Got references?

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A recent New York Times article was headlined "How to Drive a Contractor Crazy.” The story was about a contractor who had been driven to distraction by a demanding client.

This is a new twist on things because the stories always seem to be about the bad contractor. There is even a website called contractorsfromhell.com. But you never seem to hear about the customer from hell.

Now, I have had my share of difficult clients and, one time went so far as to literally pay one to go away.

But the article hit my funny bone because I had just been talking to my son about references. He had been asked for some by a potential client and I was telling him that I thought references were pretty useless for a client. After all, who does not have at least a few satisfied customers to whom he can refer new customers? And who would ever give a potential client the name of a customer that was not satisfied? So, of course, the given references are always going to be good ones.

The reason this all got me laughing is because, over the years my wife, my son and I have gotten a lot of kicks out of the idea of turning the tables on the customer and asking them for references! "Ms. Jones, I'm going to need two non-related character references and the names of at least three contractors or shops with whom you have done business with in the past. After I have checked those out, I'll decide if I want to work for you and I'll get back to you on this project."

I've never actually done it yet but I can tell you, I'm sorely tempted ...

D.D.

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