Hot/Cold Call Drama: FM Complaints

I needed a chuckle, so I was looking through some old emails from the FM Complaints project we did a while ago. Here's one of my favorites from the stories shared with me. I can easily see it filmed by Wes Anderson. Plus, it's a hot/cold call, which are always fun. I'm posting it anonymously to protect the innocent (and not so innocent.)


"Older hospitals are unique.  Two I’ve worked at, one started in 1926 and one in 1944.  Each built a new building, adjoining the first, about every 10-years.  The differing building codes from decade to decade are very evident, along with every brand of HVAC equipment and every style of control — a recipe for challenging problems.

In the 1926 facility, there are 18-buildings that look like one from the outside.  Medical records was in the basement of one of the older buildings with a “2-pipe” HVAC system, meaning it was heating or cooling only.  There were 30 or so young women stuffed into a dark, dank space surely designed for maybe a dozen.  The manager was a heavy set, 50ish woman who was always freezing.  She would call me down to check the temperature.  It was so bad, two or three of the girls would stand behind her while we were talking, waving their arms back and forth in an “X”, shaking their head “NO” and mouthing a silent “NO.”

It was a pneumatic thermostat, so I would adjust the dial to make it “bleed off”, an audible release of air, and set it back where it was.  A placebo.  Then whisper to one of the girls “I put it right back where it was” and the girls were happy.  We eventually put in a dummy t-stat near the manager’s desk, and it made her very happy, but it wasn’t attached to anything!  It’s a 2-million square-foot facility and I knew of at least a dozen dummy t-stats like that one around.

Remember “The Shinning”?  The book or the movie; Jack Torrance was going to be the caretaker over the winter months when the hotel was closed.  He was told none of the room thermostats worked, they were just for the placebo effect."


Amazing what personal control, even if only a placebo, can do for perception of comfort!

I'd love to continue this project in 2017 with fresh stories, but I need your help! The FM Complaints stories are 100% pure real-life drama, reposted anonymously to give us all a much needed laugh here and then, and still let everybody keep their job. If you have any outrageous occupant complaint stories (I know you do!), tales of things you can just barely believe happened in your facility, jawdropping occupant requests, and the like, do tell. Feel free to email me at and I will repost them in this column. Or, if you'd rather, create your own post in the FM Complaints area.

Go ahead. Get it off your chest. I'm listening.

Naomi, aka The FM Complaints Lady

4 Replies

  • I was young and new to the trade when I was sent to a banking institution's corporate where, at the time, they had people "key punch" checks. Meaning, they actually punched the holes in the checks with the account number and amount so the machine could read and process the check. The room was about 20 feet by 20 feet in size with approximately 30 employees. In the back of the room was a "York" model Embassy style air handler. The return air came into the air handler at shoulder height for anyone sitting at a desk of which everyone was, and the air then blew out the top and into duct work to be dispersed through grilles in the ceiling. While I was changing the air filters, I took note that 2-3 of the ladies sitting directly in front of the unit seemed to be having sinus problems or head colds. I made this comment which I regretted for a long time after getting chewed out from my boss, " You know, where you are sitting, you get the air that passes over every other person in this room. So if anybody in front of you gets sick, their sneezes and germs pass right across you on their way into the sir handler." Like I said, I was young and stupid when it came to know what not to say and when not to say it. The manager of the bank called my boss after these ladies complained and then I heard about it later. It was a great learning experience on my end.
  • In reply to cblouse:

    Aw. That was so great of you to look out for their well-being, even if it cost you a little! I hope it at least bought you a little bit of clout with the occupants that your word is true.
  • In reply to cblouse:

    It sounds like it is OK to ignor the health and well being of the employees. I'll bet the executive suite had top dollar climate controls and doesn't have an overcrowding problem.
  • In reply to cblouse:

    Thanks for the information..
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