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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Dude! Just...shut...UP!

Posted on June 14, 2010 at 6:07 PM

There’s this one builder who occasionally calls us to do work for him, so, like a dutiful little soldier, I head over to the jobsite with my clipboard and pen ready to talk to the homeowner and fulfill all their wants and dreams.


But, lately this builder has been lurking just off to the side waiting for ANY opportunity to torpedo my sales pitch. I’ve met with him on two different jobs in the last week and both times he just stands there with his shotgun of “Oh! You don’t need that!” ready to blast any idea balloon I try and float for the customer to consider. For some reason, this guy absolutely seems to HATE technology and only begrudgingly allows people to put it into their homes after he has thoroughly explained all of the reasons why they absolutely, positively do NOT need to waste their money on it.


With the first customer, the builder kept saying, “Well, John is the expert” and if he would have just shut-the-hell-up right there, that would have been great. As in, “Well, John is the expert so I’m just going to step away and let him discuss the audio systems with you.” Instead, it actually went, “Well, John is the expert and he is going to try and sell you a lot of things that you probably don’t need.” I’m standing there trying to keep a neutral expression when I’m really thinking “Dude, why are you being such a massive dick?” and wondering again why I am standing in a 100-degree construction site.


So here is a near verbatim conversation.

Customer: Well, I’d like to have some speakers outside so I can hear them in my driveway when I’m working or something.

Me: OK, great. We can put a pair of surface mount weather-resistant speakers right on your garage door so you’ll be able to hear them really well with a volume control right by the garage so you can easily adjust the volume.

Builder: That pair up on the porch should be fine.

Me: On the porch? There? (Pointing. Up. Way up.)

Builder: Yeah. That should be fine.

Me: Well, you know, the outside really swallows up sound, and since those are in-ceiling models like 20-feet off the ground in an enclosed porch, I don’t think they are really going to carry that well. Especially when he is in his driveway, you know, working. And do you really want to blast those things at full volume so you can just kind of hear them down here?

Builder: Well, John is the expert, so he is trying to achieve the perfect sound. What you really want is just to hear it. You don’t care what it sounds like. You just want to hear it.

Homeowner: You’re right, builder. I bet given the chance, John would plunder my 401k and just put speakers everywhere!  Thanks for saving me from his vicious audiophile ways!


At another point, I point out that where they have drawn the intended speakers locations is in fact at TERRIBLE locations,  and  suggest relocating them. Now, not ADDING any speakers, mind you, just RELOCATING the ones. Again with the frickin’ John is the expert speech, about how I’m interested in perfect sound and  -- I swear to God he said this – how “John likes to sit and listen to classical music” but how guys like them only care about sound good enough to just hear. With that analogy, I should just rig up a tin can and string for this guy and cue up the old Edison wax cylinder, because anything more is just superfluous.

Dude! SHUT UP!!! You called me out here, so let me do my job! What do you f-ing care if the homeowner wants to put better sounding audio in the house? WHAT?!? It is NOT coming out of your pocket. Not one dime! And, seriously, after doing this for 12 years, I don’t need YOU to tell me that this guy doesn’t want “top of the line.” First off, you don’t even understand that term, and second, after about 5 minutes talking to the homeowner, I could tell what he was into.

I see this as totally the same as the HVAC guy saying, “Well, this house is gonna call for a 5 ton unit to adequately heat and cool” and the builder saying, “Well, you know, this HVAC guy is the expert and he is really a nut for being cold. He probably hangs meat in his living room. For guys like us, we just want our homes to be a place to beat the heat and take a little edge off the elements.”


So, this conversation repeats itself in different fashions for like 40 minutes, when finally I said, “You know, I think I’ve got enough to make my proposal.” Thanks to the builder’s complete disdain for audio and technology the homeowner's allowance was $3500 for NINE ROOMS of audio AND an alarm system. NINE!!!

So, this morning the builder calls me again. New customer in town, can I meet him on short notice, blah blah. So, self-loathing, glutton for punishment that I am, I scoot over there and arrive right when I said I would, at 10. Where I promptly wait for 45 minutes while he walks through with someone else.

 So, finally I get my turn and again, nearly every suggestion I offer is met with some sarcastic quip. (I was going to say “backhanded compliment” but then I realized there was nothing complimentary about it, just backhandedness.) At one point the customer says they want to recess their flat panel TV into the wall. So I say that I think this isn’t the best idea; the set doesn’t ventilate as well, if you ever need to upgrade it makes it a lot harder, the new sets are less than 2-inches thick so it really isn’t worth the hassle, etc. Because, seriously, this is absolutely zero skin off my back. If I am selling them the TV and/or mount I make not one penny more or less however you want to install it. Shove the TV into your fireplace for all I care, I’m just trying to offer practical suggestions from someone who has, you know, done this professionalyl for the past decade. But the builder can’t let it go. He has to step up with, “Well, at my house I recessed it and I’m so happy I did. Now if you look from the side, you won’t see any wires.” So I remind him that his set is like 6 years old and like 3 times as thick and that EVERYTHING has changed with TVs since then but that, hey, you want to put it in the wall, great, jam that mother in there.


Then, as his final bit of ass-baggery, the builder just waves away any discussion of a controller that is any more sophisticated than a rotary knob like I'm trying to sell them a home alchemy kit.  “Trust me, you don’t want this (a keypad). It’s just way too complicated and you’ll never figure it out.” I realize that a button marked “CD” and “Play” are pretty radical, futuristic ideas, but I’d rather he didn’t shoehorn all potential clients into his luddite cave. Ugh!

Categories: June 2010, CTA

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Reply Gary Mardell
2:49 PM on June 15, 2010 
I am feeling your pain...
Reply Amzng Racer
11:01 PM on June 18, 2010 
As an anal builder (I don't build ass, just demand quality) , I hate builders who cannot accept suggestions or critique from a professional. This, stuck in the 70's, builder needs to realize we now have color tv, crazy glasses that make things appear closer than they are, and remotes that can move a soviet space station. Get on board or get out of the way. John, I really didn't send you this guy this time......really.
Reply John Sciacca
1:42 PM on June 19, 2010 
Amzng Racer says...
As an anal builder (I don't build ass, just demand quality) John, I really didn't send you this guy this time......really.

If you DID want an ass built, let me assure you that Jon would make it the most quality ass you've ever seen. Probably with an additional hole for redundancy and added reliability. Also, he kinda does refer me some loser clients, but he's totally off the hook here.
Update to the story though.....we got both jobs! So, maybe this guy is onto something. Make the people think they totally DON'T want/need it so they'll want it even more. Reverse psychology at its best!
Reply miahrrhea
11:24 AM on June 21, 2010 
I too have to agree as a builder, that (A)If they want to pay and it doesnt come out of my bid, God bless em (B)I dont live there and I most likely will never live there and finally (C)Its not my money and chances are it will end up in more work for me which = more money!
By the way John, great story!
Reply John Sciacca
2:42 PM on June 22, 2010 
miahrrhea says...
I too have to agree as a builder, that (A)If they want to pay and it doesnt come out of my bid, God bless em (B)I dont live there and I most likely will never live there and finally (C)Its not my money and chances are it will end up in more work for me which = more money!
By the way John, great story!

I can't comment on Miah's ass-building capabilities, but I *do* know that if you want to keep a beach tent/pagoda thing surviving on life support those last few days of your vacation by using little more than some garbage bags and found string, he's your man!
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