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Thread: Client issues

  1. #1
    Randy Funk's Avatar
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    Default Client issues

    What do you guys do when a client calls in complaining that items were missed....? Such as a bathtub leak from second floor that was not visible during the inspection and now after moving in they see issues in the ceiling below...? Or in the crawl space where their is 'splintering' wood that they noticed when checking it out. -Is splintered wood anything you guys put in the inspection as I am regularly told by builders, etc that this is just a common problem that occurs and is not major. When clients threaten 'lawsuits' how is it possible to even determine if these issues were present at the inspection or happened after? Thanks

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Client issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Funk View Post
    What do you guys do when a client calls in complaining that items were missed....? Such as a bathtub leak from second floor that was not visible during the inspection and now after moving in they see issues in the ceiling below...? Or in the crawl space where their is 'splintering' wood that they noticed when checking it out. -Is splintered wood anything you guys put in the inspection as I am regularly told by builders, etc that this is just a common problem that occurs and is not major. When clients threaten 'lawsuits' how is it possible to even determine if these issues were present at the inspection or happened after? Thanks
    Ive never had the "lawsuit" call , I have had a couple complaints.

    Everything that I heard is jump a complaint yesterday.

    My position on the phone is the customer may be right, and make an appointment for asap to look a their concerns.

    If I feel a defect was not present or not visible, after I see what's happening I tell them that .
    Re: a tub leaking , I run water in the tubs for a while and the fill the tubs and drain them. If I didn't see any water stains, or patching below the bath, I would explain I did all I could for the limited time I was there.
    I have identified 2 or 3 leaks below bathrooms on newly painted homes with an IR camera.

    If it's a small item I pay to get it corrected, before they decide it's bigger than what it is.

    Splintered wood, it depends how splintered , somewhere, I don't recall where , i heard if less than 30% of a board is damaged it's not a big deal.

    Last edited by Dan Harris; 09-30-2012 at 04:10 PM.
    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
    www.inspectaz.com

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Client issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Funk View Post
    What do you guys do when a client calls in complaining that items were missed....? Such as a bathtub leak from second floor that was not visible during the inspection and now after moving in they see issues in the ceiling below...? Or in the crawl space where their is 'splintering' wood that they noticed when checking it out. -Is splintered wood anything you guys put in the inspection as I am regularly told by builders, etc that this is just a common problem that occurs and is not major. When clients threaten 'lawsuits' how is it possible to even determine if these issues were present at the inspection or happened after? Thanks
    Randy
    I would go back and see ( document) what they are talking about.
    Ask them to write down their concerns.
    Reread the report
    Reinspect those areas and take photos of everything
    Don't discuss anything until later when you have had time to looks at everything.
    .

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Client issues

    Randy,

    Your response depends in part upon your E&O Coverage.
    ....are you Insured?


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Client issues

    Thanks guys. Yes, fully insured even though Idaho does not require it. Second floor bathroom had no signs of leakage after running water for a long time. Apparently plumber opened ceiling area below and found drain to be 'loose'. I explained that the leak is present now but 30 days ago no issues were found and if leak was happening it was hidden between floors. The issue I'm having is that clients jump to conclusions and start pointing fingers at the inspector as they are upset and not thinking clearly. Things happen after the inspection and we always get blamed. Plus they bad rap us to the realtor and have no valid reason for it. I guess I'm lucky to only deal with this kind of issue once the past 2 years and it happens to be this week! Uggggg

    *How often do you guys get "complaints"?


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    Default Re: Client issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Funk View Post
    Thanks guys.
    Yes, fully insured .....
    *How often do you guys get "complaints"?
    Statistically,,,
    you will receive a complaint for every 300 - 500 Inspections performed.

    If this is your first "potential" claim,
    Contact your Insurer before any response is made....
    They will guide and assist you....


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Client issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Funk View Post


    *How often do you guys get "complaints"?
    Out of over 5000 inspections , My 1st 5 or 6yrs. 4 or 5 . The biggest was a roof complaint on a roof leak that I didn't feel it was safe to access. The roofer claimed I should of seen it.
    $800.00 and the customer was happy.

    1= was a bogus one. A duct cleaner told the customer I missed mold in the furnace fan and the ducts needed to be treated at the cost of $1500.00
    The "mold" turned out to be dust stuck on oil from a small oil leak from the fan motor on the squrrel cage

    The past 5 years - 1
    This customer was a new home warranty, He was upset that I didn't mark the cracked drywall. Next day I went back and marked the areas with blue tape.. Since then he's refered me to 6 or 7 of his neighbors.

