Thursday, August 14, 2008

What's it going to take?

I haven't been posting a lot recently about riding. Mostly because I have nothing to post about, since I haven't ridden my horse in an arena since I finished Boot Camp at my trainer's barn. This is because the arena footing STILL has not been fixed.

I've tried very hard not to whine about this, but holy cow, what's a gal gotta do? I've been trying to get this arena footing fixed since February. It's now halfway through August, and it's still not done. The most frustrating thing is that I've accomplished a lot. I've talked with Marge, who agreed not only that the footing needed to be fixed, but eventually agreed to pay for it. I've gotten an estimate from a man whose business is installing and maintaining riding arenas. I know from past experience, as well as several referrals, that he knows exactly what he's doing and will be able to do a great job.

All I can get from him now is "I'm really busy. I don't know when I can do it. I'll call you." And then he does not call. I've been calling religiously twice a week for three weeks. He has never called me.

I'm conflicted about how to proceed. I'm starting to get pissed and impatient. I think he's handling me very poorly as a client, and you'd think that since most of his business is work of mouth that he would not want to ruin his reputation, which from all accounts is superb. I really want to call him and let him know that I'm unhappy, and that I need to know for sure if he can do this or not. Because he's not the only one in the arena business, and we could get someone else. I don't want to piss him off, but boy is he making me mad now.

On the other hand I don't want to let anyone else fix the footing. I know this guy knows what he's doing. Yeah, he's being a jerk but he knows his job. I could get someone else to do it, but I don't know if they have the skills to fix it right. And I certainly don't want to go through this again. Imagine Marge paying for the footing to be fixed, only to have me say a few weeks later that it wasn't done right and we have to have it fixed AGAIN.

So what do I do? Call this guy up and let him know that I'm unhappy? Do I forget about him and get someone else to fix it? I just don't know.

I do know one thing. None of this is helping me get back in the show ring. The entire summer has been pissed away, and since I've been at this barn I've gotten one good week of work done. And that was while I was at another barn.

One week out of seven months. Not a good track record.

Anyhow, what would you guys do?


McFawn said...

Hey--I feel your pain. I am in a similar spot with my TB dressage horse, Fancy. I've owned him for 15 years (he's 19) and we're trying to get back into some serious dressage work with hopes of getting to 3rd level. HOWEVER--his weight has been an issue, my old barn manager/trainer got paralyzed and her barn help were not feeding my horse on the weekends...I had to move him on short notice after being there for six years...

Sorry to give you the old life story but I am now at a very rocky barn property (including the arena!) and its just another setback in a long summer of trying to make his and my life better. He's fnally gaining weight, but he's lost so much muscle and condition its like being back at square one.

If I were you, I'd try to really beg this guy to commit to a time to come out. Acting desperate might make more difference than acting annoyed, though I think both responses are fair. Maybe check out other contracters and might find another as good who can get out there sooner.

But sympathize with a summer of setbacks & delays (and working with an older, beloved horse)

Caroline said...

IMO, if you ever want to get this project done, you need to cut the guy loose and find someone else. There's some reason he's ignoring you, and I wouldn't buy the "I'm busy" excuse after 7 months. I think I recall you'd negotiated a lower price for him to do your arena - of course he's going to ignore you if he's got other work that pays more. It just doesn't make sense that he has this great reputation, yet ignores clients. It could be that, no offense, he's tired of your calls. You're totally justified, but it's got to be annoying from his perspective (again, no offense).
Whatever it is, I'm convinced that even if you COULD get him to wake up and do the job, you're probably not going to get his best work. You'd be much better off finding someone else, even if they're not as "expert" as this guy.
With some research and supervision on your part, you could probably find someone with the right equipment and direct the job yourself. Not ideal, but if the current guy won't respond what else can you do.
I've never regretted changing service providers when faced with crummy service or inactivity. I have regretted giving a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th chance to someone because, even if they get it right, you still feel like you've been taken for a ride.

Grey Horse Matters said...

Unfortunately, I have to agree with everything Caroline said. The guy is being a jerk and if he has other jobs for more money you will be last on the list. I would not put up with his disregard for you and the arena job he was contracted to do,but would go ahead and start researching other footing contractors and go visit the arenas they have already done. There has got to be more than one contractor that knows his job and will treat you like a valued customer.

Kassiekin said...

hi.....i've been following your blog for a couple of mths now & have also branched out to some of the other blog links u have.....& you're definately my favourite!!.....maybe b/c i have 2 great kids as well & i'm in hot pursuit of that puzzling concept of balance also.....& i adore my beautiful dressage mare*****
....i think u should ditch this guy too....he's basically lifting his leg on u...& he shouldn't be compensated financially or otherwise for unbelievably poor business practices even if he does get around to doing the job!!!
....i know it means more research for u but you'll find someone who is more than capable to do the work in the end....& deserving of your remuneration!!!

Anonymous said...

Ugh, I don't envy you. I agree with most everyone else -- take your business elsewhere. If you really want him to do your arena, then see if you can get him to take a deposit in exchange for a committed date. But for as long as you've been after him, I'd be a little worried that he would take the money and then continue to blow you off. But if you do a deposit, make sure you get a contract. Then you have something in your corner to put pressure on him. You're not trying to be his best friend, so don't be afraid to play hardball. This is business. If he wants it, great. If he doesn't, go somewhere else. You're intelligent and know what you want for the arena. I'm confident that you can get similar results with someone else.

Katee said...

I'm with everybody else--you're going to have to drop this guy. It's been too many months of "I'm busy." Something is not right here and I agree that even if he did show up, you might not get his best work and you could (God forbid) have to re-do the arena again. I feel bad even typing that thought!

Yes, it is going to require some more time and effort from you to find someone else, but there has to be another guy out there who could do this for you.

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