A True Story: Window Cleaning Complaint Nightmare
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A True Story: Window Cleaning Complaint Nightmare

True Story: Several years ago, I received a request from a property manager to address a window cleaning complaint for a resident in a strata. She was quite upset that her windows were still dirty; complaining that the work was not done well, there were still streaks and marks from the squeegee.

Wanting to ensure we did a good job and had satisfied customers, I told the worker about the complaint, and informed him he would have to go back, set up his ropes, and re-clean this lady’s living room window.

Now this worker did excellent work. We rarely got complaints when he did a job, but it happens to everyone eventually, so I figured it was just his time. Being a great guy and willing to stand behind the quality of his work, he took a few hours out of his day, met the building manager to get access to the roof, dragged up his ropes and bosun chair, and re-cleaned the window.

The next day, I got another phone call from the tenant. She was furious. The window cleaning was still not done right! She insisted we do it again.

At this point, I politely requested I visit her suite to see the issue from the inside. I let her know this would help me determine what the issue was, we would know what to look for when going back again, and we could all learn something from the situation. She flatly denied me, stating she was too busy, her time was valuable, it was not her problem if my people were incompetent, and so why should she waste any time out of her day. We needed to do this again.

Wow.

Okay.

I phoned my worker, explained there was still an issue. He wanted to make sure that he had cleaned the right window. He explained that he took his time, made sure there were no drips or marks, the window should look fine. Knowing the quality of his work, I believed him.

This was where I made my mistake.

I sent him back again. I apologized, I sided with the customer, I pleaded customer service quality, and so on and so on.

So he went back. He re-cleaned the window again. This was the third time this window had been cleaned, and the second instance where he had to take a few hours out of his day – at his cost – to do this.

He wasn’t making money while he was going back to fix ‘mistakes’. We were concerned because we wanted to be sure the company looked good for the customers, and had an interest in repeat business with the strata. We wanted to ensure this went well.

But it didn’t. This lady’s next few phone calls were even more abrasive. She was furious, often shouting at me on the phone.

I tried my best to keep my cool.

We cleaned the window again. I insisted this would be the last unless we saw the issue from inside her suite. She still refused, and continued to send communications to the strata and property manager about what a horrible company we were.

My worker quit weeks later. He was very frustrated. I hadn’t stood up for him enough, which, I suppose, is true. But before he did, I managed to insist with this tenant that we would not be back for a 5th time unless she showed us this concern from the inside.

Why, she demanded?

I explained yet again, it could be a blown window seal causing problems, or mineral deposit staining, or dirt on the inside surface of the glass.

Well, she was really mad that I would insult her intelligence by thinking it might be dirt on the inside. She would know that! She has checked for that! She went on and on about how this was our fault and we were just sloppy workers and didn’t know how to do our job. But finally she agreed to let me see this from inside, because, as she insisted, she was not crazy.

So I went to her building, and took the worker who had performed the work with me. We said hello politely to her, standing there with her hands on her hips. Her irate husband stood, arms crossed, glaring threateningly at us as we entered the room.

“See!” She exclaimed. “Right there! And there!” She was pointing to some drips and dirty smudges on the glass on the upper right side of the window over her couch.

I took my chamois, walked up to the couch, stood on it, used the cloth and wiped away the dirt from the inside surface of the glass.

“Let’s go.” I told my worker.

We left.

I had sent a guy back to re-clean that window four times after the original service. I’d been screamed at, belittled, threatened with loss of future work, had the company name smeared, and on and on, all because this person would not check the inside surface of her glass for dirt.

That is why I insist on following the process. (Re-clean from outside no more than once unless we go inside to investigate).

She wasn’t crazy, she insisted! She would know if it was dirt on the inside!

Weeks and weeks of communication, frustration, everyone getting angry, everyone wasting time.

This incident is why I insist on the process of investigation for deficiencies being followed. I will only every ask a person to go back and re-clean a window once if we haven’t seen it from inside the suite. If there is still an issue, seeing from inside is mandatory.

In the years that have followed, I have found through investigating from inside the suite, several of the following issues:

-Dirty glass inside
-tape on the inside surface of glass (from someone putting up Christmas cards or decorations or something)
-Blown window seal allowing condensation between panes of glass
-Blown window seal with black mold spots between panes of glass
-paint specks on the inside of the glass from someone repainting their room
-legitimate complaints.

If we can’t check, we just don’t know what is really going on.

3 Comments
  • Ian

    June 25, 2013at11:13 am

    Great story. Even though you were vindicated, it doesn’t change the fact that sometimes people see what they want to see.

  • Jill

    February 18, 2014at10:53 am

    I really like this because I have taken care of apartment buildings and condos and the most hard to get a long with people do not like to be investigated and knowing what I know now when a person becomes that defensive to not letting you in to check things out the problem lies with them.

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