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Neighbour issue - how to handle this diplomatically?

(13 Posts)
fluffyanimal Mon 03-Aug-09 13:57:16

Our neighbour is a window cleaner. When we first moved into our small cul-de-sac he seemed to wash the windows for quite a few of the neighbours, but for a couple of years now I haven't seen him doing any of them, maybe because lots of those neighbours have now moved out of the street and the new ones for whatever reason didn't get sorted out with him. Most of his trade comes from the local shops. Whenever I'm up there I usually see him working so I know he's fairly busy, but equally I often see him back at home during the day.

Anyway, when we needed a window cleaner I asked if he could do them, and for a few months he did them regularly. Then we had some building work done on the house which took a few weeks, and during that time he didn't do them as there wouldn't have been any point. But since then he has not regularly got back to cleaning our windows. I've had to ask him if he can do them and he has always said yes and until recently still done them (this can be at intervals of a few months). They haven't been done for about a year now and are gross, so when I saw him a couple of weeks ago I asked him if he was available to do them again. Now I phrased it in a way that gave him the opportunity to say that no, he couldn't do it as he already had enough work, but he still said yes and promised to do them by the end of the week. They still haven't been done.

WWYD - ask him again? Find a new window cleaner but speak to him first? Find a new window cleaner without mentioning it to the neighbour? I don't want to offend him but I do want clean windows! (And would rather get them done professionally as when we try ourselves they always end up smeary, and dh is a bit phobic with ladders anyway.)

siouxsiesiouxandthebanshees Mon 03-Aug-09 22:39:06

I would ask some one else to do them. Maybe he only does contract cleaning. (lots of money in contract window cleaning ... believe me, dh was one about 10 years ago!)

kittywise Mon 03-Aug-09 22:43:49

Ask someone else. It sounds as if he only does clean when asked. If he were keen, he'd do them.

MrsMerryHenry Mon 03-Aug-09 22:46:55

I think it would be bad manners not to talk to him before hiring someone else, and bad for your relationship. Why don't you just give him a call and say you're desperate to have them cleaned but that you understand if he's short of time at the mo and that you'll use someone else this time around. You could offer to bear him in mind for the future if he thinks he might be able to do it another time.

BigGobMum Mon 03-Aug-09 22:53:56

I think op has asked him enough and its time to find another without consulting him any more. Not bad manners at all IMO.

AitchTwoOh Mon 03-Aug-09 22:57:15

i'd say to him that you're getting desperate cos your windows are gopping, but don't want to put pressure on him cos you'd rather they were done regularly but he's too big a concern. so if he's too busy then does he know of any smaller concerns that he'd trust and recommend?

RedLollyYellowLolly Mon 03-Aug-09 23:00:00

I think you do have to let him know before someone else takes over. It would obviously be easier in the short term not to have to have that conversation but I agree he is likely to be offended otherwise and neighbourly relations are worth a lot.

If you're really chicken you could drop a note through the door when you know he's out along the lines of "as you're obv. so busy I've arranged for X to come on Friday as we really need to get them done before (make something up)" grin

TigerDrivesAgain Mon 03-Aug-09 23:08:28

Crikey, I don't think you're the one with the bad manners here. Just drop it with him and get someone else in. He can always bring it up if he's soooo keen for the work, which he obviously isn't.

MrsMerryHenry Mon 03-Aug-09 23:30:26

BigGob and Tiger - I agree that the OP has asked him enough, and obviously he has already shown bad manners. However it's about relationship management, isn't it? She still has to see him on her street, whether or not he cleans her windows this time around.

I loathe it when people do the 'ignoring' thing (such as when you're being made redundant and suddenly you become a pariah because your colleagues are too emotionally illiterate to just...talk to you hmm). That kind of behaviour makes the relationship incredibly uncomfortable, and for what? In this case, the cost of a quick phone call saying the OP is finding a new window cleaner? Hardly worth the hassle of future awkward silences and foot-shuffling, now, is it?

BigGobMum Mon 03-Aug-09 23:39:17

I think he has made it obvious that he really dosent want to do it and if he is asked yet again he may well feel under obligation causing him embarrassment. He has already broken a promise to do them by a certain time. Time to move on.....

MrsMerryHenry Mon 03-Aug-09 23:45:59

BGM - you don't actually know why he's behaving the way he is, though, do you? You're relying on guesses. Perhaps he suffers with long-term sickness and can only work intermittently; is looking after an elderly relative; or is overworked and desperate for the cash in a recession, therefore can't turn work down even if it takes him ages to get around to it. Why rely on assumptions when you can simply have a conversation with someone? hmm

The OP is searching for a diplomatic way to handle the situation, clearly because she is concerned about sustaining a good relationship regardless of his failure to clean her windows. My suggestion is not to offer him another chance, but to inform him first that she'll be using someone else.

fluffyanimal Tue 04-Aug-09 10:13:43

Thanks for your views everyone. It's true that it is a small street where everyone is on good 'pass the time of day' terms and I'd hate to spoil that. Think I'll take the sort of line that Aitch suggests and say next time I see him "I do appreciate you've got a lot of clients on your round so maybe you can recommend someone who might be less busy?" That way he's still sort of involved in who takes over (I'd equally like to avoid any unspoken resentment if I ended up hiring a hated rival.) Ha - if only I were falling over window cleaners to choose from I probably wouldn't have this dilemma anyway!!

AitchTwoOh Wed 05-Aug-09 10:44:12

HURRAH! i win this round. grin <keeps score> wink

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