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  • "firing a customer"

    I have a customer who is a used car salesman and he is basically a pain in the ***. He wants a 'deal' on everything ...anyway, to make a long story short, I have to go out on a callback tomorrow. This guy has insisted I put in his low-quality home-cheepo parts and yet he gets upset when there is a problem with them and I explain there is no warranty on customer-supplied parts.
    To make him happy and protect my reputation I have decided to go out there and rip out all the work and redo it with my parts for FREE.
    But I also want him to know I won't be working for him any more if he continues to call and try to make deals and have me install his parts. How do I handle it? Just tell him to call another plumber from now on? That is usually how I handle these customers.

    Also, I have decided that my new company policy is "NO CUSTOMER SUPPLIED PARTS PERIOD." It puts me in an uncomfortable liability situation. Installing customer-supplied junk has come back to bite me more often than not.
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  • #2
    Re: "firing a customer"

    I think you have the ideas straight. You might try just ignoring your PITA customer(s) and not return their calls. If you do happen to talk to one of them say you're ultra busy with emergency work and there's just no way you could come for a week.

    As for the "NO CUSTOMER SUPPLIED ITEMS OR PARTS" that's a good one. Think of going to a restaurant and asking them to cook food you brought in that was purchased from a market unknown to them and on a unknown date. For all the know it could be very bad quality and spoiled. Let's see any restaurant that's willing to even think of cooking customer supplied food. The same needs to apply to you with your plumbing.

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    • #3
      Re: "firing a customer"

      Cut this guy loose.

      I wouldn't do the free intstall. I'd fix what he gave me/have him buy replacements, then tell him that was it. No more.

      If the guy is really a used car salesman, then everyone probably knows he's a weasel anyway.

      He's probably been trying to find a better deal from someone else even while he's been dealing with you.

      Take the time you'd spend with him and spend it on happy, willing-to-pay customers.

      I am a firm believer in the adage that the customer is NOT always right.

      People seem shocked when I refuse to do business with them on my terms, but then again, why waste time dealing with buffoons when you could be finding new customers.
      I'm on "The List" and I love it!!

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      • #4
        Re: "firing a customer"

        i can't see how a customer that is willing to supply their own fixtures is your problem.

        out here there are literally 1000's of designer faucets that customers supply. i have no problem installing their faucets. if it's a cheap piece of junk i'll pass. but most of the time it's high quality stuff that i don't want to even think of purchasing for them. i prefer they supply the custom stuff.

        same goes true with toilets, disposals and water heaters.

        they are more than welcome to go shopping and supply those fixtures. it's one less thing i need to worry about and the little money i make on the product isn't worth it for me.

        my insurance is based on gross. so is my city business taxes. the less i supply, the less i owe on my insurance and taxes.

        they supply, they deliver and dispose of. less than 10% of my customers will actually supply this stuff.

        rick.
        phoebe it is

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        • #5
          Re: "firing a customer"

          Originally posted by tinmack View Post
          Cut this guy loose.


          Oh I am. I am just not sure how to word it. It will only take me an hour or less to do the work, then I will tell him, "I can't work for you any more. We have a new policy of NO CUSTOMER SUPPLIED PARTS. I suggest you call someone else from now on."

          This has worked for me in the past with a couple of other 'problem' customers.
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          • #6
            Re: "firing a customer"

            I would not do anything at all...this guy will talk smack about you whether you redo the job or not.

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            • #7
              Re: "firing a customer"

              Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
              i can't see how a customer that is willing to supply their own fixtures is your problem.
              Not fixtures Rick, repair parts. This guy buys cheap junk parts for his plumbing and he expects me to install them...I don't like it one bit.
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              • #8
                Re: "firing a customer"

                Wait for Dunbar to chime in on this, he'll have great ways of telling you how to fire this customer.

                I would not go back and fix his leaking parts for free. You warned him, he ignored your warning, it's his problem now. If he really wants it fixed, he has to pay your rate. If not, you have plenty of other customers.

