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Totally Unprofessional

My decorator and I are gathering bids for carpet installation. The contractor that visited us today was outrageously unprofessional.

He was supposed to arrive at 6:30pm. About ten minutes after that time, my decorator called to find out why the contractor was late. They were in downtown Portland and wanted to know whether we'd prefer to wait or to reschedule. I said I'd prefer to wait.

At this point, two things are wrong:

  1. He didn't proactively call to let us know he would be late for the appointment.
  2. He scheduled so poorly that he was in downtown Portland at a time when he was supposed to be way out here in Hillsboro.

We waited, and the contractor showed up about 45 minutes after the original appointment time. (A little Wii tennis entertained us in the meanwhile.) He measured, he talked, and he made what was actually a good bid. But he wanted a $50 deposit on the job.

I chimed in that we weren't ready to give him the job, as we were still gathering other bids. And then he said, to my complete astonishment, that he wouldn't even have come out if he knew we were getting other bids because he doesn't want to "take the job from someone else." (And confusingly, he added that he'd normally charge $75 to measure if he wasn't the only bidder. This made no sense after he said he wouldn't have come out if he knew it was for a competitive bid.)

What parallel dimension was this guy from?

He didn't ask us whether we were pursuing other bids, nor did he say it was a requirement of his that we weren't. And his excuse about not wanting to take the job from someone else really irritated me. Not only was he unwilling to engage in competition, but he had an explicitly zero-sum mentality about a job that doesn't "belong" to anybody anyway until after I accept a bid.

I came very close to uttering a curt "get out." Fortunately it didn't come to that. When it was clear we were surprised and offended by his requirement to be the only bidder, he withdrew his bid and left empty-handed. He did not seem visibly upset by this, making me wonder whether it happens to him often.

What a tremendous waste. The entire episode was unnecessary. If he had made his policy known up-front, we wouldn't have made an appointment. If he had come to the appointment as scheduled, it wouldn't have consumed an hour of everyone's time.

Oh well, at least it gave me something to write about. :)


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