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Thread: New policy

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    New York
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    Default New policy

    Today's inspection was a nightmare... almost.

    To make a long story short, today I drove 90 miles (each way) to an inspection. When I was about to begin; my client called me and instructed me to cease what I was doing because the property owner had reneged on her authorization to perform the semi invasive inspection (stucco inspection involving probe at all windows, kickouts, core sample, etc.).

    When my client arrived (20 minutes later), he appologized and told me he would pay for my time... and offered me $200.00. I told him this was not acceptable and wanted $500 (bear in mind I still have to pay my helper, was up at 5AM (on Father's Day), had to drive +-200 miles, $40 in gas and $15 in tolls). He was very nice and was willing to pay the amount, but requested the opportunity to speak to the seller. It turned out ok and the inspection went as planned.

    BUT!!! What if the client was not as nice. Lots of folks would not want to pay 500 bucks for nothing.

    Up until now I have not accepted credit cards; simply because I get very few requests for credit cards and can't see the whole monthly fee thing for the few times I could use it, and requesting to be paid by check has never been a problem.

    I am considering a new policy requiring a deposit to book an inspection. Most of my work is at least 50 miles away. I think I should consider today a warning, and believe I may finally have found a reason to justify the credit card option.

    I've always said: "a smart man learns from his mistakes and a wise man learns from other people's mistakes". Perhaps I will add "and a person that doesn't heed a warning deserves what he gets (or doesn't get)".

    Similar Threads:
    Last edited by Steven Turetsky; 06-17-2013 at 02:32 AM.
    Inspection Referral SOC
    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    St Paul, MN
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    Default Re: New policy

    Cancelled inspections are part of the business. Remember, YOU accepted the inspection 90 miles away, on Father's Day and it's not your clients fault that the seller reneged on their contract. Cancelled inspections should be built into your overall pricing.

    I'm not telling you how to run your business, only how I run mine. I don't charge for cancellations or make anyone pay a deposit. I've even been known to tell clients about obvious serious defects in the house within just a few minutes of being there, then offer to cancel their inspection with no charge to them. Guess what happens...they call me for their next one, they tell their friends and family members about me...the best advertising in the world.

    I seriously can't imagine what kind of negative publicity I'd receive if I demanded payment on a cancelled inspection or insisted on a deposit when taking an inspection order. I'd probably be out of business within months.

    I take credit cards via Square. (use the search feature, we've talked about it many times) No monthly fee, only a small transaction fee. I tell my clients they can pay me however they want...cash, check, or credit card it doesn't matter to me. I give them the option and they love it. My transaction fees are also built into my inspection fees. Another part of the cost of doing business.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
    ASHI #242887 mnradontesting.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    rockport texas
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    Default Re: New policy

    Steven,
    i get a permmision letter signed by the seller before I will even load my truck, however, most of my jobs are 15 -20 mins away. I don't see a problem with charging a deposit if your clients will pay it. Around here it's normal to pay a deposit to a contractor (Normaly to cover the cost of materials he needs to get the job started) before the start of the job. I still think you should also have a permmision letter signed.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    2,446

    Default Re: New policy

    Permission letter from seller? First of all, I have never heard of such a thing regarding home inspections, and second, i'm working for the Buyer (usually). How is a permission letter (whatever that is) going to get me paid by the Buyer if they cancel the inspection?
    To comment on the original post....
    I have found that trying to charge someone for a cancelled job (and collect) is a lost cause. When I had stopped the inspection early in the process, I usually collect a minimal charge to cover gas, etc. Every single time I have gotten the next job.


  5. #5
    Join Date
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    New York
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    Default Re: New policy

    My post is a venting and a reflection of the anguish I was feeling as I waited for this situation to be resolved. , and I have not yet made "requiring a deposit" policy... yet. In a nutshell I believe Mike said it all ["if your clients will pay it"].

    Through the years I have had my share of cancellations. Normally when they occur, I receive a phone call a day or so... or even the evening before; informing me that (for whatever reason) the inspection has been cancelled. Even though I feel bad and am disappointed about each and every one of them; I cheerfully accept the news and always offer my services for the future.

    The cancellations I am referring to are the ones that occur on site, after confirming with my client the day/night before... after receiving an "Authorization from Homeowner". After investing my time and money to do the inspection that I have been contracted for, I believe I am entitled (and fairly so) to be compensated.

    You must understand that I am not a subscriber to the "blame game" and have always believed (and teach my children) that what matters is "who is responsible".

    If your employee knocks something over, do you tell your client that you are not to blame, or do you suck it up and assume responsibility?

