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ALWAYS Trust The Experts

, , , , , , , , | Legal | November 9, 2022

Many years ago, I worked for a contracting firm in New York that specialized in Lexan glass windows. We were contacted by a very well-known jewelry firm near Wall Street about replacing their aging front display window with an extremely large panel of Lexan. By “extremely large”, I mean two inches thick, six feet high, and fourteen feet long! This panel was literally going to be bulletproof! The owners wanted to get rid of the “jailhouse ambiance” of having huge vertical bars all across the display window.

They and we agreed upon a price for the installation — almost astronomical considering it was just a big window. As we removed the old window and the bars, we realized that the framework surrounding what would be the new window badly needed beefing up for better security. We recommended a couple of other contractors to perform that work as that was outside the scope of our knowledge and experience. The owners, already unhappy about the amount they were having to spend, declined to do so even after we practically begged them to and required them to sign off on an agreement holding us harmless for the framework holding the new Lexan panel.

A week after we completed the installation, we got a frantic phone call early in the morning from the owners of the jewelry store. My boss and I arrived at the store’s location to find that the thieves had come very well-prepared. They had drilled two holes in the Lexan panel, installed collapsible grappling hooks on chains through the panel, and apparently simply hooked the chains to a tow ball on the back of a large vehicle. The entire Lexan panel was laying on the sidewalk — completely undamaged except for some minor scratches and the two drilled holes — along with the chains and grappling hooks, having been completely jerked out of the storefront.

We all — the police, the store owners, my boss, and me — stood there gazing at the now-empty display window and cases in the store. The store had lost close to a million dollars in jewelry and expensive watches.

The owners immediately tried to blame our company for the failure of the Lexan panel to protect the store. We took the position that the Lexan had done exactly what we’d promised and that its mostly undamaged condition was a testament to that.

Our insurance company and their attorneys argued with their insurance company and attorneys in arbitration for months until the judge hearing the case finally found completely in our favor. His analogy and the lesson: when the plumber putting in your new toilet says you need to replace the floor under it, and that’s out of his scope of work, LISTEN TO HIM!

Just Your Friendly (Sort Of) Neighborhood Roofer

, , , , , , | Working | October 16, 2022

A couple of years ago, my dad discovered that there was a hole in the roof. He could stand in the hallway and look right up into the sky through the hole. This was at the beginning of September, and the weather forecast mentioned heavy rain that afternoon.

As Dad always wants to support businesses in their tiny hometown, he called the only roofer in town listed in the phone book.

Dad: “Hi, I’m [Dad] at [address]. There is a hole in my roof that needs to get fixed.”

Roofer #1: “Uh-huh. I can drop by in May.”

Dad: “May? That’s eight months from now. I can see the sky through this hole and it needs to be fixed ASAP.”

Roofer #1: “Okay, so, see you in May, then.”

Dad: “Absolutely not. Bye.”

Dad was not happy when he consulted the phone book again and called a roofer in a neighbouring town.

Dad: “Hi, I’m [Dad] at [address] in [Town]. There is a hole in my roof that needs to be fixed.”

Roofer #2: “Oh, that doesn’t sound good at all. I could— Wait, did you say [address]?”

Dad: “Yep.”

Roofer #2: “I’m over at [Parallell Street] on a job. My lunch break is in half an hour. I’ll drop by and check your roof then if that’s okay with you.”

Dad: “Sounds good!”

The roofer came over and agreed that the hole needed to be fixed ASAP. He called again right after his lunch break.

Roofer #2: “Hi again. So, your roof needs to be fixed urgently. We are basically done here, and what’s left is just cosmetic. I want to fix your roof before this incoming rainstorm. I’ve talked to the homeowner here, and we agreed to finish his roof tomorrow, instead. He was very eager to help out a neighbour in need.”

My dad has been recommending one of these roofers ever since — the other, not so much.

But it was quite the coincidence that the good roofer was working so close and could drop by basically right away.

