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Safety Tips For “Repair Man” Visits…

The Door Bell Sounds…Its The Repair Man…We Hope!

“Ding dong!” My ears perked up as I heard the doorbell ring. I quickly checked my watch to confirm the next HVAC appointment. This was the third one in a week, so my wife and I now had a routine down when it came to dealing with these people. We also talked through some safety tips that can help you prevent any possible safety disasters. Here is what we came up with:
1. When using a repair technician, hire someone reputable.
Most reputable contractors for plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and others do background checks on their employees before hiring them. Look for people who get good ratings from the BBB or Angie’s List.

2. First impressions are important.
When you greet this person, be confident. Show them that you will not be taken advantage of. You can easily do this by standing up straight, talking loud enough to project confidence, looking them in the eyes, giving a firm handshake,  and answering questions with definitive answers instead of being “wishy-washy”. Projecting yourself as confident on the first impression will cause the contractor or salesperson to think twice when it comes to taking advantage of you. Be sure to carry this attitude throughout the visit.

3. No “wandering” aloud! 
Create a defined route for the contractor to enter, stay and leave your home. If they are called in to fix your furnace, give them a direct route to it. Don’t let them wander around your home. The last thing you want to give a stranger is an opportunity to see what valuables you have. Not to mention, you don’t want him/her spotting potential vulnerabilities within your home to later exploit.

4. Give them the look. 
When the contractor approaches your home/apartment, be sure to identify their vehicle and look for anything odd. Next, look them up and down carefully to spot anything that is unique and/or odd. Getting a mental image of the person may serve you later, if anything bad were to happen. Look for identifying marks or mannerisms that will stick in your head.
While they are “fixing” whatever is broken, you may want to write a description of them, their name, license plate number and time of arrival on a sheet of paper for you records.

5. Leave out the details. 
My wife let her guard down on one of these appointments. The salesman was pretty smooth in approach and as a result, warmed up to my wife. I noticed it right away. But it really stuck out when he was doing some small talk with us, and my wife mentioned going to the zoo that evening. Right away, my eyes popped out of my head. She looked at me and knew she had made a mistake. What is the big deal? Well, she just mentioned that we would be gone for the evening. If this person really wanted to rob us or worse, he knew he had a window of opportunity that night. When you meet with a salesperson or contractor, feel free to exchange pleasantries but be sure not to give any details that may set you up for a robbery or worse. Remember, just because they are nice to you and your family doesn’t mean they won’t take advantage of you.

6. Keep the distractions to a minimum. 
During each encounter, we had to make sure that one of us was available to watch our two children so the other could listen intently to the salesperson. We even had a babysitter come over to help out so both of us could listen in on what they had to say. It is important to keep the distractions down so that you can give your full attention to the salesperson or contractor. If your attention is split, you can open yourself up for a potential situation.  
7. Watch over them like a hawk. 
I address this in regards to having a repair technician in your home. I had an unpleasant experience recently that taught me to stand literally behind them as the person works. I had an HVAC technician come in to work on our furnace. My attention was split between watching him and feeding my daughter. So I was running back and forth between the technician and her. While everything went fine, my wife discovered later that a deadbolt to our basement was unlocked. We both know that our daughter couldn’t have turned the lock and we have no need to open it. The door led to the outside and we were pretty sure the repair technician unlocked it.  While he had no need to be in the area, we assumed that he unlocked it in the possible hope of returning to break in. From that point, we called the police and got their advice. We were told we didn’t have to invite the person back in and were encouraged to contact the supervisor to report the incident. The lesson is to hover around a repair technician to watch out for any personal safety issues, to make sure the job is done to your satisfaction, and to show you are interested in seeing the job done right.

8. Listen to your gut. 
I think this is the most valuable lesson to learn when it comes to your safety and the safety of others around you. Listen to your gut! You know, your sixth sense, that little voice in your head. If for any reason your instinct is telling you to not have this person in your home or near you for any reason, act on it. You don’t owe the person any explanation or feel that if you tell them no, you might hurt their feelings. Simply explain in a calm but confident manner that you wish to cancel the appointment and possibly reschedule. If they ask for further details, you can choose not to give them any, make up an excuse, or tell the truth. However, telling the truth may embolden the person to act on your fear, so you may just want to tell them it isn’t the best time and that you will reschedule. Remember, you owe this person no courtesy or explanation for your actions. Your safety and the safety of those around you trump his/her feelings. 
9. See them out, and then regroup. 
Once the sales person or contractor has finished, be sure to end with some final remarks and show the person out. Typically, that person would be very willing to leave because they may have to head to another job or head home for the evening. But, if for some reason the person is lingering around, they may have other intentions. Whether you are a single female and the repairman thinks he can flirt with you, or you simply are engaged in small talk with the person, once the job is done, it’s time to say goodbye. The longer you leave a window of opportunity for the person to stick around, the more you let your guard down and open yourself up for future disaster scenarios. Once that person has left your home/apartment and you see them drive off, gather your thoughts about the appointment and try to recall any suspicious activity that might have taken place. I think this is important because as you were engrossed in conversation with them, they may have made a gester or remark that was not quite right. It is important to recall anything your gut picked up on and take the appropriate actions.

In summary, when inviting a repair person or sales person into your dwelling, be sure to hire a reputable company, be confident, look for odd signs, and most importantly, listen to your gut. Your number one goal is to stay safe and get what you requested out of the person.
Thanks, be safe and keep up the good fight!
Joe Kruessel

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