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Problem Client - walking out of appointment #2845247
05/04/19 08:30 PM
05/04/19 08:30 PM
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TimM_980 Offline OP
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Well, I got fed up with one client so much today I walked out. I hadn’t started tuning his piano yet. We were discussing pricing for extra services. A few things he said rubbed me the wrong way. I said it’s not worth dealing with this and just left. I had a feeling from the initial correspondence this was going to be a tough one. He sent me a bunch of angry emails complaining about how much time I wasted for him and for not closing the lid on his piano. I wish I listened to my instincts and cancelled ahead of time. I am at about 200 clients since I started and this was the first one I walked out on. Looking back I realize I probably could have just relaxed and not let him get to me.

When I was a kid a piano tuner got fed up with my piano and walked out. He fixed some strings I broke trying to tune with a plumbers wrench and pliers, but he didn’t tune the piano. He just left without asking for money and we never heard from him again. I didn’t blame him for leaving and felt bad about the mess I made for him.

Is 1 in 200 appointments a good number for walking out? I’m curious how frequently other technicians walk out and when it is acceptable to just walk away. Also, any tips to keep the departure smooth and professional?

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Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845249
05/04/19 08:42 PM
05/04/19 08:42 PM
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We certainly don't have to put up with nonsense. Indeed, it's unprofessional to do so.

I'm sure we can all make allowances for a client who is not knowledgeable about piano matters and just wants reassurance and explanation: such a client is quite different from one who is just ignorant!

I suppose it's a good idea to have a 'form of words' ready at the back of our minds, for such occasions. Something like "Thinking about this, I don't think I'm going to be able to provide a service that you'll be happy with, so I'll let you find someone else".

Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845281
05/05/19 12:13 AM
05/05/19 12:13 AM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 2,559
KZ, Uralsk
Maximillyan Offline
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Originally Posted by TimM_980
Well, I got fed up with one client so much today I walked out. I hadn’t started tuning his piano yet. We were discussing pricing for extra services. A few things he said rubbed me the wrong way. I said it’s not worth dealing with this and just left. I had a feeling from the initial correspondence this was going to be a tough one. He sent me a bunch of angry emails complaining about how much time I wasted for him and for not closing the lid on his piano. I wish I listened to my instincts and cancelled ahead of time. I am at about 200 clients since I started and this was the first one I walked out on. Looking back I realize I probably could have just relaxed and not let him get to me.

When I was a kid a piano tuner got fed up with my piano and walked out. He fixed some strings I broke trying to tune with a plumbers wrench and pliers, but he didn’t tune the piano. He just left without asking for money and we never heard from him again. I didn’t blame him for leaving and felt bad about the mess I made for him.

Is 1 in 200 appointments a good number for walking out? I’m curious how frequently other technicians walk out and when it is acceptable to just walk away. Also, any tips to keep the departure smooth and professional?



"a client is ALWAYS right"
all people are different, i'm think. there are people who are illiterate and even aggressive, as well as mentally ill. No need to come into conflict with them, etc. Even if this happened to you, TimM, you should not worry now about. You did the right thing, i'm think so it.
You can not go on about rudeness and ignorance never.
regards,

Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845285
05/05/19 12:52 AM
05/05/19 12:52 AM
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I've never walked out on a customer... so far.

Your feelings are understandable. However, there would be better ways to handle such a situation. I'm sure you'll figure out a response to have in mind for the future.
It would also be a reasonable time to reflect if there are other stresses in your life that caused this to be the "straw that broke the camel's back".


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: kpembrook] #2845306
05/05/19 02:31 AM
05/05/19 02:31 AM
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TimM_980 Offline OP
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Originally Posted by kpembrook
I've never walked out on a customer... so far.

Your feelings are understandable. However, there would be better ways to handle such a situation. I'm sure you'll figure out a response to have in mind for the future.
It would also be a reasonable time to reflect if there are other stresses in your life that caused this to be the "straw that broke the camel's back".


Yeah there were some stressors and hopefully I’ll be better prepared to deal with them in the future. It’s nice to know that you’ve gone your whole career without walking out. I hope that’s the last time for me.

Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845310
05/05/19 02:53 AM
05/05/19 02:53 AM
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I walked out on a group that was playing at a night club where I tune. They made last minute changes after I had arranged another job, so I had to leave and go there. They should have been there when I was tuning, but they were not. I came back after I finished the other job, and the guy from the band said it was terrible and it had to be done over, so I walked. I had already been paid. The Production Manager from the club told me that he did not blame me. I still work there, but that band will never be back.


Semipro Tech
Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845319
05/05/19 04:39 AM
05/05/19 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by TimM_980
We were discussing pricing for extra services. A few things he said rubbed me the wrong way. I said it’s not worth dealing with this and just left.


Now you made us really curious. What did he say?


piano tech - tuner - dealer
Münster, Germany
www.weldert.de
Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845351
05/05/19 07:30 AM
05/05/19 07:30 AM
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Always trust your instincts.

