Is the customer always right?
Melissa Jent recently turned to the CMM Online Bulletin Board for advice on an unsatisfied customer who changed the dollar amount on an invoice. Here are excerpts from that discussion.
I have an account that just got a new property manager.
She changed my dollar amount on an invoice and when I confronted [her] about it, she said that one of the apartments was not done up to her standards.
Things to consider: I have never met the new property manager; the apartment that was cleaned was picking keys up within a few hours of me cleaning it and I wasn''t called to do it until the night before; when I got in there the fridge was full of maggots, it had to be taken apart and hosed out; and the oven was only to be wiped out because it was getting replaced along with the medicine cabinet and light fixtures in the bathroom.
In all actuality the whole apartment should have been renovated, but I did the best I could do.
When I asked the new manager what was wrong she couldn''t remember, but she had to call her cleaning person in to fix it.
I told her if I didn''t do something I should have been called back to see it and fix it.
It took me five hours to clean a one bedroom apartment.
Can she change the dollar amount on my invoice and not pay me for the work that was done?
Bob The Cleaner
This problem is indicative of a serious miscommunication between you and your [customer].
First, carefully consider how well you do or do not communicate with your customers.
Second, when you do begin to communicate better with your customers, leave as few details as possible to chance.
You seem like a very hard worker, and I hate to see that you''re not getting paid what you''re worth.
The problem here is communication; [and], these apartment customers can be very hard to deal with, especially if you don''t have a signed agreement about how you will go about doing business.
This is very crucial, and if handled up front in a contract, you won''t have many of these issues.
The contract is between your company and theirs, and should still be good whoever the property manager is.
After all, you have an agreement with the company … not the manager personally.
In my opinion, if you want to preserve this client, you have only choice: Honor the price adjustment by the client … this time.
You need to meet with this person (or whoever is in charge) immediately. Your stance needs to be proactive.
It conveys that you are concerned about them and quite frankly, that''s all they care about.
In business today, word of mouth travels fast and you don''t want that property manager spreading falsities about your company.
"Can she change my invoice without first contacting me on the problem?"
Legally, no, unless they have video of your work and specs you did not complete.
Practically, yes, you can force them to pay and yes you will never hear from them again.
This story is over.
I have had problems with this company in the past, and I dropped them.
I am not going to let them reduce my bill because they [had miscommunication].
They always do this; I have heard it from other contractors, painters, carpet layers, etc.
The property managers only tell you half of the story and when you get in to do the work, they don''t want to pay you for what you have to do.
I dealt with this company for five years, couldn''t keep help.
It was a rollercoaster, and the track finally broke.
And, I will say, I feel like a million pounds have been lifted off of my shoulders.
I have a lot of good accounts that I don''t have these kinds of problems with.