"Don't paint the door," I said.

Posted May 3, 2014


Red everywhere

"It's the wrong color of red," I said. The three men, who I was paying but hadn't agreed to hire as a group, were about to spray paint the door. They argued with me.

"It is the same color," they said.

"No, it isn't," I said.

One of them said, strongly, "We don't take orders from you. We take orders from J----. He's the one who pays us."

I thought, silently,
Who do you think pays your boss so he can pay you? And anyway, I'm the Project Manager on this renovation. He takes orders from me. He doesn't overrule me.

They called their boss, the man I did hire originally, and he told them to leave. It was 1:30 on Thursday.

Their boss showed up at 4:30 and said one of the men will return the next day to mud and stomp the kitchen ceiling. I paid for all the man-hours worked up to 1:30 plus an additional 8 hours for the kitchen work on Friday.

When I returned to the house on the weekend I was stunned to discover the storm door was painted a garish red, different from the toned-down red I used on the porch light and mailbox. The empty spray paint cans used were Flaming Red. The one I used was Regal Red.

The door was one of the last things that I wanted to be done on the house. It was not a priority on my project sequence list. Getting the bathroom drywall and plumbing done, and kitchen cabinets, plumbing and countertops were my priority.

But the worst of it was the red spray everywhere: on the floor, on the newly sanded and primed walls, on my box fans, on my clean, beige utility table, on my coffeemaker (coffee for the workers) and on my white, three-drawer, plastic file cabinet. The floor would be covered by new flooring later, but the walls are a different matter. Red is difficult to cover, and I would have to prime the walls again, which requires more time and more paint.

There's more.

Ten feet from the red painted door was a huge piece of vinyl sheeting crumpled up. Why wasn't this used as a drop cloth to confine the spray? Why wasn't the spraying done outside on the ground instead of the living room?

drop cloth


Then I noticed the painter had, with his red fingers, touched the newly mudded and primed kitchen walls in about 20 places, leaving red finger prints. These walls too, would have to be primed again.

I realized then that this was
sabotage... payback for my telling 4 much younger men not to paint the door, not to use the wrong color. This was their immature way of telling me, a woman with a design background, that they didn't have to take orders from a woman.

On Monday morning, I was stunned to see the three men showed up for work! I told them to leave, that I couldn't afford to pay for 4 men, only one. They had been costing me money with their make-work projects like landscaping when, for me, that was budgeted for two to three months down the road. Maybe, if there was any money left.

My Canadian politeness kept me from telling them I was disgusted by their behavior. It's my nature to help others save face. Perhaps that was wrong of me not to say how I felt. Perhaps it was to protect myself from further intimidation by them. Two of the four men were a foot taller than I, they were all stronger than I, they all carried guns, I had witnessed one of the men lose his temper and rage at the other men. And I was outnumbered, four to one.

Then, within an hour they were back to load up all the materials, equipment and tools they had stored in the house. What I realized by this is that their boss, the solo man I originally hired, was also quitting!

That's when I realized I was simply a money source for his unemployed pals. This wasn't a company who cared about their client's priorities; this was a company whose intention was to milk an older woman - a smart, kind woman - out of as much money as possible.

All four are gone now and I've received no apology. While a lot of their work was done well, they did a lot of work that I felt was unnecessary. I also felt they had no concerns for my budget limitations.

I'm wiser now, less trusting, and will find one person at a time to assist me with the work (electric, plumbing, drywall) that I'm unaccustomed and unqualified to do. I will do the painting, which I enjoy. And which, by the way, I was doing professionally before these men were born.


Post script: Today (5-22-14) a different carpenter remarked that this act was intentional vandalism. I think so, too. What do you think?

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Why do I post my experiences? It's not to vent so much as it is to teach professionals what is acceptable and what is not. I want future clients to be aware that not all people they hire have maturity and integrity.... and to stay away from this kind of "professional."

For a list of proper behavior, have a look at my own
Code of Conduct on this site.

Self-Defeating Behaviors

Posted May 1, 2014

These are not past clients of mine, but they should consider hiring me or booking me to speak to their organization or meeting:



1. A
real estate agent who tinkled in the toilet, and flushed, during her return phone call. I could hear it all. (Erie PA)

2. A
bank manager who refused to let me open an account because she felt anyone from out of town must be a drug dealer. (Girard PA)

3. A
physician who left for lunch while I was left waiting in the reception area. He walked out right in front of me. (Toronto)

4. A
physician who charged me $45 to take my blood pressure and when I asked for an explanation of the charge, he added another $25 charge to my bill... twice. (Girard PA)

5. A
lawyer I retained who failed to show up in court and instead sent his administrative assistant who had never been in a courtroom and who had to ask opposing counsel what she should do next. (Toronto)

6. An
RV dealer who refused to show me the inside of any RV - 3 different attempts - despite the $10,000 check for a deposit in my pocket. (Erie PA)

7. A
dentist who was more interested in providing expensive cosmetic dentistry than finding the cause of my severe mouth pain. (Fairview PA)

8. A
veterinarian who required that I sign a full page release absolving the practice of all blame if anything went wrong with their treatment, but wouldn't let me have a copy of it. (Fairview PA)

9. Eight out of 9
lawyers who never returned my phone call when I tried to hire each one. One of the firms advertised his services on television to generate new business. That advertising was a waste of his money. (Erie PA)

10. A
cashier at a doctor's office made me pay an additional 66% over the doctor's handwritten invoice amount before she would allow me to leave the office. (Erie PA)

11. A
real estate agent who showed me only $40,000 homes - many were damaged and in dangerous neighborhoods - when I said I had $40,000 cash for a down payment. (Erie PA)

12. A
landlord who refused to provide an affordable, non-toxic solution for a wet basement floor, but had money to put into new flooring in the empty unit next door. (Erie PA)

There are more... If you want to know the details, order my future book or
hire me to speak to your organization... I'll spill the beans.

