The customer experience nightmare or client from Hell.... #1: Night mares...from the chopped down ELM street tree

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Blog entry by Dusty posted 11-22-2007 03:38 PM 1522 reads 0 times favorited 44 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Miles a fellow lumberjock posted a comment on one of my projects.


This reminds me of a lady i did some work for on a sort of rustic lake house. Except she was so anal retentive that she wanted to micro manage where hammer marks, scratches or even where nails went on the stuff i was building. I invented a new name for her style…..PRISTINE RUSTIC! hehe

—miles125, Alabama..”Architecture is frozen music””

I could relate to having several experiences like that with customers and clients over the years.

Miles comments inspired me to start a blog listing a few of my own experiences.

I am hoping others will join in and share some of there own personal “night mares”. I realize a number of lumberjocks may have not had customers or clients and I didn’t want that to keep them from sharing in this fun blog posting.

I am also inviting you to share any personal ”CUSTOMER SERVICE NIGHT MARES” in which you might have had.

Just for fun, I thought, it would be fun to see where and what others have experienced.

-- Dusty

44 comments so far

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785 posts in 4182 days

#1 posted 11-22-2007 03:52 PM

I was approached by a Interior Decorator from a very up scale firm that had a very high end cleint who was a CEO of a large firm locally.

Her request was fairly simple and straight forward.

She wanted three tables custom made out of solid walnut to match the other pieces in his office that no longer were available form the firm that made them originally.

I explained that I would try but there would be a difference in the final stain color. I would do my best to match but I couldn’t guarantee I could match the stain exactly.

She said “no problem” the customer has a extra gallon of stain from then they bought the pieces.

I was learey but proceeded.

I finished the three stunning solid walnut pieces of furniture and called for the stain.

I called for the stain, she arrived and complemented me on how beautiful the pieces were.

The stain was in a paper bag when she arrived. She dropped it off and left.

I opened the bag, it was black paint.

I almost cried.

That is what they wanted.

That is what they got.

I think I know why ”the pieces weren’t available any longer from the orgional manufacturer”.

-- Dusty

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4017 days

#2 posted 11-22-2007 03:52 PM

You’ve opened up the vault of bad memories here. OK, here goes.

#1. “Chee-wees”...”Cheap” people who always try and “weasel” out of paying.

#2. Customers who actually “photograph” every hole, every modification, every thing you install…while you’re still there.

#3. People who “paint” that maple bookcase you made.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4182 days

#3 posted 11-22-2007 04:04 PM


Some one gave me a sign once that said ….

Shop Labor $40.00 per hour

If you watch $80.00 per hour

If you take video or pictures while I am working $180.00 per hour

If you try tell me how to do my job while I am doing my work $280.00 per hour


-- Dusty

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4126 days

#4 posted 11-22-2007 04:31 PM

I am pretty anal retentive about the quality of my work. But I walked into a kitchen remodel that I was working on and found hundreds of little blue pieces of tape anywhere there was a “defect”. That may be a ridge line in the paint or little air hole in the mudwork under the paint. Now keep in mind, these were from the previous construction but I had to fix it. This lady was over the top.

I purchased a book from the National Association of Home Builders that outlines what is accepted as good general construction practice and what is not. My work far exceeds their standards but basically you cannot judge the walls by shining a raking light across it or use a 4’ straight edge to see how flat they are. My work is tight and if it passes my standards then it should be more than acceptable to anyone. If it is not then I know they are looking for a discount or an excuse not to pay.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

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1466 posts in 4114 days

#5 posted 11-22-2007 04:54 PM

My next door neighbor moved in just after we did. The houses were built by the sasme contractor.
My only complaint was that the cabinet maker had used some tiger maple on the stiles of the cabinet where all the other stiles were straight grain. I was also upset that he didn’t recognize the value of that piece of wood. Any other defects were minor.

My neighbor had hundreds if those little blue tape things all over his house. My wife died laughing over the blue polka dotted rooms.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4126 days

#6 posted 11-22-2007 04:59 PM

Crap Sawdust! I had to check and see if you were from my neck of the woods!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View JGCW's profile


25 posts in 3916 days

#7 posted 11-22-2007 05:06 PM

I have jad a few.

