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Two Men and a Brush – A study in Customer Service

This summer was a doozy for strange weather up in our part of Colorado. First, we didn’t really have summer since it rained almost every day from May through August. Second, we had a hail storm that lasted fifteen minutes and dumped quarter-sized hail on everything. Third, we had the “We’ll never have a tornado near our house because of the elevation / terrain / weather patterns” tornado a few miles from our home.

The hail storm destroyed our roof, all the windows on one side of the house and the tops of both of our vans.

USAA appraised the damage to our van and was very generous with the payment (they gave us enough to have the roof cut off the vehicle and replaced). The agent also noticed that the driver-side door had wind damage so he filed a separate claim for the bent panel. Think about that. I had noticed the crease in the door but had assumed we did something. I didn’t mention it to the agent. He saw the crease and started looking at the door seams and hinges and offered to file the claim. That meant a) more work for him b) more money given out by the insurer. It also meant a much happier customer.

The van we had coverage for was repaired by MAACO and they did a great job not only with the roof but with the door and another dent in the vehicle at a far lower price than what our insurance company had given us.

Our roofers, Timberline Roofing, were great. They are a family run business (two brothers) who were polite, professional and our new green roof goes very well with our yellow house. My dad has used Timberline Roofing twice in the past and we went with them on that recommendation alone. Never underestimate the value of customer testimonies.

The window company, Champion Windows, did a professional job from the initial “Here’s how great our windows are”  to the installation.

The other rep we got an estimate from, Anderson Windows, never gave me the impression that he really wanted our business. He didn’t even come into the house to look at the windows. He also told me that Champion didn’t have a lifetime warranty, which they do on everything including the screens.

Our insurance company, Allstate, sent us an initial check for the damages but when I sent them estimates and explained what their first agent had missed, they apologized, said the first agent didn’t do a good job and sent out another rep to reassess the damage. They also sent us another check. Great service all around.

For the trim on our garage we got estimates from Handyman Connection which was 4x the estimate from Two Men and a Brush. From past dealings with Handyman Connection, they are ALWAYS far more expensive than anyone else.

The initial meeting with the Two Men and a Brush rep went fine so they sent out their paint crew.

We had agreed that they would scrape the old paint, hammer in loose trim, prime and paint the trim, vents and the undersides of the roof overhang. My wife called me after they said they were finished to tell me that they hadn’t painted the sides of the trim, only the fronts. Since the trim had taken a beating from the storm and hadn’t been painted in at least four years, it didn’t even have paint in places on the sides. The painters told us that we hadn’t requested “box trim” and not to sign the project off if we weren’t happy. Have any of you heard of “box trim” or do you just assume that when someone says they will paint your trim they will paint all of it and not just the face?

When I saw the finished product I was less than pleased. It was clear that they had only scraped paint over the garage door and not touched the rest of the trim with a scraper. There were several loose trim tacks  that they had painted over instead of hammering in. They also hadn’t painted the underside of the roof overhang. I was able to peel off strips of paint where they had painted over the loose paint.

I called their office and the secretary offered all kinds of excuses and told me that the painters had told her we had signed off on the work. We scheduled the boss to come back out to look at the work the following week.

When he got back out to our house he claimed to have explained the difference between standard trim painting and box trim painting and that I had chosen to go with the standard because of cost considerations. There isn’t any reason there would have been cost considerations because the insurance company was covering the repairs. Further, the trim around the window was completely paint-free so I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to leave it that way.

When I explained that it was obvious that his crew hadn’t scraped the old paint, he said that it must have blown away. To illustrate the absurdity of this claim, let me describe the area around our garage. We mow the grass along one side of the garage so it is short there. The driveway is gravel and the other two sides we leave “natural” i.e. three-foot tall prairie grass. Somehow there were paint shavings on the driveway but not a single bit of old paint anywhere else around the garage. Somehow, a magical wind storm had swept away all the paint from the three foot high grass but left it on the driveway. Hmm.

Apart from the obvious lying between him and his paint crew, he had the audacity to hope that I would buy his “I’ve been painting for twenty years and I know a good paint job when I see it” line. He also never got around to explaining why his paint crew said we had signed off on their work when it was clear on the papers that we hadn’t.

A few tips to business owners who like to be in business:

  1. Don’t assume that your customer wants the cheaper option without asking.
  2. Don’t pull the “I’m the expert so I know what ‘good’ is” line when someone who never has touched a paint brush can see that you are lying.
  3. When your paint crew lies about what they did, don’t double down with an even bigger lie to cover for them.
  4. Don’t assume that your lousy customer service and work won’t be aired out to the general public.

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