Petty Tyrants and Service

Several weeks ago, I contacted a local consultant to establish a relationship where I would recommend his company during the normal course of my inspections business. We connected well, his company was a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, and I was very comfortable when the time came to say, “I can coordinate the WDO inspection for you with a very experienced consultant, working for a substantial company. Their fee is just $75.00”.

From that point forward, it was as if I were in Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone.

For the sake of accurate and unbiased information, it’s best for me to list the things that happened next.

-I called the consultant’s office to schedule the inspection (as I had been instructed earlier. The lady on the other end of the phone, let’s call her “M”, asked me to call him directly to schedule.
-I called him to schedule the inspection and he told me that he could not schedule himself that I needed to call the office back.
-I called his office back and spoke to “M”. She transferred me to another lady, we’ll call her “D”, who told me that she’d email a form to be filled out, and schedule the consultant for 9:30 Friday morning.

-I called the client for information to use on the form and was told that the transaction was amongst friends, there were no real estate agents, attorneys, etc involved-only a mortgage company. Her preference was to fill out the form the morning of the inspection and have it ready for the insector when he arrived at the inspection location.

-9:00 I arrived at the inspection, had the client fill our the form for the consultant and set about my work.
-10:00 The client told me that she had an appointment, needed to leave and asked me to check on the WDO consultant.
-10:10 I called the consultant’s office and talked to “D” who advised me in the most forceful way that I had not sent her the form so she had redirected the consultant. I replied that I had the form for him to hold when he got to the site. There were some lost minutes during this conversation where most of what I said was some derivation of “you are a hard company to give work to” and most of what she said was a derivation of “don’t try to drag me under the bus with you, we have rules and regulations.”
-10:20 Seeing no options, I left the inspection site for a local Five Guys restaurant where I could use the fax machine to send “D” the form. I confirmed receipt of the form with “D” and rescheduled the WDO for 1:00
-11:10 I got back to the site and restarted my building inspection.
-12:35 I noticed a missed call from “D” on my cell phone and returned the call to find out that she had again redirected the consultant because the form was not totally filled out. When I told her that the entire section on real estate agents was truly ‘not applicable’ because there were none involved in the transaction she rescheduled him for ‘as soon as he could get there”.
-2:00 he arrived. I paid him in cash, reminded him that the completed report should be emailed to me, and went on about my business after being at the site for 5 hours for a 3 hour inspection.

-I had an appointment to deliver both reports (mine and the WDO) to the client at noon and had not received the WDO report, so I rescheduled for Monday with the client.

-9:30ish I emailed the WDO company (“D” and the inspector) letting them know that I had an appointment to hand deliver the reports at noon, because the client couldn’t print reports from her computer, and needed to leave my office by 11 to make that timeframe.
-11:00 I called “D” because she had not sent me the report and got a snotty attitude, but the report came in a few minutes.

Shame on me for not realizing that the infamous “form” was an integral part of their routine.
Shame on me for reacting badly to the inspector being redirected the first time.

Shame on “D” for allowing her tyrannical personality to influence her business decisions.
Shame on the WDO company for allowing a person with an ego larger than mine to be the only voice most people hear when dealing with them.

As one who has employed hundreds of people in the past, it’s easy for me to understand that people with “D”s personality make good employees because they get things done…by the book. On the other hand, they drive clients/customers away.

My common sense says that “D” could have maintained her standards and kept me as a customer, but chose not to when she decided to re-direct the inspector the very first time, without a courtesy call to me explaining the form’s importance to their system. Given our respective personalities, everything else that happened was inevitable.