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It’s Not The Customers, Honey, It’s The Mileage

, , , , | Right | August 16, 2020

I’m a self-employed locksmith and security hardware consultant living in Savannah, Georgia where I’ve lived all my life. I get a call from a service company based in New Jersey to go check out a lock issue in a chain discount store.

That by itself isn’t uncommon; most chains these days use out-of-state service companies to find qualified repair technicians and locksmiths. When their location needs something, they call corporate, corporate calls the service company, and the service company calls me, validates my credentials and availability, and hires me to do the job. Easy. And most of them are really great to have as customers. 

What’s weird is when I ask where the store is located and they say Kathleen, Georgia.

I tell the representative I’ll have to do a quick Google search, because while I don’t recognize it, it might well be a small town inside my service area — usually about 100 miles — but I do make exceptions if they’re willing to pay my rates for commercial/industrial work. I have her spell out the name of the city so there are no mistakes. 

When I search, I find out that Kathleen, Georgia is about 180 miles away from me.

Me: “Huh… Well, please understand, I’m completely free today, and I’m more than happy to take the job, but that location is 180 miles from here, and my standard rate is $2/mile plus one hour labor minimum at $75/hr. It’d be about $435 minimum. Might I suggest calling a—”

I am about to suggest to the representative — again, from New Jersey — that they find a locksmith in the nearest major city to Kathleen — which is only about thirty-five miles away and should have at least a couple of qualified legitimate locksmiths — to save money, but she cuts me off. 

Representative: “$435?! THAT’S INSANE!”

Me: “I completely understand. I’m sure you can find a qualified locksmith who’s closer, but for me, it’s a 180-mile trip.”

Representative: “There’s no way it’s that far!”

Me: “I just checked Google; maybe there’s a different Kathleen, Georgia that’s closer? Are you sure that spelling is correct? Do you have a zip code?”

Representative: “You people in the south think we’re stupid. I can drive across New Jersey in less time than that!

I don’t really know what to say.

Me: “Ma’am, I can only tell you what Google tells me.”

Representative: “I know for a fact that Georgia is not that big!”

I’m getting frustrated here, but I don’t want to burn bridges with that service company… provided a different rep calls next time.

Me: “Ma’am, perhaps if you call a locksmith in Macon or Warner Robbins, I’m sure you can find someone there who’d be a lot cheaper.”

Representative: “Well, I’ll do that, then. Maybe I can find someone honest about their mileage.” 

Me: “Okay, have a nice day.” 

She hung up on me.

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