Stay Silent or Not?
Shared SpiritThe Truth May Hurt Future Business

Stay Silent or Not?

Columnist shares responses to last week's dilemma about a bad contractor experience.

Rachel Stein

Toco Hills resident Rachel Stein writes about spirituality and, working with readers, tries to help community members deal with dilemmas.

Recap: First Impressions, managed by Steve Marks, is a contracting company that came highly recommended. After receiving glowing endorsements from the community, one family used him and had a terrible experience.

His glib promise to complete the renovations in a month stretched into a full pregnancy, nine times his original assurance. Now Libby, an acquaintance of this family, is looking for a contractor, and the wife is faced with a dilemma. Should she share her experience with Libby? Or was it a fluke because Steve had performed so reliably for many others?

Dare she post her feelings publicly? Would that be doing a service for the community, or would she bear liability for ruining Steve’s business?


Hold Steve Accountable

I was a happy and successful contractor for many, many years. In all that time, none of my clients had to live through a workday without either myself, my crew or a subcontractor working on the project. Once a commitment was made, I — we — honored that commitment even if something else (possibly more lucrative) came along.
It is called integrity, and the only way Steve is going to understand is if good people hold him to it and have him answer for his lack of it.

Keith Cunha



You sound like a person who wisely considers her moves and doesn’t react in haste. Before going viral, I think you should first speak with Steve directly.

If it is uncomfortable to speak in person, there is always email. However, a word of caution: Email can be dangerous when there are negative vibes to transmit, so I advise allowing someone else to read and suggest edits before you click send.

Be honest. Tell Steve that you heard rave reviews about his work ethic and expertise and were looking forward to using him for your project. Explain how each delay inconvenienced you and frustrated your plans.

Tell him you’d like to recommend him, but at this point you are not comfortable doing so. Then give him space and see how he responds. Was a family situation going on? Despite the possibility of good reasons, is he contrite and apologetic?

Assuming you have a peaceful confrontation with Steve and he manages to assuage your hard feelings, I suggest turning to Libby and being honest with her as well.

“He did phenomenal work,” you can say, “but it took a lot longer than he thought. Some issues cropped up in his personal life, and it affected his performance. But there are others who had fully positive experiences with him; that’s why I chose his company.”

Based on your transparency, Libby may do further research and opt to use First Impressions, or not. But at least you’ve done your part. You haven’t sullied Steve’s reputation, but at the same time, you’ve been a loyal friend.

Good luck,



Go Viral

You are one patient lady. I think I would have demanded my money back from First Impressions after the first few excuses and alibis. What a nightmare!

But who knows? Perhaps you tried, and Steve wouldn’t refund your money, and you couldn’t afford legal fees or simply didn’t want to go that route. It’s highly possible you didn’t publicize every detail of the scenario.

I think you should expose your experience. Consumers deserve to know what they’re getting into. If you had seen a blurb mimicking your story, perhaps you wouldn’t have hired Steve so quickly, thus avoiding an unpleasant, drawn-out episode.

Wouldn’t you like to save someone else from the same aggravation you endured?

All the best,

Mark J.


Rabbinic Consultation

There is often a religious voice in the dilemma resolutions, so I hope not to cause any eye-rolling by veering toward the same theme. But to me, there is an obvious solution.

This is a hefty dilemma, carrying the possibility of bringing a fellow Jew to ruination. How can a person decide to do this without seeking a spiritual mentor’s wisdom and counsel?

Please consult with your local rabbi and discuss the issue from every angle without omitting a single detail. Once you receive guidance, your conscience will be at peace, and you will have acquired tranquility from doing your best to do the right thing.

And now, go enjoy your renovations!