Do you report odd behavior from a workman?

I had a very odd workman stop by yesterday to do an “annual” inspection to our house. We have a contract with the company and the company has been around for probably 40 years or more.

The interaction started out weird because he called first to let me know he was coming. (The office hadn’t called to warn me of the inspection before the actual day, which I think is odd as well.) For whatever reason I couldn’t hear him on the phone line. I could see the company’s name on my caller ID but couldn’t hear anything. He called three times without me being able to hear him and then showed up anyway.

He asked if it was OK to do the inspection. I said sure fine. Lilina and I were in the house alone. (This is why this is a mom topic. I think often women are the ones who have to be in the house when workmen come.) But I’m not generally bothered or intimidated by having workmen in the house. (I had a bunch of different people in the house for our renovation.)

However, this guy made me very nervous. I thought twice about being the basement with him and kept near a door so I could run.

I could’t decide if he was just inappropriately chatty or was casing my house. He asked some normal questions like how long we had been in the house but then started asking about my husband.

“Where does he work? DOES HE TRAVEL OFTEN?”

CREEPY!! This is the question that really bothered me. Ladies, no matter what the answer truly is you always so “NO. He’s here all the time!”

I felt so uncomfortable with the guy that I told my girlfriend on the phone after he left that if I turned up dead this was the first guy to question. I later told Michael the same thing.

I don’t want this guy to lose his job. I just don’t want him in my house ever again.

Do you call the company and report the behavior? He could just be a lovely chatty fellow. I’m chatty and ask people all kinds of questions. But it made me uncomfortable enough to tell friends if I were murdered to start with him!

Can I just call and request a different inspector next year? That’s my passive aggressive way to solve the problem.

What do you think? Have you ever been uncomfortable with a workman in your home? (I think that’s more threatening that at the car shop or some other service.) Have you reported questionable behavior?

Is this questionable behavior or am I just paranoid?

56 comments Add your comment

YUKI

December 10th, 2009
9:10 am

I think if he made you uncomfortable you have every right to request another person for next time. If he didn’t really do anything besides making you uncomfortable (i.e. take his clothes off, say something inappropriate, dig in your belongings, etc…) then I don’t think you should report him. But, if having someone in your house makes you that uncomfortable, then maybe you should have just requested he come back another time. You could have simply said “now isn’t a good time, I’ll need to reschedule”. I understand it’s weird having a stranger in your home, though. A Dish Network guy came to convert our receivers and I was home alone with my son. He had to go upstairs to my bedroom, back downstairs etc. but I just went with him and everything was fine. He did not creep me out, though. He was pefectly professional.
Perhaps you are just a tad paranoid??? (not trying to be mean)

Kelly

December 10th, 2009
9:10 am

I would call and complain. I would also call the company and ask if they had an inspection scheduled. I think he behavior was questionable.

JJ

December 10th, 2009
9:12 am

Just call the company and tell them not to send that guy to your house again. You don’t have to be ugly, just let them know you were uncomfortable. And you might also let them know there was not previous warning that he was coming. That’s bad business.

You may not be the first one to complain about this particular employee…….

I had to call a Target store yesterday to inform them of an incredibly rude cashier. I have NO problem calling companies and reporting bad employees.

I even call some companies when I see a vehicle of theirs doing something assine on the roads. I have reported speeders, vehicles without any lights on, etc……

Michelle

December 10th, 2009
9:17 am

I always say go with your gut instinct in these matters! When it comes to your and your child’s safety, don’t take chances! I would call the company just to let them know you felt “uncomfortable.” You can let them know he wasn’t inappropriate, but that you felt ill at ease with his “personal” questions.

It could be that he was nervous as well and was just trying to keep up a conversation, or that this was a new job/position for him! Maybe he kept calling because he was unfamiliar with the technology of the cell phone (I know that sounds hokey, but after witnessing my mom with her new cell phone over the weekend, it’s not that far fetched!)

I typically make sure I have my cell phone with me during any type of visit like this with someone I don’t know, or talk with my husband while they are there! Heck, I might even make sure I had my pistol on me if I were that uncomfortable! :o) (as I said, no chances!)

