Boy, did I get screwed this week! Marilyn and I own a rental condo here in Ocean City and we got a call from our guests that the air conditioning didn’t seem to be working. We were away and unavailable to respond personally so we called the (reputable-name) service contractor with which we have a service contract.
“Compressor blown…$2800 for a new outside heat pump” was the diagnosis. Crap! Just like when we were innkeepers, it hurts to spend that much money for something that is invisible to the guests (except when it is NOT working!). “Aw right”, we responded…what else could we do?
There was a second problem we discovered. Raccoons (or something) had chewed through the wires under the decking and there was a short that kept tripping the breaker. Whenever the heat pump came on, the vibration would shake the wires, and eventually they would short out and trip the breaker…but it only happened once in a while when the vibration hit it just right for the wires to touch together and short out. We got an electrician to splice in a new piece of wire and that was fixed. Then he made the comment that sent us thinking. “Maybe it was the shorted circuit causing the problem and the heat pump was fine after all”.
HMMM…To make a long story short, we went to the boneyard of the A/C service company, found our unit (our address was written on the cover so it was easy to identify), and had it tested by another HVAC company. Nothing wrong with it! Come to find out the technician who diagnosed the problem gets a commission for selling new units so he replaces even good units with new units to collect bigger bucks. Maybe the owners would never notice.
Needless to say, we initiated the chargeback for our $2800, jumped to the new service company to reinstall our old one, and I called the owner of the violating company to complain. He offered to make nice-nice and agreed to only charge us $600 and we can keep the NEW unit. I told him NO…that I would pay the $600 to the trustworthy company to reinstall the old unit even though I probably had argument to get the old company to reinstall the old unit free of charge since they should never have uninstalled it in the first place. He had lost my trust.
This applies to all parts of our own lives as innkeepers (and consultants). I had an aspiring innkeeper want her money back for a seminar that she couldn’t attend and that I was trying to reschedule anyway. At first, I was going to return the fee (less the credit card fees) I am charged by the processor. (kinda like the $25 cancellation fee for a room, isn’t it?). Today, I sent her the entire amount to not violate trust and to maintain the relationship. After all, it was NOT her fault I was trying to change the schedule.
How many times have you charged a fee for an early arrival? or a late check-out…even when you knew that room was not being used? How many times have you booked a room holding back the fact that the bridal reception going on downstairs might disturb the guests (maybe they won’t notice!).
It’s all about earning and deserving to be trusted. Just as I can no longer trust my old A/C company, I want to make sure I do not tell people what they want to hear…when it may be misleading…just to get their business. I would rather be trusted. Scott