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Handling Adversity

Many of you may be familiar with Angies List ( AngiesList members nationwide post reviews and comments, pro & con, on experiences they have had with a wide variety of contractors and other home service providers. I have had excellent success through AngiesList, having always maintained a straight "A" rating on comments submitted re. my Drysdale's Carpet Care service. Until the last one.

Turns out I provided less than Grade A service in one customer's mind. She did admit up front that her carpeting was heavily stained with pet waste. I remember telling her that she should not expect the carpet to come out looking like new - that uric acids can burn, or bleach carpet color away. Apparently I didn't move a piece of furniture back to its original location, and this was mentioned in her comments. She also mentioned that some of the stains remained visible, and that "probably" someone elso might have done a better job. I guess I might have demonstrated some level of "attitude" as well, (possibly in response to her attitude) and this was mentioned as well. My grades in the various categories AngiesList provides were in the "B" range, but I got marked down to a "C" in the Attitude area. So I definitely took a hit here.

AngiesList allows the service provider to post a comment in response to what the customer has said. My first instinct was to go on the attack, and try to discredit the customer in some way. Then I got a grip, and decided that the best long-term solution was to make nice, both to the customer herself, and to the multitude of potential customers who read these AngiesList posts. First I wrote out a check to the customer for the amount she had paid me - in the vicinity of $240. I then wrote her a note of apology for a job performed below her expectations, and for any lapses in professionalism I might have allowed to happen that day at her home, and enclosed the check.
In my post at AngiesList, responding to her comments, I also took this contrite, apologetic tone, suggesting to readers that it was unusual for this to have happened,and re-stated what I had told the customer re. the possible permanence of pet stains. I was hoping that my willingness both to admit to being in the wrong, and to return the customer's money, would win me more customers that her negative comments would lose for me. Since in situations like these you have to act like the customer is always right, I feel it's best to take the high road.
With every problem encountered, try to find a way to make it an opportunity to solve a problem (lemons to lemonade).

Re: Handling Adversity


I have this feeling that if you didn't react to her attitude; she probably would not have bothered to write the review. Did you follow up with her the following day? You might have been able to resolve the situation directly with her.

You couldn't have handled the negative comments on Angie's list any better. At the very least your letting people know that if they’re not happy with the results, they get their money back.

I also read that a positive review is more likely to generate customers for your business than a negative review is likely to impact it? As long as you have some positive reviews to counter your negative ones, consumers wont' just turn their backs on you.

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Or, it could be that you handled everything well and she was just a buttwad that day. Who knows?

Seems to me like you took the right action.

Much better, more than likely, than I would have done.

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Have to agree with Marty, I would have responded to her review in a nice smiley way and said I was sorry, but I would have not in no way gave her the money back.

Your a better man then I am Mark.

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I have heard Angieslist and similar websites are currently under attacak in some areas for the posting of these types of "rants". Many business owners have little issue turning these things over to an attorney.

Nothing wrong with standing up for ones self. Her report about me might have read:

"His boot is still stuck in my...."

So, it seems to me you did the right thing. Allow me to live vicarisously through you. :)

Re: Handling Adversity

As a frame of reference to my above posting: this event took place in early July of last year, and she (the customer) submitted her comments later that same month. I very infrequently go to AngiesList to read my own reviews, so I only just learned of this a few days ago.

Re: Handling Adversity

I have been in the residential service industry for 14 years doing different things, window cleaning, pesticide, lawn and tree care, and now carpet and window cleaning. There are some pepole that you can't make happy no matter what you do.I think the best way to handle them is to give them there money back, smile, tell them they are right and your so sorry, like Mark did. And then politely tell them to never call you again. Refer them to someone else. Take plesure in the fact that the competition has to now deal with them.

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All this time I've been jealous that Angie's list doesn't exist in my parts... but maybe that's a good thing?? Kidding... Sounds like you handled it right.

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I am not inclined to give money back for my time unless I generally screwed up. A form letter should be presented to customer prior to job if possible stating that certain types of stains may not come out and that we will do whatever we can to remove the stain. Customer signs and limits your liability. Verbally tell them and then have them read it and sign.

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I recently received a note from the customer who somewhat tarnished my previously unblemished record on AngiesList, saying she was overwhelmed that I had gone so far as to send her a check for the entire amount of the job in question. She also returned my check. So my entire experience just goes to show that you CAN take the high road when a situation goes against you, and still not necessarily have it harm you in the pocketbook.

Re: Handling Adversity

Even if taking the high road does hit you in your pocket book, it always helps you in the area of kharma.