    Last edited by Dan Harris; 09-30-2012 at 04:38 PM.
    Phoenix AZ Resale Home, Mobile Home, New Home Warranty Inspections. ASHI Certified Inspector #206929 Arizona Certified Inspector # 38440
    www.inspectaz.com

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Client issues

    If splintered wood is checks or cracks, probably normal, they are non-issues. The clients need to be educated. By you, unfortunately.
    A leak may have been hidden, or caused by them shifting stuff around, or maybe you missed it. Be prepared to explain the limitations of the inspection, and know what is in the report and what is not.

    First step is go over there and view the problem. Then explain why you didn't report it. If you might have been at fault, then paying for a patch might do less damage to your goodwill than insisting that you can do no wrong.

    If damage was done to the ceiling by a leak, they should have called you right away.
    It is too late to do so after they have had someone in there cutting and fixing. Your agreement should say that they call you first if there is a problem.

    Always take lots of pictures and always check ceilings for stains.

    **** happens. Maybe the previous owners never used that bathroom, so there was no sign of a leak. You are supposed to be Superman.

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

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Client issues

    Randy,
    Always respond as soon as you can. Always return to the house and look at whatever they are complaining about.
    Talk as little as possible - LISTEN to what they are saying - and keep silent.
    Always keep smiling! Always stay friendly, and keep your responses short.
    Don't argue.

    I always prepare a release document, and have a check made out to refund their inspection fee (according to contract). If they seem like they are ready to take you to court, or in case there IS something that you missed, then remind them that according to the terms of the contract, they are limited to a refund of their inspection fee as a final settlement. Then pull out the release, have them sign it, give them the check and a copy of the release, tell them you are sorry things worked out this way, then drive away. You are well ahead by giving them their money back.

    I have a little blurb in my report about "Last man in theory", and remind them the concept. The last guy is not always right, nor are you always at fault. Sometimes things just happen, especially in houses with age. I cover this during my inspection when I'm talking to my clients. I try to engage them in conversation, make a "connection", and get them to see how good of a job I am doing. I remind them over and over to call me at any time if they have any questions or concerns.

    At some point in the visit you may find you do have to disagree with whatever they are complaining about, or disagree with their new expert. This can be tricky.

    I just realized that I could write a long blog on this subject. Obviously, each situation is unique, and has to be handled on its own merits. I can tell you it is very hard to stand there and keep your cool. But I have had success in turning potential problems into a positive experience.

    I have given back fees when I felt I did nothing wrong, but the people were crazy and I had no doubt they would take me to court.
    I have paid to have things fixed that were probably not my fault.
    I have paid to have things fixed that I must have missed.
    I have gone toe to toe with people that were insisting I had done a horrible job. It was a gamble, but I held my ground and told them I did nothing wrong and wasn't going to give them a dime.
    I "settled" a potential claim where I was pretty sure I did not miss something, but was also sure that they were going to take me to court. I had informed my insurance company at every step, and was told that I could settle for anything up to my deductible and they would not step in (or count against me). My contact person was terrific, and gave me tips on how to try top negotiate with them. In the end, I settled for less than my deductible, but far more than my inspection fee. It was a tough pill to swallow.

    Good luck! If you want to have further dialog, send me a private e-mail and we can chat.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Client issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Randy,
    Always respond as soon as you can. Always return to the house and look at whatever they are complaining about.
    Talk as little as possible - LISTEN to what they are saying - and keep silent.
    Always keep smiling! Always stay friendly, and keep your responses short.
    Don't argue.

    I always prepare a release document, and have a check made out to refund their inspection fee (according to contract). If they seem like they are ready to take you to court, or in case there IS something that you missed, then remind them that according to the terms of the contract, they are limited to a refund of their inspection fee as a final settlement. Then pull out the release, have them sign it, give them the check and a copy of the release, tell them you are sorry things worked out this way, then drive away. You are well ahead by giving them their money back.

    I have a little blurb in my report about "Last man in theory", and remind them the concept. The last guy is not always right, nor are you always at fault. Sometimes things just happen, especially in houses with age. I cover this during my inspection when I'm talking to my clients. I try to engage them in conversation, make a "connection", and get them to see how good of a job I am doing. I remind them over and over to call me at any time if they have any questions or concerns.

