Tag Archives: Trish from accounts

Propertyserve’s Top Four Strangest Calls

Over the last ten years the staff at Propertyserve have certainly had a wide array of call outs to deal with. From lift entrapments to ceiling leaks, flooded drains to blazing buildings, our helpdesk operators have seen the lot. With over a decade of property maintenance calls, some are bound to push the boundaries of what we’d consider normal requests, however. “I’m used to taking cleaning requests from tenants,” says Tori Nagle, one of our most experienced members of staff, “things like flooded carpets or clearing out entire office floors are pretty common. One day about a year ago, though, I answered the phone to a woman who’d just finished her breakfast and had spilt a bit of her yoghurt on the floor. She wanted us to send out a cleaner on an emergency basis to wipe it up”. With a plethora of great stories from our helpdesk operators, narrowing them down into a blogable list was difficult – but here, in a very vague but certainly not definitive order, are four of our favourite call-out requests of the last ten years.

4. Evening of the Living Dead
Saturday evenings can get fairly busy for our out of hours staff. “The time was about 11 o’clock in the evening on a relatively quiet Saturday night and the phone started ringing,” says Tony Martin. “Our typical calls at this kind of time will be for fire alarm activations or leaks – that sort of thing. I picked up the phone and the guy on the other end was clearly in a bit of a panic. He was quite out of breath and was talking really fast and was difficult to understand at first. Even when I asked him to slow down, I still thought I was mishearing what he was saying. When someone tells you there are zombies running around outside, you kind of do a double take”.

Tony’s hearing was fine, however, as it became apparent that the flustered security guard was genuinely amidst a real-life zombie apocalypse. Left alone overnight the guard had headed outside to carry out one of his hourly patrols only to find his torch trained on a limping, torn-clothed, blood smeared zombie straight out of Evil Dead on the road outside his industrial unit. Somewhat surprised and suspecting a prank, the guard walked on to find several more wandering about and a hoard of hundreds groaning and shuffling over the fence to the next door unit. “It took us a while to realise what was really going on. An events company had organised an overnight zombie escape game in the next door unit and the guard hadn’t been told about it. All these people dressed as zombies were running about all over the place – the poor guy must’ve been terrified!”

3. Trouble in the Pipeline
In her three years at Propertyseve, Vanessa Aldridge has taken her fair share of strange calls. “The best one I took has to be the time I answered the phone to a less-than enthused tenant explaining that he’d lost his favourite ferrets into the pipework of a building we take care of”, she says, “They’d scampered in amongst the pipes that served the building and he couldn’t get them out”. Liaising with the sympathetic Facilities Manager, Vanessa was eventually required to call out the fire brigade to cut into the pipes and release the furry fugitives. “I don’t know if they found them – I hope they did.”

2. Where There’s Smoke…
“Four o’clock in the morning is never a good time for anything,” says Tony Martin, who’d only just recovered from his zombie scare a couple of weeks before. “We’ve had fires reported to us before and when we get them there’s a lot of people than need informing and contractors lining up to carry out remedial repairs once the fire brigade have made the building safe, so when the security guard on the phone told me he’d called 999 and that the emergency services were on their way I knew I was in for a tricky morning.”

Following the set procedure for reporting fires, Tony proceeded to call the Facilities Manager, potential contractors to prepare them for any emergency repair instructions and informed the rest of the helpdesk and management here at Propertyserve. “I had just finished informing the last person on my list when the phone rang again. It was the security guard again sounding utterly miserable. The fire brigade had arrived and located the source of the fire: steam was being generated from the rain falling on the slightly warm lamps outside the building. Apparently the orange glow from the lights made it look like it was ablaze.” While false alarms are a common occurrence at Propertyserve, the security guard’s reaction makes this call stick out in Tony’s mind.

1.       Another One Bites the Dust
Back when the helpdesk was relatively small, Chris MacDonald – now our Managing Director – was working on the helpdesk and had charge of the weekend phone. “About 5 o’clock in the evening I got a call from a distressed woman in a residential property shrieking down the phone that she had a mouse in the kitchen. As I tried to calm her down I arranged for our pest control contractors to attend and they were able to get to her pretty quickly,” explains Chris. “Once they got there they found her perched on top of the worktop in the middle of the room refusing to get down. Our guys didn’t have to look for very long to find the little perpetrator, but what they found wasn’t entirely what they were expecting.

“Instead of an innocent mouse, a small ball of dust was being blown around by the heating fan in the kitchen. The woman had been up on the counter too scared to even look closely enough to realise she was hiding from a piece of fluff.” Although the dust ball was removed humanely and released safely back into the wild, this story doesn’t have an entirely happy ending; after helping the relieved resident down from the kitchen-top the pest control officer headed back downstairs to find his van had been towed for parking illegally!

Jake Jones – Propertyserve Helpdesk

Winter Tip 5 – Winter Risk Management

With a beard that could command a thousand ships, Chris T held open a clear plastic bag and waited patiently as I gingerly inserted my hand and ruffled 34 pieces of neatly folded paper. I wasn’t in the best of moods – it was the morning and I was expecting a hat. As I swished my hand around the bag I asked Chris why there were 34 names when there were only 33 people who’d agreed to play this round of Secret Santa. He didn’t know.

I thought about it for a second as I bought myself some time. The swishing of paper was kind of therapeutic, and the longer I waited before choosing my victim, the more of a chance I’d have of claiming that I’d not had enough time to find a decent present for under £5 if what I got was rubbish. Chris began to get restless. “Just choose one already. You don’t need to mix them up – they’re already random,” he urged, “and you don’t have to close your eyes. The paper is sealed. There’s no way you could know even if you could see”.
“Will I get to swap if I don’t thi-“
“No, just pick a name.” Chris was having none of it.

