The Case of the Disappearing Contractors

The one thing I can’t stand – okay, there’s lots of things, but this is today’s pet peeve – is disappearing contractors.  I don’t mean contractors who disappear after half of your kitchen is in a shambles and they’ve received a sizable deposit from you.   That is admittedly much worse than what I’m griping about, but still, it’s my goddamn gripe.

I’m talking about people you call for estimates.  They call back. You set up a time that is supposedly convenient but really isn’t because you’ve got about 10,000 other things you need to do at any given moment, but hey, it’s your house and shit needs to get done.

The time comes, the guy shows up.  You spend half an hour to an hour going over your deck/kitchen/bathroom/basement remodeling/repairing project.  The kids, who have caught on to the idea that you are busy, all of a sudden have a million questions that must be answered AT THAT VERY MINUTE. Most of them have to do with the whereabout of Barbie/Buzz Lightyear/the dog/the ice cream cone they had an hour ago. Somehow you manage to hear what the hell the contractor is saying to you in the midst of the din, and you also manage to communicate the shitty level of work you’ve done thus far.  He smiles. You smile.  He takes lots of notes and does lots of pointing.  He gives you his card and promises to “run the numbers” and get back to you within 5-7 days with all of your options and their corresponding prices.  He gets in his car/truck.  He pulls out of your driveway, already on his cellphone.  You are sure that he is phoning his office to get your numbers in the system PRONTO.  You go back in, wonder where the kids have magically disappeared to, and excitedly start envisioning work being done on your decrepit house, once That Guy “runs the numbers.”

You are never going to see him again.

Why waste my time? Why waste yours?

When I was a renovation virgin,  I used to followup with people. 

“Uh, hi, it’s me, the dumb ass that thinks you’re actually interested in doing work on my house, your guy came to our house last week to give us an estimate on a deck and said he’d get back to us in 3 days and we hadn’t heard anything, so…  Oh, he’s not in?  You’ll check with him when he comes in and get back to me by the end of the day? Uh, great! Thanks a lot!”

Newsflash: Carol, the lady you just got off the phone with, that’s another person you’re never going to hear from.  It’s like a SyFy horror movie – you talk to people and then…they just DISAPPEAR.

I stopped, though, yes, I stopped following up with people because it hit me: there is something inherently wrong with me having to chase people so that I can GIVE THEM MY MONEY.  I LIKE my money. I want to keep it.   Why do I have to call someone REPEATEDLY so that I can have the PRIVILEGE of writing a check for what will be, to me, an obscene amount of money?  (Obscene being defined as more than $1000.)

At first I thought that our projects were just so completely awful, our house such a shambles, that we’d somehow been blacklisted. But then I started reading other stories of people with all kinds of houses, same scenario.  It wasn’t us – it was the Contractors, some secret code they must have.  Or maybe they reach a threshold – “Gee, I think we’ve made enough money this month, so do we really want another $10,000? NAH.” So much for the economy tanking; apparently these guys are still doing so well that they don’t need my cash.

From now on, if I call someone to do work on my house and they disappear, I’m outing them RIGHT HERE, name and everything.  Yeah, they’ll never want to work on my house, but I don’t want them to either.  If placing a phone call is so hard I have to suspect their entire way of doing business.

Next post: Disappearing Deck Contractor.

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