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  1. #1
    imported_John Smith's Avatar
    imported_John Smith Guest

    Default Worst Client Contest

    I have seen some pretty colorful threads as a result of less than favorable clients. I have been extremely luck so far.

    My worst to date was a referral job with the client living in another state. They called me at least 5 times to reschedule and when I did finally get a firm date and arrived at the property no one was home. Finally someone showed up and I was able to do my inspection, but it sure was an inconvenience. I guess I have been real lucky so far. Surprisingly, I get very few agents wanting to hang around for the inspection. I guess Houston may be a little different in this respect, or I have just been fortunate.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Worst Client Contest

    As I once drove up to an inspection site early one morning and stopped my truck somebody started knocking on my window. I rolled the window down and this idiot in a suit said, “I’m the listing agent and if you find anything wrong with my listing I’ll sue you.”
    I replied without batting an eye, “well get in line Junior.”
    He got in his car and left and I always remember that as a very unique occasion.
    (Probably late in his Mercedes 500 SL payment?)

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Worst Client Contest

    Jerry M.

    And how many pages was that report?


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Worst Client Contest

    John,

    I've had so many that one alone just doesn't come to mind.

    One time I had a client that is a celebrity that actually complained that he thought our fee was excessive.

    I told him for what he made as a living riding a bicycle was ridiculous too.

    Rick


  5. #5
    Joe Nernberg's Avatar
    Joe Nernberg Guest

    Cool Re: Worst Client Contest

    1. A client showed up at the wrong house, waited 30-minutes and then called my office to complain that the inspector is late. Not true. Actually, he forgot which house he made an offer and seemed disappointed when he finally sat down to review escrow paperwork.

    2. Older gal comes up the driveway and introduces herself as the buyer/client. She took one long drag from the cigarette and asked if I found asbestos. Was she worried about lung cancer?

    3. Client's tub drain leaked into the condo unit below. She wanted to know why I didn't make this discovery during the inspection. Is it reasonable for me to inspect adjacent condos?

    4. A fellow bought a poorly maintained home in Beverly Hills. 3-months later: underground yard drains backed up water into the house, roof leaked and circuit breakers tripped when multiple appliances were operated. I always answer complaints in person and with my camera. We sat down and reviewed my inspection report and I circled every defect comment and showed him I recommended further action before the close of escrow. Nothing was repaired or reviewed by others. The seller offered a credit. My client took the money and never read the report. "Here's your sign!"


  6. #6
    Jack Ahern's Avatar
    Jack Ahern Guest

    Thumbs down Re: Worst Client Contest

    Recent Inspection on a two family that should have been torn down. Very nervous young buyer. Buying into her budget. House had so many defects I can't list them.
    The Good Part. Two former Beauty Queens-One mother and one daughter. Both falling down drunk at 10:00 AM. Operated as a 'tag team' following me around. I could not shake them, we only had one buyers agent. As time went on, I got nastier and then nastiest. Got them both crying, then the mother called the cops. Fortunatly the police knew the beauty queens and "talked" to them until I could finish the inspection.
    This R.E. market has got to improve. Go Sox


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Worst Client Contest

    I guess one of the worst, but also the most satisfying for me was one many years ago.

    I used a 4-part paper reporting system at the time. I walked around with this 16 page report in a multi-page folder and flipped back and forth between sections. I always had to cradled in my left arm, and wrote with my right,

    Client is late getting there. Never worked with her agent before. I give her my contract to read and sign, briefly go over what's in it, and ask her to go over it and ask any questions while I'm still in the kitchen.

    She walks around the kitchen mumbleing to herself. She says she doesn't want to sign it. I ask her what the problem is. She says, "I just don't want to sign it". I look at her Realtor, who is just standing there - NOTHING from him. I tell her that it's a standard contract, similar to just about every other HI around, and it is REQUIRED to be signed, or I can't do the inspection. If she has a problem with some of the wording, or she would like to discuss something about it, I am all ears.......................and she finally signs.

    I move on about my business and a short time later I am in the agrage and she comes out and tells me she wants me to put in my report that the house needs a new driveway. I look at the driveway again, see the very few and very small cracks that we all see on just about every piece of concrete around. I tell her that I really don't see anything wrong with this driveway, and I can't very well put it in my report that they need to replace it.

    We go back and forth a few times like that, and finally she comes right up to me, and raises her voice a couple levels and tells me that "SHE is PAYING me, and YOU WILL PUT WHATEVER I TELL YOU TO PUT IN THE REPORT..."

