Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Swindled? Emphasis on Question Mark

As Paul Harvey said, "Now, the rest of the story...." As much as I want to just put the construction/remodeling debacle/adventure behind me so I can heal, it's not over. We've been having some trouble with our Loewen windows and doors.
Water stain on one of the Garden Level Sliding Glass Door - taking on wind and water

Loft Level door, taking in air at the top.

Taking on water at the bottom.

First, I had a loft door that operated. Last Winter/Spring while Eric and Jake (Christopher Arden Homes, Perrysburg, Ohio) were working on the cabin, they opened the door and closed it. When I looked at the door, I saw that the visquene covering over the insulation on the walls had wrapped around the jamb. I went to open the door to remove the offending visquene and the door wouldn't open. I told Eric that the door was stuck. He wanted to know if I had the keys. I did not  know where they were at the moment. I still don't know why he needed the key when I would have had to open the door to put the key in it and the door wouldn't open. They ended up removing the door via the hinges. So things got marred up a little but the door was open. Well, then I found the keys and stuck them in the door. And there they still hang a year later stuck in the door. I can open the door but I dare not operate the locking mechanisms (lift the handle and throw the thumb latch to lock.) Last Summer, I kept reminding Eric that the door needed fixing. On Eric's last trip here to COMPLETE the cabin, he asked for more money and he wanted it up front. The Husband and I were a little confused by the request for money up front. We had always paid him without his prompting and he had been paid everything as originally agreed but some of the work apparently was more than originally planned. Our only question for Eric was, does this money FINISH the cabin. He told me yes. We were waiting for our equity loan to be deposited so we couldn't pay him BEFORE he was here as he requested. He did drive up without being paid first. When he got here, he reminded us that he wanted payment and could Mike (who was down in Ohio at the time) drop a check off to his wife (remember they are from Ohio). Mike did. That Friday, at the end of the day, Eric declared the cabin finished. I was shocked and completely thrown off balance. Eric had always treated us decent. Or so we thought. The cabin was not finished. The door was not fixed. The trim was hanging from the ceiling. The doorway and windows jambs in the mechanical room were not built out and trimmed. They were supposed to build a door for that doorway. I have a punch list with a bunch of little things. Even though I was distracted by nausea in the pit of my stomach, I managed to get out, "What about the ceiling? The trim in the living room is not as we discussed?" I was really shocked and confused. Eric said, "We'll be back." I mentioned, "You can fix the loft door then? You're going to talk to Scott about getting whatever parts you need?" I got a "yes." Then I went back to Ohio to see my family and spend my birthday and our anniversary with The Husband. The Husband dashed up to see the cabin while I took care of the animals in Ohio. He was flabbergasted. The Husband never saw the mess everyone made as I had usually cleaned up after everyone before I went back to Ohio to take care of the animals while Mike dashed to the cabin to see how it was coming along. This time, I left the morning after Eric and Jake left and did not stay and clean. Eric and Jake had came up later than they said they would originally and I had already missed the opportunity to meet up with some friends from high school because of it. I wasn't going to spend my birthday alone too. So The Husband was flabbergasted and on the other end of the phone I got to hear, "How is this finished? What the hell is the deal with the ceiling?! First, Dudenas' crew left drywall hanging from ceiling and now these guys leave the wood trim hanging?! They couldn't help you pick up some of this mess when it was their last trip. You're going to have to call Roger and see if he can come out and help you with this heavy stuff. I don't want you to hurt your back. That's all we need." (Quick side note: When I say The Husband dashed up to see the cabin, I do mean dash. For us, all the time spent apart was really rough for us because we do actually like each other. Yeah, kind of strange for a married couple. Anyway, the dash included driving, seeing the cabin, and dashing back so we could have a little time to together. That dash took the entirety of one of his weekends off work which was one of our weekends together when we already had been apart so much. He wasn't aware of the mess and therefore did not make plans to stay at the cabin to pick up a big mess. Hence, the need for us to hire someone to help me when I got back to the cabin after my birthday and our anniversary rather than him doing the picking up. He truly did not have the time.)

I put in a call to Eric asking him if he would come back in October rather than November. I tried to entice him with "Bow Season." I don't remember if he was on a roof when I called but it was something like that and he said he'd call me back.

After hanging out with The Husband and our animal family for three weeks, I went back to the cabin and got to work. I was completely exhausted and felt like an idiot. All I saw was all the stuff not done that we paid for. I started cleaning up all the mess I could. For the heavy stuff, Roger came in and helped me. Roger's brother, John, also came in and helped me. Disclaimer: Don't do this at home. OSHA, look over there. Okay, everyone else can take a quick peek and and then act natural.

Yikes! And no, John was hitting his brother with the broom while he hammered the trim in. John held the trim flush against the ceiling for Roger while Roger wielded the finish nailer like Sylvester Stallone wields a machine gun. 

LR Contracting was building the Garden Shed. Thankfully, they were handling 99 percent of the job. I had ordered the materials and only had to call 41 Lumber to let them know when were ready for more materials. My tractor skills pitched in to lift a pallet of shingles off the supply truck up to the roof of the Garden Shed. Other than that I was left to my cleaning. While I was cleaning the mechanical room walls, I couldn't get the dirt to come off some sections of the wall surface. Upon closer inspection, Eric had installed 3 sheets backwards. Dammit, dammit, dammit. We had waited to install the water tank so this stuff could be put up without the water tank in the way. Now, I had the wall wrong side facing me behind the water tank, another piece I get to look at when I'm at the sink, and another piece I get to see when I walk out of the room. I was finding all kinds of little things. I've got drywall screws exposed, etc. etc. I called Eric and left a message regarding the backwards installation and that we needed to have a difficult discussion.

