Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

How not to handle a complaint from a customer: The burnt deck incident

Canadian Contractor Fire

An Edmonton contractor has received terrible publicity from a client who complained that he built the stairs to her deck within 2-inches of her fireplace vent, resulting in burnt stairs. Instead of just fixing the problem, the contractor allegedly insisted that the customer agree to take down a negative online review of the situation.

Canadian Contractor’s July issue features a cover story on how to deal with online complaints about your work.

One way NOT to deal with them is to tell the customer that you will fix your errors IF they agree not to publicize them. Because if THAT becomes public, you now have a massive problem on your hands.

How would you like to be the Edmonton contractor featured in last week’s Global News story who allegedly placed the stairs of the deck he was building 2-inches from his client’s fireplace vent?

Result: Burnt stairs.


Result: Customer complaint to contractor.

Result: Contractor allegedly tells the customer to cut a hole in the stairs close to the vent. Customer not impressed.

Result: Customer contacts Global News consumer watchdog program.

Result: Contractor agrees to refund $1,500 to the customer if the customer will take down the negative online review and if the program doesn’t air the complaint to its viewers.

Result: The kind of national, negative publicity that is a contractor’s worst nightmare. Read it and weep, here.

What would you have done to avoid this situation (other than not putting the stairs two inches from the fireplace out-vent in the first place)?


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1 Comment » for How not to handle a complaint from a customer: The burnt deck incident
  1. There’s a term in the review industry we called “The Streisand Effect” – essentially it says by spending time and effort trying to hide the publicity about something you actually draw attention to it. It appears often on HomeStars when companies try to take their customers to court about honest reviews they’ve written, and it only showcases their review, rather then addressing the real situation.

    Here’s the Streisand effect wikipedia page:

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