    I have no contract with the seller and have no recourse if the seller cancels. The buyer does (usually) have a contract with the seller, and if the seller reneges on such contract; there is recourse for the buyer's lost revenue. My contract is with the buyer (in this case), and although he (or she) may not be to blame... they are (in my opinion) responsible.

    On a side note; if when you do an inspection, you come across an area that is not accessible and you are unable to inspect it (and document such in your report), and a few days later you get a call from your client asking you to come back and reinspect; is there and additional fee? I know there is no set rule, and I have done so at no additional charge many times. But what if the job is 2 hours away? My answer is; "sometimes I charge and sometimes I don't. Every situation is different".

    When I decided the range of the area I wanted to target, I also had to come up with policies. Since I selected the range, I decided it would not be fair to charge more depending upon the distance. What I have done is to charge less for inspections that are close by (based upon tolls and gas). I also have no problem working on non-religious holidays, and was thrilled to work on New Year's Day last year. Such a marvelous way to start a new year!

    I cherish referrals, but unlike some; my business does not revolve around referrals from past or steady "clients" or "customers". And while it is not at all uncommon for me to look at something for no additional fee; it is NOT my intent to be judged upon what I do for free, but rather the quality of what I charge for. Quite often if not always, when a prospective client questions a price, I tell them that if after observing the inspection; they feel that the inspection is not worth the fee, they do not have to pay me.

    @Jack. Most of my inspections are not standard Home Inspections" and are specialized inspections related to Moisture Analysis (many of my referrals are from Home Inspectors). The reason that I require an "Authorization from the Homeowner" is that about 50% of my work is for clients that do not own the property (buyers). Unlike a standard Home Inspection; my work involves invasive probing/scoping/core samples. There is no way I could do this without permission from the owner.

    Last edited by Steven Turetsky; 06-17-2013 at 11:36 AM. Reason: Typos
    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

  6. #6
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    Feb 2009
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    Southern Vancouver Island
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    Default Re: New policy

    I agree with most of what you are saying, Steve. But I'm inclined to think that in the same situation, early into the job, I would accept the $200 partial payment from my client, who is not at fault. After all, you have not done any work and you have the rest of Father's Day off. JMO.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
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    Ben Lomond, CA
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    71

    Default Re: New policy

    As a contractor that does evaluative "inspections" for scope of work determination, which I charge for, I personally do not see a problem with a deposit and/or travel charge for those kind of distances. The "square" solution for credit cards is a good solution for infrequent use. There are a few of these charge per use processors out there now. New regulations allow for the addition of processing fees for card use or you can use the old way of offering a discount for cash/check.
    As for the main point of your post, we do not load up an drive with out a deposit and signed contract, which stipulates any additional items that would require payment (cancellation of contract, extra long travel time, reinspection/change in work scope, etc.) Your policy of charging less for close is alright too. Though a solution used by most of the plumbers and electricians around here is to charge for drive time. I personally skip this on local work, 30 miles or less. Then again, they charge 50% more than I do. Go figure.
    A statement for minimum charge applied for inspections cancelled less than say 12 hours in advance would be applicable. My dentists have charged for last minute cancellations/missed appt.s, again at a rate many times my hourly fees.
    As to your permission letter, not any different than permissions when we do remodeling for tenants not owners.
    I persnally get the deposit. What do you do with your schedule with a last minute cancel.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Dayton,Tn
    Posts
    16

    Default Re: New policy

    Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda - $200 - Yes sir - that will do. Call me again. Thank you.... - They call me back shortly for the next job if they don't buy there. Except - I offer the reduced price. - even returning cash paid. I earn trust. Trust does not pay bills though. But the word gets around. Others do call. Realtors referred me to clients they care about. No longer a home inspector. Just a handyman. Good luck Steve.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    930

    Default Re: New policy

    Wow ,that sucks Steve.
    Chicago is crazy busy so I am turning down any kind of long drives.


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Cape Cod, Massachusetts
    Posts
    574

    Default Re: New policy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Rowe View Post
    I take credit cards via Square. (use the search feature, we've talked about it many times) No monthly fee, only a small transaction fee. I tell my clients they can pay me however they want...cash, check, or credit card it doesn't matter to me. I give them the option and they love it. My transaction fees are also built into my inspection fees. Another part of the cost of doing business.
    Be carefull using Square as your card processor - Square Review & Complaints

    - - - Updated - - -

    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
    www.midcapehomeinspection.com

  11. #11
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    Mar 2007
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    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    Default Re: New policy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Amelin View Post
    Be carefull using Square as your card processor - Square Review & Complaints

    - - - Updated - - -
    Been using Square since 2010 and have never had any of the issues listed in the article. Works fine for me about 3-5 times a week on the average.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    2,365

    Default Re: New policy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Rowe View Post
    Cancelled inspections are part of the business. Remember, YOU accepted the inspection 90 miles away, on Father's Day and it's not your clients fault that the seller reneged on their contract. Cancelled inspections should be built into your overall pricing.

