Installation Fiasco !!!

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  #1  
Old 08-09-05, 12:14 PM
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Thumbs down Installation Fiasco !!!

Unbelievable, simply unbelievable. Please let the following be a lesson to everyone when considering contractors. I went with a company to do my system replacement because they underbid the lowest competitor by $100 and boasted that they have no complaints against them on the BBB or CSCLB (Cal State Contractor's Licensing Board).

Let me tell you, it was like I hired The Three Stooges Contracting Company -- no, even the Stooges would have had more skills and professionalism than these guys displayed. A bunch of blind monkeys could have done a better job! I should have known how bad things were going to get when right off the bat, as soon as they had gotten the condenser in place, the “lead tech” started using it as a table so he could bang out the mounting holes for the breaker box! (Yes, please, let's just dent and scratch up my new equipment!)

I was on and off the phone several times with the owner, expressing my concerns over the poor quality of workmanship displayed. Ex, in re-building the plenum, the guy used a pair of adjustable pliers to hammer and bash the sheet metal (instead of benders and a hammer) - though no one on the crew even *had* a hammer.

I got complaints and resistance because I wanted the compressor on a pad (even my neighbor, who used to do AC installs commented that it should be on a pad) – their response was that it didn’t need one because it was on concrete and that that was code. Well, it turns out that yes, it is code, but it should be raised up to prevent flooding. Their response to that was “it’s waterproof”.

Then came the fun of trying to explain to them why I wanted a nice metal framework to surround the jagged, dusty hole they chopped into my return air duct in order to enlarge it. All I wanted was for them to frame it with some bent sheet metal so there was a good seal with the air cleaner - they wanted to do that with *just* Glencote. After I was finally able to demonstrate what I wanted (fortunately I had some angled sheet metal similar to what was needed), they complied - only they did a real half-assed job of it, no mitered corners and the pieces were all cut short.

So they finally get the air cleaner and the furnace in place and go to put up the coil and plenum - and they find it doesn't fit! (Because there's an overhang that drops down in front.) So they decide to "re-build" the plenum - which involved removing the first one, bending a piece of sheet metal into place and screwing it on only two sides, then "cutting" a hole in the sheet (gadget looked like a glass-cutter for metal) - liberally sprinkling the coil with metal shavings. Then they try to put the coil and the "new" plenum up - and find that it still doesn't fit. Well, if they had measured things, they would have seen that they clearly did not have the room for even the coil to go in after the furnace and air cleaner. Yes, there is vertical space for everything, you just have to rig up the coil & plenum first, then stack the furnace and cleaner underneath. So now they call their boss and tell him they have to pull it all out and start over. Well, "pull out" is just being too nice - rip, dent, scratch, gouge, and bash would be more accurate. So I'm standing there, watching this fiasco just shaking my head in amazement. The new equipment was now clearly *not* new. I walked in the house and got on the phone with the owner - and he couldn't believe I was actually "complaining" again. He chastised me for "watching over their shoulders" and said that I "should have just let them do their job and if there were any problems, [he'd] take care of them afterwards." I was flabbergasted. I said I supervise *any* work done on my home or my car - *I'm the guy PAYING for it!* His response was that he just didn't think they could do anything to satisfy me. I said doing the job right the first time would have been one easy way. So I tell him fine, take everything out and I want my money back. It's a week and a half later, and I still don't have my money back - plus, they not only took all the stuff they brought in, they also took away all my original equipment. While they're loading the stuff up outside, my wife overhears the lead guy complaining, "Who's he to tell me how to do my job? I've never had any complaints."

So today I happened to speak with the guy who employed this "lead tech" previously - he said that a year ago he was basically a go-fer and knew next to nothing. He couldn't believe the guy was now working as a lead.

So I’ve since hired another contractor – and informed them of all the issues with the first contractor. Well, even this one isn’t going smoothly, but I’ll detail that in another post.

