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A Horse With No Name

My Crappy Day-Amazing!

19 posts in this topic

So...at work...

Get a case of 1000 Watt lamps to fix some 40' tall pole lights in a parking lot...lamps are Chinese in origin. These are an extreme PITA to change, as there is a 138,000 volt high voltage set of lines that run right near the pole lights...you have to position the bucket truck just right to maintain OSHA safe clearance. And of course...no more than get them installed and they go bad. So I need to go back before I leave and replace lamps (bulbs) less than two hours old with new ones. Thankfully, I have American made lamps in the truck and they work perfectly. Then I go to the vendor to buy more American made lamps...and find that MFR. has now outsourced to China. GRRR.

Another customer got an estimate for $3500 for fixing the pole lights in their parking lot. I tell them I can get it done cheaper, and get the work done for under a grand out the door. Woman I am working for who is the manager of the place is so happy...until her boss calls raising ten kinds of hell about how I'm taking advantage of them. One would think that saving people $2600 on a repair would make them happy but...no can do. Finally get them calmed down.

Get a call from one of our customers who is a landlord, also get a call from the power company, have to go out and look at the electrical service on a duplex. Father in law of the woman on one side of the duplex has gotten p.o.'d that the power company cut off power for non payment, so he opened up the meters with a basebal bat and started stealing power from the power company. Problem is, he did it in such a way as to leave exposed live electrical parts on the meters...and this is in a yard where children are playing.

So the power company tells me to go and get a meter can and get it fixed, landlord agrees...simple right? WRONG.

Get to the power company, where they are supposed to have my two unit meter can waiting and...no luck. Need a work order # from the power company, even though they promised me it would be waiting. So the owner of my company and the woman who works in our office BOTH spend over an hour with the power company...finally get the # and go to the power co office.

But wait, never had this problem before, but they want two #'s because it is a duplex. Get a second # and they say that they can't take two #'s for the same meter can. Finally get a third #, only to be told that "we don't need a work order #, it's an emergency...just go get it done. About three hours wasted on just this one item...but finally able to go to work.

Go over and start fixing the problem...fix other minor code issues...almost done...electrical inspector rolls up. Now....we've replaced 60 or so Meter cans in town as emergency repairs without pulling a permit, and the city and state of Ohio both have said that I don't need a permit to pull an emergency repair. But the inspector for some reason decides this time that we need a permit and threatens to have me hauled off to jail on criminal charges for working without a license or a permit. So I go to the truck and pull out my Ohio State Electrical Contractors License, which is in my name since I hold the license for my company.

Inspector calls the police and Sherrif both, threatens me with a weekend in jail, and says that he is going to pull my license for working without a license. I explain to him that it is a logical contradiction to pull my license for working without a license...(con't)

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...and the guy goes ballistic and calls the Ohio Division of Industrial complaince. I know the chief inspector for the state, and get a hold of him...but this is already gone above his head to the woman who is his supervisor. Meanwhile the inspector is threatening me with spending the weekend in jail for working without a license or permit...

...and then the power company has a hissy because I cut the service loose at the weatherhead....but they themselves had cut it loose...and we go round and round. So we spend an hour and a half on the phone with the power company and the Department of Industrial Compliance...only to have both of them determine that I have done nothing wrong. Meanwhile, another contractor we know has had to come in and finish what should have been a very simple project...

Also, during all of this I get a call from my son's high school saying he has been written up and suspended for three days for assaulting a girl. This doesn't sound like my son, so I get a hold of the assistant principal, and she is almost apologetic. Seems like a group of teens sitting in the back of the class (including the girl) had been throwing pencils at each other because they were bored in class. One of the pencils grazed the girls arm, and she got a cut about 1/4" long...so the teacher sent them all down to the office and the school said that they had to write him up for assault because he drew blood from anther student. They also said they had no choice but to suspend him for three days...

ARGHHHHHHH.

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...also...get a call from a woman who wants a light switch replaced. Now, the company I work for usually does Industrial and Commercial work, we work in power plants, we do high voltage work...this one has to be simple.

So I go out to the woman's home, which is a nice Craftsman Era bungalow just outside of a historic district...neat little home...and check the switch for continuty and voltage. Switch is good. I ask her why she and her son (who is about 24 year old) thought the switch was bad. She said that they had tried changing light bulbs and the light didn't come on in the room. So I go to the next room, grab a bulb a know is working and bingo...light. Should be simple, right? Not so fast.

We have a nice little talk about Craftsman era homes and what she has done to restore this one...and I talk about vendors for reporduction light fixtures because the fixture has a slightly loose socket. I tell her if she needs help hanging a replacement fixture that I would be happy to drop by after work at no charge and help her and her son hang it. I then tell her our minumum service charge is $50, and she gladly pays me. Calls our shop and then tells them what a good electrician I am.

Well...she then calls back screaming and raising hell that she wants her $50 back because I didn't sovle her problem, claims I should have had a reproduction light fixture that matched the style of her home on my work van....which is nuts...how many different styles of fixtures are there? No way that could happen...

For the record, we didn't give her moeny back to her.

ARHHHHHH

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Wow.

The only thing I can offer is that with this much sh!t in one day, you know the next 6 months have to be pretty smooth sailing.

But note the cause of most of the problems: administration (inspectors & ass. prinicpals)- those that can, do, those that can't, administrate. Or something like that.

I am pulling my hair out because I have more work that I can even think about, and why I'm home right now @ 9:30 PM instead of doing some of it is something I am refusing to think about. Have about 5 different time-intensive jobs going right now... if only it wasn't X-mas & dark at 5PM....