I was up against our deadline for The Husband's year in advance scheduled vacation, our move the animals date. I slowly realized that I was NOT going to be able to get the cabin completely done before we moved the animals in. I really did not and still do not want construction going on in the house with the animals and our furniture and belongings moved in. It's dusty, disruptive, and terrifying for the animals. In my attempt to get things wrapped up as much as possible, I called Scott regarding the broken loft door. Scott was our  Loewen window and door salesperson at Toledo Overhead Door, Toledo, Ohio. When I told my version of what was wrong with the door and how it happened, I was told that was not what Eric told Scott. It was because I didn't have the key to the door. I keep forgetting how everything is my fault. Again, the door was stuck shut and the key would have had to been used from the outside. This door leads to a balcony and there was no ladder around tall enough to access the balcony. It was such a cock-n-bull, weasel-y excuse, I couldn't believe my ears. It sounded like we were all trapped inside the cabin because we locked the doors and couldn't figure out how to get out. Kind of like locking yourself INSIDE your car. Even though Eric is an installer for Toledo Overhead Door, he was on our time clock when he broke the door so Toledo Overhead isn't responsible for the repair. Fine, assholes that have our $50,000, I need a Loewen tech out here to fix this $1700 door.

Then we got busy moving the animals in. We really weren't ready for Winter like we would have liked to have been but we were in. We were in the cabin along with a lot of outside air. As you already know, I've got the wind blowing in through the loft knee wall storage. I've also had wind coming in through our very expensive Loewen windows and doors. You can also see in the pictures where I've got water coming in and sitting in the sills and eventually will rot out said expensive doors. The kitchen window whistles. Both The Husband and I are very disappointed in our Loewen windows and doors.

Now, Spring is in the air and as I don't need to spend so much time doing my Winter chores, I'm ramping up to work on the cabin. Again. Still. I called Scott. I told him that I didn't know what the warranty was on the windows and doors but they are leaking. He said he'd check into it. I reiterated twice, if not three times, that I did not know what the warranty was and still all I got was that he'd check into it. I should have directly asked what's the warranty. I got a call yesterday from one of the guys, Ron, at Toledo Overhead Door. Ron was the Loewen Rep for 16 years. He did NOT ask me what problems I was having. He cut this customer that spent $50,000 at his store off and TOLD me what to look for on the windows and doors to see what the problem is. He asked if I could get him some pictures. You want to see what the problem is, fine, I can understand that. I emailed him the pictures. Then, I called The Husband. He was on his way home from work. I updated him on the status of the continuing "spend $50,000 on windows and doors and get no service saga." He remembered he had seen that there was a Loewen dealer in Marquette in his previous efforts to get help with the loft door. He said he'd try to swing in there when he got to Marquette. He met with Tim Lammi of The Window Store and Home Improvement Center, Marquette, Michigan. We very much appreciate the time Tim took to explain Loewen's and its dealers' warranties and how the warranties claim process is supposed to work. You may want to get out a barf bag. Imagine if you will that you buy a car. You get home and the next day the car doesn't run. You take a bus to go talk to the people where you bought your car. When you get there, they are gone. No sign that any business was ever there. The wind blows a candy bar wrapper by as you feel your stomach wrench and you reach for a barf bag. You spent your money on a car, the cars got problems and you've got no recourse. You've been swindled. This is how The Husband and I are feeling after Tim explained that 1) You should have a copy of your warranty with a warranty number and order number. We, of course, never received any warranty paperwork. We have to call yet because as Tim further explained that sometimes the dealer does this for you but you should still have a copy; 2) Loewen warranties the parts; and 3) the dealer has their own guarantees for the labor and they vary. WHAT?! We were NEVER told this. SHIT, SHIT, SHIT! Because of logistics, we had Dudenas' crew install the windows. Had this warranty information been explained to us we definitely would have made different decisions. Which is probably why it wasn't AND STILL HASN'T been explained to us by Scott of Toledo Overhead Door. We feel Scott was not forthright with us by not disclosing this warranty information at any time during our sales meetings. Because, in subsequent discussions with Scott, there has been no mention of warranty claim procedures, other than he'll check into it, and, in light of this new information and what it means, Mike and I have that gut wrenching feeling in the pit of our stomachs that we've been swindled. Both Scott, Toledo Overhead Door and Eric, Christopher Arden Homes, have our money and we're waiting for calls for them to correct their respective situations. The question remains, have we been swindled? The ball will remain in their courts for awhile longer. Then I will pick up the ball and start writing letters to the BBB. I'll be calling Loewen at the corp level. Links will be activated on this blog so the search engines can find the bad press. I'm TRYING not to get my knickers in a bunch. I have seen that any company that rips us off, will rip off others. A company can only do that for so long before they reap what the sow and they end up going under. I try to remind myself of the companies that ripped us off and that are now no longer in business. It works itself out. Meanwhile, we're trying to give our fellow human beings a chance to make good and emphasize the question mark.

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