Thursday, August 6, 2009

Things Learned the Hard Way: hiring an electrician (also known as down in FRONT)

Finding an electrician to do the rewire and knob and tube removal of our house has been a bit of a fiasco. What it has taught me is this: just because someone comes recommended does not mean that you should not ask for references or check them out with the BBB, and more importantly, BE CLEAR, you may think you are being clear, but I mean speaking slowly with illustrations for 5 year olds clear. Here is why:

We had an electrician recommended to us who knew a family member of ours quite well and would likely give us a really good price. His prices were great, and it seemed like we were on our way when he called to let us know that he had to pull out of the job because of a bad back. He did, however, recommend someone that he said was very good. We called a few others and either had no response or they could not do the job and so we agreed to work with Rudy. Things seemed okay. He complained a lot about how hard it was going to be to remove the knob and tube, and about how much work the whole project would be but otherwise seemed fine.

The first thing we had to have done was the installation of new service. I walked around the home with Rudy, and when we were talking about the service we stood at the front corner of the house on the west facing side and discussed putting the service box there. On the front corner of the house. I asked specifically if he could put it there, the front corner, despite the windows there and he said he could. He wrote us a brief estimate, and we agreed to start the work.

So along comes Wednesday. Rudy has been at the house while we were at work installing the new service. And there it is...on the FRONT of my house...a big ugly silver service box and pipe. no, not the front corner as I have been emphasizing, but the front front! We walked down the block and not a single other house has this monstrosity on the front of their home. So we called Rudy to ask to have it moved. This is where things get murky.

Rudy told Gary that I knew it was going on the front of the house. When I spoke with him I told him I recalled specifically talking about the front corner, on the side, where we had stood together. So then he said that we knew because he had written it in the estimate. I checked. It said at "front of house".

So here is the thing: if you have had a 20 minute conversation about a specific spot, if you stood in that spot during that conversation, if you gestured at that spot, and the brief estimate's wording resembled the spot (front of house versus front side or front corner) would you not assume that the spot that you spent all that time referring to was still the spot he was referring to? Moreover, if you had never seen or heard of anyone putting a hideous service box on the face of their home, and the existing service box is not on the face of the home, would you not assume that your electrician would not possibly mean the FRONT of your home! (...and yes, I know what happens when you assume...)

So we asked him to change it. He wanted $1000.00 to do it. So we asked him to split the difference and change it for $500.00. He hung up on Gary, and called me to tell me how my husband was "abusive", and "cruel" and how he "can't work under these conditions". And he quit. When he quit he gave us two options. 1. keep the service and pay the cost ($800) or 2. have him remove the service at no cost.

Ummm. what would you choose? So we told him to take it away, since our new electrician has some issues with how it was installed anyway, and now he emails me a rude, whining email, then an apologetic email for the rude email, then a phone call asking us to leave our house unlocked and unattended while we are at work so that he can come and take it down. Then when I say no he hangs up on me (again).

So, things learned the hard way:
1.communicate with your tradespeople, even if you think it borders on rediculous how specific you are being.
2. don't hire the crazies.

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