Pianotech

Expand all | Collapse all

Firing a Client

Jump to Best Answer
  • 1.  Firing a Client

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 9 days ago

    I'm asking on behalf of a friend. How do you go about firing a client that gives you the creeps? Without getting sued? It seems said client is happy with friend's service and wants to have friend back in the future. 



    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez, RPT
    Piano Technician / Artisan
    (256) 947-9999
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    ------------------------------



  • 2.  RE: Firing a Client

    Member
    Posted 9 days ago
    When someone calls to schedule an appointment, you do not have to accept. Don't give a reason, just say that you can not tune their piano and that they need to call someone else. Under the circumstances, I wouldn't want to inflict a creepy customer on another tuner, so do not recommend someone. You could also block their phone number and e-mail address. Don't return their call. An answering machine is a good buffer.

    ------------------------------
    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Firing a Client

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 9 days ago
    There needs to be a reason why you don't want to servie a customer in the future. Most of the time the customer is never satisfied with the service they received, and wants you to do more than you and the client agreed on doing.

    The best way to do that is tell the customer that you would rather not service their instrument in the future because obviously the customer is not satisfied with the work. I don't see how a customer could possibly sue you for not doing any work.

    How, if the customer was not satidfied with your work, and feels they paid for work you didn't do, that's another story.

    ------------------------------
    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    St. Augustine, FL 32095
    Tnrwim@aol.com
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Firing a Client

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 9 days ago
    Wim,

    I understand what you’re saying, but disagree with “there needs to be a reason.” My reason is, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, for any reason.” There’s nothing that can force me to work for someone I don’t like. However, that brings us to the second part of the question: how to go about it without getting sued.



    Benjamin Sanchez, RPT
    Piano Technician / Artisan
    (256) 947-9999
    www.professional-piano-services.com




  • 5.  RE: Firing a Client

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 9 days ago
    Ben

    Why don't you like someone?  Why don't you want to work for them?  There has to be a reason.
    By the same token, why would a potential customer want to sue you for not working for them?

    ------------------------------
    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    St. Augustine, FL 32095
    Tnrwim@aol.com
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Firing a Client

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 9 days ago
    Wim,

    I think there was a little misunderstanding in terms. When you said reason, I thought you meant give a reason to the customer; I’m assuming now you mean have an internal reason why you don’t want to work for the client again?



    Benjamin Sanchez, RPT
    Piano Technician / Artisan
    (256) 947-9999
    www.professional-piano-services.com




  • 7.  RE: Firing a Client

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 9 days ago
    Yes.  Why don't you want to work for a customer?

    ------------------------------
    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    St. Augustine, FL 32095
    Tnrwim@aol.com
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Firing a Client

    Posted 9 days ago
    Hi Benjamin.
    There is probably no polite way but perhaps,
    Don't answer his calls
    Don't respond to his voice or e-mails
    Block phone number
    Block email address
    If there is anything wrong with the piano, let them know you don't want to tune it unless the repair is done and quote a high price
    If an appointment is set up, by accident, forget about it. You can let him know, last minute, that something came up.
    Use these excuses to introduce a fellow technician perhaps...
    If it is just a tat of the normal service area, let him know you are not focusing on his area. You can easily service other customers in his area because you just happened to be able to fit it in.
    I wouldn't like doing these things myself but I would get very creative
    Peter





    ------------------------------
    Petrus Janssen
    Peachtree City GA
    678-416-8055
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Firing a Client

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 8 days ago
    I have never had to actually "fire" a customer. I have, however, deliberately "lost" customers. Because of the mass quantity of telemarketing I NEVER answer the phone unless I know who it is that is calling. If it's a customer I no longer want, and would find it a bad faith gesture to refer them to someone else I may know, I simply don't call them back. Same thing with email. If you just don't like the customer, for whatever reason, it doesn't help if you are honest with them and actually tell them the truth of why you no longer want to provide service to them. There are numerous ways to back out. Traffic, distance, and the list goes on. Come up with your own creative harmless lie. I can't imagine why a customer might want to sue you unless they have already paid you for services you are no longer willing to provide, or are under contract to provide. Or maybe the customer thinks you caused damage to his instrument that you are unwilling to go back and take care of.