I swished a little faster and eventually settled on the bit of paper I’d had in my hand since I began mixing. I pulled it out of the bag and the queue behind me sighed with quiet relief as I walked away, unwrapping the paper. Last year’s Secret Santa saw me buying my chosen colleague a condiment gun designed to dispense two condiments onto a hotdog. I was ecstatic about this find and couldn’t wait to see what I had to unwrap. As the long-awaited opening day arrived, I was greeted by a poorly wrapped little box with a tiny tag bearing my name. How endearing, I thought. Smiling I tore open the Tesco brand white plastic paper and revealed the contents. A small, glass Christmas bauble. A little button on the bottom made it flash and some of the glitter it was shipped with was still visible on the glue that was meant to hold it. I was devastated. As it transpired, my ‘Santa’ who shall remain unnamed (TOM) had forgotten about the deal until that day and had panicked. Since that day, the prospect of Secret Santa has never been the same.

That day doesn’t seem so long ago, but as we reach the end of November it’s clear that winter is here and that the short, dreary days will soon have engulfed our days of Christmas shopping. In an unashamedly blatant link to the last in our tips for preparing your commercial property for winter, shopping centre managers have almost run out of time to finish their preparations for the snowy season ahead. So here, along with a recap of our previous four tips, is our final snippet of advice for how to prepare your property for the cold weather ahead:

1.      External clocks for Lighting

Ensure that your site’s external lighting is up to date, all the bulbs are working and the time-clocks are adjusted to allow for the change in light as the winter draws in. The last thing you need after all your timely preparations is a tenant injured in an easily prevented trip or fall.

2.      Ensure you hold a suitable gritting contract for your building

The amount of calls we get from tenants complaining that it’s snowed surpasses any weather based reactive maintenance calls we receive. A reactive call out for snow shovelling and a bag of grit will cost between £150 and £300 depending on the size of your property, but on a first-call-first-shovelled basis you could be waiting an age for a contractor to become free. With that in mind, you need to make sure your gritting contract covers the right factors. Auto gritting is a must; upon the threat of snow your contract includes pre-emptive visits to throw salt over your site to prevent snow and ice. Auto snow clearance is also very important if your site’s of any substantial size, and with the right options selected you can even be notified when there’s snow abound.

3.      Seasonal gutter clearance

When it rains, it pours. And when it pours out of your gutters because they’re blocked by a year’s worth of debris, your tenants get wet. Tenants hate getting wet.

A simple gutter inspection can alleviate unnecessary emergency call-outs to clear blocked or broken gutters and could even go as far as to rectify any problems that could potentially cause thousands of pounds’ worth of leak damage to your building. By getting them cleared the water will drain properly, and the contractors will check for damaged systems and even backflow while they’re up there. A must-have in your winter preparation arsenal.

4.      Roof Inspections

In the same way that a gutter inspection could help repair any small problems which lead to big issues, a roof inspection could highlight holes, loose tiles or blistered asphalt that’ll save you a significant amount of money compared to what you’d be spending cleaning up the mess they’ve caused.

5.      Pre-Order Sandbags

Getting into the sand market early will ensure that you’re not fighting for every grain when the floods come bowling in. At about £4 per bag at this time of year, look into how many you think you’d need to block up any sources of ingress. Buying them now will ensure you have them when you need them rather than at the back of the queue paying premium prices, knee deep in your new moat. You can also look at other means of flood prevention which could prove more cost effective like purpose made barriers. An air brick seal can cost £10 and save you thousands.

Jake Jones – Propertyserve Helpdesk

Winter Tip 3 – Winter Risk Management

The end of autumn brings out a special hope in most of us. As we look longingly to the months ahead we think of cottages dusted with snow, logs cracking in an open fire and happy children skating on the frozen lake. Trish from accounts has already ordered several woolly jumpers from TK Maxx online and despite no one wanting to make the first move, at least half of the office is secretly bursting to get the secret Santa up and running. It’s been a long, sweaty summer and everyone’s looking forward to the cosy, loving months of the English winter.

Fast forward a week and there’s a tremendous banging on the front door. It’s Trish from accounts and she’s having trouble with the mag-lock. What’s left of her umbrella is inside out and whatever hair the rain hasn’t matted to her contorted, yelling face is streaming wildly in the wind. Finally she yanks open the door and bumbles her way inside. Her woolly jumper has done nothing to deflect the torrential downpour of freezing cold rain and there’s a leaf stuck to her forehead.

This isn’t the winter she was promised.

We’d all love that picturesque winter of our dreams but the reality is that we’re in for a bombardment of rain, sleet, snow and everything in between. The elements will wreak havoc on your property and without the right preparation you’ll be looking at a major repair bill to foot in the spring. Here’s the third instalment of our top five ways you can prepare your commercial property for the winter:

Tip 3 – Pre-Order Sandbags

Getting into the sand market early will ensure that you’re not fighting for every grain when the floods come bowling in. At about £4 per bag at this time of year, look into how many you think you’d need to block up any sources of ingress. Buying them now will ensure you have them when you need them rather than at the back of the queue paying premium prices, knee deep in your new moat. You can also look at other means of flood prevention which could prove more cost effective like purpose made barriers. An air brick seal can cost £10 and save you thousands.

Jake Jones, Propertyserve Helpdesk