As tuners, we earn a living. But, no one job pays enough to be put through a very bad time.

If someone is behaving badly, or furtively, on the phone, or after you arrive, this could be a warning sign. Who knows what kind of a situation you might find yourself trapped in. I had one experience back in the early 1980s that was too disturbing to post about here. I eventually fought my way out OK. But, it wasn't worth the fee. I should have trusted my gut.

When someone starts misbehaving, it could just end there. Or, it could start escalating out of control. You could find yourself in an isolated location with some profoundly disturbed, criminal people.

In spite of what I just wrote, 99% of my tunings have been uneventful for wonderful people.
But, trust your instincts.


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)
Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845352
05/05/19 07:33 AM
05/05/19 07:33 AM
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Canberra, ACT, Australia
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Chris Leslie
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http://www.chrisleslie.com.au
Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845469
05/05/19 02:14 PM
05/05/19 02:14 PM
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New Hampshire
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I guess it depends on the context of the "discussion", such as who initiated the subject of extra services and why...and how extensive these might be.

So, if in his mind for example you came to go a "tuning", but upon arrival you find that it really needs a pitch correction in addition (and they didn't know anything about it), some people (actually many people) see this as a form of "upselling" and feel they are being taken advantage of. Specifically for this reason I discuss this possibility AHEAD of time and what the "probable" cost would be. Plus, since I charge by the hour the first time around (since I don't yet know what I am going to get into), the charges are all up front. They can do the math.

Usually you get a hint about their attitude if a phone conversation precedes the appt. Texting or email can unfortunately conceal their thinking so I prefer a phone call. I have declined to take on a client and referred them elsewhere when I detect a lack of understanding toward "other" stuff beyond just tuning.

In 44 years I don't think I have literally actually walked out on a client, however I do recall one time that I took a call on my cell phone while I was tuning a piano and the owner got so irate that I was "using his house as my office" that he angrily told me to pack up and leave. I politely apologized, finished the tuning. I felt it better to complete the job rather than leave it unfinished. I did get paid, but of course never saw him again.

Keith's words about other stressors are highly relevant. I have learned that whenever someone seems to over-react to a situation (either myself or the other person) it is usually due to something else going on in our lives that has heightened our tension level. And we all know what happens when tension gets too high...snap! Also, many chronic pain syndromes are associated with stress and anxiety (look up Dr. John Sarno).

I have generally learned to trust my gut feeling in situations so as to avoid problems. It has happened enough times where my gut feeling turned out to be completely valid, that I now try to "listen and obey" ahead if time.

Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 05/05/19 02:17 PM.

Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845515
05/05/19 03:57 PM
05/05/19 03:57 PM
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I explained to the client prior to the appointment exactly how many cents off the piano needs to be before I charge extra for a pitch raise. I showed him how far off his piano was, but he didn’t feel it was fair since his piano was tuned a year ago (it was moved too). I explained the moving probably had a big part in it. I offered him a steep discount on the pitch raise fee to appease him. I told him what others charge for this work and I was offering him a great rate. He also wanted me to include fixing his pedals and do some actions adjustments for free. I said it was was not worth haggling about the prices and just left. When I was walking out the door he said fine he will pay, but it was too late for me. I was upset over the process and his attitude. I realized the mistakes I made and that the tension level for me was high in my personal life probably contributed being fed up. Next time I’ll be better prepared hopefully. I dealt with pitch raise discussion many times with clients and it worked out fine. I explain it in detail of why it is needed and why it takes extra time.

The tension level in his life was probably very high since I received a series of really nasty, mean spirited and hateful messages from him afterwards. I never once said anything mean spirited to him and was kind the whole time until I walked out. This guy seemed like he was looking for a fight.

Last edited by TimM_980; 05/05/19 03:59 PM.
Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845522
05/05/19 04:33 PM
05/05/19 04:33 PM
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kpembrook Online content
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Originally Posted by TimM_980
I explained to the client prior to the appointment exactly how many cents off the piano needs to be before I charge extra for a pitch raise. I showed him how far off his piano was, but he didn’t feel it was fair since his piano was tuned a year ago (it was moved too). I explained the moving probably had a big part in it. I offered him a steep discount on the pitch raise fee to appease him. I told him what others charge for this work and I was offering him a great rate. He also wanted me to include fixing his pedals and do some actions adjustments for free. I said it was was not worth haggling about the prices and just left. When I was walking out the door he said fine he will pay, but it was too late for me. I was upset over the process and his attitude. I realized the mistakes I made and that the tension level for me was high in my personal life probably contributed being fed up. Next time I’ll be better prepared hopefully. I dealt with pitch raise discussion many times with clients and it worked out fine. I explain it in detail of why it is needed and why it takes extra time.

The tension level in his life was probably very high since I received a series of really nasty, mean spirited and hateful messages from him afterwards. I never once said anything mean spirited to him and was kind the whole time until I walked out. This guy seemed like he was looking for a fight.