The woman that took 2 weeks to decide on a color sample for her Cherry kitchen. She went with Clear Cherry after I told her it would darken. She couldnt visualize so I brought over a 3’x3’ Cherry table top from my house that had darkened nicely. I got a call that night to go ahead with the clear finish but she was sorry that she dropped my beautiful top on the exposed aggregate driveway and put a bunch of scratches and dents in it.

After I installed the job she commented that she couldnt wait for the Cherry to darken and was their anything I could about it. No, I said, you’re going to have to wait like we agreed. lol.

Then there was the guy who had me build a Lyptus outdoor bar. He was quite wealthy and as I found out later, very difficult to deal with. I built the bar in one week. Installed it in one day. And went back 5 times for various imperfections that were so minute, I was blown away he had the gall to call me back each time.

I went back every time with a smile on my face though. :)


View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4182 days

#8 posted 11-22-2007 06:13 PM



Enough said.

-- Dusty

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785 posts in 4182 days

#9 posted 11-22-2007 06:15 PM


I have that same frozen smile down pat and mastered.

The old rule “then that got the gold make the rules and are boss”

Even when it hurts to smile I do.

Then blog about it in lumberjocks.


-- Dusty

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4114 days

#10 posted 11-22-2007 06:22 PM

In my profession we have people like that. They think they can call at all hours of the day and night. I have it in my contract that phone calls at night and on weekends get billed at $400/hour, one hour minimum per call. It’s my disturbance rate as opposed to my hourly rate.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4032 days

#11 posted 11-22-2007 06:32 PM

A company i used to work for worked on a house that took EIGHT YEARS to complete.
We’re talking about a woman that would send door jambs and stair treads back because they werent sanded on the BACK SIDE. She made the masons rebrick the house at least 3 times that i recall. I think we finally just quit after the three year mark. Absolutely insane i tell ya.

I’m feeling a case of explosive diarreah coming on just thinking about that job!

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Dusty's profile


785 posts in 4182 days

#12 posted 11-22-2007 06:40 PM


Thank your for that visual on Thanksgiving Day.



Debbie was so right, your such a fun and descriptive character.

I love it.

-- Dusty

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4187 days

#13 posted 11-22-2007 07:08 PM

I think of “holmes on homes” and the shabby unethical work that he encounters and think “buyers beware and watch the workers like a hawk”. and then I read these comments and think “Buyers.. back off.. let them do their job”... somewhere in the middle lies an area of mutual “earned” trust and respect.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3989 days

#14 posted 11-22-2007 07:17 PM

Oh goody, goody, the subject has given Miles the green apple quick step. I have purposely forgotten many of these because I don’t want to dwell on them.

My funniest one isn’t from wood working but from saddle making. A guy named Jim came tothe shop and asked me to build a saddle to fit a specific horse. I explained that it was a very bad choice since the saddle would long out last the horse. He insisted so we went ahead. He brought the horse over and I fitted everything to that horse. He got his new saddle in about 4 months and was thrilled. About a year later he called and said that he was having problems with the saddle. I said brignthe saddle and the horse over and we’ll look at it. When he arrived the first thing I noticed was that this was a different horse. I asked him where the horse was that we built the saddle for? ” Oh, I sold that one.” He was told to load his horse and get the H—l out of there. I never saw him again .

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3901 days

#15 posted 11-23-2007 12:50 AM

A client has an old bungalow style house, probably close to 100 yrs old. The house moves so much that it breaks the pipes. When we installed the cabinets and butcher block countertops, the client and I went over everything with levels in all possible directions. Since then I have been back almost monthly because 1) the gap over the dishwasher isn’t even anymore, 2) the cabinet doors don’t line up perfectly anymore (not adjustable hinges, btw), 3) the end panel doesn’t quite follow the wall anymore, 4) a shelf doesn’t sit flat on the shelf pins anymore, and 5) (my favorite) “the doors are dragging when you open them” – turns out the doors he was referring to were not the doors on the cabinets I installed, they were the exterior and passage doors that were original to the house. Okay, but how is that my problem??

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