Customer I cleaned for 4 months ago now says I left too much "soap" and demands a free reclean

Tcoulter

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Apr 18, 2017
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Trace Coulter
I have perfect yelp and google reviews. I've been in the industry 10 years. I clean a ton of vacation rentals where I live. This particular job is very far away, and it actually took so long to set up and drive to (had to use portable, nautilus) that I decided after the job that I would never travel to that same area again. I ended up spending like 6.5 hours of my day for a whopping 230 dollars. So I cleaned this carpet, sprayed with biobreak, brush pro'd it all, set up fans after I was finished. I really did a nice job. Rinsed with just water. It looked great, and I just now get a call...almost 4 months later... he just left me a voicemail saying that he had a professional carpet cleaner stay at his vacation rental, and the "pro" said that the carpet has too much "soap residue" in it and it looks bad. Then he said his maintenance man confirmed that there looks to be too much "soap". He then said "I really hope you guarantee your work and can come fix this for us". 4....Months...Later. In a vacation rental, on the beach, that sleeps 6. Sun tan oils, sand, blacktop parking lot. All of these rentals get dirty very quickly. Lots of property managers have me on quarterly and bi-annual cleaning schedules.

I am somewhat averse to confrontation, and I tend to get really panicky before confrontation for some reason. What do I tell this guy? I have never, in my 10 years , EVER had anyone expect a carpet cleaning 4 months after the fact, for free, because EVERYONE and their brother, who has never met me, agrees that I left it "too soapy". WTF. How would you approach? I don't want to jeopardize my perfect 5 star reviews, but I also don't want to waste my entire day on this stupid nonsense.
 

keep it clean

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Blackmailing you to do a free cleaning holding your review as ransom? That's what i take from that. Ive used biobreak with a portable. And never had a issue. Rinses quite easily actually. So i believe your right about the sunblock. Especially the spray on ones. They evenly coat all the traffic areas or wherever they were standing. And it tracks dirt like a mofo. And 4 months later? sht no. Vacation home rental? That gets a tail light guarentee if it's a rental.
 

Tcoulter

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Apr 18, 2017
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Trace Coulter
Blackmailing you to do a free cleaning holding your review as ransom? That's what i take from that. Ive used biobreak with a portable. And never had a issue. Rinses quite easily actually. So i believe your right about the sunblock. Especially the spray on ones. They evenly coat all the traffic areas or wherever they were standing. And it tracks dirt like a mofo. And 4 months later? sht no. Vacation home rental? That gets a tail light guarentee if it's a rental.

Thank you. Yes I agree. I have used bio-break, flex, and cleanfree for a few years now. Almost never have a problem. In fact whenever there is a problem, I am very happy to address it. I always know that I can probably fix the issue and make the customer a customer for life. But people like this? Really piss me off. This vacation rental is a place where entire families come in, go to the beach, all day every day, and get drunk and spill stuff everywhere and spray suntan lotion all over the place like blind people. Sometimes when I clean upholstery, there will be SHEETS of suntan lotion that come off when i prespray and agitate with upholstery brush. Within a year. It's disgusting. People absolutely abuse these places. To imagine that I will come back, and do this whole thing again 4 months later just because it's dirty now is some insane shit to me. I can't even comprehend calling a business and making a request like this. To give an example of how badly soiled these places get, I have seen many carpets that the customer tell me is only 6 months old, and when I clean it, you can already see traffic patterns from where the sand is wearing it down. People are walking everywhere with their feet and flip-flops caked in sand and suntan oils and saltwater and sweat and blacktop that bakes in the sun all day.

I'm just having a hard time deciding how to tell this guy that these people have no idea what they're talking about. Without being rude :rolleyes:
 
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keep it clean

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Exactly what i thought. It's a full round the clock vaca home. Not just the immediate family. But the inlaws then next week the brothers then sisters then friends and occasionally a renter. All people who come use the home without a care in the world about the floor. Alot of oops and just throw a rag on it.

Like AZ said. Wait till mamafen stops in. She is good with wording things. On how to address this customer. My suggestion would start with F and finish with U lol. So best not listen to me on that one :D but i do agree with you its bullsht for them to pull this game on you.
 

OxiFreshGuy

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There's multiple avenues/ways to respond.

Most likely it won't end favorably but, one customer isn't going to ruin your business.

