WARNING: THIS IS A HORROR STORY… ALTHOUGH THERE IS A HAPPY ENDING, THE CONTENT OF THIS POST MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR MINORS AND THOSE WHO DON’T WANT TO HEAR GRIPING AND WHINING…
I hate carpet. Maybe it’s a Florida thing… or maybe it’s a pet owner thing… or an allergy thing. Regardless, I hate carpet with a passion. When I bought my house last year, my first act of business was ripping out the carpet.
I had foot surgery
it was the holidays
I spent all of January out of town… tried to catch my breath in February only to break my other foot on March 1. Three + months of recovery later, I’m finally getting around to some home improvement work and floors were at the top of my list.
I scheduled my free in home estimate with Empire Today and couldn’t have loved my salesperson more. I decided on textured wood vinyl flooring. At less than half the price of laminate, water, scratch and gouge resistant and a lifetime warranty, it seemed like an easy decision.
The pricing was fair and I was TOLD it would be a one day process… the installers would move all my furniture, rip out the carpet, haul it away and install the new floors, move the furniture back and CLEAN.
I was scheduled for a Wednesday installation, stayed at home from work, drained my waterbed, tore up my entire house making sure that everything was off the floor, emptying closets etc. only to find out the wrong stuff was delivered to the installer so they’d have to reschedule. I was pretty upset but I did my best to be understanding… these things happen. We rescheduled for Saturday. (Just a preemptive note that during this reschedule, no one mentioned that it wouldn’t get done in a day.)
On Saturday I hadn’t received a call by 9:30AM so I called to check out when they would arrive. I finally got a call back that the installer was finishing a job in Lake Wales (an hour away) and wouldn’t be able to get to me until after 3PM. The lady on the phone wanted to know if I still wanted him to come. Also, come to find out, I was misinformed by the salesperson and that vinyl CANNOT BE DONE IN ONE DAY because of the amount of prep work that needs to be done to the concrete slab. I was not pleased. Frankly, I cried. I’d been promised ONE DAY installation and now, they wouldn’t finish Saturday but would have to come back on Monday requiring me to take ANOTHER day off work. I told them to send the installer anyways so he could get SOMETHING done and was told it would get done on Monday. When ONLY ONE INSTALLER showed up (closer to 4pm) I was not a very nice person to deal with. I even ripped out the carpet myself in two bedrooms, the hall and the master closet since only ONE GUY showed up and I hoped that by pitching in enough of the tear out/prep work would be done to ensure I’d have my house back by Monday night.
During all this, I was calling my salesperson throughout the day in frustration to hear her promise that she’d talk to her manager, to customer service, etc. and she couldn’t believe that only one installer showed up and said that it should have been several guys.
To exacerbate my frustration, I had house guests that now had to deal with the disgusting dusty mess. I had to put enough furniture back BY MYSELF to make it livable for the rest of the weekend. Thankfully, my friends are pretty awesome and they didn’t care that the guest shower was full of picture frames and you couldn’t cook in the kitchen because the counters are stacked to the ceiling with displaced items.
I constantly chanted, “I will be happy when it’s done… I’ll be happy when it’s done.”
Monday rolls around and when TWO INSTALLERS showed up at 8:20 AM I was hopeful. They got right to work but by the time they left to get lunch, not a single bit of flooring was down. I reluctantly asked if it would get done that day which is when one of the guys informed me that there wasn’t the right amount of vinyl ordered and he would be short a room so he’d have to come back to do the last bedroom the next day. I was screaming inside and biting my cheek so I didn’t cry. I called my salesperson right then and of course, she apologized profusely and told me she’d was still working to get me some kind of credit and that customer service was SUPPOSED to call me back.
Later in the day, I got a call from the installation department to see how my installation went. I regurgitated all the garbage that had been going on and at the point of the call, I only had one partially done room out of 5. She authorized a small discount for my troubles.
At about 5PM, with all my living room furniture sitting in the back yard, I told the two guys that it was going to rain any minute… Of course, they only hustled to move it in AFTER it started raining so everything got at least a little wet.
At around 6PM, they tell me that because it’s raining and it’s getting later they don’t think the glue will dry right and I’ll have bubbles and ask if it was okay to do it the next day. I lost it. My guest room was full of my office furniture, my sectional couch was stacked against the wall, both bathrooms were full of stuff that needed to be moved out of the way and I had THREE PEOPLE INCLUDING A BABY STAYING AT MY HOUSE!!!!
I called back the lady from the installation department and got her voicemail. I called back my salesperson and freaked out and outlined how disappointed I was only for her to tell me she was sorry and there was nothing she could do and that someone from customer service was SUPPOSED TO CALL ME BACK and that she would call them again the next day. Again, she was surprised that only two installers showed up and that they should have sent three or four.