What is it with the idea that the person PAYING for the services, should just sit back and let the person HIRED just do what they want???!!!! I've heard this crap from a couple of contractors now, and I think it's utter BS!

I’ve included a couple quick photos to show how the first contractor left the furnace platform, and how I have since refinished it.

--- Dragon77


After 1st Contractor

After I Refinished It
 
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  #2  
Old 08-09-05, 08:08 PM
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is this system done?? Send us a pix of that...

Where is this furnace going in at? And the holes we see in the pix is that suppse to be a return.. and where is it being pulled from?

Have you paid them yet? Otherwise, I'd tell the owner that they will not be paid till it's done right. if he refuse to listen, then i'd drop them out and go else where.
 
  #3  
Old 08-10-05, 04:36 AM
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Sounds like a true nightmare. I don't mind at all if the homeowner hangs out while I work as long as they are not being a pest. But of course I'm not a hack and take a lot of pride into what I do.

I sure hope everything works out for you.
 
  #4  
Old 08-10-05, 06:56 AM
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I'm real sorry this happened to you
I guess it is a good lesson on why you should not always go with the lowest bidder
There is always a reason something is cheaper

Originally Posted by Dragon77
What is it with the idea that the person PAYING for the services, should just sit back and let the person HIRED just do what they want???!!!! I've heard this crap from a couple of contractors now, and I think it's utter BS!
Well, some homeowners do get way to involved and interfere with the contractor's completion of the job
To be fair, if the (honest and profesional) contractor figured the job would take say 10 hours and priced it as such
He/She did not figure on an extra 3 hours explaining why stuff would or wouldn't work
It can easily get beyond that with some H/Os, and one can end up doing more time explaining why it can't be done, than doing it the right way
Some H/Os do think they know how things should be done, and really have no idea
The (honest and profesional) contractor does it for a living, and almost always knows way more than the H/O
Sorry, but it's true

That being said, some contractors use the "shut up and let me do it" because they are total hacks and don't want a H/O yapping about stuff they are doing (often quite horrifying and damaging), they just want to get in, do it the quickest cheapest easiest way (not the right way), get paid, and get out
Once they are gone they do not give a lick about the H/O or the work that was done
The H/O may be right about the steps to do it properly, the contractor doesn't want to hear it because they have been skipping steps for years and everything worked out fine
(I) "should have just let them do their job and if there were any problems, [he'd] take care of them afterwards."
This is the wrong attitude for the business and a sure warning sign of a "hack"

I'm with mattison
I don't mind at all if a H/O wants to watch me work
But I've never had them point out steps I was skipping or procedures I was doing wrong either

I can't tell you if you are a H/O that crosses the line from "watching" or "supervising" to "Supervisor" and "interfering"
But these guys sound like total hacks and your concerns seem very justified
Your "interference" seems to be to save your property from destruction
You can't really blame a guy for that

Again, I'm sorry you are going through this and best of luck to you
 
  #5  
Old 08-10-05, 07:01 AM
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We all have our nightmare stories with one contractor or another. As mattison said - if you are competent in the work you do, although it might get annoying having someone look over your shoulder, its' no big deal. As they say the customer is always right - or atleast he's the one with the check book.

I had a complete new system installed in my home in 98. I got estimates, checked references and compared apples to apples. The company I went with offered a higher seer unit and a great garuntee. He was $70 higher than the lowest bid. What warranty wasn't covered by manufacture, he covered for 5 yrs. He retired and moved to arizona 1 yr later. Since then I have paid for 2 motors [inside and out], 2 compressors [labor only] and a new condensor. I am currently waiting on a relay that is on back order. Hope you have better luck with your new heat/ac system than I have had.
 
  #6  
Old 08-10-05, 07:05 AM
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Thumbs down

Yes, the lower desk (with the two holes) is the return air duct for the upflow system - it's coming in from the living room.

No, the system is STILL not in place. Now I'm being told by the 2nd company that the installer has walked off the job, because I "hurt his feelings".

