“Dad, there’s water dripping into my bedroom!”
It was my son, and he was right, there was a drip – drip – drip of water coming through the centre of his bedroom ceiling, fortunately, it wasn’t above his bed. So, we put a bucket below and it was already dark so I decided to do something about it the next morning. Outside the rain was fierce and unusually powerful driving rain which powerfully pounded the windows.
After all of our hard-earned savings which we’d recently shelled out in house renovations, the last thing we needed was more expense. But why was I worried, a couple of years previous my well-known insurance company had talked me into buying an additional premium service which was a twenty-four-hour emergency call-out service which covered just about every domestic disaster or breakdown you could imagine.
I felt smug in my decision, and content that in the morning, and due to particularly heavy rainstorms, every roofer for miles around would be busy and fully booked for days to come. I, however, didn’t need to worry because I had wisely invested in this premium 24-hour service which was already on their starting blocks waiting to help me.
At 6 AM the following morning I found myself in consultation with the most fun young lady who sympathised with my problem and asked some necessary questions concluding with she would be referring my leak to their roofing company immediately. Someone would get back to me within the hour if not sooner to arrange to come and see the problem she assured. For the second time in eight hours, I mentally patted myself on the back for my foresight in engaging this useful time-saving service.
However, two hours later I still hadn’t received the promised phone call, so being highly pedantic, and also, that I hated the fact I was being let down, I called back. I was answered by a different but equally polite lady who from her attitude and manner I presumed had attended the same school. She apologised profusely, and could not imagine what had gone wrong. She promised me she would get straight back onto the roofing company, and they would be in touch very soon. Okay, disappointments and mistakes happen, and a hundred different things could have happened or gone wrong, and so I waited patiently, which is not in my nature.
Two hours later, 10 am, I STILL hadn’t received the phone call as promised, and I became agitated as I called back for the third time, but not as agitated as I would become when I called back again at 11 am, then 12 pm, 1 pm, and eventually 2 pm when still no phone call had arrived. I was now becoming caustically sarcastic and borderline nasty. That’s what happens when you take a generally even-tempered sixty-five-year-old and continually take the piss.
I really wasn’t interested in hearing excuses and had become really angry at their lack of action which had caused me to become this way. They had brought out my dark side which was not a good idea, and I seethed while sitting at home waiting for a call from my emergency roofer. I eventually did get a call back from the roofing company who immediately informed me that they had been trying and trying to contact me all day long, and couldn’t get through to either my mobile or landline numbers, or as it happens to my email address either which is in constant use throughout the day – BOLLOCKS! – I exploded! Their mistake and the tardy response was already more than unacceptable without them now telling me weak lies on which they were caught out.
My lovely old dad used to employ a very fitting statement at times just like this one. As a child when I used to provoke him or tried to get a response out of him, he used to calmly say: “beware of the patients, of a patient man!” I was never quite certain what this meant, but I was now that provoked patient man. I’m ashamed to say so but I now found myself wishing horrible tragedies upon those people who were responsible for treating me in this way. I really hated feeling this way!
There were no misunderstandings, they knew I was angry and disappointed at having my day wasted and messed around, and rightly so.
“Okay,” I asked as I apologised for exploding and my offhand attitude, “when will you be with me?” At the other end of the line I heard, “Owwwww, hang on a moment love,” and the lady consulted with somebody and the line went silent before eventually, she came back to me, “tomorrow love, they’ll be finishing shortly and it’s far too late for them to come out today!” I kept my cool and composed a fitting response.
“Please tell me how yours can be qualified as a twenty-four-hour emergency service?” I asked in an understanding tone.
She began ummming and errrring and for a few seconds was treading water and out of her depth, and her attitude changed dramatically, “I’m not here to answer that sort of question,” she snapped!
“Okay, I understand, then please put me in contact with the manager or someone who can answer questions of that pay grade?” she paused again. “There isn’t anyone,” she snarled again in an even more abrupt tone of voice which told me she did not appreciate being asked this type of question as it caused her to think. Why was I not surprised?
“What time can I expect them then tomorrow?” It was a fair but rather stupid question judging by her previous responses. “I’m not quite sure, but early,” and probably because she had reached the end of her shift, she put the phone down on me, and I was not the wiser.
