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They’re Here To Clean Up The Trash, Not Your Attitudes

, , , | Learning | January 10, 2023

I am a janitor at an elementary school. I have worked there for several years and am popular with that k-1st grade teachers. I have to move to a different shift so I can work another job, so I swap with another janitor that the 2nd-grade hallway teachers liked.

Apparently, this makes them mad, as they start filing complaints about my work so often that I am suddenly and regularly being called into the office. Each time I am asked to “explain myself” I can only say variations of the same thing:

Me: “I am doing my job, but they want their other guy back I guess. They’re even being rude to me to my face.”

After several months of this, I get called to the office again.

Supervisor: “One more incident and I’m going to write you up.”

Me: Calmly. “That’s okay, I’d like to put my two weeks in.”

Supervisor: *Shocked.* “Uh, don’t you need some time to think about this?”

Me: “I have. Their opinion of me isn’t going to change, and I rather save us some time.”

The look on his face was priceless. It was nice being able to quit like a calm reasonable person. I eventually went back to school (as a student this time!) and got a much better job I enjoy.

It Costs Money To Make Money

, , , | Right | CREDIT: ItsAlexBalex | January 5, 2023

I own a store that sells and services fireplaces. A guy calls the store.

Caller: “Do you guys clean fireplaces?”

Me: “Yes, we do!”

Caller: “Okay, and how much do you charge?”

Me: “$200.”

Caller: “Two… hundred?! What do you do for that much? I’ve got to hear this.”

I explain the whole cleaning process, as well as the safety inspection process.

Caller: “All right, well, that’s a little steep for me. I’m going to call around.”

Me: “No problem!”

I tell my employee about this funny call I just got. A minute later, the phone rings again, and the caller ID confirms it’s the same guy. This time, I have my employee answer.

They proceed to have the same conversation, except the caller asks when we could come out. We say we have an opening next Monday, and he says he has to check his schedule and he’ll call back.

About thirty minutes later, the same guy calls again. I answer, assuming he’s realized that everyone charges about the same price and we can probably come out the soonest.

Caller: “Do you guys clean fireplaces?”

I mentally face-palm.

Me: “Yes, we do!”

Caller: “Okay, and how much do you charge?”

Me: “$200.”

Caller: “Geez… Why does everyone charge $200?”

Me: *As cheerfully as possible* “Well, to be fair, sir, this is the third time you’ve called us.”

Caller: “Oh, really? I’m sorry. But wait a second. Why do you guys charge so much? This couldn’t be more than an hour of work.”

Me: “You’re not just paying for the technician’s time. You’re paying for the gas to get there, the truck, the tools, etc. You’re also paying for the car insurance, liability insurance, worker’s compensation, our rent for the store, and the wages of the employees available here to answer your call or help you when you come to the store. We also have an electric bill, gas bill, and water bill.”

I’ve had this type of question a lot, and this answer has almost always been met with understanding and usually winning the customer’s business. This time, however…

Caller: “Well, why do you pass those costs on to me? Why don’t you pay for it?”

Me: “Where do you suppose I get the money to pay for it myself?”

Caller: “From the money you take in as a business!”

Me: “Just not your money?”

Caller: “No, I mean… Ugh, okay, I get it. All right, well, $200 is just too much. I’m going to call around. I promise I won’t call you again.”

Me: “Fair enough. Have a nice night.”

You Can’t Wash The Cheapskate Out

, , , , , , , , , | Right | November 20, 2022

I work for a carpet cleaning company. A landlord called us because his previous tenants had left one of his properties in a sorry state, and he wanted us to clean all the carpets.

He was not wrong. The carpets were absolutely caked in years’ worth of dirt, grime, grease, and worst of all, urine. It smelled horrific. It was so bad that our boss told the customer he would be better off replacing the carpets. Many of the stains were so ingrained that no amount of cleaning would shift them. But the customer insisted that they be cleaned because it was cheaper than replacing them, so we gave him a quote.

We charge based on the area of the carpet and how heavy the soiling is, not by hours spent or how much/what cleaning product we use, etc. However, the customer kept trying to cut corners to get a cheaper quote.

First, he told us we didn’t need to vacuum the carpet. He claimed he had already gone over the whole house with an industrial-grade vacuum and demanded that we lower the quote to reflect that. This was clearly not true; when we inspected the carpet there was clearly dirt and lint everywhere.

Then, he told us to use a cheaper cleaning agent and only send one person so he wouldn’t be paying for the labour of two people (even though an entire house was definitely a two-man job). On and on he went trying to cut corners to save money. 

Vacuuming the carpet is not only important to protect our machines — clumps of lint and dirt can clog or even damage our carpet cleaners — but it also means we can clean carpets more efficiently. Spending a few minutes removing as much dirt as possible beforehand means less work for the carpet cleaners and fewer rinses are required. Additionally, the cheaper cleaning fluids were not going to cut it. As a bare minimum, the carpets needed a cleaner with enzymes to break down the urine, or all we’d do was spread urine around rather than shift it.

