I have a Facebook friend from high school who now lives in Michigan. Yesterday she posted this comment: “[Well-known contractor] is coming out to give us an estimate on our roof. They called to confirm and asked my husband if he was married. When he asked why, they said, “Because we like ‘the Missus’ to be there, as well.” My husband said, “You’re lucky ‘the missus’ isn’t on the phone right now or you would be listening to a dial tone.” He told them I was working and that if they didn’t want to meet with just him, we have estimates from four other companies, none of whom required “the missus” to be present. #timewarp #throwback”

Among the 59 — yes, fifty-nine — comments that followed:

  • ive never heard anything good from [same company] — they will give u a very high price then keep dropping price when u say no-rip off
  • [Company] is AWFUL. STAY AWAY!
  • i would not ever consider [company] again. besides the BS you described above, they are leeches. they will not leave until they get you to say yes/no ... doing stupid BS like “let me call my boss to make sure i’m giving you the best offer”.
  • unbelievable in this day and age
  • I have had this happen. It was for gutters. They asked if the missus would be there and I asked why that even mattered. The guy said it was important to include her on the decision. To which my reply when something like “uh... ok. So do they come in pink or something?
  • I had the same thing happen when I wanted to buy windows. They said my husband had to be there too. I told them that I was a big girl and could make decisions just fine. When they tried to argue, I hung up and got a different contractor. If I’m in a marriage where I go behind my husband’s back to buy WINDOWS (or a gutter or a roof!) ... we’ve got bigger problems.
  • it’s a classic sales ruse that I am surprised idiots are still using. They try to pit one spouse against the other to close you on s**t you don’t need.

It should be noted that the roofing company in question has nearly 20,000 "likes" and mostly glowing comments on its own Facebook page, so it clearly doesn’t belong in the “AWFUL. STAY AWAY!” category. Also, it did not refuse to come out for the husband only, but it created quite a bit of ill will by the very act of trying to get both homeowners there (referring to my friend as “the missus” certainly didn’t help).
How many times a day do you suppose conversations like that occur, with one or more contractors called out by name and branded as “idiots” or worse? (Four companies were trashed in this thread.) And does that outpouring shift your opinion on the “having both there” conversation?

The age-old debate about whether or not to go on the one-legger appointment won’t be solved here, and both sides have valid points. But as you consider your own company’s policy, take note of what’s written above and remember: social media has changed the game. There’s more potential for damage to your reputation than ever before. —Jim Rafferty, principal of JMRketing, provides outsourced marketing leadership to companies in the home improvement industry and beyond. jim@JMRketing.com