Sounds to me like you did the best you could. Next time, you'll have this experience under your belt to guide you proactively.
As others have said, "trust your gut".

I live in a more low-stress, laid-back kind of area. For example, once I pulled up to the home of a client I had never met (rarely do that -- I want to meet the piano and its owner the first appointment). On the door of the house visible from the driveway was the printer-size paper with the note that said, "Piano Tuner, come on in. Money on table". When people tell me I could be in some high-population metro area I mention stories like this to convey that those places don't have the atmosphere I've come to appreciate even though major concert halls are 1-3 hours drive.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
editor emeritus of Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845549
05/05/19 06:37 PM
05/05/19 06:37 PM
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If he's sending you hateful messages afterwards, you probably made the right decision getting out of there. You're not responsible for his behavior, he is.


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)
Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845556
05/05/19 06:51 PM
05/05/19 06:51 PM
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Edit:. Btw, if these messages seem at all threatening, don't delete them for a while if they are email or texts. If they're too bad, or if they don't stop, you may want to consider going to the local authorities.


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)
Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845557
05/05/19 07:00 PM
05/05/19 07:00 PM
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Posts: 173
Minto, NB Canada
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I can't say I have had anyone wanting to fight with me as in fist-in-face. However I have been fired before by someone who could not....I'll say it again, COULD NOT be satisfied no matter what I did. I felt pretty badly about it honestly as I put a lot of free time into her piano and she controlled one at a Church so I lost two pianos. I had just started in the trade too, which dampened my spirits at first. When I left her pianos they were at concert pitch sounding and playing great. I found out since that this lady. for whatever reason, fires ALL her tuners eventually. So, you never know really what is going on in a person's life or thoughts.

What I did from this was (just like you did or are doing) really tear the appointment down and learn from my mistakes and her mistakes and apply them to my business sense because when I thought hard on it there were things I could have done better. So crappy things happen to us but I think there is always a learning experience(s) in it. Personally, I'm glad she fired me because I'm a better tech because of it. All the best to you friend.....

I would not hesitate getting the police involved if the hate mail persists....sometimes just a phone call from the authorities stops it all very quickly and if it doesn't stop it the police will visit that person as a next step. I had experience with this too concerning my elderly parents and a crazed neighbour (not related to this at all).



Last edited by Duaner; 05/05/19 07:08 PM.

Duane Graves
www.pianotuningfredericton.com

"Pushin 70...still haven fun I think..."
Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845565
05/05/19 07:47 PM
05/05/19 07:47 PM
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It's a crazy world out there sometimes. Stay aware. Stay safe.


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)
Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: Duaner] #2845591
05/05/19 09:48 PM
05/05/19 09:48 PM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 2,559
KZ, Uralsk
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[quote=Duaner]So crappy things happen to us but I think there is always a learning experience(s) in it. Personally, I'm glad she fired me because I'm a better tech because of it.
a blessing in disguise

Last edited by Maximillyan; 05/05/19 09:50 PM.
Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845715
05/06/19 09:20 AM
05/06/19 09:20 AM
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New Hampshire
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Ditto...SAVE EVERYTHING.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2845722
05/06/19 09:45 AM
05/06/19 09:45 AM
Joined: Feb 2017
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Battling over cost is is a game for a certain % of people. They see it as a victory if they can coerce you into shaving money off the charge. It usually does not even matter how much it is, just the fact that they are able to "come out on top" by defeating you. If they have found their techniques effective in the past, they will do it to everyone. In this case, he lost (you won)...so in typical childish form engages in retribution the only way available to him.

Actually, I would recommend a friendly visit to the local police dept and simply explain what happened and give them copies of what you have already. That way they have it on file, and if it escalates from now, they have something to go by very quickly (hopefully much to the perpetrator's surprise). You never know, he may already be known to them...

Especially important if there is any hint of a THREAT to you.

Pwg

Last edited by P W Grey; 05/06/19 09:46 AM.

Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
www.seacoastpianodoctor.com
pianodoctor57@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK0T7_I_nV8
Re: Problem Client - walking out of appointment [Re: TimM_980] #2846312
05/08/19 05:55 AM
05/08/19 05:55 AM
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Learn to spot them on the first phone call. I don’t tune for just anybody that calls, even when setting up a business.

I always engage in a short conversation when someone calls for the first time.
When this lady started waxing lyrical about some tuner she had had 25 years before I realised that I was not her saviour, merely ‘next’ so I declined the tuning over the phone.

I had just moved into a major city and working for a large dealer who had given my name to this lady. I already had a lot of experience.

Apparently she was well known to be difficult and passed along to every new tuner that came along. She complained to the dealership that I had refused her and word got around.

All the other tuners and salesmen asked me how I knew not fall into their trap.

It pays to be aware that this is a standard trick in large dealerships but it also pays to be alert to the types of potentially difficult people in general.


Amanda Reckonwith
Concert & Recording tuner-tech, London, England.
"in theory, practice and theory are the same thing. In practice, they're not." - Lawrence P. 'Yogi' Berra.


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