It’s been a frustrating wait for us to finally get some one to show up to repair a crack in our basement foundation wall. Our first attempts, started some four months ago, petered out after six weeks with four no-shows.

Fast-forward to Steve arriving to examine the crack site, check the structural integrity of the house, and pronounce on the work involved and cost. Steve gives me a full explanation of the condition, the process of filling the crack and securing it with special strapping that will hold it all together at least until the sun goes nova.

We book the time and date for the work and I slot it into my calendar at a time when I can be at home to meet the technician who will do the work. Hallelujah!

Except that he arrives some 45 minutes late just as I have to leave for an appointment. Oh well, I’m sure he knows what to do and if there are any problems, my wife can call me on the cell phone.

Except that once I’m well past the point of no return, I discovered that my cell phone is not in my shirt pocket, where it usually resides.

With fingers and mentally crossed [I’m driving, remember?] I continue to my appointment. My day unfolds as expected. I eventually get home in the early evening. I’m greeted by a wife with steam hissing forth from every visible orifice. With your sympathetic understanding, dear reader, I’ll draw a discreet veil over the ensuing conversation around my failure to have my phone available when she called to tell me that the technician wanted an additional $650 to do the job that had been quoted a firm price. Without my being available for discussion she had to make a decision on the spot to tell him to go ahead. She was not happy!

WTF? How dare they! The technician starts work and then demands an additional $650 for my uninformed wife to finish the job! Just wait until the Better Business Bureau hears about this!

It’s too late to call the company at this hour, but I’ll certainly have a serious conversation tomorrow morning to make sure we don’t have to pay this extortionate additional charge!

Next morning, as I sit down at my computer to check email, what do I see but an invitation to access a link to comment on my “level of satisfaction with your recent experience with [ed: company name deleted for legal reasons]. Oh joy! I’ll certainly give them a piece of my educated and technically sophisticated mind!

But wait – this could be even better if I can just get some more information from the company to make my case completely watertight [just like my basement should be for evermore!]. After all, how can a mere technician override the professional opinion of the estimator? What kind of a company is this?

I call the company. Identify myself. Explain that I’m calling about this heinous extra charge. “Just a moment please – let me connect you to the technician who did the job so he can explain what he did.”

Hummm. Buzz. Click. “hello, this is Mike. How can I help you?”

Identify self again. Basement job. Yesterday. $650. Fixed quote. WTF?

Well, to truncate an extended exposition back to a not unreasonable length [which is educated and technically sophisticated talk for “to cut a long story short”], when Mike started to drill into the concrete, he discovered a previously invisible cavity in the wall that also needed significant additional filler plus the additional installation of a larger structural membrane over several square feet of wall surface to ensure the aforementioned guaranteed forever waterproofing.

Time + Materials = $$ Q.E.D.


So here’s some of what I learned from this experience.

  1. When I get annoyed about something that someone else has done, it just might be worth checking out what really happened before retaliating.
  1. Getting my own back will almost certainly get in the way of true understanding and learning.
  1. Make sure I always have enough time to stay involved in situations that contain unknowns that may require decisions.
  1. There something here about righteousness and how things should always be done in accordance with my standards and values. I suspect this may trace all the way back to those British Boarding – school days and powerful imprints that I must have endured!
  1. It’s probably a good idea to believe and trust that the person on their hands and knees with the tools may actually know what they’re doing!
  1. Always check to make sure I have my cell phone with me when I go out!