Friday, December 18, 2009

Real Estate Agents...

I was clearing out some old files and found this little puppy. This was actually the first time I wrote a letter like this after being pissed off with a customer service experience.

What you need to know is we had a dispute with our landlord about some services (gardening among others) that they did for about 18mths and then stopped all of a sudden stating that it was our responsibility, despite the lease saying otherwise.

We took them to the relevant tribunal (and won ultimately) but there was some magic stuff throughout. When I invoiced them for doing the gardening work ourselves (we're talking literally weeding, mowing the lawns - but a shit load of it...) they came back that we were "Not experts in the area of weeding and gardening maintenance"

The next day I responded with the following:

facsimile transmittal
To: XXXXX, Ray White R/E Cronulla Fax: XXXX XXXX
From: XXX XXXXX Date: 17/8/06
Re: 7B Orient Ave, Cronulla
Pages: 4


As per our conversation yesterday, I include here the breakdown of costs and remittances that we seek.

Please send me a copy of the sheet shown yesterday outlining the grounds maintenance.

Facilities paid for, but not working: $20/wk X 18 weeks. 18 weeks is from the first time this was reported to your office in writing, (not the verbal notification months earlier) to the date of the tribunal notification.

$45 X 3 people X 7 hours = $945.00
This is based on a $45/hour quote from Jim’s mowing. We have not charged for transport and use of a Garden Shredder.

Total: $1,205

But say



In our meeting yesterday you expressed some concern at the level of professionalism with the gardening work conducted by myself, my father and my wife compared to a “professional” from Jims Mowing. I felt it necessary to explain in agonizing detail the experience of the three of us which undertook the gardening work at 7B Orient Ave, Cronulla.

I attended the Highly Regarded Academy of Weeding and Gardening Maintenance (HRAWGM) at their main campus located at Kareela, in Sydney’s south. I am proud to say I am one of their longest attending students (1976 - 2004). There is also a smaller campus in Wollongong and HRAWGM’s headmaster, Giovanni “John” Lenzo (also for clarity, the fearless founding leader of the Orient Avenue Gardening Troupe) has been seconded to many locations throughout the Sydney region and has some 35 years of Weeding and Gardening experience, as well as some landscaping and garden architecture to his credit. No doubt, I’m sure you’ve heard of him.

As I may have mentioned during our meeting, my own personal skills in the garden are not the best. Sure, I became Treasurer and Secretary of the Orient Avenue Gardening Troupe, but frankly the odour of bovine or chicken excreta is not good for my sensitive nasal passages. I was often picked on by the other students at HRAWGM for my lack of skills and was left to do the simpler tasks like mowing the lawn (a real sort of gardening 101, if you will. With the HRAWGM flare however – I did pick up a few things), or picking up the leaves from around the faculty pool or picking up the vines that had been trimmed from the monster long wall vine thingamagig (see what I mean, I could never remember the names of these things) on the HRAWGM quad and jamming them into the shredder. Actually jamming is the wrong word, ‘cause they can actually jam if you put too much in it at once, but I digress.

One of my forced servitudes was to Shell Tennis up at Gymea. They had a massive lawn out the back that must have been 12 feet high if it was a foot! I made the mistake of saying “Hey Mr Newman, I’ll mow that lawn out there for $100.” Now, at the time $100 bucks was a big amount of money. I think I bought a Transformer (you know the one that changes into the plane – I forget his name) and a space lego from ToyWorld at Jannali. I remember that lego sucker cost me 52 clams and was a big ticket item at the time. Took me ages to put it together, but I was the coolest kid on the street. Sadly after that I became embroiled in a lawn mowing for tennis lessons scandal that I fought hard against, but my mother wanted to instill a decent work ethic into her only son.

Although I was not the best graduate of the fine institution that is HRAWGM, I did not feel this would hold me back in life as gardening was really not one of my interests, This kind of thinking comes in handy say for instance when you sign a lease for a duplex at Cronulla that says you don’t have to do the lawns and gardens. Despite turning my back on my training, it did kick in during my field expedition at 7B Orient years later. ficus elastica of the moroceae family. That’s what it is in Latin. That thingamagig I mean. Or Edra in Ital… Sorry, where are my manners? Fig Leaf is the English word for it. That’s one thing I did like at HRAWGM. Languages. I suppose I did retain more than I thought. This fax has really made me nostalgic. Thank you.

I remember my best friends mother at the time, circa 1988, (Graham Smith* was his name – moved to Melbourne, embraced God and went a little off the rails, let’s not dwell) used to stop by the HRAWGM grounds all the time to marvel at the wonderment of our garden. She was also my piano teacher and told me that she had passed other people walking past the Academy that had stopped to comment on the garden. Charming woman to be sure and while I love her dearly, there was a time when she took up the organ instead of piano and put in some stain glass windows in her lounge room and just went a little wacky in general. Come to think of it, perhaps she’s not the best person to bring up. I don’t really know why I did…

You’ll have to excuse my verbosity. I’m sure you won’t think I’m rambling or anything like that, it’s just that I feel it prudent to allay any fears you may have with regard to our training and professionalism in all areas of Gardening. With that off my chest, I’ll press on.

A sister school of HRAWGM, the Oft Maligned Gardening Institute located at Sylvania was where my lovely wife Kim (and the third member of the Orient Avenue Gardening Troupe) attended class. OMGI had a very good reputation in years gone by, but were forced to change their name (to include “Oft Maligned”) after a nasty incident with some “weed” killer (or “killer weed” as the students – and some of the faculty staff - called it) a pair of doves and a banyan tree. Suffice to say, that although this once fine institution has fallen on hard times in recent years, I can assure you that at the time my wife was attending, the school was regarded in the same category of distinction in gardening circles as HRAWGM.

So, while I understand that you may have initially thought you were talking to people who were unfamiliar with the detailed care required for gardening and weeding, I’m sure you’ll agree that a Leading Academic in the gardening field and two graduates of highly sought after gardening academies are able to handle the gardening task at 7B Orient Ave. Further, I believe you will find many similar such learning institutions around the world, training the fine men and women who not only go on to tend the gardens in their very own white picket fenced homes, but also those that answer the gardening call and go into the game professionally.

After our meeting yesterday, I have written to both HRAWGM and OMGI. As it seems that you are very concerned with the quality of gardening throughout your managed facilities, I have taken the liberty to acquire the services of these esteemed institutions to Ray White Cronulla for below market rates. HRAWGM is looking to landscape the main campus for the summer and getting money for this sort of things out of the Board can be like getting a real estate agent to fix… Well, you know what I mean. Perhaps some sort of contra deal can be organized whereby in return for work performed, there could be some sort of advertising done. Look, I’ll leave the details to you, just let me know if you want to do anything and I’ll have their people contact your people.

We have not moved into brain surgery ‘cause mum says that after the fiasco of that lobotomy attempt in Queensland the cops might get suspicious and that surgery is for professionals, but I reckon that gardening should still be ok.

Please do not forget to send the maintenance sheet you showed me yesterday. It can be faxed to:

C:- Highly Regarded Academy of Weeding and Gardening Maintenance

Yours Sincerely,
* Some names have been changed to protect the real names of certain persons involved in this story.

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