So you’ve a gripe and are tired of being shoved around. But you don’t want the hassle of raising a fuss. Not to worry: Just let B.L. Ochman handle it for you. The 35-year-old founder of Rent-A-Kvetch, Inc. will complain to anybody about almost anything—for a fee. As a professional kvetch (a well-worn Yiddish term for “complainer”), she uses the almighty mails as her weapon and handles everything from sending back a malfunctioning TV to telling off a sloppy roommate.
In one case, B.L. (she won’t tell what they stand for) kvetched for an aggrieved widow who paid $350 to a singles club. After five months the club failed to come up with a date for the woman, so she asked for her money back. It refused. “Think about it,” Ochman fumed in a letter to the agency. “This is a woman alone in the world. She came to you in good faith, looking for a suitable man. She gave you her hard-earned money.” In closing, B.L. asked, “Do you think you’ll look good in court?” The widow got her refund.
A twice-divorced native New Yorker whose Jewish grandparents emigrated from Russia, B.L. charges $35 per letter, plus 10 percent of any recovered cash over $250. So far her kvetching has grossed no less than $10,000 in 15 months. Not that she needs the money; Ochman also owns a public relations firm that nets her a six-figure annual income. Last June she issued her first Rent-A-Kvetch franchise to Atlanta’s Lucy Rapkin, 35, under the name Hyper Griper. In the Bible Belt, B.L. explains, “few know what a kvetch is.”
Most clients, B.L. admits, could have solved the problem themselves. Wine importer Marion Erickson isn’t so sure. She sublet office space from a landlord who, after three months, never completed the painting or wiring repairs. Then she hired the kvetch. “The letter was sensational,” says Erickson. Three days after Ochman’s letter was sent, the work was completed. Pleaded the landlord: “Give me another chance. Even Begin spoke to Sadat.”