    At some point in the visit you may find you do have to disagree with whatever they are complaining about, or disagree with their new expert. This can be tricky.

    I just realized that I could write a long blog on this subject. Obviously, each situation is unique, and has to be handled on its own merits. I can tell you it is very hard to stand there and keep your cool. But I have had success in turning potential problems into a positive experience.

    I have given back fees when I felt I did nothing wrong, but the people were crazy and I had no doubt they would take me to court.
    I have paid to have things fixed that were probably not my fault.
    I have paid to have things fixed that I must have missed.
    I have gone toe to toe with people that were insisting I had done a horrible job. It was a gamble, but I held my ground and told them I did nothing wrong and wasn't going to give them a dime.
    I "settled" a potential claim where I was pretty sure I did not miss something, but was also sure that they were going to take me to court. I had informed my insurance company at every step, and was told that I could settle for anything up to my deductible and they would not step in (or count against me). My contact person was terrific, and gave me tips on how to try top negotiate with them. In the end, I settled for less than my deductible, but far more than my inspection fee. It was a tough pill to swallow.

    Good luck! If you want to have further dialog, send me a private e-mail and we can chat.
    Jack, thanks for your response! You are right especially on how different client issues can be and how to deal with them. In 15 years, I have never been to court and have had less complaints than I can count on one hand. This latest one bothered me only because I knew these issues were not there and felt like they were looking for someone to blame and take the fall.

    *On another note, I've been reading a lot of posts on here about roof inspections. Some guys go up and some don't....? How could anyone provide a section in their report about the roof if they don't climb up there and check it out? That was something I had not heard of before.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Client issues

    Even though a bathtub may not leak during routine testing it could very well leak when a person steps into it to shower or bath.

    Best advice from others above get back there tout de suite.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Client issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Funk View Post
    Jack, thanks for your response! You are right especially on how different client issues can be and how to deal with them. In 15 years, I have never been to court and have had less complaints than I can count on one hand. This latest one bothered me only because I knew these issues were not there and felt like they were looking for someone to blame and take the fall.

    *On another note, I've been reading a lot of posts on here about roof inspections. Some guys go up and some don't....? How could anyone provide a section in their report about the roof if they don't climb up there and check it out? That was something I had not heard of before.
    Randy,

    Again, claim response and handling requires a skill set...
    If you have E&O, you may be required (dependent upon your Insurer) to go thru them first prior to making a response...

    If this is your first claim ...
    and you lack experience with this....
    let your E&O provider handle it (as may be required by policy)....


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Client issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Hagarty View Post
    Randy,

    Again, claim response and handling requires a skill set...
    If you have E&O, you may be required (dependent upon your Insurer) to go thru them first prior to making a response...

    If this is your first claim ...
    and you lack experience with this....
    let your E&O provider handle it (as may be required by policy)....
    Thanks Joseph. Call already into them. Just trying to do some homework. **I also noticed this client is posting negative comments about my company on various sites and has written some realty groups already. I feel like I am now having to defend myself from this person and the negativity when I haven't even looked into the problem. What recourse do I have from this 'slander'??


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Client issues

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Funk View Post

    I also noticed this client is posting negative comments about my company on various sites and has written some realty groups already. I feel like I am now having to defend myself from this person and the negativity when I haven't even looked into the problem. What recourse do I have from this 'slander'??
    Little, if any..
    Notify your Insurer..
    Respond to the Claim...

    As a Business.
    Claims are a part of Business
    do not personalize or internalize....
    and move on.....

    Last edited by Joseph Hagarty; 09-30-2012 at 08:13 PM.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Client issues

    FWIW, I respond to complainers immediately. If they have something they want me to come back and look at, I do it. 99.9% of the time I diffuse the issue at that time. If a client ever thinks that you are avoiding them, then you have a steep hill to climb just to get them to listen to you.

    As for the leak, in a home I bought several years ago, one month after moving in, the master shower drain started leaking into the family room ceiling. A ten year old home had to wait until I had bought it to start leaking.........I tell people that there is always some point when something breaks and often, it is impossible to even guess when that point in time will be.

    Things go wrong, quit working, and break, sometimes with little or no warning. Part of my contract and orientation speech is to explain that a home inspection is, and can only be, a snapshot view of what is going on in a house right now. I try to identify potential problems, but judging how things are working right now is the best we can do for the short time we are here.


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