If you are feeling too uncomfortable, I would just ask him to reschedule for another time OR ask a neighbor to come over and sit with you while he does his thing! Like I said earlier, I always go with my gut!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 10th, 2009
9:20 am

And i swear I am never uncomfortable with workmen — I had 15 different workmen in our house over three weeks when we did our update and never was I uncomfortable. So this is not the norm for me

Did anyone see Modern FAmily last night on TV — the two Dads didn’t like the Santa and reported him and he got fired!! They felt so guilty they took him home and fed him and gave him money. the guy totally knew it was them that got him fired. I don’t need angry employee coming to my home — rude Target cashier doesn’t know where you live!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 10th, 2009
9:21 am

I wasn;t uncomfortable until he came in and started talking — cell phone on you is a good idea –

Customer Service

December 10th, 2009
9:27 am

JJ, Have you ever called or written to report excellent service?
I agree you should report really bad or rude service, but also remember that they deal with a lot of very ugly people on a regular basis. Maybe she was just having a bad moment and not up to par.
I report good service as well. A lot of stores give bonuses for good employee reports. They can afford the bonuses because no one ever reports the good behavior ;)
Theresa, just request a different employee next year or keep the names of the good ones. Then you can just ask for the one you liked every year.

YUKI

December 10th, 2009
9:28 am

Modern Family is hilarous!! One of the funniest shows on right now. That bigger guy is the funniest one.
The part about the burn on the couch was great too, it ended up being the ornament that the husband’s dad gave to them burning the couch!

Becky

December 10th, 2009
9:31 am

Thank goodness that I have a lot of family that is in the service business, so I don’t have to deal with strangers..I have 2 nephews that are plumbers, a brother that is a painter, a BIL that is a electrician(sp)and a husband that is a jack of all trades..

Theresa, if he made you that uncomfortable, then yes I would call and say something to his company..Like Michelle said, the safety of you and your child should be top priority..

FCM

December 10th, 2009
9:39 am

You should have called the COMPANY to verify the guy actually works for them BEFORE you let him in. Especially if he was acting different from their normal mode of operation.

Modern Family was hilarious. I do not recommend bringing Santa home like they did. Though if you saw the birthday episode where dressed as a clown the former linebacker (and upset former caroler last night) decked the the guy on the hog you know they were safe.

I love the Wednesday night In the Middle – Cougartown line up. But I digress.

HB

December 10th, 2009
9:42 am

Odds are, he was just trying to keep up the conversation and be friendly, but if that’s true, you’re doing him and the company a favor by calling. It gives the company a chance to retrain all their inspectors on keeping the conversation professional and not veer into what they may think are innocent questions but can make safety-conscious clients nervous.

I would also let the company know that you expect a call from someone in the office at least a day in advance (not an en route guy on his cell). If an inspector were to turn up last minute again as this one did, you should politely turn him away and call the office to schedule a time.

MaryKay

December 10th, 2009
9:43 am

I think I would call the company and politely state that he made me a little uncomfortable, especially when he asked if my husband travels often (I’d specifically let them know he asked that). I’d also ask if it could be noted on my record to have someone else do the service call next year. If you just wait until next year to ask, you’ll never remember about this guy or his name, UNTIL HE SHOWS UP.

MaryKay

December 10th, 2009
9:46 am

BTW – you didn’t mention if he was driving a company vehicle with their name on it (some contractors drive their own vehicles) or if he had a company ID. Since you didn’t talk with the office ahead of time, I assume you checked these things?

Sue

December 10th, 2009
9:59 am

It was not appropriate for him to ask you questions about your husband like where he works and if he travels often. That is absolutely none of his business and he had no reason to ask you things like that. Like someone stated earlier, trust your gut instincts. I think you should call his company and talk to his supervisor.