    There are creepy people out there. I had to resort to ghosting one customer because her home was a frightening environment to step in to. I saw this family twice, and both times I heard what sounded like construction going on inside only to find that what was really going on was there was trash all over the place and the housekeeper was using a large shovel to pick it up and put it into trash bins. The three kids behaved like demons out of "Children of the Damned". I'd find things like open faced peanut butter sandwiches smashed onto the side of the piano. Crayon drawings taped to the wall next to the piano, done by the kids, depicting horribly frightening takes on the seven deadly sins. This family was the closest thing to evil I have ever experienced and I simply could no longer go there. But I would never actually tell them that. Who knows, they may have known voodoo as well and then I would be in real trouble.

    ------------------------------
    Geoff Sykes, RPT
    Los Angeles CA
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Firing a Client

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 8 days ago
    Claiming the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason is not a "reason" per se. It's not a magic incantation that protects you and there are limitations on why you can refuse service. I imagine you'd have to have it posted in advance. Regardless of why you don't want to provide services to someone, they can claim you have nefarious motivations and still sue; not that I can see much gain in this case; unless you are reneging on a previous agreement all they can do, besides spend time and money to harass you, is force you to tune their piano. Who would want that? And they'd still have to pay you.
    But because there are some crazy people in this world, the passive approaches suggested above seem to be the better way to go. Creepiness  won't hold up in court if it ever got to that.
    I did find this summary about the right to refuse service here by a sign company that makes the signs.

    ------------------------------
    Steven Rosenthal
    Honolulu HI
    808-521-7129
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Firing a Client

    Member
    Posted 8 days ago
    I doubt anyone needs any reason at all to stop servicing a customer-- it's not like a restaurant or store wherein if you refuse to serve someone you can indeed be sued. Technically maybe, yes, you could be sued for not servicing a customer but only if you come right out and say something derogatory to their face.  If a roofer never gets around to doing your roof, for example, you don't sue him. You just call another (unless you've already contracted.)

    I have a similar situation with a upright played by someone who plays in public and the house is an utter mess and the piano is neglected and the owner is creepy. I really don't want to go back there.

    ------------------------------
    Don Dalton
    Chester VT
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Firing a Client
    Best Answer

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 8 days ago
    Here's my two cents.
    This is a difficult but necessary aspect of our work.
    In most cases I don't think it would be wise or healthy for a piano technician to stifle a concern and keeping servicing a piano for a particular customer.
    I agree that since a percentage of people don't expect to be told what is wrong with them, the direct approach isn't normally going to work.
    So ignoring communication attempts may work, and if that doesn't work, a reply that you've been busy, please contact another piano technician, etc. Being positive, friendly yet firm and conclusive would be the suggestion. If the person replies to respectful correspondence unkindly, you could then either ignore or write one more respectful note. If someone wants to sue, then they can eventually pay all the legal fees in order to find out that you weren't comfortable with the work conditions or behavior of another individual.

    There are stresses to being a piano technician and this aspect is one of them. I can only encourage being swift and efficient in such a deliberation, and moving on with one's life as quickly as possible, focusing on the healthy and positive aspects of life.

    If you're trying to build and grow a business, there is the possibility that refusing service for a customer could slow your growth via this person's comments in the community. On the other hand, a client may not want to admit to their community that they've been refused service for being creepy or providing poor working conditions. But I think that one has to accept that - when they really can't tune for the client. If you've been in business for a while and need to pare back on less ideal work situations, you're to be congratulated for your accomplishment in getting to that place. Being in a position where you can afford to lose such a client and deal with the consequences if need be, is where you want to be. If you run the rest of your business well, I think you'll typically be in that place.

    As far as legal issues related to discriminating based on race, sexual identity and religion. If there is any job that requires a willingness to serve a fully-diverse group of customers, being a Piano Technician would be it! I think that what we deal with most of the time are issues of a work space being unpleasant due to lack of sanitation, or the odd individual who either verges on harassment or goes over that line. In these cases, the technician is protecting themself just as they should. I trust that the rest of the sane world as well as our legal system will recognize this, should it really come to the legal question.

