Unreasonable Client

I've been working as a Sales Interior Designer in Singapore for a full year now, so, I, like many other colleagues of mine, have receive a fair share of shitty  unreasonable clients.

So, before I began ranting, here's a brief explanation of what I do, as a Sales Interior Designer in Singapore. (Note: I do not represent what all Sales Interior Designers in Singapore do, I will merely comment as a Sales Interior Designer, who's from Malaysia, and working in only one of Singapore's ID firms, I shall not name which firm, but if you're a stalker, you'll find that out easily.)

I have no basic pay, no transport claims from the company, and no working schedule.

I earn what I put effort into, so as what us Chinese like to say: "一分钱一分货 " meaning, you pay for what you get, in a metaphorical way, it means I get what I work for. So, you can assume that it must have been a very risky job, knowing that it's unstable, that if I do not have clients, then I wouldn't have income. That is probably why no one ever stays long in this job, because we all want stability.

I'll have to admit, for the first 10 months, I was completely broke. I have a bit of an income from a few small projects, but it's barely enough to keep me through. I had to borrow money from the firm to pay off my house rental fees because I didn't even have spare money. But once some of my bigger projects started, I started earning enough, then I was able to pay off all the money I owed.

Basically what I do is, at least once a month, Singapore Expo would host a Home Reno expo, which, many ID firms as well as furniture stores would sign up and hope to meet potential clients, much like PC Fairs. So, we, as the sales interior designer, would then approach potential clients and try our best to win their projects, if not, then take them as potential leads to follower up afterwards. So, when I do have clients, I'll go through the progress of space planning and designing for them, I'll propose ideas, come up with sketches and suggestions, mood boards, colours and laminates, and all in all, still come up with a quotation that will hopefully not burn a hole in their wallet. Let me list it down so you wouldn't get confused:

  1. Space Planning
  2. Mood Board
  3. Propose Designs (Come up with sketches)
  4. Propose Colors & Laminates
  5. Come up with 3D Drawing
Ok, so once that's done, we'll have to wait for the collection of the keys of the owner. and THEN we proceed to the renovation part of the job (Yes, I'm not done explaining about what I do)

So, once the keys are taken, I will then apply for HDB permit (If hacking works are involved), and shall wait for the approval, which takes 3 days for hacking of wall and floor tiles, and 7 working days for hacking of a wall) 

I'll have to arrange for the:
  1. Hacker/Haulage
  2. Tiler
  3. Electrician
  4. Ceiling/Partition
  5. Ordering of the selected tiles
  6. Ordering of materials needed (Example: cement, bricks)
  7. Apply for required permits (Example: Installation of window/window grille permits)
  8. Carpenter
  9. Plumber
  10. Cleaner
And that's just part of the people we have to coordinate with.

And sometimes, sites cock up, the real site is not as big as the floor plan, things do not go as planned. It happens. And who is there to clean up the mess? Me. 

But do clients care? Some do, the really good ones, but the really unreasonable ones, oh boy.... they're fucking  messed up!

I had one client, who is in his late 60s, who was fired from his job, and had nothing better to do, so he spend every single day on site, talking to my workers! Now, that's not an issue, the issue is, he would brag about himself and his accommodations to everyone! AND I MEAN EVERYONE!!! He would take out his iPhone 6, and show everyone pictures and messages from people he's helped. I know I know, he's a good guy with a kind heart, helping people here and there. But parading around telling everyone what he's done? That's just showing off. I know there's no wrong in being prideful of what he did, but c'mon, openly showing people who didn't really want to talk to you? My workers are there to work, not listen to you bragging. 

It's not just me, EVERY ONE of my workers didn't like him. My colleague/partner who worked with me on this project, he gave up the project because he didn't want to have to deal with that uncle! Whats so bad about the uncle? You might ask. Well, for starters, he's a stubborn prick old man, who refuse to listen to any advise we, the DESIGNERS, give, and then would blame us for not advising beforehand. Uh, I'm sorry, but I did, and YOU REFUSED TO LISTEN??!?

One moment he would say tell us to proceed with it, and the next, he would say the opposite!!! Making sudden/last minute changes even when I specifically told him not to anymore, because the layout was confirmed (by him) and already started fabricating. He'd expect that the sudden changes can be correct and amended instantly and complain when there's delays.