I came back into the house and told the guys that if it wasn’t going to work properly not to do it. Then, I’m guessing because they could tell how mad I was, they tell me that it will be alright and that they’ll work for three more hours. I told them that if it was just going to be a crappy job and I’d be dealing with problems in 3 months, not to put it in but they said it would be okay and went back to work. They reminded me that they are just subcontractors and that the company promised people whatever they wanted but it wasn’t what could actually be accomplished. They made it sound like this wasn’t the first time something like this happened.
Did I mention that they couldn’t put my baseboards back on because the nails to the nail gun were buried under the old carpet that they’d already loaded in the van??? That the carpet that was ripped out on Saturday and he left it all sitting on my garage floor instead of taking it away that day? Yeah… so even though the master bedroom was “done” I still couldn’t really put anything back.
I tweeted @EmpireToday and @EmpireTodaySVC (customer service) hoping to get some kind of response and received NOTHING (as of Monday evening…). I posted to the Empire Today page on Facebook and DID get a response requesting me to email my details to their customer service email so I sent them everything you are read above (with a bit more detail like names and phone numbers).
By the end of the day the master bedroom and closet where done except for baseboards and a transition, the living room was half done (still needing base boards), the office was done except for baseboards, the hall done except for the edges in the closet and the baseboards, and the guestroom had no flooring and, you guessed it, no baseboards.
I got a call back from the lady in the installation department checking on the situation around 10:15AM. I pretty much recapped everything above and let her know the installers told me they’d be starting at 9AM… She said she’d call to check on them. Within 15 minutes, the installers arrive and went straight to work. My floors were finally done around 7PM. The installer ensured that the few bubbles I noticed in the living room would go down and was instructed to leave something heavy on them for a day (moving around as needed) and that if there was still an issue in two weeks, to call him directly. They moved the furniture where I wanted it, picked up [MOST] of their trash and did a quick sweep. I was surprised to find a pile of nails and a razor blade sitting in my window sill… not much of a clean up job. I was still left to dust every single thing and surface in my house from the fine white powder coating EVERYTHING that couldn’t have been worst if a kilo of coke exploded in the living room… but I digress.
I felt a little put on the spot by having to rate the installer IN FRONT OF HIM on the final paperwork. At the end, I felt bad for the installers having to take the brunt of my displeasure… they honestly were the nicest guys, hard workers, polite and informative… but like I said. I felt pressure especially since he went on about how I called corporate and now he was in trouble so I therefore caved and checked YES next to the “I would recommend” box.
I left a message with the lady from installation to let her know when the job was completed and to call me back because I had some further comments before we closed my complaint file.
The lady from installation called me back the next day to debrief the rest of the process. I explained about the bubbles and how I felt put on the spot by the installer to give him a good review and also to contact him directly instead of corporate if the bubbles didn’t go away. She apologize profusely, and asked me to contact her directly if I still had bubbles, that she would send out a different installer. We ended the call with me feeling a lot better…
Trust me, I get it that in this type of work, everything is sort of an estimate, but I’m big on customer service and I was feeling a bit like the wool had been pulled over my eyes. I worked in retail & delivery for almost 10 years so I understand how something can arrive at the warehouse wrong on the day it’s supposed to be delivered and you have to break the news to a waiting customer. I understand how things can go wrong once things get to the customer’s house. I get it, really. But I also know that good customer service doesn’t just mean eventually getting things right, but making the customer feel good about the entire process.
My experience with the salesperson was great until things she promised didn’t come through… it was a bit “used car salesmen.” I was a bit annoyed that the person that contacted me to reschedule didn’t automatically schedule several days if they knew it was a several day process. If it’s a two – three day job, you should SCHEDULE 2-3 days. It didn’t help that the subcontractors took no ownership for what was promised to me, basically saying that what the company says and what can actually be done are two separate things.
While the installers where pleasant, I didn’t feel like they were 100% prepared. Little things like using my broom, extension cords, painter’s tape and asking for magic markers… Then on Monday, when reinstalling the baseboards, all the nails to the nail gun where buried under the old carpet they’d loaded into their truck so they had to nail the boards back on the next day… I was told they would CLEAN but my entire house was left covered in dust. Not to mention the fact that my extension cord seemed to walk away.
While in the end, I love the floors, I appreciated the kindness and understanding of the salesperson and was thankful for the knowledgeable installers sent to complete the job, I’ve got to say that I would NEVER recommend this company to anyone else… While I’m comfortable with the amount I paid, I certainly don’t feel like I got what I paid for at all.
I still have to call customer service back about the bubbles that haven’t gone away (it’s been almost a week) and and the edge near my sliding glass door that isn’t affixed properly.
AT THE END OF THE DAY
The only silver lining for me has been the results. The new flooring has left me feeling like I have a whole new house. Here’s a little before and after:
SANS CARPET (already a million times better!)
What matters now is that I’m happy with my floors and I’ve overcome my first homeowner ordeal…
Let’s just hope it’s the last one for quite a while! Now, on to the next project…
[laying on my new, freshly mopped floors]