Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bob The Bilker

I've had numerous requests for the conclusion to my oven nightmare. Although the oven problem seems to be solved for now, the overall nightmare of dealing with ABC will be ongoing for as long as we live here, or for as long as Mr. Homeowner continues to use ABC.

If you're lost and want to read the whole story here are the links:
Part 1: I just want to heat up a frozen pizza, for Pete's sake.

Part 2: If you can't stand the heat, get your head out of the oven.
I had mentioned wanting to meet with Bob to discuss a few things on the Monday morning after the delivery men returned my still broken oven. After giving it some thought, an email seemed like the wiser thing to do since it would provide me with a written record which will reduce the chances of any misunderstandings.  

Here is the email I sent on Sunday evening, less a few things I edited out because they contained personal information:
Bob,

I had intended to schedule an appointment to talk with you this week but I think an email would be a wiser choice since it provides us both with a written record to avoid any misunderstandings.

I called Mr. Homeowner on Friday evening and had a very illuminating conversation with him. I was expecting it to be challenging since you had described him as one of the most difficult homeowners you've ever had to deal with because he doesn't want to pay for anything. You told me that you weren't sure if it was because he was having financial trouble or if he just didn't care.

Imagine my surprise when Mr. Homeowner turned out to be a kind and friendly man who repeatedly said that we are excellent tenants and he wants to keep us happy so that we'll stay here. When I explained to him that I was having trouble negotiating the oven repair with you, he said he would call you and see to it that the situation is taken care of since it is your job keep his tenants happy.

He said he understood that I requested a specific type of oven and that he instructed you to get me whatever kind of oven I wanted…within reason, of course. The kind of oven I requested is very expensive and I never expected a brand new one because of that. I thought I would be getting a good used model. What I got was a broken piece of trash that fell off a truck (both literally and figuratively) and was filled with spider egg sacs. I didn't share those details with Mr. Homeowner since he trusts you and is under the impression that you are an honest businessman. It was not my intention to turn our conversation into a Bob-bashing session.

We visited some more and he brought up the sprinkler system. He said he understood that we requested an irrigation system a while back and he told me about his system that has water sensors that will detect when the yard needs to be watered which is very efficient. This is the type of system he requested that you install in our house and he asked how we were enjoying that. I told him that we didn't get a new sprinkler system so I hope he didn't pay you for one. He couldn't remember all the details but said that you always provide him with receipts for all the work that is done. And I have no doubt that you do.

What Mr. Homeowner does not know is that you hire illegals almost exclusively and you pay them cash. And I suspect the receipts you give to him do not reflect the actual amount that you pay the workers.
 Mr. Homeowner said repeatedly that if we're happy, he's happy and he pays you to make sure that happens. So from now on I would like us to work together to make sure that Mr. Homeowner is deliriously happy. I have a few requests effective immediately:

1. I would like Mr. Homeowner to actually get what he pays for. If any items in or around the house have to be replaced, I would like choose those items myself or at the very least I would like to approve the choice that you make. Of course Mr. Homeowner has the final say but there will be no more junk installed in or around this house.

2. Do not send any more illegals to my house. All service people must be licensed and bonded or insured. Each one you send to my house will have to show proper ID before I allow them onto the property. If they fail to provide it, I will write down their license plate number then call INS to report both them and you.

3. I would like this oven to be repaired immediately by a qualified service company. If it cannot be repaired back to full working order then I will choose a replacement subject to Mr. Homeowner's approval.

4. If you push back on any of my requests, I will send this letter to Mr. Homeowner along with the photographs I already have of all the repairs you've done on his house so that he can verify that what he paid for is what he actually got. I can assure you I keep meticulous records. If you push back you can expect 3 phone calls: one from the IRS, one from INS and one from Mr. Homeowner. I feel confident that you have all the necessary receipts in your files and that those receipts match the ones you gave to Mr. Homeowner. But the IRS will also subpoena the service providers that you hired to make sure that their invoices match your receipts. And there's where your trouble will begin.