JJ

December 10th, 2009
10:00 am

Customer Service, YES I do report excellence also. I have written to NUMEROUS companies giving them Kudos. Most recently Olive Garden. We had dinner there one night, about 5 of us, and the server was a blast. I wrote them an e-mail, they responded, and let me know they would recognize the server also.

And you sometimes get coupons……

JATL

December 10th, 2009
10:09 am

I would call the company just to make sure that was a scheduled visit. If it was, I would probably just tell them that you don’t want to get the guy in trouble who came out, but they should caution ALL employees to never ask personal questions especially about husbands traveling when in a home. I think you should always listen to your gut! If you’re not normally paranoid about workers in your home (and I do know some who are) and this guy gave you the creeps, then you should pay attention to that -I know I would! We have gut reactions for a very primal and very good reason!

deidre_NC

December 10th, 2009
10:14 am

i agree with most posters~call offie and tell them you need at least 1 day notice before they send someone out…more if possible…let them know he asked the question of your husbands schedule-that was way out of line-always always keep your cell phone in your pocket-and the door between you and a person in your house that you dont know….we have ‘feelings’ like this for a reason…they are called fight or flight responses…pay attention to them always. better to be wrong than dead. the thing that bothers me most theresa is that you are so open to anyone knowing your person business because of this blog. i mean theres pictues-your real name etc. you need to be careful i hate to make you paranoid because i think you tend towards this anyway-but that would have made me nervous too….its the sudden show-up and the questions he asked. i would definately call the ofice and explain that you were asked innapropriate questions regarding your husbands schedule and the visit was sudden and not scheduled. and that you do not want him doing the next inspection. anyone in the house call business should know what is innapropriate conversation..if not they should be better trained. as you said you had many workmen at your house during renovation and werent nervous..maybe its because there were many and not just one…but i say always pay attention to those ‘feelings’ we have them for a reason.

as to reporting bad service-thats fine…it should be done…but if yo udo that always report good service also–bonuses are decided on those things…and in places like target and walmart you just wouldnt believe how rude people are. it amazes me that people treat big box store employees so badly. usually you mostly remember the bad ones…but im telling you the truth..at places like that the rude ones are so numerous that you really remember the nice ones–they are that rare. sad but true.

deidre_NC

December 10th, 2009
10:17 am

just to let yall know…i really can spell…im a terrible typist..nd i use no punctuation..im gonna have to change that when i get back in school…geeze…its so much easier without all the lol

JJ

December 10th, 2009
10:19 am

As a single woman, I tend to get a bit edgy when someone like that is in my home. However, with two dogs with mean and vicious barks………..

But I’m like Becky, I have friends and relatives in most industries, so I usually call one of them. I have a friend who is a plumber, I have an HVAC friend, I have an electrician friend, etc. Either a 12 pack of beer or a home cooked meal is payment for them!!!!

I used to use a certain company for my HVAC maintenance, and the same guy came to my home every time. When I moved to the house I’m in now, the company didn’t service the area I moved to. However, being such a great customer, they sent a guy who lived by me, on his way home. We got to know each other, and he gave me his personal phone number, so I just call him now, and he does it as a side job, and I’m perfectly comfortable with him. He does a great job, and I usually assist him. My dogs LOVE him, and we have even swapped recipes……I can call him and he will troubleshoot a problem over the phone with me. He even brought his wife on one visit and I sat and chatted with her. He has saved me HUNDREDS of dollars!!!!!

deidre_NC

December 10th, 2009
10:30 am

i used to have a pest control guy that i knew and he would come even when i wasnt home…he got a different job and i got a new guy and i then had to make sure i was home when he came. i too have friends to do most of my stuff or that i can call for advice…that helps a lot!!! i am just a firm believer in those ‘gut feelings’ we all have…always pay attention to them.

...

December 10th, 2009
10:46 am

I think you are over reacting. Let it go. The guy might have just been trying to be friendly.

Next year, if he shows up unannounced, tell him that its not a good time and to schedule and appointment when your husband could be there.

nurse&mother

December 10th, 2009
10:54 am

I used to have a guy from our pest service that acted a little similar. He came back a year later and pretty much recited all the info that I’d given him previously. It was like he was trying to remember it all for a test. I called the company and said that I’d prefer that he not come out (I also gave another reason).