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Amazing how you can make a living in down times when your honest and fair and do good work, isn't it baltahzar...

Good luck getting everything done!

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^ If true, I need to lie & cheat a bit so I can take a full weekend off !

Starting Jan 1- new rates & practices coming ! ;)

Until then, killing it with time & a furrowed brow.

-- -- -- -- --

In a related story: recently a pulley in the Silverado started to sqeak (on a Mon). I made a mental note to schedule a look-see (my stethoscope pointed to the tensioner pulley). That Thrusday, the belt shredded. Underhood, one of the... routing pulley's bearings had gone out, tilting the pulley.

The garage I slowed to a PS- & PB-less stop in front of quoted me $80 for the 2 Duramax-specific pulleys. I offered to pick them up the next morning where they could be found- the dealer between my house & the garage. He said 'sure'. What he neglected to insure was, that they were charged to his account, because the dealer parts guy sure wasn't going to let me walk out with free parts. So I paid out of pocket. $32.

The garage guy was actually openly miffed he wasn;t able to reach into my pocket and pick out my $48. For doing nothing. What is that - 250% ?? I wish I had a 250% mark-up on the $12,000 (& counting) of deck material I have suppiled to my one current job !! Sh!t - I would take January (or better yet: July) off.

Edited by balthazar
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I don't begrudge a profit for anyone, as the garage that will have to fix your truck will have to warranty the work on the pulley's if the pully's go bad...however...I charge a straight 35% markup for all of my custumers (no fav's, I treat everyone the same) which I think is reasonable.

Chris

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No; I don't begrudge a mark-up either, but -and I've gotten into this conversation with numerous people- at some point it becomes excessive and ridiculous. And then to bitch about missing out on it when I saved him a parts-chaser trip AND got my truck out of his service bay quicker because of it, is over-the-top.

Planning on a 14% rate hike next year, still mulling over my materials mark-up (will likely vary according to job). Bare minimum practice is 10% on retail, but many charge 25%. I like the idea of 35%, I must say. In the past I have worried about pricing myself out of work, but it is POURING in from all sides unabated. I am seriously stressing out, and this is the wrong time of year to do that.

Edited by balthazar
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35% to me is fair...because I have to warranty my labor if something breaks.

And given the crappy quality of parts we get from China, things are going to break.

Chris

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So true RE the chi-crap.

I have not had to replace anything I installed so far, but I deal with far less componentry than you do.

That's not to say that I don't find plenty of junk being sold under 'wonderful advanced newness' taglines.

In order to finally find lumber milled to a consistant dimensions, it took an order of cedar 1x6 = $2/LF. 'Premium' PT pine decking can run 3/16- 1/4" difference in width on a 1x6. Junk.

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While we differ politically...I know we are both sick to death of where this nation is headed and what it is doing. Had a really good talk with Jim, my son's Boy Scout troup leader/Scoutmaster last night when I dropped my son for an over night event.

He and I agree about 85% even though he is very conservative...

We need to get back to building things here in the US...and doing it well. We have gotten too damned sloppy with everything. And as I said in another thread, a huge part of the problem with our government is that our voting electorate has gotten sloppy and lazy as well.

As far as your truck...I can't believe the mechanic was such a dick about not being able to charge full price for the pully's. Got to thinking about that today and I was actually kind of pissed about the whole thing myself.

Chris

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Oh, and as a fan of wood and things (esp furniture) built from it...the lumber you get anywhere is more or less Junk. I ahve found a few good places for wood...but like you said, damn, you pay for it.

Chris

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You two are playing my tune here (except the part about too much work).

And 66, the BS you went through is precisely what's so very wrong with this country. Idiots in positions of authority attempting to justify their salaries, tick me off!

We need to simplify, now!

Stupidity like that makes me near-violent.

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I would have knocked the guy on his ass..but I figured getting arrested wouldn't help things.

Chris

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Oh, and as a fan of wood and things (esp furniture) built from it...the lumber you get anywhere is more or less Junk. I ahve found a few good places for wood...but like you said, damn, you pay for it.

Chris

damn. other people making your life a pain SUCKS!

about wood. if you have the time, pick up a "splintered history of wood", i think that is what it's called. my bro got it for my dad and i read several of the later chapters in it. very interesting stuff, the great woods from the NE during colonial days and how it was used, the ship that ...norway? made that sank just outside the harbor and is now in a museum, and more.

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what gripes me, our economy and corporations are full of drains, positions of which suck the resources away from doing the technical work and manual labor. by the time you pay the managers, HR folk, marketing and 'communications' folks, lawyers, and the whole other line of stuff, there is no money left in ones business to do the very thing you were supposedly getting paid for.

THAT is why no one wants to build anything or make anything in America.

When it comes time to cost cut, its too easy to take the China route. Chinese lights breaking? We'll just add more folks to the 'customer service' department!

Edited by regfootball
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Oh, and as a fan of wood and things (esp furniture) built from it...the lumber you get anywhere is more or less Junk. I ahve found a few good places for wood...but like you said, damn, you pay for it.

Chris

Well, a big part of crap lumber is the trees they use... fast growing hybrids that are too soft. Comparing 2x4s from 50 years ago to todays... todays are so soft, I can put dents in it with my fingers... to wonder you can't make decent dimensional from it... its like a sponge.

And don't get me started on this hardwood floors craze. I got a 50 year old house with severely abused REAL hardwood floors that look better than 1 yr old engineered wood, and feel SO much more solid underfoot.

I can't believe people can step back and brag about the quality reno they did when its all Home Depot cheapo specials. Ugh.

I have to start looking into reclaimed lumber.

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