Thursday, December 27, 2007

Watch out when business people recommend their clients

When a friend recommends someone to sell your house, tile your bathroom or pull the engine out of your antique VW, stop up your ears and run for cover. Pause, steep some tea, pour yourself a glass of sherry or amaretto. Have a beer or a latte. Sit and contemplate alternatives. Or at least ask a few questions and do some research. Sure your friend means well, but good intentions and good advice are not the same thing.

Especially beware when friends, relatives and others recommend people who are clients in their businesses. Just because the client successfully buys services or goods doesn't mean they are good at providing goods or services themselves. Many businessmen espouse the motto, "One hand washes the other." So, they try to throw a little business to their clients by recommending them. They don't necessarily know anything about their clients practices or reputation as a service provider, and are not aware of complaints or legal actions pending against them either. All they know, is they guy pays his bill or they hope he will soon...

The unmerited assumption that a business person is trustworthy can play out badly for the one doing the trusting. I know this from painful experience.

A friend recommended a real estate agent to me several years ago, quite a few years ago, THough th ending was eventually a good one with a different realtor it cost me a year of time to right it. The lesson I learned was this - don't fail to investigate and read the fine print because you think this person your friend recommended has your best interests at heart 

I recently heard another sad tale right in the family. My cousin-in-law who is a nice fellow and a very good businessman, recommended a mortgage banker to my Uncle, told the guy, the Uncle needed a fixed rate mortgage.

When the Uncle, after also asking for a fixed rate mortgage himself, reads the mortgage contract he sees that his interest rate is guaranteed for two years only. BUT INCREDIBLY HE SIGNS IT ANYWAY. After all his daughter's husband who is very smart, recommended the guy and he must know..... NOT NOT NOT! Next year his interest rate will sky-rocket because he assumed this was the best he could do since his daughter's hubby recommended him. Or in his case,  it likely has more to do with his irrational belief that the world would end before the two year initial interest rate expired....

ALWAYS investigate. May I take my own advice.....