The voice on the phone was very shaky and distressed. Through her tears, I heard her say, “Doing business with people in your industry is like doing business with cockroaches.” A knife to my gut would have hurt less. Those words were truly cutting and very upsetting to those of us in the industry who put our hearts and souls into assisting our clients.
This woman called my office to complain about an estate sale company, one which was completely unfamiliar. I own and direct The American Society of Estate Liquidators® and complaints regarding our members, who uphold a Code of Ethics, are minimal. When a complaint is made on our members, usually it is easily remedied, like replacing a widget that was accidentally sold.
Phone calls like this woman’s are starting to come in at an alarming rate, and the complaints are serious. So serious, some of them are criminal in nature, and law enforcement and the court system become involved.
For someone like me who has done my best to pave the way for ethics, integrity, and high standards in the estate sale business, this is a massive black eye. It hurts personally. Some of the customer complaints include not getting paid after a sale is completed. Liquidator complaints include clients who pull items from a sale, during the sale, when they see how low the prices are and don’t want to pay the liquidator’s imposed fees.
I could never defend estate sale professionals who run an unethical business and cause these people to fall to pieces emotionally. This is not why the “good ones” went into the business.
We went into business to make a positive difference in the lives of our clients. We strive to uplift them and their emotional turmoil.
However, I will defend the good estate sale professionals who work from a thorough contract, have explained everything to the client with the client’s agreement, and simply do their best to get the highest proceeds from the sale.
The estate sale professional has the right to earn a good living; the work is back-breaking, disassembling a lifetime of accumulation in just a few short days. In some cases, the clients expect far too much. They have not yet awakened to the fact that our economy is weak, despite what the news is promising.
The estate sale professional has the right to charge a fees or commission for items clients give away, take or remove from the sale, even though the clients have signed a contract that they will not do so. This is taking income from the professional. This leaves them with egg on their face when the public arrives and screams at them because advertised items are gone. This is simply not fair.
Courtesy goes both ways!
When searching for an estate sale professional, or any professional service, the responsibility falls on the consumer to research them thoroughly and interview several.
Ask associates and business owners, such as estate planning attorneys and realtors, in your community. Check Angie’s List and BBB. Check professional organizations, if they belong to them. Check references. Do your due diligence. Then you will select an estate sale professional who will do a wonderful job for you … not a “cockroach.”
©2014 The Estate Lady®
Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is the foremost national expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising, and appraising. http://www.TheEstateLady.com She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation. http://www.aselonline.com.
No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent. Email her at Julie@TheEstateLady.com