The 5 Things You’re Doing That Tick Tradies off the Most

June 25, 2019


On the Job


Pauline Morrissey

We’ve all heard the horror stories when it comes to “dodgy tradies” — poor quality job, taking too long to finish, or not showing up at all. But as the saying goes — there are always two sides to every story.

So what about the horror customers? The time-wasters, the mind-changers and the late-payers?

To turn the tables for a brief moment, we asked some Aussie tradies about what ticks them off the most when it comes to customers. Perhaps we can all learn something new from their own annoyances.

Here’s their side of the story.

1. Not respecting their time

Tradies are often required when something urgent has unfolded for a customer — a leaky room, a clogged drain, or a tricky light fitting — but that doesn’t mean your time is more important than theirs.

“People expect you to be available at the drop of a hat, like you’re sitting around waiting for them to call,” says one tradey, Ben L.

And then of course there’s the ‘quote ghosters’, the type of customers who will ask around for several quotes from different types of tradies, not considering that this too, is time consuming. Worse yet, people will often ghost a tradie once they’ve decided to go with someone else.

“Their are people who get five quotes from hard working tradies, because apparently they're free...” — Mark H
Person holding hard hat and mobile phone
Remember, tradies are not just waiting around, waiting for your call. Photo: iStock

2. Acting like you’re the expert

With hit TV shows like The Block and the rising trend of DIY projects, people are often under the impression that they know more than they really do. However, the result of this can be rather problematic for a tradie, especially when dealing with know-it-all clients.

“It ticks me off when people say, ‘that was easy, I could’ve done that myself!’ says Josh M. “I can’t help but think — yes, you just need the training, knowledge to buy the right parts and have the right tools to do the job…”

A 2016 study from Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, revealed that roughly 5,000 people are hospitalised for injuries acquired after falling off a ladder each year, which goes to show, some jobs are best left to the experts.

3. Watching while they work

Who in their right mind likes to have their boss watch them while they work? Our guess is, no one. So why would we put tradies through that same nightmare?

“I’d have customers stand and watch me work, and then ask, ‘why aren’t you doing this’, or ‘why don’t you do that?’ says Matt B.

It’s important to note that although not all customers are being intentionally rude by overseeing the work, lurking around simply to appear “friendly” may also be getting on your tradies’ nerves.

“There’s ones that stand in silence watching you do your job, and then there are ones that have a conversation with you,” says JD B. “Those ones aren't as bad, but still, I’m there to do my job, not to be your friend.”

Lady watching plumber at work
Like everyone else, tradies do not enjoy being watched while they work. Photo: iStock

4. “While you’re here…”

Your tradie is making good time, and he/she seems to be friendly enough — so it couldn’t hurt to ask them to squeeze in another quick repair, right? Wrong.

“The old ‘hey, while you’re here, could you install this...’ question — they’re the worst!” says Jake F.

Don’t forget that time is money, and that’s especially true for tradies. Yes, you may have just noticed on the spot, that there’s another job that they could help you with, but be respectful and know that they may not have time to get to it on the same day, and you should expect for there to be additional costs.

“I’d have clients asking for a job price, then after I’ve started, they will then expect me to fit in other work while I’m there,” says Paul M. “Customers should respect our time and trade.”

5. Not paying up

Nobody likes to go to work and not get paid, and it’s hardly a surprise that tradies are no different.

“Customers book jobs knowing they don’t have the money to pay for it, even though you‘ve asked for payment on completion,” says Harry S. “Sometimes I feel like if they won’t pay upfront, then why should I do the work upfront? Coles makes you pay before you eat, tradesman should do the same.”

In some instances, customers may argue that the quality of work isn’t up to scratch or that the job isn’t quite finished. If so, perhaps there’s a case to be argued, but if the work is completed satisfactorily, then there is no reason not to pay up.

“My biggest problem with clients is they won’t pay me for work I’ve done, and then continue to ask me to go back, like I’m going to do it for nothing…” — Matthew A.

We all work to make a living, but living can be tough when you’re being paid late — let alone being downright ripped off.

Pauline Morrissey

Pauline has worked in-house at Smith's Lawyers and has written for publications such as Domain, Real Living, Traveller, Time Out, Sitchu, and Houzz.