    Lastly, I would encourage this person that they did the right thing to talk to another trusted piano technician since "going it alone" with such a thing can be - lonely. And they are to be commended for taking their own needs seriously. No-one should be criticized for doing that, I think.
    Cheers and best wishes.

    ------------------------------
    Tom Wright, RPT
    ------------------------------



  • 13.  RE: Firing a Client

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 7 days ago

    David Weiss replied this in a different thread:
    "I think we could do a better job answering this question if we knew what you meant by the client gives you the creeps. Could you be more specific?
    It's not very hard to gently dismiss a client when you have a reason. I have done so for various reasons such as cigarette smoke in the house, grousing about my fee, etc.
    I'm not sure why you are bringing up the possibility of being sued? Why would somebody sue you for not taking them on as a client."

    I understand the reservation about being sued is mostly due to how suit-happy our culture is. And if someone is already… off… there's always that possibility I guess. I'll have to ask my friend but I think that's why. 



    ------------------------------
    Benjamin Sanchez, RPT
    Piano Technician / Artisan
    (256) 947-9999
    www.professional-piano-services.com
    ------------------------------



  • 14.  RE: Firing a Client

    Posted 7 days ago

    Tom,

    Good reply and the best of the bunch. I carry the obit. in one of my many tuning cases, of a member of my local chapter who passed last year. He tuned for 60 years and a few weeks before he closed his piano store, that was only open for ten years, I bought a new Schimmel grand from him because I trusted him. It took my crew and myself seven months to restore the 1739 Jacob Schock house and be able to move in. He stored my new piano for me, for free, until I called him so it could be delivered. I had sold my Yamaha grand to a client because I couldn't have a Japanese piano in an historic German house. Anyway, at our chapter meeting and dinners, he used to say, "Sometimes when you can't stand the piano or the owner you just have to run away."

    I've been tuning 47 years  and being mostly a country tuner I have told folks, "Sorry, there are so many things wrong with this piano I won't take your money. But I will recommend a disposal service that will junk it for you or I'll help you get it out of the house so you can load it into your front loader and bury it on the other side of your corn field. No charge" I can still run but not as fast as I did in track back in high school.

    Since Covid my tuning requests have dropped 80%, with schools, churches and arts centers closed. Only picky folks would sneak me into their homes to tune their nice grand pianos. Lately I've gotten emails and calls from folks who I tuned for on a yearly or 6months basis for years. Now when they see me getting ready to tune for them they say things like, "Oh Bob, the last time you tuned here you had no grey hair and now I see a tiny bit of grey hair showing." I just say, "Oh, the stress of having to wear a mask like I did when I worked in anesthesia and later in the operating rooms and living in surgical masks working double shifts 3-11 and 11-7, years ago, and now wearing a mask everyday for at least four hours or more turned a few spots on my brown hair grey."  Of course gettin' old is the real reason.

    I have a chorale rehearsal this afternoon and one tomorrow night. Both require that you have had both your Covid shots and hopefully a booster and we have to sing in black singers masks that the two chorales provide. I guess the black color goes with our tux's or the ladies black dress's. I even have to wear a mask in the gym but only carry one outside when my current wife, of 51 years, and I do our twice daily three mile fast walks.

    Great fun this pie-ano tunin hobby.

    Bob Highfield- farmhouseview@gmail.com



    ------------------------------
    Robert Highfield
    Lancaster PA
    ------------------------------



  • 15.  RE: Firing a Client

    Member
    Posted 8 days ago
    It really is a simple as saying that you don't like their piano and do not want to work on it. I say that all the time and people understand and call someone else. I don't tune verticals, GH-1's and off shoots or anything similar. Having a shop and spec pianos helps to keep busy when the phone's not ringing. I also have plenty of yard work to do. I let the answering machine weed out the telemarketers and prepares me for the return call saying I don't do that any more, unless caller ID shows a known person.