This is in no way a threat. If I say I'm going to do something, I will do it. I said I was going to call the homeowner and I did. You may see these things as demands and essentially they are. They are demands that from now on you do the right thing. I can't force you to do the right thing with all your other property owners but I will see to it that you do the right thing with MY property owner. Mr. Homeowner is not what you tried to make me believe. He is a nice man and I will not sit back and watch him get cheated.

You should know that I've known the property owners name and address since before we moved in. This is public information and is available to anyone with internet access. I requested it from you twice in writing and once verbally. After the verbal request you told me that the office help couldn't legally give out that information and you weren't even sure if you had it. You should know that by law you are required to disclose that information to a tenant within 8 days of receiving the written request. If you fail to do so the tenant can sue you for a whole list of things including one month's rent, plus $100 as well as court costs and attorneys fees.

I'm not saying that because I intend to sue you. I don't. But you really should familiarize yourself with the laws pertaining to the industry you're in.

If you try to retaliate against me in any way including slandering my name, I will make those phone calls I mentioned in item #4. I have already recounted this whole experience in a public forum which includes a date-stamped record but does not include your name. If you speak negatively about me to anyone at any time I will link your name to that forum which will provide instant proof of malicious intent and you will be held liable.

I will expect a call from your office on Monday with an update as to when I can expect the appliance repairman. Mr. Homeowner has already given his approval for the repair so there is no reason for a delay. I expect to have a fully functioning oven by the end of this week.
Love,
Shannon
XOXOXO

Okay I didn't really sign it, "Love, Shannon". But I was tempted to!

I expected to get an angry phone call from Bob either denying the accusations I made or threatening to evict me or something like that. What I got was nothing. No response at all. Maybe I'm wrong about everything and Bob really is an honest businessman so he felt it was beneath him to even dignify my outrageous rant with a response. I suppose it's possible. It's also possible that purple monkeys in party hats might fly outta my butt. Things happen.

I know that if someone said those things to me, I would be on the phone in a hot minute telling them how wrong they are and how they'd better not dare make baseless accusations like that unless they're just wanting to face the unpleasant repercussions that will hail down on them like Biblical fire and brimstone.

But I got nothing. No denial. No angry response. Nothing.

Thank God! I waited for my phone call about the oven repair all day Monday. On Tuesday I sent an email requesting an update. I got a very curt reply from Office Gal saying I should expect a call from an appliance repair company to set up an appointment. She gave me the name of the company which I immediately Googled and found that they are a legitimate company. I went ahead and called them to schedule the appointment and they showed up here on Wednesday morning.

The convection fan motor needed to be replaced so when Repair Dude left I sent Office Gal an email and told her what he said and that he would be contacting her about that. I asked her to please keep me informed about what they decide to do. 

Of course I heard nothing for 2 more days. So on Friday I sent an email asking for an update because these people are incapable of responsible business behavior and must be spoon fed. Three more days passed with no response.

Finally on Monday of this week Office Gal sent an email saying she hopes I've heard from Repair Dude by now. She said he'd ordered the parts and expected to have it repaired by Thanksgiving. I told her I hadn't heard from him but I thanked her for the update...that I had to extract with forceps.

Later that day I got an email from Bob himself...first time ever. When he has something to say he usually calls. I figured he either didn't want to talk to me or he couldn't because his voice was still hoarse from all the yelling. His email said for me to call Repair Dude because he wanted to work on the oven that night. About a minute later my cell phone rang and it was Repair Dude asking if he could come by to replace the motor. Of course I said sure then I wondered why Bob had sent that email asking me to call Repair Dude when Repair Dude just called me. Then I realized it was happy hour. Nuff said.

So Repair Dude replaced the motor and got my oven back to working condition just in time for Thanksgiving. Finally!!

So that concludes the oven saga. But not the Bob saga.

Remember in my email how I said I expected a call on Monday with an update on the oven? And remember how I didn't get a call on Monday but got an email on Tuesday only after I asked for one? And remember how I said I expected to have a working oven by Friday and didn't get it? And remember how I said I don't make threats but I follow through with what I say I'm going to do? Well, I did.

