Estate agents, grrr….
Or why I tend to avoid dealing with estate agents and letting agents.
Today Thursday, I’m annoyed. I have an appointment in the diary made on Tuesday for me to visit a rented house in Swindon to fix a boiler, for a chirpy and enthusiastic letting agent called Jenny (not her real name) who called me on Tuesday with a long story about how she had been messed about by her regular plumbers and these tenants had been without heating for a fortnight. She recounted the visits and failed attempts to repair, and the simply wrong advice they had given to finally fix it. I gave her an estimate for me to get it working and she said fine, book it subject to confirmation from the landlord. So I made an appointment for Thursday afternoon (today) subject to landlord approval.
Later on Tuesday she sent a text saying all is fine with landlord but asking whether I could go any sooner as tenants had been without hot water and heating for two weeks now. I responded with a text saying I could go this morning instead of this afternoon, to which I received no answer.
So I left it as I was busy with other repairs yesterday, until this morning when I called to get the address. Jenny said “Oh no, we don’t need you now. I sent a text cancelling.” Now I don’t know for certain whether she actually sent that text, but I do know it never arrived on my phone. I think she just forgot.
Now this is not that big a deal but it is just one illustration of how dealing with letting agents tends to be more troublesome than dealing directly with the owner of the broken boiler. It’s remarkable how much time I spend on the phone giving people free advice and estimates and negotiating repair visits. The conversion rate from calls into actual repair jobs is far lower with letting agents than it is with private customers, so understandably I prefer the private customers. Jenny now has a note in my phone about this episode so should she ever ring me again she (and her tenants) will be low priority for a call back which is a shame as none of this is her tenants’ fault, but they bear the consequences.
Another way in which letting agents are more difficult to deal with is there are four of us involved in any negotiation to visit and fix the boiler rather than just the customer and me. With a LA there is me, the agent, the tenant and the landlord. All four of us have to reach agreement on what needs fixing, the cost, the date and time of the visit, how to get access, and terms of payment.
So if you are a letting agent reading this, or a tenant perhaps, I hope this gives you an insight into why I and many other boiler technicians seem reluctant to deal with letting agents. Dealing directly with landlords is less hassle but still there are three of us. And maybe this illustrates why landlords, letting agents and boiler technicians between them seem to be so terrible at getting your boiler fixed…