A custom plenum has to be manufactured for the ceiling opening - the installer and I talked about specific dimensions and I made the opening to those specs. Plenum was supposed to be ready on Monday, but I get no call from the company, even though I scheduled the day off. So I'm upset already; I call the company and they say they'll be out on Tuesday and that the plenum wasn't ready until an hour before. I later find out from the metal fabricator they sub-contracted to that it was actually ready on Friday, and that the dimensions are different than discussed - moreover, the manufactured plenum is larger than the opening is. I call the company back and express my concern over the size of the plenum and say it sounds like someone got the size wrong somewhere (specifically *not* laying blame anywhere) and ask for confirmation. I get back (after having to call again later, because I *never* get a return call from the company) that the installer is mad that I'm questioning things. I said I wasn't "questioning" things, I wanted to confirm things - afterall, if the fabricator got the size wrong, it's not going to do anyone any good if they bring out a plenum that won't fit. So Tuesday I call (after waiting until Noon and no one showing up!!) , and the company says they don't know where the installer is - they think he walked off the job. I said well that's just real professional, not to mention childish and immature. I said that I hire the *company* not the installer - and they say that they don't have anyone else free to finish the job.

At this point, I have other contractors coming out to give estimates.

Both companies are going to be taken to court and to the CSCLB.

--- Dragon77

(Haven't paid any money to the 2nd company, fortunately, but the 1st one wanted 1/2 upfront - which I recently found out is a direct violation of the State Contractor's Licensing Board's regulations - hopefully the jerk will lose his license over this. No refund yet either, but that's easily taken care of since I put it on plastic.)
 

Last edited by majakdragon; 08-10-05 at 07:14 AM. Reason: prohibited wording
  #7  
Old 08-10-05, 07:20 AM
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Thumbs down Supervising vs Supervisor

Well, I ask questions about things I don't know about, or why something may be being done a particular way, but I don't interfere unless I see something being done clearly wrong. I'm not an idiot and I do most of my home repairs myself (but I know my limitations!)

The first guys were talking about punching a new hole in the side of the heater for the gas line. I said no, that doesn't sound right. I said that these units are sold every day around the country - if a new hole was needed, it'd be maufactured that way. I got a BS excuse about it. EVERY other contactor (including the owner of that company) agreed, and said that no new hole should be necessary. The 2nd installer (the one that has now walked off the job), initially said the installation couldn't be done, because it needed an 18" diameter circular duct from the coil. He didn't know what to do at that point. So I looked at it and asked why a rectangular plenum couldn't be built? He looked at it again and thought for a moment, then said, "Yeah, that should work."

I watch to make sure none of those corners are cut - I don't want to have to have problems "fixed" after the fact - I want to insure that they never occur to begin with. Somehow, I don't think anyone reputable would have a problem with that.

--- Dragon77
 
  #8  
Old 08-10-05, 07:23 AM
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Just to be sure, make sure you call the credit card company and tell them about your dispute with the contractor.

Second, just an idea based on someone else's practice in hiring contractors. I work in the town where Menard's is based and the owner, John Menard lives. John Mendard never hires the lowest bidder, but rather, he asks one of the mid level bidders to work for the price of the lowest bid. Usually works out that he gets good work for a reasonable price. Must be doing something right to come in 47th richest in the country on Forbes' last list.
 
  #9  
Old 08-10-05, 02:54 PM
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Well, I finally hear back from the first company - now they want to charge me a 20% "re-stocking" fee. I told him I would contest it with both my credit card company, the CSCLB, and small claims, if necessary. I'm also going to sue for damages done (poor workmanship on the furnace platform, chipped concrete outside, a chip in my car windshield, and time lost from work to get another contractor).

--- Dragon77
 
  #10  
Old 08-11-05, 04:55 AM
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Wow, that guy has a lot of gall!