DB

December 10th, 2009
10:56 am

He was probably just being inappropriately chatty. I once had a plumber who could talk the ears off an elephant (but he was honest, fast and cheap, so I wanted to keep him :-) )

The first time he was out, he got to chatting, and asked about my husband — what he did, etc. (after eyeballing the mountains of paper in my husband’s office, he was in the middle of a case). I was a bit non-responsive (”oh, this and that”), and when he kept asking, I flat-out told him, politely: “You know, there are some women who would be uncomfortable with those questions.” He immediately apologized, and said his wife was always telling him to shut up! — and he was my plumber for 10 years before he moved to Colorado.

He’s probably fine. But if you weren’t comfortable with him suddenly showing up, it would have been perfectly appropriate to say, nicely, “I’m sorry, this isn’t a good time right now, I really do need 24 hours warning.”

I know — hindsight is 20/20 :-)

nurse&mother

December 10th, 2009
10:56 am

BTW, I ALWAYS listen to my gut. I am a pretty good judge of character (at least most of the time).

nurse&mother

December 10th, 2009
10:56 am

meant gut instincts.

Wayne

December 10th, 2009
10:58 am

I disagree with over reacting. I’m in the service business (both with my full time job and my part time business) and I visit homes, small businesses and offices, regularly. Being a male, I’m -always- aware of how I act and speak to a woman. It’s a personal space thing, I believe. Talk about the weather, the equipment you’re there to work on or inspect, but to ask them about their husband, and whether or not he’s home regularly? Uh uh. No way. I’m not there to hit on the woman, (or something more serious) I’m there to perform my job. That’s not general conversation, that’s prying.

I’ve been in service for over 20 years; That’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

JATL

December 10th, 2009
11:03 am

And yes, Modern Family is fantastic!

JJ

December 10th, 2009
11:14 am

Wayne, question – Do you like people to follow you and talk to you when you are in their homes? Or do you prefer to be left alone to your work?

I usually follow the workers around my house, and I’m interested in how “stuff” works.

I’d like to hear your side……

...

December 10th, 2009
11:22 am

You might cost this guy his job because of your “gut instinct” that could be completely wrong.

Was there anything about his appearance that made you uncomfortable? Be honest.

MaryKay

December 10th, 2009
11:33 am

JJ – I don’t know about how Wayne would feel (the serviceman viewpoint), but I always follow. Not necessarily to talk, but to keep tabs. I don’t want to let a strange man loose in my house without me being able to keep an eye on him.

… – So, you don’t trust your gut instinct? What would you do in this situation, nothing and just hope he wasn’t trying to find out information to use later?

Wayne

December 10th, 2009
11:35 am

I’m fine either way. Some folks don’t want to know anything about their computers, so just fix it Wayne. Others are interested and I will be more than happy to expound on what I’m doing. I find that better because then they are more aware of how to -possibly- avoid the problem from happening again. Secondly, they are more knowledgable for when we need to talk again.

Sometimes, I do have to explain that I need a moment to figure out what is going on as some folks can be a bit chatty.

I am one of those that asks a ton of questions when a service person comes to my house as I like to know how stuff works too. I might even be able to save a buck because it might have been a simple thing to do. I have an oil burner and sometimes it won’t start – we have problems with our tank gauge so, now, I know how to restart it.

I still say there are boundaries when a male comes into a females space and asks, what I consider, impertinent questions like, is your husband home? Does he travel a lot?

princessnik

December 10th, 2009
11:39 am

I am very fortunate, I’m the office manager of a Maintenance Department and most of our guys do “side work” so whenever I have a problem I can just get the more trustworthy ones to work on whatever it maybe. I’m a single mom and I also don’t trust having lots of service people i don’t know in and out of my home. The guys know if they mess up or do something wrong that they have to see me everyday. However, when i do have to do something outside of their expertise, cable, phone company…..I always make sure my mom or sister knows someone is coming to the house. The world just isn’t as safe as it used to be.

