I have a customer that contacted me after moving in. They complained that their toilet overflowed and the vanity was leaking. At first I simply ignored the email. After they contacted me again adding things like a dry rot area under the flooring in the kitchen, I responded that the sink and toilet had operated properly at the time of my inspection, and that I had pointed out multiple issues with the flooring and recommended a flooring contractor. They were not asking me for money to fix, simply seemed to want me to say I had missed these things. I do not feel I missed anything, but I then got an email from a relative that had been an inspector 15yrs ago accusing me of not being thorough. Now asking me to refund their inspection fee. At what point does my insurance company need to be notified? Is this even an issue for them at this point? How do you all deal with people who have complaints like this?
I would ignore the relative. You answered the client about his issues and would wait for them to contact you again. Hopefully they won’t. Don’t admit to anything.
Ignore the “inspector”, never respond.
Your client has not asked for money so there is no insurance claim to be initiated.
With friends like that relative, who needs enemies.
I would never ignore the first email… sometimes people just want an explanation. They, often times, do not understand inspection, read the report, or understand things in general about construction. I would, without waiting, calmly and in professional manner, explain that you have performed the inspection per SOP and the PIA. Explain that conditions, components, and systems will change with each passing day after the inspection. Point them to the page in the report where you have referred them to an expert. Ask them if they have followed your advice. Then wait to see their response. Ignoring clients and wishing they just go away may only make them more upset at you. Nothing wrong with standing by your work. People respect that, even if they don’t admit it to you.
Now, I do hope, that you in fact did not miss anything Too many shoddy inspectors in the field.
I would ignore the so-called home inspector relative. If it were me I would make an effort to at least go back to the home and have a look at their concerns. Sometimes a kind discussion may help smooth things over and eliminate this issue from escalating any further.
As I stated, I did reply to one initial email. I very carefully pointed out that it is a limited visual inspection and a “snapshot” in time. And at the ‘time of the inspection’ the issues they are having were not occurring or they wold have been noted in my report. There was like a 2 month gap between my inspection and the complaints. While it seems like a short time, anything can and will happen in a home. I immediately got back a combative response that completely ignored what I had just stated. I think they are simply upset at the circumstances and looking for someone to blame. I do not think going back would help. I think their anger would overwhelm any calm responses I tried to give. As far as Simon’s comment about me missing anything, I am always concerned about that. I went into this business to try to help people as I felt I was good at it and very observant. This customer has me considering leaving the business though. I am realizing that no matter what I do if people want to blame you for things that happen when they move in, they will. I do not think there is anything I could say to these folks that would change their minds. That weighs heavy on myself and my wife. It is hard to prove things that were not issues and working just fine at the time of the inspection.
I am pretty sure that you must file a pre-claim with your E&O provider as soon as you get the first email. It does not mean that a claim will be filed.
What you stated is this:
How you phrase things matters.
Leaving the business because of a single incident, complaint? nobody is perfect, everyone will miss things. An issue came up, figure a way to deal and overcome it, jeeez. It’s not the end of the world, especially if your report was thorough. It’s very easy to see if a report is of someone who takes pride in their work and is thorough and one who isn’t. If you are as you say, you have little to worry about. If you carry E&O, as you should, you can call and consult them. That’s what you pay them $$$ yearly for!
Hey Peter - I hope this works out for you. I’ve had a few of these situations - usually well after the inspection date (most recently a roof leak complaint on a 3 year old inspection). I’ve most commonly dealt with them by explaining the limitations of the inspection, and assuring them that if the problem had been apparent at time of inspection - I certainly would have informed them on their report. If I needed to escalate, I sent them the link to their signed inspection agreement.
Remember that refunding the inspection fee can often just give the complaint more bullets.
Although this is covered in the Inspection Agreement - This is also the very first comment on my inspection reports… “This general inspection is based on readily accessible, visible, and apparent conditions of the inspected property on the day/time of inspection only”.
You probably have that covered, but I’m tossing it out there just in case.
Peter … You said, “They complained that their toilet overflowed and the vanity was leaking” and later added it was 2 months AFTER the inspection. Because I am a very caring person instead of ignoring them I would have immediately replied … Something like “Hey guys, thats amazing because this AM my toilet and sink worked great AND tonight they did what yours are doing. I wonder if this is catching. I need to call someone for mine also. I may use whoever you guys used” THEN I would ignore them