Spring is here, and with it comes the rain. Right about now most of us are turning off the heat, and enjoying the cool climate, however we’ve seen quite a few cases of basements flooding as a result of furnaces and leaky pipes. Today is dedicated to those such cases.
For our first entry we will be telling you a story about a loss we had last week. The names, and location of the loss have been changed.
Last week around lunch time I was at my desk typing another blog entry when a call came in. I answered the phone to hear a man on the other end saying “So you guys clean up water, right?” I told him yes and to tell me about what had happened, I must say that I felt bad for the man.
He had just gotten back from his home on some beach in Florida to find his furnace had flooded his newly finished basement. He had to call the fire department to get the water out as it was nearly two feet high by the time he found the water. He said nothing like this had ever happened to him before, and that he had no idea what to do. Thankfully, I do.
I asked (who we’ll call Tim) if he had contacted someone to fix the furnace. As a matter of fact he had, and it was getting repaired as we spoke. “That’s great!” I replied, and explained that if he hadn’t we would have to wait. It’s silly to start a drying process when water will just come right back in. We made a few small jokes about the reliability of appliances nowadays, and then got back on track. I asked if he contacted his insurance company, he had, and had the name of the insurance agency as well as a claim number. That is what we like to hear. The adjuster was coming out that very afternoon to look at the damages, and asked if we could meet him at his house.
Of course we said yes, if we can make this situation any less stressful for you we will do everything we can. After informing the estimators about the loss I returned to the phone to get more information. He lived about ten minutes away, but he was very concerned about mold. His wife had a nasty allergy to it, and was worried about her coming home the following week. We explained that we have a licensed and registered mold specialist, but if the water had not been there long, and we dried it properly the risk of mold would be small. However if it did occur, we could handle that as well.
This is a perfect example of how a conversation should go. By the end of the ten minute conversation we had all the information we needed to proceed, and he had the piece of mind that comes with it. Within two hours we were there, had spoken with the adjuster, and began the drying process. Everyone involved was satisfied with the results, and his wife came home to a dry home.
The next story is about one should not do when calling. We understand this is a stressful time, but this, this could have gone better.
Again I was sitting at my desk and typing away another blog entry, or writing an email, but we got a cal from a middle-aged woman who lived in a rather nice home. I answered, and the conversation started pleasant enough. I said who I was and how could I help her, and she said that a sewage pipe had backed up into her home. I cringed a little at the thought, though we handle these almost as often as we do water, it’s never pleasant. These situations, especially like if there is road construction (like this was) that it can be a can of worms figuring out who will pay. The construction company that hit the pipe? The town? The homeowner? We try to get as much information as possible when these are involved. When I asked the woman if she knew who would be paying for the restoration, so we could get down the information for our records I was immediately retorted with “There’s [expletive removed] crap in my house and you want to know who will pay!?” I took the phone away from my ear for a second and went back to talking. I explained that sometimes insurance companies will not cover sewage as they believe it is the fault of the company outside. We want to know so you don’t get stuck with a bill for something you didn’t do.
Again, she was hostile. We know this happens, some people do not react to these situations with calm demeanor. I mean if I just had a few hundred gallons of sewage waste back up into my half million dollar home I’d be pretty upset too. Bt anger gets us no where. Finally after a few minutes she gave me the number the crew chief for the road construction gave her. She said that they told her to call them, their insurance company, to file a claim. Alright now we were getting somewhere. I told her she would need to call and talk with them, and then we would need the information when it became available, but a number was at least something.
Again, she got mad that we weren’t calling. Folks we do deal with insurance companies, but we can’t file a claim for you. You need to do that yourself. After that was done I asked her for a little more information. Her last name, her address, a phone number to reach her at.. She directed to me “What you should know that already don’t you have caller ID, just trace it!” First off, it was registered as restricted, second shouldn’t you want to give me the address so we can come take the waste product out? Still, I was calm and managed to get that out of her.
Then the fun really started. I asked her to tell me about her home and what was affected. What floor, was it the basement? All the bathrooms and sinks? What kind of flooring? Heck what kind of house? Did she know about how large the rooms were? These are all very basic things that we ask every customer so the estimator has a general idea of the loss before he steps onto the property. This way we can judge what size crew to send out, and how much equipment we’ll need. We double check everything when we are there and take accurate measurements along with photos, but we still ask. “Well I have a [expletive deleted] expensive home with a couch that’s worth more than what you make in a year, alone, and it’s all covered in [expletive deleted].” I must say I was slightly hurt by that, I don’t believe at any point I myself was nasty, and while this is stressful there is never a call for that. I put her on hold for a moment and asked my supervisor to take the call. Obviously something about me was not okay with the woman.
My supervisor took the call, and I kid you not I could hear the woman screaming from my seat across the room to get a crew out there immediately. Thankfully we could get a crew out there, and we did do the job, but I tell you that none of looked forward to when this woman called. Just a quick hint, having your information ready makes us happy, not belittling our job makes us even happier. We’re just here to help.
What I’ve given you is the polar opposites, 99% of the time you are all wonderful and there is no complications at all. We don’t expect you to joke, and we understand some confusion, you’re home is flooded, or had fire damage, or mold this can be a traumatic experience. Just stay calm, and we’ll do all we can to help you and get out there as soon as possible.