Monday, April 23, 2012

Renovation Issue Update and Narrative

I wanted to provide you with an update on the kitchen cabinet issue I was having between American Classic Kitchen (ACK), the distributor, and the manufacturer Wood-Mode (WM).

If you recall there were several issues I described in Another Frustration, where the distributor and manufacturer – specifically - were being difficult in supplying me with replacement cabinets covered under a warranty. The reason behind the manufacturer’s reluctance was the fact that I owed money to the distributor, not for the cabinets but for the cabinet installation. I tried to reason with WM and explain my reasoning behind holding back payment, but they insisted that they would not honor the warranty until I had paid ACK in full for any and all services. The problem I had with this was that the cabinets I purchased were – in fact – paid in full. I tried to explain to the WM salesman that I was having issues, unrelated to the cabinets, and that I was confused as to why WM felt that they should be in the middle of a dispute that was technically, none of their business or concern.

It was clear to me that WM was protecting ACK and not honoring their warranty without hearing my side of the story. I found this extremely frustrating so I contacted the CEO of WM to explain my side of the story, and stated that if they wanted to play arbitrator then they would have to hear both sides of the story. While the salesman at WM ignored me the CEO did have him reach out for side. Here are the issues I raised:

  • ACK contractors did not show up for four scheduled appointments, and of those missed we took three vacation days to accommodate them being there. In fact we were not informed that they would not be at the work site until we called late each morning to see when they would arrive. All we ever told was “sorry for the confusion”. I believe we should be compensated for our lost vacation time.

  • ACK’s kitchen installers advised us that they would not put down paper to cover the work area, floors and counters, and that it was our responsibility, which is unheard of for a contractor. We had our general contractor put down the paper and remove it for $125.00 each time. So with our missed appointments, that was four times we paid to have the coverage installed and removed.

  • There were 2 base cabinets that were damaged upon the initial delivery (in addition to doors and drawer fronts that were broken). To have the base cabinets replaced we would have had to wait several weeks, delaying completion of the installation of the kitchen, and ability to move into the apartment. The fact was, the damage would not be visible but given the premium cost of the cabinets we should receive some compensation. We discussed this with our ACK sales representative who saw the damage, took pictures. He communicated to us that he understood, believed we should be compensated, would discuss it with his boss, and go ahead and install the base cabinets. We discussed the cost of replacing the cabinets and “minimally” to refund the delivery charge of $675 as compensation. It wasn’t until we came close to completion that ACK stated that they would not provide compensation.  

  • Then there was misrepresentation of the cabinets we bought. When deciding on material we were advised of two choices, MDF, a man made composite material, or maple. The ACK salesman informed us that the main difference was there would be no splits at the joints of the cabinet doors and drawer facings for over ten years with the MDF, and five of six years for the maple. Given these facts we decided on maple. However, when the cabinets were received there was significant splitting on several doors and drawer fronts. When we raised this to WM they stated that we should never have been told that and that ACK was wrong in doing so. We should never have told us that. The WM rep. further stated that the "splits were normal" and WM would not replace the materials for this reason. Had we known this we would have chosen the MDF, rather than the maple.  

There are a few other issues, least of all the time, energy and emotion we had been spent on this kitchen, as example, ACK had made several mistakes in measurements that delayed trim work and cabinet installation. I found them to be very sloppy in many areas. One last interesting fact, the salesman at ACK, that sold me the cabinets, no longer works at ACK, a fact shared with me by the WM salesman. This only validates my case.

I shared all these details with WM’s CEO and salesman and suggested what I believed to be fair compensation. ACK offered me a pittance of what I asked for, as an example, $78.38 for the delivery charge. I declined the offer. Unfortunately WM sided with ACK and will only send me a replacement for one broken drawer. ACK does not believe I deserve anything for wasted vacation time or misrepresentation of their cabinets. I still owe money to ACK and will not pay until they take accountability and fairly compensate me for my inconveniences.

What lesson did I learn here? First, ACK is in the New York Design Center and I believed that I would be safe from poor practices going to this supposed “high end” distributor, which was obviously not the case. The other lesson is; I was correct in the statement that I have mentioned throughout the blog, always hold back some money from anyone who is doing work for you. While I had a lot of aggravation I did not have the double if paying my hard earned money for it as well. 

I just returned from business trip and will start conversations with design center to formally complain about ACK and WM. I have also received a bill from ACK's attorney seeking payment in full. I would pay if it was deserved. More fun ahead!

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