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When Someone Else’s Incompetence Becomes Your Problem, Somehow

, , , , , | Right | August 5, 2022

I work for a company that installs insulation into homes. We get a call from a contractor that hires us frequently, asking about insulation that was installed incorrectly into a home they built, and trying to get it fixed. Looking up the address, I see that we quoted the job but didn’t do any work there.

Me: “It looks like we didn’t actually install the insulation in that project.”

Contractor: “I know. Your quote was quite high, so we hired [Competitor] to do it, and they did a really bad job…”

He spends several minutes describing the problem again.

Me: “Okay. We can come out and get you a quote for repairs.”

Contractor: “But I thought there was a guarantee. If we need repairs, you are supposed to do it for free.”

Me: “Yes, we guarantee our own work, and if we had installed something incorrectly, we would fix it for free.”

Contractor: “Well, [Competitor]’s work is also guaranteed, so don’t you have to fix it for free?”

Me: “No, they have to fix it for free. We don’t guarantee work that we don’t do.”

Contractor: “But I don’t want them to do it. They did a really bad job. I want you to do it!”

Me: “We will do it — for a fee. We are happy to come out and have a look and let you know how much that will be.”

After another twenty minutes of this, he finally agreed to have us quote an actual price to do the work. The owner decided to take a little pity on him, as he does do a fair amount of work with us, and the quote ended up being less than $300, which would cover the materials and most of the labour, although we would probably end up losing a little money on it.

After the work was complete and the bill was paid, he emailed us a bill for $4,200! It was for the removal of the damaged areas, the assessment, and the replacement of the finishes. My boss ended up calling him and spending forty minutes explaining to him why we were not responsible for the damages to a house caused by other people doing work poorly.

No good deed goes unpunished.

The Tool Jokes Just Write Themselves, Don’t They?

, , , , | Working | July 28, 2022

I recently quit my job due to the fact that it’s become increasingly embarrassing to be associated with my boss, also the owner of the company. On my last day, I cleaned out my truck, returned a special key to the company we subcontracted from, and left anything my boss had given me in the truck

About a week into my new job, my now former boss sends me a text message. The following conversation takes place over text.

Boss: “I need you to return [list of tools] and [key].”

Me: “You took [tool #1] back from me six months ago, [tools #2 and #3] are in my old truck, you never gave me [tool #4] at all, I paid for [remaining tools] out of my own pocket, and I gave the key back to [Company] as per their policy.”

Boss: “I know you bought them, but I paid you back for them. You need to give them back. I need the others, too, and the key.”

Me: “Like I said, I don’t have them. I’m keeping the ones I paid for because they belong to me, you took one of them back from me months ago, you didn’t even give me the other one at all, one is in the bottom drawer on the passenger side of my old truck, and the last one should be in the top drawer on the passenger side. The key is with [Person] from [Company] as it is their policy that it gets returned to them.”

Boss: “I don’t have time for this. Just answer the email I sent you.”

And I’M supposed to have time for this?!

I see the email and it’s the exact same thing as the text. I answer the email with my exact same responses, as well.

Just to be safe, I go back through all of my tools, and I do in fact find one of the items he was looking for. It wasn’t intentional on my part. It was in a small pouch nearly identical to another tool that is mine, so I thought that’s what it was. I immediately inform my boss and apologize for missing it. I arrange to meet him and drop it off.

We meet and he instantly accuses me of trying to steal it, along with the rest of the list. Again, he demands the key, and I explain to him again that I talked to [Company] and followed THEIR procedure.

Boss: “Then you need to get it back and give it to me because it was under my name.”

I know this is false as I returned the key AND the paperwork I was given with it, and it was most definitely MY name on there. Still, he demands I call [Company] and get it back.