I decided I would not call Mr. Homeowner again but would instead send him a letter with some information that he could digest at his leisure and then decide for himself whether or not to act on it. I explained my concerns to him and told him I have no expectations but only want him to be aware. That's really all I can do, everything else is up to him. I sent him some pictures of some of the shoddy repairs and replacements that have been done around the house and told him which ones were done by legitimate companies and which were done by illegal immigrants so he could compare with his receipts.

I printed out some information I found on the internet that I thought Mr. Homeowner might be interested in. I found some reviews for ABC on various property rental websites and all of them were negative. Well, that's not exactly true. There were positive reviews for ABC published on lots of different rental websites but all of them were within a 45-day time span and all were from the same 7 people. You don't have to be an IT specialist or a hacker to figure out that those are not real reviews from real people. They're blatant damage control. Poorly done blatant damage control. I was actually embarrassed for Bob's lame efforts.

On one of the sites Bob himself responded to a negative reveiw:
Mr. Property Owner's Review:
I hired this company to manage 5 properties in October 2007. Bob was my contact. He Collected rents from November 2007 through May 2008 and remited the money to me. He claimed his computer messed up so i got no report or money fro June. For July I got a report that he had spent all June and July rents but no receipts for the money. Our Managment agreement shows Owner to approve all expenditures in excess of $300. I think this is a scam company and advise no one else deal with him.
Bob's Response: 02/23/2011
A prospective management client brought this review to my attention. The vast majority of management companies, including ABC, do their best to take care of the properties and act in the owners' best interest. Occasionally we have an owner who is not willing to make necessary repairs. But after getting permission from Mr. Property Owner, he complained (wrongfully) that I spent rental income without his approval. He terminated the contract. I found out later that ABC was the sixth property management company Mr. Property Owner has hired over the years. I hope management company number seven has better luck. Bob
Poor Bob. He must have the worst luck ever. He seems to be constantly getting stuck with property owners who are not willing to make necessary repairs. Or maybe that's his standard response for when he gets called out.

I also discovered that Bob had his broker license suspended for 3 months in 2009:
Bob established an association with a corporation that was not duly licensed as a real estate broker when it engaged in real estate brokerage services by and through Bob or salespersons sponsored by him, in violation of §1101.652(b)(26) of the Texas Occupations Code. While conducting property management services, Bob acted negligently when he rendered remodeling services as a general contractor and disbursed funds from the owner's account for the remodeling services which included an undisclosed "mark-up" fee, in violation of §1101.652(b)(1) of the Texas Occupations Code.
The ball is in Mr. Homeowner's court now, I've done my part and that's all I can do. Oh I did go ahead and file a complaint with ICE but they get hundreds of complaints every day so they may or may not look into it. That really doesn't matter to me since it's not my job to make Bob pay for all his wrongdoings. It's my job to do the right thing, alert the right people, then let them take care of it (or not) from there.

In the interest of being proactive, I did go ahead and fill out a complaint form to send to the Texas Real Estate Commission but I haven't sent it yet. I don't intend to send it until Bob screws up again. And he will. This wasn't one of the consequences I warned him about so I'm considering it a bonus consequence. I'll do it if I have to. And I'll tell him I've done it, I don't make anonymous complaints. I may be homeless the next day but I will be homeless with a clear conscience and the peace that comes with knowing I've done my best to do what I felt was right.

7 comments:

Rita said...

Cheering and smiling up here in Fargo!! You go, Girl!! :):)

donnaj said...

let's hope that Bob's silence doesn't mean he is planning his revenge-like burning the house down...

Elsa said...

You are a strong (and thorough)woman, Shannon. Brava!! I would be sick with ulcers dealing with that company.

Shannon Green said...

Donna, that has crossed my mind more than once! It's possible but I don't think it's likely. Or at lease I hope it isn't.

donnaj said...

I doubt it's likely either. just had to add my sarcastic humor. :)

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Leticia Norton said...

You are so funny. You add a bright spot in my mundane life. Love the letter to Bob. Go get him.