Please note: I give everyone at least one opportunity, sometimes several opportunities, to make things right. I'm always astonished at how many professionals, when confronted with the evidence, choose to do nothing... or get angry.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Why do I post my experiences? It's not to vent so much as it is to teach professionals what is acceptable and what is not. I want future clients to be aware that not all people they hire have maturity and integrity.... and to stay away from this kind of "professional."

For a list of proper behavior, have a look at my own
Code of Conduct on this site.


Why I'm not a real estate agent

Posted July 4, 2013


I originally wrote this on November 9, 2009. It will be in my future book, and I decided it might make a good blog post as well. It's typical of what I experience far too often. (Don't you love that I don't have to go digging for stories for my book? They just keep showing up in my life.)

page6_blog_entry3_1

In 2009 I took the two Pennsylvania real estate courses in order to educate myself before I did battle with a real estate firm in Canada. One Friday I saw an ad on my local CraigsList from a real estate broker in Erie looking for new agents. I decided to see how good my chances were of associating myself with the agency either as a home stager to help her agents sell properties faster, or a licensed agent.

We met and I shared with her some of my own property selling experience that I could bring to her agency: hosting a real estate radio show, writing a
book on selling homes, working with an author on a book about buying condos, owning a real estate advertising service (which I later sold); selling 3 homes, raw land of my own and a timeshare of my Dad's; studying housing construction, and being a home stager. I not only have a degree in Family and Consumer Science, but also a degree in Business and Marketing and owned my own successful public relations and marketing consulting firm for 30 years. I hoped all this would demonstrate my business skills, what a go-getter I am and how much I could bring to her agency and her company's bank account.

She went on and on about the benefits of
home staging - Great, I thought! She'll ask me to stage her listed homes for bigger profits - and I asked if she would refer me so I could help her agents sell their listed homes faster so I could increase her revenues and at the same time earn enough to cover my licensing exam fees and professional real estate fees (about $2,000).She said NO.

Huh?

Did you get that?
She wasn't willing to let me bring her income faster that would also allow me to cover the expenses required to work for her and earn her even more income.

Instead she told me I should stop writing, consulting, speaking, selling books, and home staging, and go get a $7 an hour retail job working full-time as a
shop girl for a florist or department store. "What?," I thought to myself, "Is she insane?" I was speechless. I simply looked at her and smiled, a frozen smile, but a smile nonetheless. In a store I would earn in one day ($45 after deductions) less than I can earn in 15 minutes as a consultant or a day as a home stager ($450). I was incredulous.

I suspected that her intention was to crush my spirit, but for what purpose I couldn't guess. I haven't worked for that low a wage since I worked to put myself through 6 years of university. That was 4 decades ago. I do far better as an entrepreneur and consultant than as an employee.

Why anyone would want to demean or demoralize a person willing to work hard to share half her (my) earnings is incomprehensible to me. (Real estate agents get 25% of their commissions, as do their brokers.) I can't work for anyone who enjoys crushing the spirit of any human, and certainly not for someone who is blind to the prospect of additional income I could bring her agency.

I didn't tell her - and she obviously didn't take any time to check my former web site as I had suggested - that my PR firm had created high profiles for realtors, among other professionals and specialists, so listings and home buyers would come in faster and in greater volume. So, I may yet decide to re-open the
Personal Public Relations firm I closed a few years ago, and see if any of her competitors would like me to bring them tons of business.

(I understand the highest paid realtors in Erie are earning about $100,000 a year. My clients were earning $500,000 and more as a result of my marketing efforts.)

Here's a little more insight: That day was a warm, sunny Saturday, perfect for prospective buyers to see homes for sale. The agency's phones should have been ringing off the hook, but they were silent; there was no staff working at 11 AM, the lights were off throughout the office, and the large parking lot was empty of all cars but mine and my interviewer. What does that tell you? Nobody was signing contracts. And what does it tell you when a firm advertises for new sales people on Craigslist.org? Desperation, maybe? I just don't understand why that broker was working against her own best interests.

What would have a been better scenario? The broker could have given me a trial staging assignment on one of her agency's most shockingly ugly and hard-to-sell homes. No cost to anyone but me. If I helped the agent and broker sell the home fast and for a better-than-asking-price, then I could have expected future referrals and payment until I could afford the fees to become an agent.

Sure, an agent could stage a home herself, but is that wise? Let's say an agent gets a gross commission (before expenses) of $1250 on a $100,000 home. Net might be closer to $850 after paying for office costs, materials and advertising, not to mention auto expenses. Is she really going to provide additional labor (staging/painting, furniture storage, etc.) of $1000 or more to earn that $850 commission? She'd be a fool; that's not profitable. It would have been better to have hired me to do the work, have the seller pay me at the closing, and let the agent enjoy the benefits of my expertise and effort.

I just don't understand why Erie realtors don't get that homes I've worked on sell within no more than 3 weeks at about $10,000 more than expected. Why would any realtor or broker say no? Ironically, I now have the money to become an agent, but can't imagine why I'd want to.

Andrea
Today's blog post is brought to you by my booklet,
Sell Your Mobile Home in 60 Days. (In 2000 I sold mine in 6 days.)
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Why do I post my experiences? It's not to vent so much as it is to teach professionals what is acceptable and what is not. I want future clients to be aware that not all people they hire have maturity and integrity.... and to stay away from this kind of "professional."

For a list of proper behavior, have a look at my own
Code of Conduct on this site.