    With as much force as I could muster, I slammed my book shut and told her that she wasn't going to pay me today, since I just quit. I then went into the house and asked her agent to move his car so I could leave.

    BY the way, that was also the last time I parked IN the driveway.

    The look on her face was worth every penny I didn't get for the inspection.
    JF


  8. #8
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    Cool Re: Worst Client Contest

    I’ve encountered more than one moron agent and have never suffered fools gladly, guess its part of my Celt heritage?
    Years ago I was doing my inspection for a new agent and the listing agent, a real fat slob, was continually berating her about this and that and tried cornering me to explain if I wanted any work in his vast territory I wouldn’t find any problems. Of course this sent me into over-drive and after listening to him bring the lady agent to tears I quietly walked over to him, stuck my face into his and spitted out something to the effect that I could always spot a bully because they usually picked on women or those who where incapable of defending themselves, but that as soon as I finished my inspection I would come looking for him and if he where still there it would give me great pleasure to beat the holly crap out of him. He sputtered and asked if I was threatening him and I said “you betcha – you stinking POS!”
    He took off and later I heard he filed a complaint against me at the local board or Realtors and then around 6 months later I heard he lost his RE license for mixing his client trust funds with his personal bank account. I had two glasses of wine that night. The lady agent went on to be one of my best heavy-hitters and all was well in Mudville. Sometimes I sort of miss the action, but not when I recall how it was crawling around under dumps………..

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  9. #9
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: Worst Client Contest

    I've certainly had my share of encounters with ******* clients, sellers, agents, builders, other inspectors, tradesmen, municipal inspectors, you name it. At the top of my current list of people who need to have their ass kicked (and this is a very l-o-n-g list) resides one consumate lying SOB.

    He called me a month ago complaining that, during my inspection of his house a year earlier, I must have been blind, for I had missed the fact that there was absolutely no insulation installed in the ceiling. I usually take about 50-75 photos of any property I inspect. Most of my reports contain about 20-25 of these photos as I see fit. I sent him several photos of issues in his attic that, of course, showed ample blown-in insulation in place. When faced with photos he simply denied that these were actual photos of his house.

    Turns out that, after moving in, he had the rafter cavities sprayed with foam insulation. The contractor also removed the blown-in insulation during that process. It seems he wanted me to foot part of the bill . . .

    Aaron


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Worst Client Contest

    Aaron, that story confirms my suspicion that saving ALL my photo is a good thing despite being told in several CE classes to only save the report and pictures that actually made it into the report. I figure the cost of storage these days make it too expensive to throw away documentation. Of course I am a pack rat anyway
    I have not had the displeasure to use past photos for the bad client, but I have been able to use it to help some good ones.
    Jim

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  11. #11
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    Cool Re: Worst Client Contest

    Saving all your inspection photos, not just what you put in your report, could end up becoming your "get-out-of-jail-free" card.
    I cannot emphasize enough just how important visual evidence is at a binding arbitration or in a court of law.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Worst Client Contest

    I believe there are arguments on both sides of that issue. Though it may be your get out of jail free card, it could also be your do not pass go, do not get @200, go directly to jail card.

    I try to take only those I will use and to be sure that they are cropped to show what I want and no more than what I want.

    The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory.
    - Paul Fix

  13. #13
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Default Re: Worst Client Contest

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    Saving all your inspection photos, not just what you put in your report, could end up becoming your "get-out-of-jail-free" card.
    I cannot emphasize enough just how important visual evidence is at a binding arbitration or in a court of law.
    Jerry:

    Unpublished photos of jobs have saved me at least a hundred times. There are so many examples of how these can be lifsavers . . but I won't bore folks by listing them all.

    (1) Foreclosures - Lots of stuff gets stolen from foreclosures when the owners move out. One house I did was missing one of three condenser units. I took a picture of the empty pad. When the agent and bank attempted to have me replace the unit - I sent them the picture.

    (2) Flip houses or investment (rental) properties - The new appliances installed in these houses are sometimes replaced with older or less expensive models. The couple of times I've been asked why the old clunker appliance was not indicated as in need of repair - I sent them the picture.

    (3) Vacant properties - I take a short .mpg movie clip of the water meter dial when leaving. When they call and say I left the water on at some fixture or another - I send them the picture.

    (4) If the client is present for the inspection I always clandestinely take their picture. If they later say they were not there - I send them the picture.

    Lots of other reasons exist. Be creative. Camera memory is so cheap. Use it.