I'll bet your answer has got him a bit concerned, though
 
  #11  
Old 08-16-05, 02:50 PM
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Thumbs down Letter To CCSLB

Well, here's my letter to the California Contractors State License Board (redacted):

RE: Addendum to Complaint Form, Items 11 & 12 / XXXXXXXX, Inc.


11. List Your Items Of Complaint
The skill level and quality of workmanship displayed by contractor’s workers was exceedingly poor. I discussed the issues with the contractor (XXXXXX, owner) several times during the day of 7-30-05. At the point where contractor’s workers physically damaged the heat exchanger, I phoned him again and said that something had to be done. He replied that he didn’t think that there was anything they could do to make me happy and that he would just take the equipment back and refund my money.

Contractor’s workers not only took away all the equipment they brought, but also took away my original equipment, leaving me with damaged property (damaged concrete, damaged furnace platform, and chipped auto windshield) and no original equipment. The furnace platform was damaged as a result of poor workmanship, the concrete was broken when the workers could not decide whether to use or remove the existing concrete platform, and I do not know how the windshield was damaged, but it occurred while my wife & I were in the house and the workers were (angrily) removing all the equipment. Contractor’s workers significantly damaged the equipment at the jobsite and I have no idea the condition they were in after removal.

Contractor delayed a week and a half in contacting me regarding the refund – and only responded to my phone message inquiring on the status of the refund. Contractor insisted on 50% upfront funding ($2540.00), contrary to CCSLB’s regulations specifying:

"If the payment schedule contained in the contract provides for a down payment to be paid to the contractor by the owner or the tenant before the commencement of work, the down payment shall not exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) or 10 percent of the contract price for home improvements, excluding finance charges, whichever is less. There are no exceptions for special order materials."

Additionally, I was never provided the notice specified as per the California Business & Professions Code:

"Pursuant to California Business & Professions Code §7159.3 (SB 2029), home improvement contractors must provide this notice."


Now contractor insists on charging a 20% “re-stocking” fee ($508.00). I have filed with my credit card company for this amount.

12. Remedy Sought
I am requesting a full and complete refund including the withheld 20% along with equitable compensation for damages caused and time lost from work to secure another contractor (1 day). Attached are images showing the specified damages (with repairs to the furnace platform done by myself – neither the concrete nor the windshield have yet been repaired). I was not going to concern myself with the platform damage, the concrete damage, or the lost work until contractor refused a complete refund. I am prepared to pursue this matter in Small Claims Court, if necessary.

Damages total: $745.28 + 20% fee withheld of $508.00 = $1253.28

1 Day of lost work – $305.28
Concrete Repair – Est $50.00
Repair of platform damage –
materials (wood, joint compound, paint) - $35.00*
labor – 7 hours @ $10.00/hr = $70.00**
Replacement of Windshield (1993 Mustang) - $285.00
(lower of 2 estimates)
XXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXX

*amount rounded off – dated Lowe’s receipts available for verification
**conservative labor charge


Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Best Regards,
--------------------------------

Well, here's hoping it does some good. Since I don't know the legalities involved, I decided not to publish the company's name.

--- Dragon77
 
  #12  
Old 08-16-05, 08:48 PM
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Sounds like a lawyer wrote that letter. But you don't have to be a lawyer to do that because I am a plumber and I can write razor sharp just like that when someone is "trying but not winning" to screw me.


I never have problems like these with my customers. Being 6'7" and 363 pounds I just squeeze the customer in a bear hug till the eyes go bloodshot and cash flows from the wallet.


Problem Solved! :mask:
 
  #13  
Old 08-17-05, 07:52 AM
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Size

6'7" & 363lbs? Cripes, you should be a pro wrestler!

--- Dragon77
 
  #14  
Old 08-22-05, 07:00 AM
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CSLB Bond

Well, found out last week that the licensed contractors have to put up an $8000 completion bond with the State - I may be able to claim the amount of the price it cost me to get another company to do the job if the first contractor is considered to have abandoned the job - considering they basically QUIT, I don't see a difference.

--- Dragon77
 
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