January 15, 2013

The Case of the Missing Tree Trimmers

Tree trimmers in the Austin, TX area are disappearing at an alarming rate. Or at least the ones I call seem to vanish. Introverts always prefer  conducting business online rather than talking to real human beings.  So after the honest company we've used many times for various services suggested we could get a better estimate elsewhere for a tree and bush trimming job, I hit the internet.

Not long after submitting three online requests for estimates last Friday, I received voicemails from two of them offering to schedule a time to come to our house and give us estimates. At this point I neither want to slam nor endorse anyone. So I'll refer to the three companies' contacts as Mr. Anytime, Mr. Whataburger (I'll explain) and Mr. Better Late than Never.

Mr. Anytime's message explained a little about his business and said he would stop by "either today or tomorrow" to take a look our trees then would call with an estimate. My first thought was, hey great, I don't even need to call him back, and he's willing to come by late on a Friday or anytime on Saturday.

Mr. Whataburger's message explained a little about his business and asked me to call back to schedule a time to look at our trees and provide an estimate. My first thought was dang, I'll have to call him back. A couple of hours later he called and left a second message just to "check back" and see if I wanted to schedule an estimate. Now I was thinking, stop pestering me already!

Mr. Better Late than Never didn't call at all on Friday.

Mr. Anytime didn't come by on Friday evening. So on Saturday morning I went against my introvert instincts and called him. He said he'd be happy to come by later on Saturday and would call when he was on the way. And if we weren't home, he'd still take a look and call us later with an estimate. Well, Mr. Anytime didn't live up to the nickname because he didn't show up.

Since I didn't hear from Mr. Anytime over the weekend, I called Mr. Whataburger around 9:30 on Monday morning. He answered, and I heard quite a bit of background noise behind him. He offered to schedule a time to come out for an estimate but asked if he could call me back later because he just got to Whataburger and wanted to eat breakfast first. Weird! You have an interested customer on the phone but you'd rather eat?

A couple of hours later I heard back from Mr. Whataburger, and we arranged for him to come by between 3:30 - 4 p.m. Guess what? Mr. Whataburger did his best Mr. Anytime impression and didn't show up or call. Ugh. This is not how you win over potential customers.

Oh, did I forget to tell you that Mr. Better Late Than Never did finally call and leave me a voicemail sometime on Monday?  But it wasn't a particularly friendly message.

Let's move on to Tuesday. Mr. Anytime left me a voicemail and said nothing about not showing up on Satuday. He said he stopped by (presumably on Tuesday), took a look at our trees and gave me an estimate. It sounded like a good price.

Soon thereafter, Mr. Whataburger left me a voicemail and said he was sorry he missed his appointment but he had to pick up his son who (I thought he said) wasn't feeling well. As a parent I can certainly understand having to change plans abruptly when your kid is sick, but he still should have called. Plus, I listened to his voicemail again and realized that the person who wasn't feeling well wasn't his son, it was Mr. Whataburger himself. (Maybe it was something he ate for breakfast.) Either way, why didn't he call?

Now I'm starting to appreciate the honest company even more.







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