JJ

December 10th, 2009
12:00 pm

Thank you Wayne…..

Lori

December 10th, 2009
12:13 pm

You can call the company to get info without risking the guy getting fired without reason. Call to request that the company not send inspectors without prior confirmation from you that it is ok. Then you can find out if this was really a scheduled visit or not. If there really was something going on, then the company could take it from there and get rid of the guy if he is showing up at people’s houses for sketchy reasons. But if you aren’t sure the guy wasn’t legit then you aren’t doing any harm by complaining about the company policy, rather than the actual inspector. If you find out he wasn’t supposed to be there, then heck yeah, get his butt fired and report to authorities.

cld

December 10th, 2009
12:41 pm

I agree with the other posters that you are not overreacting. He may have been inappropriately chatty, but he still crossed the line by asking about your husband’s schedule. You never know who is casing your house and who is just being friendly . . . you have every reason to bring it to the company’s attention. I would inform them that “maybe he’s just very conversational by nature, but it made me uncomfortable . . .” so they know you aren’t trying to pick a fight.

DB

December 10th, 2009
12:56 pm

My best friend’s answer always cracked me up: “My husband is a homicide detective.”

Patrick

December 10th, 2009
12:56 pm

It’s always best to be safe than sorry. Him asking about your husband and whether or not he travelled often would have set off all sorts of alarms and buzzers for me.

What you should have done, and should do next time he calls, is call the company. Do not call the number that shows up on your caller ID. Look for the last bill you received from this company, and call the 800-number or phone number printed on the bill for customer service. Tell them you received a call from a Mr. So-and-So, and confirm that they (A) are presently employed by the company and (B) was assigned to call your home for an inspection. If you can’t even get past the first question with an affirmative answer, report to them that this is going on, then hang up and call the police immediately. Make sure you write down the phone number displayed on your caller ID at the time he called. While it may display the company’s name, a little research might show that it’s definitely not them.

oneofeach4me

December 10th, 2009
12:56 pm

Theresa here’s the thing.. he may really just be creepy but completely harmless. Maybe you should call up the company and ask how they screen their employees (mask yourself as a potential new customer). Do they do in depth background checks? What about current arrest records and drug tests? This is solely for your piece of mind.

Then, if you still feel the need to pass on the info that he creeped you out, make sure to throw in there that he was nice enough, and performed his job well, but you felt he got a little too personal. Cause if this really is just the way he is, you wouldn’t want him to loose his job just because he is nosy.

I would then make a reminder to myself a few months ahead of time before your inspection next year to request info on your inspector and if it’s him, to then request an alternate.

oneofeach4me

December 10th, 2009
12:59 pm

And one more thing Theresa.. maybe you were so uncomfortable with him due to the fact it was just you, him, and your kid and not 13 or 14 other workers at the same time. A workMAN and workMEN are two totally different situations.

Jesse's Girl

December 10th, 2009
1:08 pm

Ok…2 of my brothers are cops and all but 1 of the many men in my family are former military. I learned to shoot….and quite well…at a very young age. I also learned from them how to “listen” to my gut. If you stop second guessing yourself…it will seldom let you down. I have developed a very quick read of people. This is PRECISELY why I have let all 3 of my children go off on their own in the mall to ask for directions…while me and dad are watching very close by. This helps to hone that ability.

Theresa…I’m sorry…but you made a HUGE mistake in letting this guy in. Yes, its an inconvenience for you to say “Can you wait right here, please while I call the company to double check if this is neccessary?” If he acts taken aback at all….call the popo. Interatcion with people like this is a part of life….but I take my precautions. If Jesse isn’t around, my 38 revolver is within reach. I will not be taken by surprise…or I try my best not to be. I never answer the door to anyone I do not know extraordinarly well without having it on my person. I have had wonderful conversations with the Comcast guy..and the whole time my gun is within grabbing distance. I will shoot someone..believe that. TRUST YOUR GUT…always. Report this guy. Just tell them that you were unaware of any inspection and you feel this guy ditched protocol.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 10th, 2009
1:14 pm

he did have a company car and uniform on and his phone did come us as the company’s but I do think i will call –

Becky

December 10th, 2009
1:15 pm

DB, I love that..

