by Russ Ward
When your child reaches the age of three or four, one of the biggest challenges any parent faces is putting together a bicycle on Christmas Eve. Searching the house for all of the tools, trying to keep all of the parts in one place and not cussing when you bust your knuckles tightening the front wheel is all part of the fun.
I was able to fail at all three one year.
Because I couldn’t find my crescent wrench, I used needle nose pliers to attempt to tighten the front wheel. When my hand slipped, I not only busted my knuckles, but the needle nose pliers came out of my clenched fist and hit the pile of miscellaneous nuts and bolts, the very nuts and bolts still required to put the bike together. They went flying all over the room and into the floor vent to the furnace. Needless to say, ho, ho, ho was not the first thing that came out of my mouth. To this day, I am still haunted by that night.
By our third child, some department stores got smart and decided to offer a service where they put the bike together for you. They had the right tools for the job, all of the correct parts and probably a better vocabulary. The Christmas Day bicycle for child number three was no sweat thanks to the friendly elves at the department store.
This Christmas ritual got me thinking about how hiring the right service tech is smarter and better. Not only does the professional have a better understanding of the parts and work involved, but he is more likely to put the bicycle together correctly, making it safer for the child riding it. The same logic can also be applied to elevator maintenance and repair. While some routine fixes may seem simple, if you don’t understand how all the components work together to make a door function, making an adjustment to one might knock another one out of kilter and make the problem worse. Tweaking some wiring might inadvertently override a safety feature and cause injury to a passenger. Believe it or not, there are some building owners and managers that conduct elevator maintenance and repairs themselves or have an employee already on staff doing the work instead of calling professionals.
The reluctance to call the service provider may be due to convenience, cost or a poor, one-sided contract. However, none of these are good enough reasons to keep the work in-house unless your staff includes trained and certified elevator mechanics.
If it is the inconvenience of waiting around for the elevator technician and they are always late or fail to show up, open a dialog (not a shouting match) with your provider. Go over specific problems, with examples, and ask that each be addressed.
If it is cost, you may be in a maintenance plan that doesn’t fit your needs, or you might have fallen prey to the phantom repair guy that shows up at will, without checking in, and performs costly repairs without authorization. Like the mercurial Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Future, they come and go on a whim and appear in their own good time and disappear just as quickly. The only evidence they were there at all is the bill left on your desk. If this sounds familiar, take charge of this situation and demand a check-in before work starts, ask for an explanation regarding work needed, and refuse to pay for any work that has not been pre-approved. Also, know your contract and what is paid for by monthly fees.
If it is a poor contract that keeps you from calling, start now by notifying the provider, in writing, you are discontinuing the service, even if it is up in a few years, and shop for an alternative. There are many great companies that provide top notch service and fair contracts.
Just keep in mind there are better alternatives to elevator maintenance available, and problems can be addressed in a proactive way to ensure the largest moving object in your building stays safe and efficient. I know if I would have found the better alternative when putting together those bikes on Christmas Eve, everyone would have been better off. I would have no busted knuckles, no need to wash my mouth out with soap, and I would have avoided wishing my kids, “Merry Christmas, I hope the wheel stays on!” The only good news is that I was able to blame Santa Claus.
Merry Christmas from Elevator Schmelevator!