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Is It Too Much to Ask for Contractors to Call You Back?

Do I have three heads? Speak in tongues? Smell bad? It seems a return call is an unattainable expectation these days.

I’ve had a less than adequate response from a handful of plumbers, glass and mirror installers, tile layers and appliance repair people. I understand with some sought-after specialists a wait is expected, but no courtesy return call only adds frustration and leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

When contacting a contractor, I’ll leave a voicemail and follow up with an email (if available). I’ll wait a few days and call again. If no contact is made, I go to the next one on the list. When I finally get someone to the house, its often two to three weeks after the quest begins. I can’t help but feel like one of those desperate high school girls that followed beautiful male specimens around campus. I’m not going to beg for service, but it often feels that way.  

All I want is a competitive quote along with a scheduled date for the project.  It’s getting to the point where I’m surprised, even shocked, when I DO get a call back. Then, when I’m finally speaking with a human, there’s often attitude — as if  I’ve inconvenienced  them! I had a tile man give me a quote for a bathroom floor. When I called him back, he was booked through October. October? Maybe my job wasn’t big enough, not worth his time. Maybe the world is dangerously low on plumbers, tilers, handymen? In this economy, it’s hard to believe anyone would turn down work.

I’m over the game. I’m tired of asking, walking on eggshells when trying to hire someone. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions, but it seems no one wants the work. Am I alone on this? The recommended contractors who poop gold, or at least believe they do, swagger with confidence. I’ve tried name dropping, telling them who recommended them, what wonderful things I’ve heard. The charm has officially fizzled and no longer works.  

I asked a few friends if they’ve experienced the same hindrance. I have a friend who was looking to do an addition to her kitchen. A recommended contractor came to her house, spending a lengthy amount of time taking measurements.  He was never to be heard from again, vanished into thin air. She made a few attempts with phone calls, but no response.

Then there’s the friend who contracted to have a paver patio installed. On the day the man was to start, he called to say he decided it was a nice day and was headed to the Cape! He was promptly fired.   

If I find a trusted contractor, I will nourish the professional relationship. I’m friendly, offer beverages, sometimes lunch. Most appreciate the gesture, others are a bit cautious. But once they realize the intentions are genuine, that I pay invoices on time and continue to call for more work, they stick around. If the work is good, response time speedy and rate is competitive, I’ll be loyal and spread the good word.  

Jan July 16, 2012 at 01:59 PM
A couple of months ago - a 'contractor' was going through the neighborhood explaining to us unknowing homeowners all the problems with our homes and property. At first I thought - oh good - we have 'Alfred' damage that needed to be addressed, he looked there, noticed our front steps needed attention (we knew that too) then he mentioned they do lawns, AND driveways - and oh, btw your roof looks like it needs to be replaced...really? I asked for a quote for the fence, and possibly the front steps. I would get an estimate in a couple of days...it's now July 16, and I never heard a word - I guess he was too busy with the 3 lawns near our home,(yes they put lawns in in July!) I understand that they are doing a driveway too. Of course we do have to deal with them as they ripped up a sprinkler head, and ran over a 20' Arborvite! How on earth can you not see that?? I too have made calls to contractors and have not gotten responses, and you do have to ask yourself - why is everyone talking about how bad the economy is - these guys are so busy, guess they don't need the work. On the other hand - we just had work done on our pool, and the guys were here at the crack of dawn, and did a fantastic job!!

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