Regular. One definition is…well…being regular in a bodily function kind of way. We all are acutely aware of how important “regular” becomes when we aren’t, and we don’t need Jamie Lee Curtis reminding us to load up on the fiber. We just pour the milk on our bran flakes every morning and force them down regardless of taste and texture to ensure we remain that way. And just like the routine digestive maintenance that our bodies require, an elevator needs to have a routine to keep things moving too.
It seems that Bigg Elevator has found a new way to pad its bottom line, by misusing the word “regular” in their contracts.
This new (mis-) use of “regular” came to light via one of our new customers. They had a contract promising that “Bigg Elevator will make regular visits to maintain the customer’s elevator.” Seems pretty straightforward. The sales rep said that meant someone would be stopping by monthly to examine, lubricate, and adjust and make sure the elevator was running smoothly. So, the customer signed on the dotted line. At first, the elevator mechanic came every month, and kept things flowing properly in the hoistway.
But then things started to change. Whether due to a shortage of elevator Metamucil or a calendar plugged up with other work, visits became more sporadic. Months were skipped.
But, this reduction in monthly maintenance didn’t stop Bigg Elevator from collecting its monthly payments (the contract called for monthly payments for this regular service). In fact, it required that they pay for the entire quarter in advance, with no exception if no “regular” maintenance was performed during that period.
The final straw for the customer was when “regular” visits became two visits in a 14 month period. Way too infrequent for a low-rise elevator in a commercial building with lots of traffic. So they flushed Bigg Elevator. It’s no wonder that when we took on the maintenance there was a laundry list of things that needed to be done to clean up the system: the oil was low, the door speeds were wonky, a couple belts needed changing, and the hoistway was filthy, to name a few.
And because their contract said Bigg Elevator would make “regular” visits, the customer had a hard time legally holding them accountable for missed monthly visits. Bigg argued that they used their discretion to determine when the elevator needed maintenance work. The sales rep’s promise? Not worth the toilet paper it was written on.
That one word in your contract can make a big difference. If the contract had said “monthly” instead of “regular,” then the customer would have had some financial recourse. So pull out your contract before your elevator maintenance clogs up. What does it say about how frequent the maintenance visits will be? If it says “regular” and this gives you a queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach, call up the sales rep and ask that it be amended to say “monthly.”
If they resist, it’s time to flush out your old provider and find one that will bring you the relief of real regularity.