False Complaints Damaging Small Companies

On the 8th November 2015 at 10:40am Cleaning Mate received a complaint email from S**o* Fi**po***s who was claiming that one of our carpet cleaning technicians created excessive water damage to the carpets in one room at a property in Forest dale during the service. We have written this case study after the analysis and decision making process was completed for this matter as a warning to both businesses an individuals against the receiving and sending of fraudulent and dishonest complaints. The email content has been attached below as reference:

To whom it may concern, (complaint)

On Friday 6th November 2015 CleaningMate undertook carpet cleaning at 3* A*la***al* *o**t Forestdale. That evening the living room carpet was emitting an unpleasant odour and continued to do so. The following day (Saturday 7th November 2015 ) the odour was stronger and the carpet was peeled back to reveal significant amounts of water present in the underlay and carpet backing. This was the following evening after the initial clean allowing more than sufficient time to allow the carpet to dry.

The concrete beneath the underlay remains dry and there is no evidence of water ingress into the room. Given that the carpet backing and underlay contains significant moisture there is considerable risk that mould spores have begun forming. As this home is inhabited, the carpet will be removed this afternoon (Sunday 8th November 2015) to prevent mould build up. Additional photos will be taken during this procedure and can be provided.

Please contact me at your earliest convenience to view the damage and discuss a course of action and restitution.
In addition could you please provide me with a copy of your insurance details.

Regards,
S**o* Fi**po***s
State Manager (QLD)
04* 08* 6**
07 38** 7**6"

In the email he also attached some photographs of the room where it was clear to see that water damage did occur to the carpets but after close inspection it was evident that there was no possibility that it resulted from the carpet cleaning process.

His email was concluded to be a false complaint and rather he was looking to place the blame on our company for a matter that was of no responsibility to us. He asked us to provide him with our insurance details so that he could steal money from us and we were appalled at the amount of dishonesty and fraudulence that he presented in his email. The water damage was caused only by his negligence and lack of care for the property and we are in no way liable for the damages that have occurred.

Photograph 1

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Photograph 2

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Photograph 3

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Photograph 4

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Our version

As can be seen in photograph number 1 and 2, there is clearly evidence of significant water damage to the underlay of the carpet but not damage to the concrete. When we saw these photos we considered the fact that it might have been caused by our technician but upon further inspection of the following 2 photos we completely rejected this idea.

The last two photos are the main giveaway as to why this is a false complaint. The carpet is significantly wet from water damage and so are the walls and the blinds on the windows which concludes that the water had flown in through the windows which were left open by him, down the walls and directly onto the carpets. This occurred most likely during the heavy rainstorms Brisbane had on the 6th-8th November which would explain the water damage.

Pointed to be noted

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We have included this section for reference to other businesses or individuals who are also experiencing similar issues with complaints and we hope that this information will lower the amount and severity of any complaints received.

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Firstly, when you recei ve a complaint email take the time to carefully look at all the details. Make sure that when you receive a complaint it is serious and professionally written as to avoid dealing with false complaints that are not of concern to you. Analyze the complaint to find out whether you're truly at fault or if it is a fraudulent complaint solely sent to scam money out of you. Secondly, do not respond to the message straight away. We advise giving at least a 48hour cooling off period for both you and the client. The client will have the time to calm down about the issue so that the discussion will be logical and sane when discussed later on. You will benefit from this advice because you now have the time to carefully look at the complaint and work towards a resolution before addressing the client.

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Lastly, our company does not handle any complaints over the phone simply to avoid miscommunication in language barriers or connection issues. We handle all of our complaints over an email system which allows a clear understanding for both parties while discussing the issue. Also, when you communicate over email you are able to receive a lot more useful information such as photographs of the issues if relevant and any further details that would be required.

In addition, our carpet cleaning machines are built to run at less than 300psi which makes it nearly impossible for them to throw out that much water at once. We were in contact with this man and informed him that if he had contacted us that day and not two days after the incident we would have been more than happy to send our professional water restoration team to attend the property. But rather we received a fraudulent email demanding for our insurance details.

We were appalled that a State Manager of a national company could send such a dishonest email to a professional business who has been running for nearly eight years with an experienced team behind the company and never once receiving a complaint like this. Emails like this one can cause significant damage to the reputation and standing of a business in the workforce and creates unnecessary tension between customers and our team.

Conclusion

Our business has decided to remove ourselves from any responsibility regarding this matter and we are writing this case study to highlight false complaints and the damage they can create for small businesses.

These sort of emails present conflict between clients and the business and can be detrimental for the business' professional reputation. Also, the sender's reputation is damaged due to their negligence and fraudulence and in turn they harm their company's name.

We hope to never see an email like this again and present this case study as a warning to other businesses and individuals who are receiving such mail or sending them. It is a dishonest and appalling act to send these sort of complaints and it is highly advised against so as not to jeopardize the companies professional standard and its reputation.