Let me make sure I understand the situation regarding references.
Are you saying that at this point they are they are refusing to supply any
I know that a few others have suggested that you are being unreasonable
with your requests, but I'd be really concerned with any contractor that
played the privacy card with regards to references. You would think that if
they are really as good as they say they are, they'd be proud to give you
the names of references.
You'd think that they would have a few customers who would have given them
permission to use them as references and you'd think that the office staff
would either have that list or would have contacted someone who did.
The problem is that this "low level clerk" is the face of the company when
she's the only one in the office.
You would think that she knows the company's rules about references. If
they owner tells you something different, you should offer some
constructive criticism about the office staff.
There's a potential for loss of business if she is giving out bad
information. Suppose you chose to walk because she said that they don't
give out references when in fact they do? That's not good for business.
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