DB called our office on Thursday, July 6, 2017 for a spring start-up of her lawn sprinkler system.
She said she had not received a call from us to start-up her system. We sent DB an Extended Warranty contract in February 2017, which we asked to be signed and returned so we could schedule her spring start up and winterization for the year. This contract allows customers to get scheduled earlier in the season, and we take the initiative to call and arrange appointments for the season. This was explained when the proposal was provided to DB. However, DB never returned her contract. We try our best to provide all of our customers with a courtesy call to schedule their spring start up, but various circumstances may prevent us from getting to everyone, every year. We always encourage our customers, if they haven’t heard from us, to give us a call. Just like it’s the driver’s responsibility to arrange an oil change for their car, so calling to set up appointments for a sprinkler system is the customer’s responsibility, try as we might to take it on ourselves.
We were able to offer DB an appointment on Thursday, July 13, 2017, one week later, but DB thought that was too late. Maryann, one of our administrators, apologized, but assured her that after scouring the schedule, Thursday was the first available day. DB asked what time the appointment would be, and Maryann told her that, as is the case with all appointments, we were unable to provide her with a time of day until two days prior (when all customers are notified), as that is when the technicians’ days are routed (based on location). Calls tend to come in before then, which can significantly alter the schedule and so prevents us from providing a time window any earlier. She was frustrated because she thought we were expecting her to take a full day off work, which is not the case, as she would be provided with a time of day two days prior. This is also the way we had always serviced her previously, so she would have been familiar with our procedure.
DB then spoke to the office manager, and expressed her immense anger at having to reiterate her frustrations to a second person, even as the first seemed unable to provide her with a solution she could be happy with. The office manager tried to offer a solution that would prevent her having to take the day off, which was to offer the next available first appointment of the day. However, because these appointments tend to be popular, DB thought the date offered was still too far. The only closer date we had available was Thursday the 13th, which she was offered previously.
Because she insisted that her flowers were going to die in the coming heat, we asked why she had waited so long to call. DB seemed to take the question personally, as she responded “How dare you, my father just died”. We understand that the stress of grief may have contributed to her frustration with our office staff, who were following procedure while doing the best they could to provide her with service as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the conversation escalated and our office manager asked that DB call back when she was able to speak more respectfully.
DB called back immediately and requested the phone number of the owner. However, scheduling appointments is the responsibility of the office staff, which the owner has entrusted to them. The office manager told DB as much, to which DB continued to respond heatedly. Our office staff are people who have a right to be spoken to with respect and dignity. Because she felt these rights had been violated, our office manager hung up. DB called back, leaving a message that stated she was going to post a negative review of our company, everywhere she could.
This year, we have been unusually busy. Numerous companies have gone out of business and their clients have been calling us. Also, when we would call our clients, they requested delays to starting their systems due to the weather, as this summer was particularly rainy. Even so, we try to offer appointments as soon as possible, but in July, our typical turn-around time is seven days, which is what we offered to DB.
It is surprising to hear DB's negative comments about our office staff’s efforts. Many clients, including those having made comments in Homestars, and people who I have spoken to, have commented how professional and courteous the office staff are.
Because we are sorry for any inconvenience we might have caused, we are willing to offer DB, free service for both her spring start up and winterization in 2018, as long as she confirms her acceptance of our offer by March 1, 2018, which is when our customer contracts start to come due.