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Contracting Pains

As I'm sure I must have mentioned here, I get a lot of unsolicited calls from contractors (the building kind) looking for my business. I need no contracting work done and when I do, I have someone for that purpose…but I seem to have gotten on some sort of phone list that these people purchase. Several times a week, one calls.

Over the year or so I've been getting these calls, their nature is changing. They're getting less honest. At first, they went like this…

Hi, Mr. Evanier? I'm Bert Traveman with Traveman Contracting. We're a full service contractor. We handle painting, plastering, electrical, plumbing, roofing…just about anything you can imagine. If you have any work you need done, we'd be glad to come by and give you a free estimate.

Then they started fibbing about referrals, making up imaginary neighbors for me…

Mr. Evanier? This is Bert Traveman with Traveman Contracting. We're a full service contractor. We handle painting, plastering, electrical, plumbing, roofing…just about anything you can imagine. My company is working in your neighborhood and some of your neighbors told us you needed some work done. If you'd like, I can have one of my men stop in and give you a free estimate.

Lately, they just resort to lying…

Mark? It's Bert. Bert Traveman. Hey, listen, I wanted to get back to you on that work we discussed in June. I'm gonna have one of my guys pop over there today and look things over and give you an estimate. Will you be there to tell him about all those things you want to have done?

I've gotten a bunch of those calls from people I spoke to before who I never spoke to before. It's not a good sign to enter into a business relationship with someone who starts out fibbing about things. A lot of the callers, I'm sure, aren't even Bert Traveman with Traveman Contracting. I'm often speaking with some unemployed person who answered an ad that promised large sums per hour, only to find that they make that money only if they make these calls and land enough customers for the firm. So I can't bring myself to waste too much of their time, though one caller this afternoon was the exception…

He started off as if we were old pals and made small talk. Then he said, "I know you're busy just like I am so I want to get that job done for you. Refresh my memory of what it is you said you needed done."

ME: I need something built in my backyard.

HIM: Right, now I remember. And what was that again?

ME: A full-size replica of the Sphinx.

(He was halfway through writing it down when he asked…)

HIM: The Sphinx? You mean, like that statue thing in Egypt?

ME: Yes. You said you had photos of it and could replicate it exactly, right down to the inch.

There was a long pause and then I heard him say, "Hmm…the Sphinx, huh?" And then he caught on that I was lying to him for lying to me and he hung up. Which was a shame. I was hoping to at least get him to give me an estimate.