    Aaron


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Worst Client Contest

    Quote Originally Posted by Thom Walker View Post
    I believe there are arguments on both sides of that issue.
    There are ALWAYS arguments for both sides of an issue, but on this one, Jerry Mc.'s side wins.

    There are very distinct disadvantages to cropping of photos to show just what you want to show ... that being ... you are discarding what you do not *want* to show, meaning you could be taken as 'hiding' what you cropped off.

    I recommend carefully taking your photos (thinking about what you are looking at), then even more carefully reviewing your photos for what they contain, adding to your report as you review your photos and insert them into your report.

    Instead of limiting the photos I took or arbitrarily limiting the number of photos I inserted into my reports, I took tons of photos and used them all. Then, I went through and added a caption under each photo with what was shown/seen in that photo. That took extra time, and made my reports larger, but I felt I produced a more thorough report on my inspections that way - making my inspections and reports more valuable to my clients, and I was able to charge more for that value.

    More valuable to my clients ... while being more troublesome to the sellers and/or builders as it was all right there 'in your face' in the report.

    Yes, I would still occasionally be called for a 'what do you mean about this?', I directed them to the report, read it over with them, then directed them to the photo and read that over with them, then it was my turn to ask 'what do you mean 'what do you mean' ?'. They got it. It was all right there.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  15. #15

    Default Re: Worst Client Contest

    I need some help understanding why it is a good idea to only take a picture of the defect. Can someone give me an example of a time when it would be a bad idea to take a wide angle photo showing more than just the specific defect.
    I am probably wrong on this , but it seems that if you are doing a thorough job and catch all the defects, than you would have nothing to hide.

    Thanks


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Worst Client Contest

    Quote Originally Posted by Brandon Whitmore View Post
    Can someone give me an example of a time when it would be a bad idea to take a wide angle photo showing more than just the specific defect.
    it seems that if you are doing a thorough job and catch all the defects, than you would have nothing to hide.
    That's your answer.

    *IF* you are not careful, you could show something in your photo which is defective, but which *you* did not catch or report on.

    Not that you are "intentionally" "hiding" a defect, but that you unintentionally missed one. Cropping the photo does the opposite - you could be thought of as "intentionally" "hiding" the defect you missed (because you cropped it off). Admittedly, the risk of the missed defect being found is less when cropped as your real photo would only be seen when you are taken to court ... and that is not the time to be seen as 'cropping out defective you did not want to report on'.

    Catch 22 if you are not on the ball (and we *ALL* occasionally slip up, so be careful out there and only slip up when it does not matter ).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  17. #17
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Unhappy Re: Worst Client Contest

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Eastman View Post
    This is what you do:

    You take a wide angle picture of the "defect" then crop it into your report. Make sure you keep both. If you get hauled into court, then make sure you delete the origional, wide angled picture. Therefore, they don't know it was ever cropped.
    In court altered photos may be successfully assailed by the plaintiff's attorney. I take all of my photos on a camera that prints the date and time on each photo file. I download the photos on a separate machine on my network that does not have any phot editing software on it.

    Aaron


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Worst Client Contest

    My worst client experience is pretty limited, most have been good.
    BUT the one that sticks out most is the guy that called me a full year after the inspection wanting the number for my insurance.

    Said he had termites and the house was falling down.

    I go to the file and pull the report and begin reading with him over the phone where in three different parts of the report I told him there was damage, damage and more damage, the house was too close to the ground to be able to access the crawl space, the floor in one of the bedrooms was like a trampoline, etc.

    After going through the report line by line and him agreeing that I told him about the condition, he says, "well I just think you should have warned me more strongly" and said I would be hearing from his lawyer. (I never heard from him or his lawyer again)

    This was the same guy that told me the house wasn't really that important, that he was really just buying the land (35 acres) anyway.

    Turns out his plans didn't work out and he had to start living in the house and he needed some deep pockets to supplement his rehab project.

    So remember boys and girls, document everything, clients memories have a way of changing when their circumstances change!

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  19. #19
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    Cool Re: Worst Client Contest

    Brandon, I believe Jerry P addressed your question quite thoroughly and to suport his sage advice I'm one of two report reviewers for my association and I have seen more than once a photo inserted showing a defect with another in the background that went unmentioned. One such mistake like that will put your entire report under suspicion, not to mention you will pay for a fixin that unreported defect...

