How Do We Go About Breaking Bad News?


How Do We Go About Breaking Bad News?

When is the right time to break bad news on a job to a customer? Should it always be the electrical contractor’s responsibility to know everything, even issues that can’t be seen until you expose them? We never want to have to break bad news to a customer, so what is the best way to do this to protect you as the customer and the business supplying the service? Here is a real-life example to highlight the issues we face.

At TECC Ltd. we carry out frequent site visits and provide written quotes for a client on the basis of what can be seen. As electrical contractors, we will use our experience to determine the best way to get a job done and where to run cables to minimise any damage or repair work that needs to be done once the job is completed.

In a recent example, we had been asked to install modern downlights into a domestic property throughout a large open-plan dining room, living room and kitchen space. This involved the installation of around forty-five downlights in three zones with two-way switching. The home in question was a modern consumer unit and although it wasn’t correctly labelled, our team was assured by the homeowner that the house had been rewired in the last five years and they had all the paperwork.

During our first initial site visit, we always lower light fixtures to confirm the wiring type and look at the way it’s currently switched – to ensure as little damage as possible, our electrical contractors check if we can lift floorboards above the light fixing. If that is not an option, we need to cut into the ceiling. In this instance, upstairs floorboards could not be lifted because flooring had been laid over the top and we were forced to use cut discs throughout the house in order to run cables to all the required locations.

Fast forward, our team is on-site marking up light locations with our laser levels and has started cutting discs out of the ceiling – we use this method to ensure a plasterer has an easier job of patching up our work. During this process, we get a phone call – we’ve been sent some pictures that show us the current state of the wiring in the void space. It didn’t take long for our team to spot the obvious problems. All of the connections present in the images had been installed using cheap and unreliable connectors. It was quickly decided that we should double-check the rest of the house, and unsurprisingly, every single room was rife with the same problem. Upon inspection, the team worked out that in order to repair this issue we would need an additional 4 hours of labour and around fifty pounds worth of materials.

The customer was not pleased with this revelation and we were asked to discuss the problem with them further. During this time, we proceeded to show the homeowner all of the issues we found and later opened up the front case on the consumer unit. What the team found was truly shocking – awful workmanship and holes that might well have been chewed out of the consumer unit in order to get the cables in. Once again, cheap connector blocks had been used to extend cables. We requested to see the paperwork the customer had previously said they had, and as it turns out, they did have some documents. But they were handwritten with no signatures or trade body registration details. They didn’t even have a building regulations certificate to show it had been signed off properly.

Once we finished pointing out these obvious shortcuts, we found the details of the previous contractor, conducted a quick search and found they are registered with a trade body – not the same as TECC Ltd. may we add. We gave the customer the details of who they needed to speak to and what they should ask. Following this conundrum, as a kind gesture, the team agreed to split the difference on the added cost 50/50 – the customer accepted this and thanked us for our time.

After the completion of our work, we were contacted by the same customer about a month later – the previous contractor had refused to rectify their work and their trade body had informed the homeowner that they could choose another contractor to bring it up to the right standard – they chose TECC Ltd. On our next visit, we conducted an EICR for them on the whole installation, carried out some remedial actions and then issued them with a satisfactory report. That customer has now also referred us to family and friends as a trusted electrical contractor.

In summary, despite the obstacles, at TECC Ltd. we never like to leave customers with a bad install. Our work is always of the highest standard and set to The Electrical Compliance Collective name.

If you would like to talk to us about PAT testing, or other electrical services please contact us, our friendly team look forward to hearing from you.

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