    I'm not telling you how to run your business, only how I run mine. I don't charge for cancellations or make anyone pay a deposit. I've even been known to tell clients about obvious serious defects in the house within just a few minutes of being there, then offer to cancel their inspection with no charge to them. Guess what happens...they call me for their next one, they tell their friends and family members about me...the best advertising in the world.

    I seriously can't imagine what kind of negative publicity I'd receive if I demanded payment on a cancelled inspection or insisted on a deposit when taking an inspection order. I'd probably be out of business within months.

    I take credit cards via Square. (use the search feature, we've talked about it many times) No monthly fee, only a small transaction fee. I tell my clients they can pay me however they want...cash, check, or credit card it doesn't matter to me. I give them the option and they love it. My transaction fees are also built into my inspection fees. Another part of the cost of doing business.
    These are my thoughts exactly. Cancellations are just a part of life and are built into my pricing. There is just no reasonable way to collect money for a job you don't do and keep happy clients. And without happy clients your business is not long for this world. The travel thing certainly adds a layer of complexity but I personally won't take jobs where I'm not willing to risk and accept what comes along with them.

    During busy times like this my "service area" definitely shrinks but a few years back I'd drive just about anywhere if there was work to be had.

    One thing I have discovered for certain over the years is that things come is groups - easy houses, terrible houses, great client, hassle clients, complaints/claims/callbacks and, of course, cancellations.

    One my worst character flaws is that I'm extremely impatiant and get easily annoyed so I have to always watch myself and remember to annualize everything that happens in this business. When I look at any one "problem" over the long term I realize it's not too bad. The problems just seem to come all at once which can be really frustrating.


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    North Las Vegas Nv 89081
    Posts
    37

    Default Re: New policy

    Been using Square for about two years with CC charges as high as $3500. Never had a problem. Money is always deposited in my accout within 24 to 48 hours.


  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    St Paul, MN
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    1,628

    Default Re: New policy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Amelin View Post
    Be carefull using Square as your card processor - Square Review & Complaints

    - - - Updated - - -
    As with the others, I've never had a problem with them and have processed nearly $100,000 in payments through them. Don't believe everything you read on the internet. The writer of the blog you posted is payed by Square's competitors advertising on the page.

    MinnesotaHomeInspectors.com
    Minnesota Home Inspectors LLC
    ASHI #242887 mnradontesting.com

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Florida
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    552

    Default Re: New policy

    Quote Originally Posted by stanley frost View Post
    Steven,
    .......Around here it's normal to pay a deposit to a contractor (Normaly to cover the cost of materials he needs to get the job started) before the start of the job......
    There us a big difference between a construction job and an inspection. Hard to compare the two. You are correct in that contractors usually get funding to start a job, a progress payment or payments, and a completion payment.

    When starting a job the contractor gets money for possibly, depending upon the size of a contractor, for purchase materials. Labor and profit are covered mainly in progress and final payment. Very different than your situation in which it is gas and possible a helper. Getting a deposit could possibly turn your customer to someone who doesn't require that, only because they may want to make one payment for an inspection---not two.


  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    rockport texas
    Posts
    132

    Default Re: New policy

    Jack
    If you read Steven's thread he's not talking about a home inspection he's doing a stucco inspection BIG DIFFERANCE. If you read his thread you would note that the seller is the one that canclled the inspection. I have had sellers refuse to sign the permmision letter (no stucco inspection = don't sell your house) but once they sign they allways allow the inspection. I get the seller to sign because the buyer doesn't own the house.


  17. #17
    Andrew Kling's Avatar
    Andrew Kling Guest

    Default Re: New policy

    Quote Originally Posted by Tabb Jensen View Post
    Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda - $200 - Yes sir - that will do. Call me again. Thank you.... - They call me back shortly for the next job if they don't buy there. Except - I offer the reduced price. - even returning cash paid. I earn trust. Trust does not pay bills though. But the word gets around. Others do call. Realtors referred me to clients they care about. No longer a home inspector. Just a handyman. Good luck Steve.

    Agree completely... Worse comes to worse you take your helper to breakfast on your way home. I'd in fact most likely pay the helper for half a day's work if it was mine or the client's fault, then take the tax write off...


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