me. Common courtesy for fellow man please.
    No kidding man. I went to a house one time where the ammonia from all the cat piss would burn your throat. I was actually working in the hot attic so it was hot humid ammonia.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    "I think Quantum tunneling would work great... "

    "Call a technician for God's sake. Or we'll see you on the news or the Dark Side of the Moon."

  31. #19
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    Ah man, ya mean now I got to back and read all that text?

    Yeah, I did, and it was worth it!


    Quote Originally Posted by JayMan7 View Post
    Wow great story hahaha. And I hear ya on the engineers. I ran into that recently. It turned out ok but I had to get past the superiority complex first hahaha.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    I do a triple evac with nitro to remove non condensables.

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  33. #20
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    You know, what does a nasty customer look like to you, kind of difficult to come up with. Since this is a resi thread, I think that is where the disconnect is. But I can think of a couple of stories kinda sorta along those same lines.

    When I was young in the trade, up and coming fast, and well over my head, had this one call on an Associated Environmental Chamber. Big beast. Probably went down to something like -85*C. Sort of an ugly dull green color if I remember correctly.

    I check in with the guy, he says it's not working proper, won't pull those low temps. I ask to see it.

    When I see it, my heart probably sank. Control panel on the right was maybe 16" wide and almost four feet tall. Controls everywhere. Never seen anything like that before. But I was becoming quite proficient with cascade systems.

    They had timers on timers.

    Anyway, after being stunned by the amount of controls, I realize I can't even find the on/off switch. Guy is standing right next to me. Silent and expressionless. Old enough to be my grandfather. He was so expressionless through out the entire call, I couldn't tell if he was really smart, or missing some french fries from his happy meal.

    So I had to ask. How do you turn it on?

    He said, you've never seen one of these before, have you. I replied no, haven't seen one before. But if you show me how to turn it on, and give me half and hour, I'll tell you what's wrong. If I can't tell you what's wrong, I'll leave and there will be no charge.

    He reached over to the middle of the control panel to this little tiny freakin' thumb wheel. Three little teeny tiny little wheels. Set at 000. He reached out and flipped the far right wheel to 001, and the whole machine came to life.

    Ah, another timer. Cycle counter I guess. Told him to come back in thirty minutes. He walked away without a word and still expressionless.

    Didn't take much to determine the low stage on the cascade was low on refrigerant, seeing oil all over a solenoid.

    He came back in almost precisely 30 minutes. Told him your unit has a leak, right here at this solenoid, will take this many hours to replace, and cost you in the range of this much. He said fix it, and walked out. Can't remember for sure, but I probably felt like a quarter back when you win the super bowl !!

    .

    Fast forward to a year ago. New account. Tenant had major problems with the installing contractor. Got to the point she wouldn't call them back for problems. We had a couple of techs in there, then my boss sent me in. Found all sorts of problems, like bulbs on the wrong suction line on a two stage split system, etc.

    Long story short, she tried to tell me what to do. And wasn't being very professional about it. Of course I was dead pan expression, never buy into that customer crap. Asked around with her co-workers, and they said that's just the way she is, they treat us like crap also.

    So on our sit down after my service call, told her all the things I found. She started to get in my face. Told her I'm just here to tell you what's wrong with your units. She said she shouldn't need to pay, or some nonsense like that. I reverted to my standard line:

    That's not my business, call my boss. I'm just telling you all of the things I found wrong. She went into a rant telling me things I should do. I just said, no ma'am, that's not how it works. The way it works I write everything down, so all can see, we will propose a price for repairs, and you can chose for us to do the work, or call another contractor.

    About that time she actually settled down.

    What happened was I didn't let her emotions affect me, and I didn't let her take control.
    I do a triple evac with nitro to remove non condensables.

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