If it was me personally I'd simply say, "Sir I appreciate you letting me know of this potential issue in your carpet; however, being a 10 year professional in the industry with a legion of happy customers I've never experienced a soap residue issue 4 months after the fact. Given the busy nature of rental properties and the multitude of factors involved, I cannot honor a free recleaning after 4 months when it's recommended to clean vacation rentals on a quarterly basis."

This makes the statement neutral, gives him some facts to ponder, and leaves it professional. If he still gives you a negative review so be it...it's going to happen eventually.

If you truly left soap residue in the carpet and he's unhappy with you as a cleaner he wouldn't ask you to re-clean it, he'd ask for his money back and hire someone else.

I've had customers like this who say, "YOU'RE TERRIBLE HIGH PRICED CARPET CLEANER"...so why do you keep hiring me every 3-6 months? It's always funny too.
 

PistolPete

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Interesting how there is soap residue when you didn't use any soap!
There are way too many variables in a vacation rental after 4 months to call you back.

Of course i stand by my work and guarantee it, but in my 10 years of delivering great results and excellent customer service I have never been called back 4 months later.
 

floorclean

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Mar 31, 2016
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Dale MacDonald
I’d probably say something like:
Sir your complaint is equivalent to a customer of yours calling you four months after staying in your rental unit with a complaint that he didn’t like the rental unit. He stayed, sleep in the unit used the towels the TV, dishes deck drive way and now didn’t like the unit. But he would like to come back and use the whole thing all over again but this time for free. Now the key here is he wasnt happy with the unit the first time BUT would be willing to use it again four months later for free.
You’d have to agree with me that if he didn’t like it the first time he wasn’t going to like it the second time. And that the complaint was more looking for something for nothing.
I’m sorry but as this is the same situation I’m looking at I’m not willing to give you a free cleaning.
If this complaint was within a reasonable time line we would be willing to address it. But after four months my guess is you need a regular cleaning. Even a normal house and not a rental unit it’s recommended a bi-yearly cleaning so your more than due for cleaning.
 
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Mama Fen

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I have perfect yelp and google reviews. I've been in the industry 10 years. I clean a ton of vacation rentals where I live. This particular job is very far away, and it actually took so long to set up and drive to (had to use portable, nautilus) that I decided after the job that I would never travel to that same area again. I ended up spending like 6.5 hours of my day for a whopping 230 dollars. So I cleaned this carpet, sprayed with biobreak, brush pro'd it all, set up fans after I was finished. I really did a nice job. Rinsed with just water. It looked great, and I just now get a call...almost 4 months later... he just left me a voicemail saying that he had a professional carpet cleaner stay at his vacation rental, and the "pro" said that the carpet has too much "soap residue" in it and it looks bad. Then he said his maintenance man confirmed that there looks to be too much "soap". He then said "I really hope you guarantee your work and can come fix this for us". 4....Months...Later. In a vacation rental, on the beach, that sleeps 6. Sun tan oils, sand, blacktop parking lot. All of these rentals get dirty very quickly. Lots of property managers have me on quarterly and bi-annual cleaning schedules.

I am somewhat averse to confrontation, and I tend to get really panicky before confrontation for some reason. What do I tell this guy? I have never, in my 10 years , EVER had anyone expect a carpet cleaning 4 months after the fact, for free, because EVERYONE and their brother, who has never met me, agrees that I left it "too soapy". WTF. How would you approach? I don't want to jeopardize my perfect 5 star reviews, but I also don't want to waste my entire day on this stupid nonsense.

By all means, jeopardize that perfect rating! Show that you're not a machine, you're a human being and a professional! Customers don't judge you by one bad review - they look at it to see how you handle it.

Handling a poor review well actually makes potential customers respect you as a person and a professional more than a bunch of bland "good job, thanks" comments.

In four months' time, there's been a lot of traffic in that house. And you've had no control over who's done what. In any other service industry, four months after the time of service is far too long to expect a free re-do.

So my approach would be as follows:

"Dear [name],

Thank you for reaching out to me with your concern.

While I always appreciate the feedback of other professionals in my trade, it is difficult for any carpet cleaner, no matter how skilled, to draw conclusions on work that was performed four months ago in a rental unit that experiences high rotational traffic.

My cleaning process does not use soap - the chemical I apply is an enzyme product with citrus oils to clean effectively without the use of potentially harmful butyls or solvents (I will gladly send you the data sheets on my products if you wish.)

I also include both a rinse step and a drying step that would make any residue issues immediately visible before I leave the property.

