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Would you do a customer's washing up? Tradespeople reveal the 10 extra duties they get asked to do

5-minute read

Jessie Day

26 February 2018

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When you’re working with the general public, you’re going to have some odd encounters. But as a tradesperson, what’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked to do by a customer?

Research from shows that nearly 1 in 10 tradespeople have been asked to shop for groceries, alongside their ‘day job’ duties.

And it doesn’t stop there – from sorting out customers with their own hot drinks to keeping an eye on the kids whilst parents pop out, it seems that UK tradespeople are going above and beyond to do the job ‘right’.

Here are the 10 ‘extra duties’ tradesmen are being asked to do, according to the survey.

Top 10 ‘extra duties’ tradespeople are being asked to do

10. Take things to the attic - 8%

Ok, so there are situations where this one might fall under being ‘all in the day’s work’ or even out of the goodness of your heart. After all, if you’re working on an elderly client’s living room and they’re in desperate need of a few things being moved to the attic, who’s going to say no?

But what about a customer who’s really just trying their luck and avoiding the grafting? If you’re in to do some brickwork and then get asked to shift the Christmas tree to the attic, that’s not so innocent.

9. Do a grocery shop - 9%

This one completely baffled the Simply Business team. Maybe on rare occasions you might offer to run out for milk, if your customer’s flat out with flu or bringing home a new baby. But that’s not really the same as being given a shopping list and asked to do half the weekly shop.

If you have been asked, we hope you’ve charged the time, and of course been given enough cash to never be out of pocket on a customer’s behalf.

8. Babysit the kids - 10%

If you’re working for family, maybe. Friends, possibly. A stranger, absolutely not. For one thing, tradesman insurance almost definitely won’t cover it and being completely serious, there are all sorts of government guidelines about who can look after children on a parent’s behalf.

We think most tradespeople would say a polite ‘no’ to this one, but if you’ve been literally left holding the baby, without really meaning for it to happen, it will probably resonate.

7. Move furniture - 14%

Again, this one can definitely be part and parcel of regular tradesman duties. If your customer is fit and healthy, and can see that a chunky piece of furniture will probably need shifting, you’d hope they’d get the job done before you arrive. Sometimes though, it’s just not possible, and most tradespeople we’ve spoken to don’t mind adding a bit of clearing to the job, using their own judgement about increasing their estimate.

That said, if you’ve been asked to recarpet and the room is an absolute bomb site, or comes complete with fully fixed in furniture, it’s time to get firm. And really, a customer should always give you a heads up, if there’s going to be furniture to shift.

6. Sweep and hoover - 18%

Very similar to moving furniture, this can come with the territory. Customers and tradespeople seem to disagree on this one, and as with many trade skirmishes, there are no clear rules about where the job starts and finishes.

We reckon sticking to the space you were in and doing your best to return it to a decent state is enough. But what do you think? Do you always leave the place spick and span, or is that housework, and the customer’s look-out?

5. Take the bins out - 22%

We were quite surprised that 22 per cent of you are being asked to do this. Taking out the leftover rubble is probably a given, but if it’s more like checking the kitchen bin and taking out the household rubbish, that’s plain cheeky!

The only exception might be if the property’s been vacated for some longer-term work, and you’re the only one using the bin. If it fills right up, you’d probably be ok to take it out.

4. Do the washing up - 26%

This one is pretty simple. If it’s the cup of tea you’ve been drinking and the customer isn’t home, leaving things washed up on the draining board is a nice gesture.

But if you enter the kitchen and see last night's pots and pans, stay well away – you're not being paid to do housework, so why should you have to?

3. Answer the phone (or make a phonecall) - 27%

Some customers and tradespeople have been working together for years. If a lot of trust’s been built up, you might be asked to answer the phone, especially if they’re out for the day. You might also be wise to do this if the house is empty, and the call could be related to the build or job you’re working on.

We can’t really think of a justified scenario where you’d be asked to make a call though, apart from in real emergencies, or in connection with the job. You tell us. Has it happened?

2. Get the tea in - 36%

Again, pretty simple. If you’re there alone or with your team, by all means do a round. But you’re probably not being paid to go barista-style in the kitchen for your customer and their friends.

The only exceptions are those ‘goodness of your heart’ situations. If you’re dealing with a vulnerable, ill or elderly customer, why not offer? It could be the brightest point in their day.

1. Answer the door - 61%

We can see why a whopping 61 per cent of you have been asked to do this. If you’re nearest the door and a delivery comes, or your customer’s out and the doorbell goes, it makes sense to answer the door.

We don’t need to tell you about the risks of letting anyone in, though, and anyway, you’re certainly not being paid to be front of house. If you’re several rooms away and hanging upside down, feel free to ignore it...

But the question is – are you happy to do it?

According to the survey, four in five (81 per cent) said 'yes'. The sad thing is, just 15 per cent were tipped or received extra payment for their good will.

Lisa Evans from was pretty firm on where customers and tradespeople should stand:

"It’s good for tradespeople to build a relationship with their clients so that they feel comfortable having them in their home. But taking the bins out, popping to the shops and keeping an eye on the kids is a stretch too far!

"Tradespeople are not hired help; they are there to do their job and nothing more. Putting expectations on someone can make for an uncomfortable experience all round, so keep the housework and the parenting to yourself!"

Have you been asked to do any of these? Or anything worse? Let us know in the comments

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