JJ

December 10th, 2009
1:36 pm

My mother tells strangers who call and ask for Mr. XXXX that “he’s downstairs cleaning his guns right now”…..

jct

December 10th, 2009
1:47 pm

Theresa listen to your gut. Better safe than sorry. I would have also asked to rescheduled the appointment. I don’t like it when anyone shows up unexpected.

catlady

December 10th, 2009
2:09 pm

Had a contractor who asked my bra size (said he was thinking of getting a bra for his wife for a gift?!) Got rid of him. (He was the owner of the company.)

Had a cardiologist who offered to do a breast exam for me. Thought it was odd, but dismissed it. Then 4 months later my older daughter (also well built) went to see him and he offered the same for her! Shoulda called him in, but I doubt he would have been discipline, judging by what I read about doctors getting slaps on the wrist for malpractice.

As a single woman I do not let workers in unless I have directly set up the visit. In fact, I don’t invite in pastors or salesmen or the police, either. My house, my rules.

motherjanegoose

December 10th, 2009
3:07 pm

@catlady…thanks for the laugh.

Years ago, I visited a new GYN and when he came in to see me ( visualize the paper gown as my only attire) he walked over and popped me on the thigh and said, “Hi, I am Doctor____. Never went to him again and I told them why when I called back for my next appointment.

I do not have a problem letting a man in, if I HAVE SCHEDULED HIM. I do not think I would do so it it were a surprise visit. Our pest man came last week and I chatted with him quite a bit and even offered him cookies! My husband usually tells me not to talk to them, as it will delay getting the project done but I talk to everyone and that is the way it is…hahaha!

I also complain when I have bad service but I am very good about acknowledging when it is good too, with a letter or e-mail to the management or speaking with someone before I leave.

Not sure if I have mentioned this before but when I am on a business trip and sign my credit card slip, I will write NICE WAITRESS/GOOD SERVICE/THE FOOD WAS YUMMY ( something to that effect) on the slip…I also leave a good tip. I hope it helps those who are trying to do their best.

I did call a company once when the driver of the truck was blocking the flow of regular traffic as he was waiting to pull into a lot. The driver was the owner and it did not go over too well….

Jen

December 10th, 2009
3:08 pm

I’d call the company and tell them that you were uncomfortable with the visit because you weren’t expecting it and you couldn’t be sure the man really worked for the company and in the future would they please call you 24hours in advance and give you the name of the man they’re sending.

This way you’re protecting yourself without getting the guy in trouble.

(1) If they act surprised and say they didn’t have you on the books then you can relay everything – who the guy was, the phone number listed on your caller list, etc. They can investigate, and you can call the cops.

(2) Next time they should call you 24 hours in advance and give you the name of the workman so you can verify when he shows. If someone else shows you can tell him/her to wait outside while you call the company to verify (and complain, too!)

(3) Next time he/she shows and you didn’t get a call you can turn him/her out saying the company was supposed to call and they didn’t so he/she needs to leave. Then youc all the company and tell them a workman showed up unannounced and that means they either forgot to call you or he/she is unauthorized.

In any case you keep yourself safe and get better service and don’t unneccesarily get a chatty guy introuble.

Above all, next time any service provider starts asking you those kinds of questions you just say you’re not comfortable answering.

Jesse's Girl

December 10th, 2009
4:57 pm

Thats it…I’m teaching you how to shoot.

BlondeHoney

December 10th, 2009
10:39 pm

Theresa, my company confirms service appointments and would NEVER show up like that without a confirmed appointment. PLEASE never let anyone in your house without a confirmation from the company..you are too trusting in this respect :)

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

December 11th, 2009
9:03 am

Guys — I will put up a new blog in about an hour – I have to drop my car off to be fixed — but I’ll be back — it will be a fun one with photos I think —