There's this one incident, when we were going through parquet flooring, he insisted he wanted Burmese parquet flooring, which was better quality but more expensive. But as you know, parquet flooring is more expensive than Laminated flooring because Parquet is made of natural wood, so you'd assume that, for someone who wants to use a natural material, would understand that we cannot control the color nature of that particular tree, the colors of the wood would change through time based on the conditions it's in, so it's not in our control (at least it's not in my control). I did, explain it to him, and showed him a fresh sample of the Burmese wood. He, however, freaked out. Saying it's not the color he wanted................

He demanded that we 'choose' the lighter shades of the natural wood, we explained to him that it's not in our control to do so, because Burmese wood is darker toned in nature but the color will lighten through time. His wife, tries to reason with him, telling him that it's indeed a natural material and that the colors will change through time. So he said ok, and we continued our other discussions and settled most of the things. We assumed the meeting had gone great. That is.... until that night.....

It was around 4.30AM and I was awaken by my phone's whatsapp notification... (Note: I have removed the group chat name as well as the client's name.)



Do note the time of the message. I was asleep! And his message woke me up! I couldn't get back to sleep after that! His daughter and wife both apologized for his behavior and told me to shut my whatsapp notification off when I go to sleep, which I did not at first, but this was not the last time he texted me in the middle of the night. He did so a few more times, and I eventually shut to notifications off.

Now, don't get misguided by the content, I showed him the RIGHT parquet, I specially requested from the parquet company to get samples so that I could show him, and HE was the one who insisted on Burmese wood, because he wants good quality stuff, but now in this message, he changes his mind and wants something cheaper. And note, in the last chatbox, he mentioned that 'The first parquet u showed me was good. But now u show was different.' I showed him a Burmese parquet sample that was more than 4 years old. And like I mentioned to him, the colour of Burmese wood would lighten up through time, but I guess his stubborn mind could not process that in?

As for the delay? His hacking permit was rejected by HDB, how could we have predicted that? How unlucky can this guy be? VERY unlucky apparently. For one, we applied for the hacking permit, based on HIS space planning (his mind was made up.) and got rejected, because apparently it was a concrete wall. So we had to get a Professional engineer's approval before we're able to reapply. So, we did, and more than 7 days passed yet, no news. He was furious! Of course he was! Nothing was going according to his plan! But eventually he went to HDB himself and we made a few calls and finally got the approval.

You think that's all? That's cute....

In another unlucky incident, after the whole Burmese parquet quarrel, I suggest using laminated flooring for him, because it has the color he wanted and the price range was good for him. He was so happy. So I called the Laminated flooring company to make bookings for that color.....to which they told me that it was out of stock...... Like what????!?!?!?! Seriously???? I beg, pleaded and explained to the person who served me about this client, and she seemed sympathetic, she told me she'll try her best to help me and told me to wait for her call. So I did. And few days later, she told me she had traded with her colleague and gave me the reserved stock! Yay! I was so happy! 

But my happiness didn't last.....

Few weeks later when we were choosing laminates for the carpentry, same thing happened.... NO STOCK! -.-

I thought to myself, how could that be possible? Twice in a row? Wrong.

Same thing happened when we were choosing the Quartz surface worktop too.... So that's Trice!

How could someone be that unlucky? He kept bragging about how he always helped people and now he's blessed with a good wife and great daughters, but how come whatever he chooses, seemed to be out of stock??? It was the first ever case that I have met which the items the client chooses is out of stock 3 times in a roll!

Not bad enough? NOPE.

Last week, my plumber was fixing his toiletry, and suddenly, whoosh! Pipe burst.

Oh for God's sake!!!!! We were so close to finishing the project!! SO CLOSE!!!!! Why??? WHY is this happening? Is the house cursed? Or is this man just purely unlucky? Or is it ME whose unlucky for meeting this particular client? My job is hard enough! Not to mention, I'm not only dealing with his project, I'm also dealing with 5 other on going projects!

The story doesn't end there... but for the sake of this blog post, I will end my rant here.

Lesson I learnt in this experience: Turn off your bloody whatsapp notification when you're sleeping. That shit will wake you up.

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