We originally hired ServiceMaster in the early Spring to deal with some water that was leaking into our basement laundry room from an unknown source. We were referred to ServiceMaster (or, more specifically, Erin, a project manager working for them at the time) by a co-worker, as his insurance company had recently hired this firm to do extensive repairs to his kitchen hardwood floor following a refrigerator leak.
An excellent representative in every sense, Erin responded quickly to our concerns and worked diligently to determine why water was leaking from behind the (finished) laundry room wall. Indeed, this proved to be a fairly involved process as several wet areas were found, making it difficult to determine whether they were being caused by a leaky pipe or an issue with the foundation itself. Eventually, exploratory holes in the drywall had to be cut into three of the room's four walls before the problem was finally located--a hairline crack in the foundation that was easily patched. Based on Erin's recommendation to do so, we sourced a contractor to repair the foundation wall ourselves, which saved us at least a few hundred dollars.
Had our basement issues ended there, and had ServiceMaster completed the follow-on finishing work they were supposed to do, then this likely would've been a much more positive review. However, bad luck intervened once again and our sump pump failed before the work in the laundry room could be done.
Once again, we called upon Erin and ServiceMaster to assist and, once again--thanks largely to Erin--the response was excellent. As we discovered this second water issue early on--and because we did a considerable amount of bailing until the plumber arrived--the flooding was relatively minor and restricted to just a few areas in the (finished) basement. The disaster recovery team from ServiceMaster came in promptly and removed all of the wet underlay in the affected rooms, sanitized most of the flooded walls/floors (more on that later), and brought in blowers and de-humidifiers to dry everything out. Overall, we were very satisfied with the initial response; Erin was even able to help us fast-track the assignment of an insurance adjustor through her own personal contacts.
In the days that followed, ServiceMaster came back to cut some more holes in our basement walls, rip out wet insulation, pack up what they could out of the flooded areas, and generally prep the affected areas for further work. Mercifully, the limited water damage meant that practically all of the basement's contents were saved, and that a majority of them could still be stored there as well, although redistributing the remainder created additional chaos in the house. At the time, and up until the point where Erin and our insurance adjustor did an onsite inspection of the work to be done two days after the flooding occurred, things progressed well. We were also assured by ServiceMaster that the follow-on repairs--including the final sanitation of the basement crawlspace where the flooding originally occurred (which was apparently overlooked during the initial response) would start right away.
Unfortunately, it was here that things started to go astray.
After a wait of over two weeks and no further word from ServiceMaster, the insurance adjustor contacted us to say that, for reasons unknown, another estimate for the work in the basement needed to be done. This struck our adjuster as odd, as the insurance company was still waiting to hear back from the ServiceMaster about the original estimate/quote. The date for this second estimate was chosen (which was approximately three weeks after the first one), and a new project manager arrived to inform us that Erin was no longer working for ServiceMaster and all of the measurements, assessments, estimates, etc. would have to be redone. When prompted about the other work that was still outstanding (e.g. the sanitization of the basement crawlspace), the project manager said he didn't know anything about it. He was also unaware of, and somewhat disinterested in, the repairs ServiceMaster had originally been hired to do in our laundry room (which also involved a $500 deposit we'd already provided for the same), but promised to look into it further.
Following a week's delay without any update (although a contractor from a carpet company was sent over to do a cursory inspection), I contacted the project manager to determine what, if anything, was going on with our basement repairs. He apologized for the wait (he'd been on a course for a few days and didn't have the chance to get around to finalizing the estimate), but stated that everything would be submitted to the insurance company before the end of the week. In the meantime, he'd have some people come over to finish up the sanitization and to pack up a few more things so that the drywallers could have full access to the walls that needed to be repaired.
Frustratingly, a week came and went without any sign of workers or progress, so another call was made to the project manager. Once again, he was vaguely apologetic, but said that ServiceMaster was still waiting for the insurance company to approve the (second) estimate they'd done two weeks prior. He went on to explain that, as ServiceMaster wasn't on our insurance company's "preferred" partner list, authorization for a cheque to be cut had to be obtained first. After some further prompting, he admitted that the adjuster had already been in contact with him and had given him a verbal OK to proceed with the work, but decided to wait for an e-mail confirmation before proceeding. As such, work on the laundry room had to be postponed as well. Once again, the project manager promised to send someone over to sanitize/pack as soon as he could, and that he'd get back to us soonest with an update.
By this time, a fairly obvious pattern was emerging, and, true to form, the project manager had to be phoned a week later to obtain the status of our basement repairs. Remarkably, I was told that the financial authorization from the insurance company had just come through that very morning and, consequently, the final touches to the work order were just being done. The workers would now definitely be out the following week.
Thursday of the following week arrived and, not unsurprisingly, no workers. After a terse exchange over the phone, the project manager assured us that ServiceMaster would send the packers/sanitization team over the very next day and that the drywallers would be coming in the following week for sure (although there was no mention of when the carpet repairs were expected to be made). Suffice as to say, the appointed day came and went and no workers showed up, nor was there any word from the project manager as to why.
Following an e-mail complaint to both the project manager and ServiceMaster (along with the threat to call the BBB) about the highly unsatisfactory service we received, things finally started to pick up. Indeed, my once silent phone began ringing off the hook with calls from ServiceMaster asking when it would be possible to send the drywallers, painters, etc. over to begin their work. From that point on (which was still the better part of two months since our sump pump had failed), we had some very talented and skilled tradesmen come in and complete the work on our basement. While it took about a month to finish everything, the quality of the work was actually quite high and, at the time of writing, was to our satisfaction. Certainly, what ServiceMaster lacked in front office service was considerably offset by the skills of the folks who did all the follow-on grunt work.
In summary, and based on our experience with ServiceMaster, here's the bottom line: as with any contracting firm, if you get a good project manager, you'll likely be satisfied with what ServiceMaster has to offer--particularly since the workers we encountered were very good at their trade. If you don't get a decent project manager, then the opposite will certainly hold true. Clearly, Erin proved to us that ServiceMaster is capable of being a great company that will do the work that they've been hired to do in an efficient and effective fashion; sadly, this initial satisfaction vanished after the first empty promise we encountered, and our opinion and respect for ServiceMaster continued to erode while our basement repairs remained in limbo. Now that things are finally completed, ServiceMaster has bounced from no stars to five in our opinion, however, and not unlike reading through this review, a considerable amount of time and patience was required before everything finally came to an end.