    In the early years of my EW work we used only film cameras as digital cameras had not been invented yet therefore unavailable and after they where and became both available and really good they where almost always challenged in court by the opposing attorney as the photos produced were possibly being digitally altered, as if that couldn’t be done with a film shot?
    Today all the judges and arbitrators accept digital shots, at least in the counties where I’m accepted as an expert witness. Even most all of the pro-photographers are now into digital photography. The date and time is nice, but not a requirement, so far.

    Most of us put on power-point shows with the photos we have taken of all the undisclosed and/or unreported defects and after the inevitable dead silence at the end of the show the opposing attorney usually asks for a recess and then comes back and tells the judge or arbitrator they’ve reached a settlement. Back when I was in the trenches a photo saved me big money when the client claimed I missed a whole bunch of wall damage and should have seen it because the house was vacant. I sent him photos showing every area where the damage was located and all the seller’s furnishings covering it. End of story. Photos are powerful visual evidence…as Aaron stated.

    BTW, I just bought a new Nikon D-80 and it’s really neat if anybody is shopping for a top-of-the-line camera. For home inspection pocket type digital cameras I’ve had good luck with the Nikon Cool-pix line.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Worst Client Contest

    I do not see the date stamp as being of much use as they are manualy set by the user anyway, same thing with computer files, change the clock, write the file, reset clock. It's just easier now than when dos was around.


  21. #21

    Default Re: Worst Client Contest

    Thanks guys-- it is better to learn while asking these questions outside of the court room.

    Your answers make sense, how many times have any of you noticed some undiscovered issue while performing a walk through with a client at the end of an inspection? (typically minor, but still....) One reason I no longer finish the reports on site.


  22. #22
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Smile Re: Worst Client Contest

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    Brandon, I believe Jerry P addressed your question quite thoroughly and to suport his sage advice I'm one of two report reviewers for my association and I have seen more than once a photo inserted showing a defect with another in the background that went unmentioned. One such mistake like that will put your entire report under suspicion, not to mention you will pay for a fixin that unreported defect...

    In the early years of my EW work we used only film cameras as digital cameras had not been invented yet therefore unavailable and after they where and became both available and really good they where almost always challenged in court by the opposing attorney as the photos produced were possibly being digitally altered, as if that couldn’t be done with a film shot?
    Today all the judges and arbitrators accept digital shots, at least in the counties where I’m accepted as an expert witness. Even most all of the pro-photographers are now into digital photography. The date and time is nice, but not a requirement, so far.

    Most of us put on power-point shows with the photos we have taken of all the undisclosed and/or unreported defects and after the inevitable dead silence at the end of the show the opposing attorney usually asks for a recess and then comes back and tells the judge or arbitrator they’ve reached a settlement. Back when I was in the trenches a photo saved me big money when the client claimed I missed a whole bunch of wall damage and should have seen it because the house was vacant. I sent him photos showing every area where the damage was located and all the seller’s furnishings covering it. End of story. Photos are powerful visual evidence…as Aaron stated.

    BTW, I just bought a new Nikon D-80 and it’s really neat if anybody is shopping for a top-of-the-line camera. For home inspection pocket type digital cameras I’ve had good luck with the Nikon Cool-pix line.
    Jerry:

    If you don't mind my asking, where did you get your D-80? I'm in the market for one.

    Thanks,

    Aaron


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Worst Client Contest

    Aaron
    Ritz Cameras. There's a fellow who is extremely knowledgeable who has been managing a local Ritz camera store for years. He has been of immense help in my photographic career and has never steered me wrong. I go by the premise that it's better to be lucky than good and to also know folks a lot smarter than yourself and always seek their council. Unfortunately this fact of life took me over 50 years to figure out?
    BTW, the D-80 is one fantastic camera and as a bonus it also will adopt all of the lenses from my old 35mm Nikon reflex FG body.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  24. #24
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
    Aaron Miller Guest

    Cool Re: Worst Client Contest

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    Aaron
    Ritz Cameras. There's a fellow who is extremely knowledgeable who has been managing a local Ritz camera store for years. He has been of immense help in my photographic career and has never steered me wrong. I go by the premise that it's better to be lucky than good and to also know folks a lot smarter than yourself and always seek their council. Unfortunately this fact of life took me over 50 years to figure out?
    BTW, the D-80 is one fantastic camera and as a bonus it also will adopt all of the lenses from my old 35mm Nikon reflex FG body.
    Jerry:

    Thanks. I took a course from the Nikon folks when they were in town a few months back. The D-80 was the instructor's work horse and he had nothing but praise for it. The camera has finally reached the (my) realm of relative affordability.

    Aaron


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