Saturday, April 11, 2020

Air-con Maintenance Almost Got into My Pocket



This post is a bit different from my usual articles as it involves principle and how you stand your ground in a situation where you feel that a fault has been committed and you're the one who is being made to take the fall.

Today we're gonna talk about how being an assertive person can help you avoid paying money that you don't owe.


air-con maintenance almost got into my pocket

I was entrusted to look out for the house of my uncle's family for 3-months while they're out of the country.

Suddenly, the air-conditioner stopped in blowing cold air. So I cleaned up the air filter, including the front grill.

It's a basic thing regularly done. I also do it on my own unit once a month back home.

After I cleaned it up, I turned on the A/C again. And it still blew non-cool air as if you're only using a fan.

So, I called the 24-hour customer service hotline of the air-conditioner company to book a thorough cleaning for the entire unit.

Later on, I would have learned that the air-con had no single maintenance service for four years. Now that's a sure way to break it. Not to mention of a danger of a house fire.

Customer Support's professional handling of my call

  • The customer service agent gave me a customer ID # after asking the usual pieces of information.
  • She booked the air-conditioning unit for cleaning, and since it is no longer covered by warranty, I would have to pay Php 500.
  • She explicitly stated that although the job to be made was cleaning, it was automatically included check-up to see if the unit was working properly.
  • If the unit is broken, I would be told on what to fix, and the company would then call me on the details of the repair that include the parts which would be replaced, the cleaning, the labor, etc.
  • Finally, she gave the name of the service company she assigned to me.

Cleaning crews arrive

The scheduled date came, and the two maintenance workers arrived. Before they arrived, I had already prepared the water, hose, and cleared the area to which they would take the A/C from where it is attached. Of course, I was expecting them to detach the A/C, carry it to the wash area, and perform the cleaning.

Simple cleaning job order gone complicated

But this is how it went. They exchanged talks about the unit not cooling, and then without any hint, without a single word to me, started pulling small parts except the whole unit which I waited so that they could begin cleaning.

Suddenly they told me that “capacitor” was already broken and must be replaced and then they charged me 250 pesos right off the bat for according to them “check-up that they did.”

Wait a second. They hadn't asked me or informed me that they'd do check-up first, had they? They were dispatched to clean, weren't they? My position is they should have told me that they would do differently from what they were dispatched for.

Then they reasoned out that the Php 250 I would be paying them would be subtracted from the total amount that their company would be coming up with, for the new capacitor, cleaning, and the labor.

That was entirely different from what I have got on my call to their hotline, wasn't it? Entirely different.

Because of that I refused to pay that amount and told them I would either pay it on their return for repair or their company must subtract it from the upcoming total repair and cleaning bill, once completed. And they agreed. I have all the reasons for getting irritated and disappointed with what happened.

Frontliner clerk faulty reasoning

Next day came, I called their office first thing past 8:30 am to ask for the price of the capacitor and how much the entire job would cost.

The clerk on the other line gave me the quotation as follows: capacitor - 850, cleaning and repair - 500, labor - 500; for a total of Php 1,850.

Without a pause, the clerk said that since I didn't pay the Php 250 the previous day, it's added to the bill which made the final bill Php 2,100. And then she added had I paid the Php 250 right away, it would be deducted to the Php 1,850 so that I would be paying only Php 1,600.

That for me is not acceptable. Their folly in reasoning added to the insult of the insensitivity of their cleaning crews.

When issues like this come-up talk to the manager

I asked the clerk to put me though their manager. The female dispatch manager has a firm voice, and she's adamant that I must pay the full amount of Php 2,100.

When you're right, assert yourself

I clearly stated that there was a fault committed. It was very clear if she would just look into the entire process from my initial call which was recorded to the time their maintenance crews left the house and how they performed the job, wrongfully, as per the customer service representative and me have agreed upon and understood.

What are my contentions?

  1. The call agent had clearly told me that the cleaning included FREE check-up for only 500. She added that if a part has to be replaced, I will pay for it plus the labor cost.
  2. The two men they sent were dispatched to clean and then conduct check-up. What they did is to diagnose the unit and then told me I have to pay 250. Would it be professional and nice had they said, “Sir, we would check the unit first to see if it's working properly”? “But there's a check-up fee of Php 250. Would you agree to that sir?”
  3. As a person living in the house, they should have given me the courtesy at least of telling me beforehand that they will do thing their way, not what is on the dispatch paper and job order, and in doing so, I must pay 250.
  4. They should be properly trained to properly inform customers of the changes and the charges associated with it. It's not the small amount of money that at stake here. It's a principle. They should know how to be respectful and perform their task professionally.
  5. I really felt bad about how their men handled the job supposed to be done according to what is in the paper. Finally, I explained to the dispatch manager that their head office should be informed about this kind of business practice.

And you will win

In the end, the dispatch manager bent. And she said that their two cleaning crews would be asked and investigated especially about why they only informed me about the Php 250 check-up fee after they did it. She added that they would be reprimanded if not suspended.

She booked a date for the job. Now the air-con is cleaned, fitted with the new capacitor which is attached only quickly and now the room is very cool whenever the A/C is on, of course.

The work was done by two different nice maintenance guys. The total amount I paid was Php 1,850.

And that's how I handled a simple cleaning job order gone ugly because of two unprofessional, untrained and insensitive employees.

Do you have a similar unpleasant situation like this? Share to us in the comments' box below. I hope this post would help you in asserting yourself just in case you experience a similar situation.

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Vernie Mallorca is an entrepreneur and blogger with years of experience in selling to institutional accounts. He gradually shifted to blogging when he found out that it is his calling to write timely and helpful articles online that can help others to save money, make money, and secure their future by handling their income smartly. In this blog, he shares both managing your finances, however small it is and valuable information on running a small business.

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