At this point, he also accuses me of intentionally damaging my work truck and says he’ll sue me for repairs. This is the same man who refused to fix a different truck with three cylinders misfiring and no functional climate control that shook at highway speed, my truck with at least two faulty sensors, a third truck that the back end was about to drop out of, and yet a fourth truck that overheated every fifty km because they weren’t “safety issues”.

I’ve heard through the grapevine that, due to his behaviour with the public (several incidents worthy of their own submissions) coming to light, the status of his contract with [Company] is on thin ice.

He’s gotten me pretty steamed with all of this. I’ve maintained my cool until now but the continued baseless accusations have broken me. I call the supervisor in charge of his project on the spot in front of him. This supervisor and I have a great rapport.

Me: “Hey, [Supervisor]. I heard that [Boss] is on some sort of remand because of the way he behaves with the public. Since I’m now a member of the public, I’d like to report that he is harassing me for tools he never gave me and threatening to sue me for damages to my old truck.”

Supervisor: “Thanks for letting me know. Just get out of there for now and I’ll deal with it.”

Boss: “Why are you involving him? This doesn’t concern him!”

Me: “It absolutely does. I put up with a lot working for you, but now that I’m just a member of the public, which you’ve repeatedly shown you don’t know how to respect, I’ve reported your actions to the appropriate people. This is what happens when you treat people like s***.”

He left, cursing and swearing at me. I talked to [Supervisor] again a bit later in the day and talked about how best to handle everything. I sent an email to my old boss with [Supervisor] CC’ed, listing out once again everything about the tools.

As for that key, I talked to the person at [Company] in charge of them and I did another email with him CC’ed, saying I followed [Company] policy to the letter and if [Boss] wanted another one, he would have to reapply for it.

About a month later, he did indeed lose his contract after yet another road rage incident that caused damage to a car.

It’s been eight months since I quit. I still have my tools and still haven’t been sued. Last I heard, [Boss] was working as a grunt for another company in the same industry.

Chemsplaining To A Chemical Engineer

, , , , , , | Working | July 26, 2022

I needed a new roof on my house and was collecting quotes. One of the companies I had in was a metal roofing company “looking to complete some show homes in the area to build their new business.” The visit started simply enough, with the man getting onto the existing roof to assess and measure. When he entered my foyer to sell, that’s when it all went downhill.

He handed me a brochure about metal roofing and started talking about the environmental footprint of metal roofing versus asphalt roofing. Now, I’m a chemical engineer with experience in mining and oil and gas, so when someone starts BS-ing me about the topic, I know. He started saying things that were clearly untrue. I tried to keep my mouth shut and just listen, but I finally just came out and said:

Me: “I’m a chemical engineer. I know how oil extraction and mining work and their impacts.”

This was when he changed… tactics? I hesitate to call it that because I can’t imagine who in their right mind would think this was a good sales strategy. The next words out of his mouth were:

Employee: “Perhaps your husband would understand this better.”

The next ten minutes were a continuation of his repeated lies, punctuated by comments like, “Maybe I should come back when your husband is home,” “I’m sure your husband would understand this,” and, “I think maybe you don’t understand.”

My grim smile became more and more forced and I tried various ways to end the visit. Finally, he handed me a DVD.

Employee: “You can watch this video about the process with your husband and I’m sure he can explain it to you. Here’s my card.”

I had already decided that getting a metal roof wasn’t worth this pompous a**, but I just threw his sales materials on the table and forgot about them. A week later, I received a follow-up call from the man himself, asking if I would like to schedule my roofing job. Of course, my answer was no. He asked why not.

Me: “Well, for starters, the information you presented to me about metal and asphalt roofing was untrue. Secondly, when I explained to you how I had the expertise to know it was untrue, you repeatedly insisted that my husband, with less knowledge, would understand better than I could.”

He sputtered something about me not knowing what I was talking about, then demanded his DVD back. I told him I would put it in the mailbox and he could come to pick it up when he felt like it.

After a week of the DVD sitting in my mailbox, I threw it in the trash.