                I have no problem installing customer supplied items, within reason. No using there Danco brand faucet parts, or fittings they got at Home Depot that will be buried in a wall. If they want to buy there own faucets, water heaters, water softeners, and what not, I'll be happy to install it for them. They always know up front that I get payed no matter what though. I make good money installing there crap, and then removing it and installing something that I know will work.

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                • #9
                  Re: "firing a customer"

                  First, I would make sure that the problem he is calling about really is not your fault (leaky supply, drain, popup, etc). Hopefully you told him before the installation that it was junk. Once you find out the problem, remind him that you told him it was junk, this visit to confirm it is free, but any repair to it will cost, (by the way, how do you flat rate something like that?)

                  I wouldn't cut him loose until I bled him a little bit (just for all the aggravation he has caused you over the years).
                  Since you always quote up front anyway, add in whatever you think you have lost on this fellow. He will be the one to cut and run.

                  I used to not allow customer supplied parts, but now I tell them that I will be glad to use their parts but I can install something that will last AND have a warranty for only this much... Often it's close to what they paid anyway and they will take their parts back to HD.
                  "Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied." Mark Twain

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                  • #10
                    Re: "firing a customer"

                    One thing is for sure, I am going to prevent this type of crap from happening from now on. No more dealing with 'hagglers' and installing home cheapo parts. Call another plumber, let him go out of business working for the cheapskates, I am not doing it any more.

                    Tonight I am writing up some company policies to stand by. In the past I have 'bent the rules' with people and it always comes back to bite me!
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                    • #11
                      Re: "firing a customer"

                      You could also explain that Home Depot sometimes puts return items back on the shelf, even if its open and without doing a very close examination. Even if the package doesn't look like it's open, you can open the package easily and take out/put back parts and put the packaging back on like it's new.

                      Since the returns person at Home Depot probably isn't a plumber or knowledgable in plumbing, they wouldn't know if some valves were used or not. I have seen cartridges that looked used on the shelves before. I can just see a customer buying a part for something, having the plumber install the new one and save the old one, then putting the old one back in that package and returning it saying they don't work.

                      One time a customer wanted a faucet and it was late at night. So I went to Home Depot and got a faucet. It was the last, least expensive faucet of my choice left (Delta). After paying for it and getting in the van, I notice there were no white straps on the box, so it must have been opened. Lo and behold, a few parts were missing and the baggies holding the parts were open.
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                      • #12
                        Re: "firing a customer"

                        You can buy the same faucet from HD and a supply house, and the HD faucet weighs less. I'm told this is because HD sets a price point for the faucet and the manufacturer uses lower quality parts to get to that price.

                        As for the PITA customer...Double you regular price and let him talk you down one quarter (or less) of that. The cost of doing business with him is then built in.

                        You'll probably sleep better if you follow masterplumb's advice.

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                        • #13
                          Re: "firing a customer"

                          I feel good about it now. I went out and I politely replaced the broken part at no charge. After the job was completed, I explained that I cannot work like this 'making a deal on everything.' I explained that I don't like installing customer-supplied parts, and that my prices not negotiable.
                          He said,"people haggle with me all day (he's a used car dealer) and thats just how it is."
                          I said, "no, most customers do not do this to me, if you are going to do this don't call me any more. I am glad to make this repair right to your satisfaction, but in the future, call someone else."
                          He thanked me for fixing it and let me go...

                          I guarantee you that this has happened to this man before with a few other plumbers before me, and will probably continue with whoever he calls in the future.
                          I was very relieved to cut him loose. He can talk bad about me all he wants, but I fixed it for free as he asked, so I feel justified in ending our business relationship at this point.
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                          • #14
                            Re: "firing a customer"

                            Originally posted by Woussko View Post
                            I think you have the ideas straight. You might try just ignoring your PITA customer(s) and not return their calls.
                            Carl,

                            Do not take this advice. Tell them you're busy or something. Don't just ignore them, it will hurt your reputation.

                            Edit: I didn't read through the thread before responding, but I think you handled it very well.

                            Charles
                            Last edited by cpw; 10-17-2008, 01:51 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Re: "firing a customer"

                              Thank you Charles. Your opinion is important since you are not involved in the plumbing trade and are looking at it from a consumer point of view.
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