ICS Magazine

Those Wacky Customers

April 15, 2004

We recently scheduled an appointment with a frantic woman who claimed mysterious spots were suddenly appearing throughout her brand new living room/dining room carpeting. Apparently, her husband was placing the blame squarely upon the family pooch and threatening to banish Fido to the doghouse, or worse.

The homeowner described the spots as "small, yellowish blots." Upon inspection, it was immediately obvious that Fido was being unfairly accused. These were clearly carpet fibers stripped of their original dyes, small, nickel-sized spots leading from the utility room off the garage, through the living room and dining room, and straight to the kitchen entrance.

Yep. Bleach or a cleaning agent containing bleach was dripping its merry way throughout the residence. It was quickly ascertained that this woman's housekeeper had been a little less than careful when transporting her bucket full of tile cleaner through the rooms after mixing the concoction up in the utility sink.

That particular job started me thinking about a couple of other incidents "produced and directed" by our customers over the years. One of my favorites dates back to my second year in business, 1983 to be precise.

I had just completed a thorough, time-consuming job for a senior citizen in a local adult community. A heavily soiled, never-before-cleaned, milk-white Saxony. The job came out very nice, and the woman was absolutely thrilled, promising to recommend my fledgling company to all in her complex. Can you say "cha-ching?"

A couple of days had passed when I received my first call as a result of that job. It was not a referral. It was the woman's daughter and she wasn't phoning to say thank you or extol my workmanship. I was shocked as she chastised me for charging her mother "for such a horrible job." She claimed the carpets looked "gray to near dirt black" in the traffic areas. Flabbergasted, I told her they had looked great when I left but would return the following morning. I asked that she meet me there.

After seeing the carpeting the next day, I nearly fell over. Indeed, the traffic paths had grayed. Some areas looked darker then others! Totally speechless, I agreed to re-clean. Just as I was walking towards the door to get my equipment, the homeowner innocently stated that she too, thought the job looked great and, immediately after I left, "even placed some newspaper down in the walk areas so they would not re-soil."

Thank goodness for the honest who walk among us. The daughter looked at me and immediately apologized, her face beet-red from embarrassment. Feeling totally vindicated, I re-cleaned the areas and refused any additional payment. I also started purchasing rolls of "walk-on" Kraft paper immediately thereafter.

The point is, as obvious as something may seem to you, never assume your client knows and understands it as well. Always leave after-care instructions, as well as FAQ sheets and other important information. Remember, you are the professional in the cleaning equation.