Choose your professionals wisely

Last week one of our smoke alarms in our house started beeping. Unfortunately, it was the only smoke alarm in the house that is in a place that is unreachable to a regular home owner. So… My husband and I went to Loews and purchased a REALLY big ladder. We loaded it up in my Tahoe, tied a red flag to the end (because it was sticking WAY out of the back window), and drove about 20 mph all the way home.

Once we got home, unloaded the ladder, unwrapped it and leaned it against the wall. We realized exactly how high it was.  We looked at each other trying to decide who was going to go WAY up there and change the battery. I decided to go. I admit it, I was SCARED! It took me a few minutes to get up the courage to start my REALLY high climb. Once I got to the top, I changed the battery and… dang it, it was still beeping. I took the battery out, turned it around and put it back in and… yep it was still beeping.

Just like with any other married couple who has been listening to a beeping smoke alarm for over 24 hours, my husband was irritated and told me that I didn’t do it right. It’s a battery. How did I do it wrong? Anyway, I came down the ladder and my husband went up. He was up there for a VERY long time because no matter how HE put the battery in, it kept on beeping!

Our conclusion was to call a professional. This is the advice that I give all my brides. You must use professionals for your wedding.  And not just your photographer, but also your consultant, your florist, your DJ and/or band, your bakery… yes, all of them. If not, you might end up working WAY too hard without achieving the result you were hoping for.  AND you will probably spend more money in the long run.

But the story isn’t over. Once we got the ladder wrapped back up, loaded back into the truck, drove 20 mph back to Loews and returned the ladder, it was another 2 days before the professional we called could make it out to our house. Our pre-requisite for this professional was that he had a really tall ladder and could change a battery in a smoke alarm. We didn’t think that was too hard.

Boy were we wrong! This guy showed up on time and was professionally dressed for an electrician. Good Start. I showed him the smoke alarm (and he could hear it beeping). Without even unloading anything from his truck or evaluating the smoke alarm, he started telling me about a year long program that they had for continued service. It was only $9.99 a month and would entitle me to get all the batteries in all the smoke alarms changed once a year. Then he walked around and looked at all the other smoke alarms in the house to “evaluate” them.

A little while later, he came back to me with a quote of well over $1000. I was speechless! We just needed one battery changed on a smoke alarm that we couldn’t reach. I know that smoke alarms are important!  We have had a house fire before. So, I had him call my husband at work and have him explain to him why it was going to cost much. He hung up and my husband called me on my cell and asked me if he had even changed the battery yet.  I said no, he hadn’t even taken his ladder off his truck.

I’m sure that a professional electrician can’t make a living changing smoke alarm batteries, but in my experience, it’s best to earn someone’s trust and business BEFORE trying to make them a client for life.

I guess the moral of the story is, not only should you choose a professional, but make sure you research that professional first and make sure they know exactly what kind of service you are looking for. Some people want a whole new smoke alarm system and some people just want their battery changed.

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