    Fortunately, I no longer have high overhead. Cruisin' into semi-retirement...

    ------------------------------
    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
    ------------------------------



  • 16.  RE: Firing a Client

    Posted 7 days ago
    hello Jon,
    cruisin' into semi-retirement....  That's a wonderful feeling.
    Congratulations!
    I am going to go into semi-retirement myself in 1.5 to 2 years from now: selling my business and moving to the Sunshine state on the Gulf of Mexico coast, focusing on mostly piano tunings and some small repairs and possibly action work.
    Are you going to just lessen your work-load?
    Kind regards,
    Peter

    ------------------------------
    Petrus Janssen
    Peachtree City GA
    678-416-8055
    ------------------------------



  • 17.  RE: Firing a Client

    Member
    Posted 7 days ago
    I am lessening my workload. I only schedule tunings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays unless a venue requests a specific day.

    ------------------------------
    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: Firing a Client

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 7 days ago
    One way to lessen your work load is to raise your fee to 50% over what you're charging now. If people want you bad enough they'll pay it, or go to someone else. You wind up working less, but making more.

    ------------------------------
    Willem "Wim" Blees, RPT
    St. Augustine, FL 32095
    Tnrwim@aol.com
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: Firing a Client

    Member
    Posted 7 days ago
    Wim, did that too for new customers. Old ones are either the same or slightly higher. And drastically limited my range. Living on a peninsula (7 miles wide where I live), I can't go far up or down, and mostly stay left to right. Even then you can't go far before you reach the beach.

    ------------------------------
    Regards,

    Jon Page
    mailto:jonpage@comcast.net
    http://www.pianocapecod.com
    ------------------------------



  • 20.  RE: Firing a Client

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 7 days ago
    Back when I was about two years in, I increased my rates but 50% because I found out I wasn’t charging enough for living in that area. I think I only lost two clients. Most people didn’t even seem to notice.

    I know of one guy who tried to retire that way. He told me he lost maybe 5% of his clients. But he had the best income year of his life!

    I wonder if that would even work if you did it today, or if people would just assume you had to raise your price because of inflation and the current supply issues.



    Benjamin Sanchez, RPT
    Piano Technician / Artisan
    (256) 947-9999
    www.professional-piano-services.com




  • 21.  RE: Firing a Client

    Member
    Posted 7 days ago
    Yep, I only service pianos for established customers and their referrals.  And only "on island".  It takes crossing a bridge to get here and I no longer work on the other side!  One and a half communities only and between them and the key business I'm still nearly full time.

    Deb

    --
    5 Tarr's Lane WEST
    Rockport, MA  01966
    978-546-8428





  • 22.  RE: Firing a Client

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 7 days ago
    This seems to me to be an important and complex question.
    I gladly accept almost any and all work, the few outside of my confortable region I try to price myself out of  (which often doesn't work).
    BUT, if I had a client that behaved inappropriately or had issues that I did not care to deal with...
    I don't know how I would respond, this has never happened to me (in a long career).
    If I were a woman and had a client that was giving signs of being dangerous or acted inappropriately... perhaps I might recommend that they use another technician, I might give a scheduling reason, a regional or travelling issue or some other shallow reason, but most of these might be seen through as discrimination or rejection.
    I am glad that this has never come up.
    Pepper spray is always a good idea.  Just don't spray yourself!

    ------------------------------
    Blaine Hebert
    Duarte CA
    626-795-5170
    ------------------------------



  • 23.  RE: Firing a Client

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 7 days ago
    Yes, we are truly fortunate to have an occupation where we can pick & choose customers, work days and hours, etc. Plus we get to play the piano  at work! While I know everyone's life has different needs, retirement for me is out of the question, especially since we have freedoms such as cutting back hours. I am thankful to have my entire family live within an hours drive  (including the 6 grandkids), good health, and a fantastic customer base. Knowing that things can change in an instant, I am most appreciative of this occupation.

    ------------------------------
    Greg Junker
    Greg Junker's Piano Shoppe
    Belleville IL
    618-971-9595
    ------------------------------