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Management And Training

Unfounded Accusations

September 19, 2010
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Editor’s note: Nobody enjoys being accused of something they didn’t do, especially if the accusation has the potential to ruin the relationship between you and your client.

A recent discussion on the Bulletin Board addresses how frustrating unfounded accusations can be.

Posted by David Hebert:7/1/2008, 11:34 a.m.
Good day folks, here is my issue. One of our clients accused my company of using their computers.

Since I just finished training the person in the building, I thought it could be them, but I was doubtful. But, just in case, I moved them to another building and I took over the cleaning for a short time to be sure that if it happened again I would know it is not my company.

Sure enough, I get a nasty note Monday night about using their computer for personal use and downloading music on iTunes.

I do not own an iPod, and it is now against company policy to wear an MP3 player while working.

They have not said how many times this happened, only that it was over the weekend. The guards are very old, so they are ruled out.

I paid them a visit to explain that I am the one cleaning the building now because of the previous accusations, and I could be 100 percent certain it was not my company.

I gave the times when I was in the building, but they have not given the times when iTunes was downloaded or when music was either. Any advice on how to deal with this one?

Mike Kelley:7/1/2008, 1:27 p.m.
I would think that any competent IT tech could figure out when the computer was used, and for what activities. If they don’t have someone on staff, do you know someone you could volunteer to bring over and take a look at the computer and figure it out? You might offer it in a nice way. It’ll show you’re not afraid of the truth coming out.

Generally, no matter how long you’re in a business, if you’re a hard, conscientious worker, complaints always hurt. There’s a natural tendency — I’ve noticed — for the owners and the crew to get indignant.

Here, you’re essentially being called a thief. That can throw you for a loss. However, the wrong emotional reaction to a complaint can really make the situation worse.

Complaints and how you handle them can make you a better cleaning company.

Robert Jess:7/1/2008, 2:01 p.m.
You most likely already did what I’m going to say, Dave, but what you need to do is go there in person and talk to them. Explain that there is no employee there, and they been removed, so there is no possible way it can be your company. Sometimes it goes better if discussed in person than over the phone, or email, or notes.

We all know it is most likely their employee, but you can’t accuse their employee.

Bob The Cleaner:7/1/2008, 2:20 p.m.
Make an appointment to go in and personally speak with the contact. Take an Incident Report with you and get as many details as possible in the interview. Investigate, make a report, and send the contact a copy of that report.

You must take the attitude of service provider, because that’s what you are. If you know your company is not responsible, who is?

Tell them that you would be happy to call in a local outsource company to determine times and places that the offense took place.

It is imperative that once an accusation is made you clear your company name and reputation. It’s even more important that your customer seal their security hole. As a service provider, it’s your responsibility to mention this concept.

This is a larger issue than just your company “being indignant.” A poorly timed accusation that is subsequently handled poorly can devastate a business.

Internet browser files and cookies can accurately place the user. I find it extremely doubtful that their IT tech can’t find this information.

As a side note, if I banned MP3 players tonight, I’d have no staff tomorrow. We give six-month employees an MP3 player if they don’t have one.

David Hebert: 7/1/2008, 3:40 p.m.
Thank you for the great information. I did pay them a visit and explained who is now cleaning the building.

They do not have the computer password protected when running. The manager purposely kept this computer running to see if he could catch someone.

He found the program running when he came in. Why he did not just right click on the downloaded program file and see the day and the time is beyond me.

He was extremely busy this morning, so I did not have a chance to go much further. I am, however, going there tonight — even though it is not our cleaning night — to talk to the manager and see if he will let me check the cookies and check the downloaded install file.

I will also give him the opportunity to let me bring in someone to see if we can pinpoint when this occurred. If he deleted stuff I will offer to bring someone in immediately after this happens and instruct them not to delete anything.

I do not take it personally, but do take things like this seriously as we do several other buildings for this company and subsidiaries of it, which I’ll bring up. In eight years nothing like this has ever happened. My company’s reputation means a lot.

Bob, the reason for no MP3 players is because people had them blasting and could not hear the phone ringing or hear people entering a room. It is a safety issue to me.

Bob The Cleaner: 7/1/2008, 3:56 p.m.
We have a policy to “flash the light switch” when entering an area. Our two-ways vibrate and are louder than headphones when you hit the page button.

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