Because there was no residue of any sort evident during the post-cleaning walkthrough, or for several months after it, I can only surmise that the carpet cleaner who rented the property may have been seeing the buildup of soils common to high-traffic rental carpet. It is also possible that a renter had a spill and tried to clean it themselves to avoid doing damage to your property - it really is difficult to say what has happened since I have not seen the property in several months.

Please feel free to reach me at [number] and I will be happy to assist you in any way I can. I take great pride in my work and want very much for you to be satisfied with your experience."



You're not telling the property owner he's wrong - you're acknowledging his concern, but letting him know that the information given to him by this third party is based on after-the-fact observation and not on reality. Since you don't use soap, it can't be soap residue. But you're glad he reached out and you're willing to talk to him.
 
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OldCarpetVet

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By all means, jeopardize that perfect rating! Show that you're not a machine, you're a human being and a professional! Customers don't judge you by one bad review - they look at it to see how you handle it.

Handling a poor review well actually makes potential customers respect you as a person and a professional more than a bunch of bland "good job, thanks" comments.

In four months' time, there's been a lot of traffic in that house. And you've had no control over who's done what. In any other service industry, four months after the time of service is far too long to expect a free re-do.

So my approach would be as follows:

"Dear [name],

Thank you for reaching out to me with your concern.

While I always appreciate the feedback of other professionals in my trade, it is difficult for any carpet cleaner, no matter how skilled, to draw conclusions on work that was performed four months ago in a rental unit that experiences high rotational traffic.

My cleaning process does not use soap - the chemical I apply is an enzyme product with citrus oils to clean effectively without the use of potentially harmful butyls or solvents (I will gladly send you the data sheets on my products if you wish.)

I also include both a rinse step and a drying step that would make any residue issues immediately visible before I leave the property.

Because there was no residue of any sort evident during the post-cleaning walkthrough, or for several months after it, I can only surmise that the carpet cleaner who rented the property may have been seeing the buildup of soils common to high-traffic rental carpet. It is also possible that a renter had a spill and tried to clean it themselves to avoid doing damage to your property - it really is difficult to say what has happened since I have not seen the property in several months.

Please feel free to reach me at [number] and I will be happy to assist you in any way I can. I take great pride in my work and want very much for you to be satisfied with your experience."


You're not telling the property owner he's wrong - you're acknowledging his concern, but letting him know that the information given to him by this third party is based on after-the-fact observation and not on reality. Since you don't use soap, it can't be soap residue. But you're glad he reached out and you're willing to talk to him.

Perfect!
 

Mama Fen

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Thank you for the kind words, gents. :shy:

A few key things to remember about responding to negative reviews:

1. Never EVER attack the customer's position, complaint, or person. Do not call them liars, do not call them over-sensitive, and never ever call them ignorant (or even say anything that could hint at any of the above.) Doing so will provoke a defensive "backed-into-a-corner" response that won't go well for anyone involved.

Think of how you feel if someone calls you a liar or a dummy or says you're unprofessional - your fangs instinctively come out, right? Well, so do a customer's. Difference is, social media encourages customers to be drama queens - whereas service providers are expected to be professionals, not drama queens.


2. Stick to facts, not feelings. Your feelings and the customer's feelings are in opposing corners of the boxing ring - they won't meet happily in the middle. Facts are your referee. They control the flow of the ensuing event and keep anyone from getting damaged. Let the facts (the referee) do their job. Speak ONLY about what you did or did not do, and why, in the driest and simplest terms possible. Be objective, not subjective.


3. Remember the Kiss-Kick-Kiss philosophy in retail - open with positive ("thank you for making me aware"), present opportunity for improvement ("this is what can be done"), end with positive ("your business/ input/ etc is valuable to me and I am available to you"). Might not do much to appease the customer, but works wonders on people who read the complaint and response and see you being positive and courteous.


4. Believe it or not, most customers don't complain online because they want something for free. Most complaints are made because the customer genuinely feels like they didn't get their money's worth. The freeloaders will usually reach out to you with a veiled threat ("I can do damage to your rating if you don't give me my money back") but won't give you the means to make it right.

Truly unhappy customers may threaten, because they're angry, but at the heart of it they honestly feel slighted and want someone to make it better for them. As such, genuine complaints will usually respond very positively to the offer to "work with them" on it. They may even become cheerleaders afterward.

Treat every complaint as if it were the latter, not the former, even if you know in your gut you're dealing with a freeloader. Potential customers will see this, will know you treat even freeloaders with courtesy and respect because you're a pro and you value your reputation, and they will think highly of you for it.