The second most common form of complaint involves consumers who have valid disagreements with their service providers over whether the terms of the agreement have been met. Our TrustDale Team has great success at mediating these disagreements. We often involve independent experts in the field, such as Texaco Havoline Xpress Lube and my trusted AAMCO service centers for auto repair disputes. Too often, heated words are exchanged between consumers and providers, and all it takes is a reasonable third party to bring the two sides together for an amicable resolution. I love those.
I’m troubled by the numbers of complaints I receive from consumers who have decided they don’t want to abide by the terms of their written agreements. I’m not talking about the 10-page agreements where you find a ridiculous clause buried in the “mice-type.” I’m talking about the two- or three-page agreements printed in readable font that protects both sides in the event of an unforeseen circumstance. For example: Company A contracts to replace the front entry way of your home. The price for standard installation is X. The contract spells out that if unforeseen circumstances arise, such as significant foundation settlement that causes the standard size of the product to not fit, then company A reserves the right to charge more for modification. The homeowner also has the right to cancel the agreement if the price change is more than the homeowner is comfortable with. That, to me, is a reasonable contract.
Here’s another: Company B uses “up-front” pricing, with no service call charge. This means a technician will come to your home and give you a fixed price — that’s guaranteed not to change before beginning the work. Company C doesn’t use up-front pricing. Their technician comes to your home with the understanding the “call” will cost $75. Company C tells you the job will cost X, and you agree to allow them to begin the job. At the conclusion of the service, the technician tells you the job required far more time, labor and parts that he or she originally estimated, so your cost is going to be double your original estimate! You’re stuck. You signed the contract for the work to begin, and you’re obligated to pay the unexpected amount. It happens every day.
You can probably guess I’m a big fan of up-front pricing. It’s nearly impossible to get burned, and here’s why. If you think the estimate is out of line, you’ve lost nothing on the free service call, and you have every right to say “not now” and call another company for an estimate.
I can’t believe how many people call or email me trying to get out of a fair contract they signed. The consumer has buyer’s remorse, and they want to use a consumer investigator as a hammer to scare a good company in to reducing the price after the fact. This isn’t right. Fair play involves businesses and consumers making adult decisions in the light of day. There are enough real scammers out there. People with integrity need to honor their agreements.Watch TrustDale TV at 11:30 a.m. Saturdays and at 11 a.m. Sundays on Fox 5; listen to Dale’s advice on the Rob Johnson Show on 640 AM WGST weekdays; and listen to TrustDale Radio at 3 p.m. Sundays on 640 AM WGST. For more information, go to www.TrustDale.com. You can reach Dale at Help@TrustDale.com.