Unsurprisingly, no one except our postman arrived the next morning, so at lunchtime, I contacted a local roofing firm from our village. The lady said she was really sorry but due to the recent heavy rain, she wouldn’t be able to get anyone out to me today. I fully understood her problem, “would lunchtime-ish tomorrow be okay?” she asked.
Absolutely, it will,” and the call was completed without any BS or disappointment. Eventually, a 5 pm my emergency service engineer arrived. I decided to play it cool, as I’m sure the problems I had been experiencing were not his fault.
“Where is the leak, he asked,” I resisted the urge to tell him it was in the roof. Rather than going into the house to see where it was coming in for himself, he was quite contented to stand in the back garden in front of my son’s room. He looked up at the roof of our dormer bungalow for a moment contemplating, shook his head in a very negative way and loudly drew in a long breath indicating he was about to deliver some particularly bad news. I wasn’t disappointed.
“It’s the felt mate,” said the rather over-familiar engineer rhetorically, in a tone of voice you would expect to learn of a terminal illness. “We’ll have to replace it,” he replies still shaking his head in deep sorrow. Well, at least they had a plan.
“I’ll get them to call you with a price,” and in just two minutes thirty-eight seconds, my emergency engineer visit was completed. Now I was under the immersion that I had already paid for a service, and was covered by insurance and did not expect an additional quotation or cost.
Although I didn’t ask, I was left a little puzzled how he knew so much about my leak without exploring more closely, perhaps he was clairvoyant? If this was a twenty-four-hour emergency service, what on earth was the point of having it? All they had achieved so far was to wind me up and make me angry, and I was still no closer to a solution. I actually felt pretty pissed of, and I brooded for hours, which is my way.
The next day at exactly 12:30 pm my phone rang. “Hello, this is the roofer, I’ll be with you in five minutes if that’s okay with you?” As good as his word, five minutes later his van pulled up at the front gate and a friendly man who apparently was the boss hoped out and we allowed our elbows to kiss in greeting. I showed him where the leak was, and then we went into the garden and he looked up at the roof.
“Can I get to the inside of that part of the roof?” he enquired? This is what I had expected the previous roofing engineer to ask. Fortunately for us both, there was a small access door in the bedroom that led to that exact spot. “There it is,” he exclaimed with the joys of someone who had just found a lost child. He spent a few minutes looking for other potential leaks but had found just one small split in the felt.
“Can that small hole be responsible for so much water coming in?” I asked in almost disbelief.
“Yes, look, is catching all the rain from below this large Vellux window above. I was both truly impressed at how quickly he found the problem and truly relieved it wasn’t a very big repair.
“If I was a smart businessman I would have told you it’s going to be a big expensive job to fix,” he joked.
“But you’re an honest man, and that’s not in your nature,” I replied, and we smiled at each other, “how much to fix it please?” He considered the question for a moment and then he disappeared to his truck, presumably to get a heavyweight calculator to work out a cost.
Two minutes later he returned with a very small piece of tape and an electric appliance which he used to vulcanize the patch over the leak. I reached for my wallet and he said, “Naaa, get me a pint when you see me in the pub,” and as quick as that he was gone and my problem solved. What a contrast, and what a nice man!
I don’t ever go to the pub and only rarely out at all, so that evening after checking with the pub landlord what was his poison, I purchased and delivered him a 1 ltr bottle of whiskey to his house. “He’ll love you!” Said his wife. “It was the least I could do,” I truthfully replied.
The next morning, the emergency service lady I had spoken to came back to me and had regained her chirpy disposition, “I have a quotation for you,” She cheerfully said.
“How much is it?” I asked, and I was glad I was sitting down when she replied.
“£4,800 plus VAT at 20%!” She replied as if she was doing me a big favour. “Can you please email me that quotation for me to consider?” I asked and I’ll be back to someone shortly. Just twelve seconds later, the bad news email was sitting in my inbox which was quite a surprise, especially after how long everything else had taken.
I felt angry at both this confidence trickster company and the well-known insurance company that had provided this service. So armed with all the necessary proof and incriminating evidence, I sat down and wrote out an extremely destructive, but equally deserved press release which I emailed to the insurance companies complaint address. On the top, it said: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE! I had indicated my intention.
In a surprisingly short period of time measured in minutes, my phone started ringing and I answered. “Don’t send that release!” A voice at the other end of the phone pleaded in desperation, and we began negotiating.