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Listening To Your Customers Would Be A Handy Skill

, , , | Working | November 11, 2021

My husband and I buy our first apartment. Our renovation budget is considerable as I have saved well for a few years. We both make lists of all the renovation work that’s needed and hire a handyman to help us with it. My husband talks to him about the plumbing, carpentry, floor tiles, etc., and I talk to him about the electrical sockets, paints, curtains, mirrors, etc.

Out of all the changes, there are two electrical sockets that are important to us: one in our bedroom near the headboard for the bed-lamp, and one in the kids’ bedroom so that the existing socket doesn’t touch the bunk bed and instead is moved to the lower level. I explain these two specifically to the handyman along with all the other changes. He seems to nod at everything instead of making any notes or measurements. His quotation is not very high and appears to be with very little profit margin. We agree on the quotation, but we make plans to have some buffer amount.

One day, while the work is going on, we go to visit the progress. My husband goes to the master bedroom and I go to the kids’ bedroom. I see that the sockets are missing but the first coat of paint is already done. I am furious as this would mean that we would not have enough outlets in the room and have to use a power extension cord. With my toddler running around, this is a hazard. I go into the hall to discuss this with the handyman and hear this.

Husband: “Hey, what happened to the bedside sockets?”

Handyman: “Oh, looks like we have forgotten. But we have started painting already. Do you actually need the sockets?”

Husband: “Yes, that’s non-negotiable.”

Handyman: “Okay, let’s do it!”

Me: “Yeah, you may want to do the same to this room, too. Sockets are missing here.”

Handyman: “But we have started painting the walls.”

Me: “Yes, you shouldn’t have. You should have completed the socket work.”

Handyman: “No, we cannot do it anymore!”

He mumbles something and walks away, leaving my husband and me staring at each other.

Me: “Did he not just agree to do the same thing in our room? Why would he not agree for the kids’ room?”

Husband: “No idea! Let’s ask him.”

When we go around to find him, I talk to his workers and gather that most of the items on my list are not being planned for at all. I pull my husband aside to talk.

Me: “Looks like he has completely ignored my list of work. He’s planned for only things that you explained.”

Husband: “Yeah, but we texted him both our lists, right?”

Me: “The way he talked about the sockets makes me feel like he’s not paying attention to what I am saying. He’s just doing whatever you are asking him to do.”

My husband is upset listening to this. He calls over the handyman in a loud voice.

Husband: “Hey, why can’t you do the kids’ room socket?”

Handyman: “Because we painted the wall.”

Husband: “So what? You’ve painted this room, too. Moreover, we said it was important.”

Handyman: “But in the kids’ room, we have to drill over the door frame; it will impact stability.”

Me: “No, that’s not right. I have measured the space.”

I take a measuring tape and marking pencil and mark the drilling point and prove to him that there would be enough space between the bed and door frame to get an electric pipe. In response to the handyman’s surprised look, my husband says:

Husband: “Yeah, we’re both engineers, though she’s better at electrical and civil stuff than I am.”

The handyman mutters something and finally agrees. A while later, the handyman’s brother, who’s handling painting work, comes over. 

Brother: “If you choose the colours and designs, we can continue with the paint work.”

Husband: “Yeah, about that… You may have to redo the ceiling and first coat. Socket work is pending. Apparently, your brother did not listen to my wife at all.”

[Brother] stares at the handyman for a second and then turns to us.

Brother: “No problem, we will redo the first coat and then move ahead. Please select the colours and patterns.”

I take a look at the catalogue and select some really fancy patterned designs for four walls. I am conscious that it may go over budget, but I really like it.

Handyman: “That’s not possible to do. It takes a lot of time.”

Husband: “No, again, non-negotiable.”

Brother: “Sir, we will do it. It may take just a day more than plain walls but we’ll manage it.”

The rest of the work was smooth as we approached the handyman’s brother for all changes. He asked for the list again and made sure he got done all that we asked. Our house was perfectly renovated with really cool paints. The budget went over 20% more than the original quotation and the handyman was not happy that he made very little profit on our work.

Though his work is good, we never contacted him again for anything.

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