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Tell us your "Customer From Hell" story and you could win a power tool

Tell us about your deadbeats, psychopaths, control freaks, drama queens, nutbars, bullies, know-it-alls and lawyers. You know, the eight types of customers to avoid.


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January 8, 2014 by Steve Payne

In the next print issue of Canadian Contractor we are going to run your comments about “Customers From Hell.”

Having been to hell with

(1) A deadbeat

(2) A psychopath

(3) A control freak

(4) A drama queen

(5) A nutbar

(6) A bully

(7) A know-it-all

(8) A lawyer (surely the worst of all Customers From Hell)…

… at least you can win a power tool for submitting the most horrifying tale. You don’t have to write a long essay. Just tell us what this particular customer did to p*** you off, what type of job it was, and how you solved the problem. Or didn’t. Rob and I will judge the “best” (“worst”) story and send you a cool new FUEL power tool from Milwaukee.

You can either post them below (PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE THE CUSTOMER’S NAME, TO AVOID LIBEL) or email them to me: spayne@canadiancontractor.ca


Steve Payne

Steve Payne

Steve Payne is the editor of Canadian Contractor magazine


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6 Comments » for Tell us your "Customer From Hell" story and you could win a power tool
  1. pete de jonge says:

    I sold a house to a person 20 years ago and never heard any complains now I have to defend a third party claim because a lady fel off the step from house to garage, I hace retierd from building. where is the statu of limitation?

  2. abie says:

    As a general contractor in Quebec we find the there seem to be no justice with the civil courts in the Quebec. We had a claim againt a client because she did not pay us the balance of our money.Wehave taken legal proccedings but it took some time before it was to go to court for trial. In a court of law you must provide proof not hersay but we lost this case because I was not able to plead in French. The client hired a architect 95 years old and he had no proof or documents to back up is testomony so judge accepted the verble testomony with out written proof only hersay,
    If you don’t have a French name in Quebec and you have speaking judge that asks the first question do yo speak French and if you don’t your court case is lost.
    That is a big problem in Quebec

    The work we have done was perfect as our company has 50 years of construction experience and the client did not have the balance of the money so they paid this old achitect $500.00 so save $55.000 still owning.

  3. Abie says:

    Your problemwith your project is that you did not contract a turnkey project.
    I have a son in Toronto that has a construction company and he is very honest and I one that trained my two sons one in Toronto one in Montreal.
    If need advice or knowning people in Montreal we are able to handle there project on a turnkey bases.

  4. Greg Paterson says:

    In the 70s as an apprentice, a room mates brother asked if I would wire up his new furnace humidifier I agreed and showed up after work the next day. His wife insisted I have supper. Spare ribs in a black sauce were served. She forgot napkins so quickly fetched a roll of toilet paper !!! After supper I went to the basement to find that the humidifier was still in the box, the furnace was surrounded with dirty laundry. I began the installation , the husband came down the stairs and ask me to watch their two kids while him and his wife went to an Amway meeting ( I was pissed ) I finished the humidifier in a couple of hours then waited with two unruly kids till 11:00 pm . When they arrived home I stormed out.That night around 3:00 am my guts began to boil and for the next few hours Montezuma had his revenge ! I missed work the next day losing a days wages. The guy never did pay me.

  5. Murray Bell says:

    I should have recognized the signs. The client had was interviewing 17 contractors, and had pages of requirements and specifications. But it was close to a quarter of a million dollars. These jobs don’t come along every day. After weeks of working on the quotation, and many updates, I was awarded the job. The daily emails started the day we started demolition. In total, there were over 650 emails over the time spent on the job. Each email had 20 or 30 lines, so that is at least 13,000 comments. He constantly cited obscure portions of the building code, which I complied immediately, at my cost. A micro manager of an epic proportion. One day in exasperation, I said ‘why did you hire me, you seem to think you know more than me? He had no answer.
    I f the work we did could be made more complicated,
    it was. There were at least 20 colours of paint, every room was different. There were over 80 change orders. Every change order was questioned. At a meeting that went on over 3 hours, at about 10 PM, we were arguing over 50 cents. I lost my patience, and said each upcoming change order was a ‘Yes or No’ proposition. He continued to challenge every change order. There were detailed photos, and lists of materials. One change order I reviewed in detail was not accurate, but the total was 57 cents over.
    He dropped by the site every day for hours. One day he challenged the electrician about how he was installing a light. The large tatooed tradesman came close to blows. I shook his hand.
    In the middle of the project I had a surgery that went very wrong, and would up in ICU fighting for my life. His emails slowed somewhat, but the site visits increased. At this point, I had snapped. I said to him if he showed up during working hours, we would pack up and not return. He did not come on site during the day after that.
    Then the final list came through. It was 20 or more pages. I spent a month doing deficiencies, but they nothing was good enough. He had tagged the painting, one door casing had 12 pieces of tape on it. Some of the ‘defects’ were dust.
    Then at the time of the last payment, he deducted hundreds of dollars for ‘defects’
    There are 3 major groups of difficult clients: Lunatics, crooks who will pay as little as they can get away with, and just plain dummies. He was 2 out of 3.