This was all explained to the customer, but he was having none of it. Ultimately, we had to refuse his business because what the customer was asking for meant we would not be able to complete the job properly.

The customer demanded to speak to our boss, the owner, who repeated what we had told him. The customer blustered for a while longer and then left us alone.

A few months rolled by, and the customer called us back. He told us he had hired a different company, but they had made a mess of everything. He begged us to come and clean the carpets. My boss told him we would only do it if he accepted our quote with no substitutes or amendments, and he would pay us in full before we did the job. The customer begrudgingly agreed.

Our boss made sure to detail the fact that we would not be able to get all the stains out in the contract and that the customer was going ahead with the cleaning against our advice. He also made sure that the customer initialled and signed those parts of the contract.

My colleague and I went to the property again to assess the damage. The carpets were horrifically streaked, and we could smell damp in the air mixed with the stench of urine, meaning the carpets didn’t get rinsed, drained, or dried properly, and they certainly didn’t use an appropriate pre-treatment or cleaning agent. It really was a shoddy job that actually made some areas of the carpet worse than they had been before. Whoever the customer had hired before must’ve been real cowboys.

We gave the customer our quote, and he accepted and paid. We got to work, making sure to take meticulous before and after photos.

As we suspected, we didn’t get all the stains out, but we got more than we initially thought we would. The carpets looked a whole lot better, and best of all, they now smelled like a spring meadow rather than a truck stop bathroom.

The landlord tried to complain that we didn’t get all the stains out and demanded a partial refund, but we quickly reminded him of the contract — a contract he had signed and initialled. We had done exactly the job we told him we would do.

When we left, the landlord complained incessantly about how much it had cost him — not only paying for the job once but having to pay to get it done again — and that the carpet still was still stained. My colleague and I left without saying a word.

A few weeks later, we received a letter from a solicitor acting on behalf of the customer, demanding a full refund because we failed to clean his carpet correctly. Obviously, our customer had not been entirely honest with his legal representative, so we enlightened the solicitor about what happened and sent him a copy of the signed and initialled contract, email communications, and phone call recordings, as well as the before and after photos. We never heard a word from the customer or his solicitor again.

After the fees for the botched job, our invoice, and solicitor fees, it would probably have been cheaper for the customer to replace the carpets.

The Customer Is Always Right But The Staff Are Animals

, , , , , , , | Working | October 15, 2022

I am a ducting cleaner and I have been called to a grocery store that is relatively rural. I am discussing the job with the boss when he drops this gem.

Boss: “We suspect something rather large has got into the vents in the ceiling as we hear it moving around and can sometimes smell its droppings.”

Me: “Oh. Well, when do you have pest control coming?”

Boss: “Pest control? Isn’t that you?”

Me: “Uh… no. I can clean out your vents, but pest control would need to remove any animals before I could do so. I can give you a number for pest control if you like?”

Boss: “Well, can’t you just move your sticks around in there and poke it out?”

Me: “If we did that, whatever is in there might fall onto the shop floor.”

Boss: “So?”

Me: “It might be a bit angry. It’s possible it could attack one of your staff.”

Boss: “I’m willing to accept that risk.”

Me: “Or it might attack a customer.”

Boss: *Zero hesitation* “What was that number for pest control again?”

The Cleaning Company Did Them Dirty

, , , , , | Working | January 14, 2022

My wife and I both work full time and we were finding that we didn’t have enough time to do more than a cursory clean of the house unless we wanted to spend all our weekends deep-cleaning. So, we decided it was in our finances to hire a cleaner to come around every two weeks to do a deep clean of the house. We set out looking for a cleaning service and found one that one of our friends had.

They came for a consultation and everything seemed to be in order. They looked at the house and gave us a cost estimate. We signed the contract, gave them the code to our front door, and scheduled the first cleaning appointment.

On the day of the cleaning appointment, the service called twenty minutes after the cleaner was supposed to be there to tell us that the cleaner was sick and they had to reschedule.

The day of the rescheduled appointment rolled around and nobody showed up. We called the service and they told us that the cleaner (a different one this time) was sick.

On the third attempt, nobody showed up and nobody would answer the phone at the service. Over the next couple of days, I tried to contact them but they never answered the phone.

At this point, I was very worried that this was all just a scam to get our door code and times when we would be out of the house, so I changed the door code and left a bad review stating that they just never showed up and people should be wary of giving them personal information.

They wrote back on the review, “How can you be upset with our service if you never even had us clean your house?”

We spoke to our friends who had recommended the service and found out that while we were going through this, they had fired the service because the cleaner had stolen an iPod from them.