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Pacific Fire Protection Inc. - Door-to-Door Cold Calling used by Fire Inspection Company
Posted on Wednesday, July 30th, 2008 at 7:49pm CDT by ea7bb648
Product: Fire Extinguisher system maintenance
Company: Pacific Fire Protection Inc.
I work at a restaurant in Los Angeles.
About six months ago on February 2nd, 2008, we called Pacific Fire Protection Inc (Con tractors State License Board License No: 891136 Address: 18375 Ventura Blvd Unit 620 Tarzana, CA 91356 Phone: 818-276-5286) to get a quote to have our fire extinguisher system maintained. We normally get it from a different company but our waitress confused the company's name and called Pacific, which we have never received service from.
Two men came and started inspecting the system without any explanation that they were from the company. We just assumed that they were from the fire company as we solicited for their service. Before even giving us an estimate (like all the other companies do), they started working on the system without even asking us. So, we interrupted them and asked for the estimate. My gut feeling told me that there was something wrong with the way they work. The amount they wanted us to pay was over 2,000 USD. We thought it was outrageous and overpriced so we called another company that we used to get service from. He said the price was way too overpriced. So we decided not to have them work on our fire extinguisher system. They were very, very upset about it and "threatened" us that it is the fire code violation not to have it fixed and that we needed to do it that day. They also stressed that it is their obligation to fix it because they saw the need for maintenance and if they don't, we would be violating the fire code. Well, despite their threat, we were not about to do business with people who seemed to lack respect for potential customers and rip them off. We rejected their offer and then they offered a payment plan and lowered their price. We already had our minds set and arranged for our usual fire company to come in later, so we rejected their offer again. Finally, they charged us for having them come out to our restaurant to give us an estimate. I didn't think it was fair and didn't want to pay but they would not go away so we paid them and nearly kicked them out of the restaurant. They looked as us as if we did great wrong doing to them.. A couple of days later, another man from the company visited the restaurant and offered to do the job for $600 dollars. Of course, we rejected. We had no means to do business with them because we could not trust them.
Today, July 30, 2008, nearly six months after the initial unpleasant encounter with Pacific Fire Protection Inc., a man just walks into our restaurant and starts inspecting our fire extinguisher system in the kitchen. The waitress asked him what he was doing and he answered that he had provided service to our restaurant before and that he came for maintenance because six months have passed since our last service. He requested $165 to have the fire extinguisher system serviced.
I thought he was from the fire company we normally do business with but soon figured out that he wasn't. He was from Pacific Fire Inspection Inc., the company that we had bad experience with and never wished to do business with again.
When I talked to him, he told me that he came for maintenance because six months have passed since our last service and showed us the receipt from the money we paid to receive a quote. The receipt was dated February 2nd, 2008 and I had signed the invoice to verify that we paid them so that they don't say anything later on. He presented it like we received service from them but we paid them to get out of our restaurant instead of giving us a hard time and threatening us that we would get in trouble for not receiving their service. It was a convenience fee for making them drive out to our restaurant, not a receipt for receiving any significant service.
Anyway, I told him that nobody called for them to come for maintenance and that we did not want their service. He insisted that he had to provide the service because we had received their service six months ago. I got upset and told him that we don't have a contract with their company to receive their service every six months and that we don't want their service period. I also told him that he can't just walk into our restaurant and insist to provide service when we had no prior knowledge of their visit and had not solicited for their service. I even told him what he would do if we didn't have money to pay for the service after he provides the services for our fire extinguisher systems. So his final defense was that somebody called to have him come in. Here's the catch, the owner of the restaurant, cannot speak English and there is no way he could have called to have him come in without the help of the waitress or myself. I confronted him and asked when the call was made and he said a couple of weeks ago. I confirmed with the owner that he had not called for them to come and confronted him with the fact. When he had no other excuse, he gave me the excuse that he has English problems and called someone and started to discuss something. It turns out he called the lady at the office. She explained to me that we had received their service six months ago and that they came by to provide service and requested that we received their service. I told her that regardless of whether we need service or not (our fire extinguishers are not outdated and don't need service yet), it is rude for them to just walk into our restaurant and expect us to agree to their service. If they were so loyal to their "clients", and were concerned of their fire safety, they could have called, notified us that next service date is coming up and arrange an appointment after we solicit for service. They skipped the whole process and decided to provide us with unsolicited service WITHOUT OUR CONSENT and bill us to pay $165 for service we didn't even ask for!!!!
To me, it was a clear abuse by the fire company to pressure people to use their service by using the door-to-door cold calling technique. I nearly yelled at the lady that this is not the way to do business, imposing their service onto others without giving them a choice for it. She insisted that we receive their service and asked for the owner to call her to arrange an appointment. I told her that we would call her if we wanted service from them.
I don't know the legality of door-to-door cold calling technique used by fire companies but I do know that it is not the way you do business. Pacific Fire Protection Inc. does have the license as a fire protection contractor so my complaint is strictly about their way of business, not of their legality. They use the door-to-door cold calling technique to catch people off guard and threaten them by telling them that "it is required by law." Well, it may be required by law to have your fire extinguishers unexpired but I don't think it is required by law to have a specific company perform the service.
That service man didn't even explain why we needed to pay $165 to have what service done. It was like, "oh, you need service so pay $165, no questions asked." Maybe he did have english problems and if he did, and could not communicate with us, the company should have sent someone who could communicate better and explain what they were doing.
Regardless, as consumers of services, I think we have a right to know why we should be paying $165 and what service is going to be conducted before deciding whether we do business with them or not.
We could have easily been taken advantage of if we didn't have the prior experience of Pacific Fire Protection Inc. trying to rip us off by thousands of dollars and our fire extinguishers expired.
When we need service, we will have the company of OUR CHOICE come and perform the inspection and maintenance of our fire extinguisher system. I think it is the RIGHT OF CONSUMERS to choose which company they will do business with, not up to the company to pressure consumers to use their service. We pay the bills. We don't have to bullied around by rude and disrespectful companies that do their business with wrongful manners.
Stop your overzealous UNSOLICITED SERVICES!!