Thanks, For Nothing: FM Complaints

It's Thanksgiving week so I thought it only appropriate to pull together some of the Building Operating Management reader-submitted posts about occupant complaints that had some tie to thankfulness. Sometimes the tenant complaint resolves itself — an easy thanks! Sometimes it takes a little nudge. And sometimes, occupants actually apologize. Now, wouldn't every FM be thankful it THAT happened more often. Enjoy!

Wish Granted

"I worked at a very exclusive destination resort/spa.  We hosted celebrities, heads of state, European royalty and the super wealthy.  The buildings and grounds were beautiful and fashioned after the Palace of Versailles in France.  One beautiful morning, I was viewing the gardens and the scene was magically beautiful.  A light dew covered the plants and flowers, warm rays of sunshine were peeping over the trees and a warm glow enveloped the gardens.  I remember smiling and even appreciating the beauty of the small, gauze-like, dew covered spider webs that sparkled in the sunshine on top of a low boxwood hedge.  It was postcard and travel brochure beautiful.  A photographer's dream.  Then something happened that showed me how the super-rich live in a different world. We got a call from the owner’s daughter asking us to go out and remove all the spider webs from the hedges because she didn’t want spiders in the gardens.  We didn’t.  Once the sun rose higher in the sky and the dew dried, the webs couldn’t be seen.  She thanked us for getting rid of them."

Ignorance is Bliss

"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 heads, 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. 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?  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." 

Crazy Talk

"I was working for a commercial high rise in Chicago. I was up on a house call for a law firm. When I got up to the floor, a lawyer came up and started shouting and screaming inane and crude lures. I then said, 'Sir, you're not going to talk to me like that. If you have a problem or concern, contact the chief engineer.' And I left. The next day, the same man approached me in the lobby and said, "I am so sorry. If you ever need legal court assistance I would be glad to help!" In the long run, it didn't really negatively or positively affect me. That is just one of my crazy tenant encounters."


I wish you all a wonderful and uneventful Thanksgiving. But in case your building occupants dream up something crazy to complain about over the holiday, feel free to share by starting your own thread in this forum, or send me an email at

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