Wednesday, May 26, 2010

History Repeats Itself

Almost exactly three years ago, I was putting laminate down in the livingroom and diningroom. The mother and I had spent forever picking out a kind we liked and then, because it was special order, we had to wait almost 10 days to get it.

We had company coming in from out of town on Memorial Day so there was a very clear deadline in place.

I carefully built in the two days that the flooring would need to just sit inside the house to acclimate when determining when to start my vacation. As it turned out, it didn’t matter.
The flooring manufacturer had changed locking styles – and Home Depot had sold me both kinds. Mind you, these two kinds would NOT lock to each other. Sadly, I discovered this as my project wound down – and on a Saturday. “You’ll have to call someone on Monday,” the clerk told me on the phone.

Great. The rest of Saturday and now Sunday wasted. On Monday, the news wasn’t much better. “You’ll have to wait 10 days,” the flooring guy told me, denying repeatedly that the manufacturer had changed locking styles. In 10 days, my guests would be gone, my vacation long over.

I called the manufacturer after a Google search turned up a flooring trade mag article about the locking style change. “Why yes,” said the manufacturer. “We did that in February.” February. A full two months before I even BOUGHT my floor! And, if someone had told me this, I would have opted for the other contender – a Pergo from Lowe’s.

But no one told me. In fact, they were acting like the change hadn’t even happened. That was three years ago.

So, it was with some trepidation that I went with my godmother to Home Depot last week – and special-ordered flooring. Flooring for the great holiday weekend double bathroom redo marathon.

The 2007 incident remained clear in my mind. So clear, that when the flooring guy said it would be in “in about 10 days” I called him on it. “The sign says 7-day delivery,” I said.

“Well, give or take,” he said. With this project, there is no room for give or take. This is why I had cautioned my godmother (whom I love dearly but who is the absolute queen of procrastinators) NOT to wait until less than two weeks out to attempt this. She didn’t heed my warning.

“Oh, it will be here,” floorman insisted. Really? Forgive me if I don’t believe you. So I pushed back.

We patiently sat for 10-15 minutes through a series of calls which ended with him saying that the warehouse “had plenty in stock,” and that it usually goes out “within a day or two of the order” and so it “should arrive by Tuesday.” Tuesday. That was yesterday.

And in the words of the great Yogi Berra, it was “deju vu all over again.”

When I talked to my godmother last night she was awaiting a call-back from Home Depot. “They said my flooring won’t be in until June 1,” she said. “I told them that was NOT acceptable.” June 1. As in NEXT TUESDAY! Next Tuesday, when the floor is already supposed to be installed and the restaurant reopens.

Though it inconvenienced me greatly, in 2007 I was able to get my needed flooring within a matter of days and get it down within hours of my guests’ arrival. It really didn’t have to be that way.

To their credit, the manufacturer gave me a rebate – about 15 percent – of which Home Depot promptly deducted their commission! I’ve still never forgiven them for that. And this experience isn’t exactly doing anything to fix that.

I don’t know yet how this is all going to shake out or what impact it will ultimately have on this weekend’s plans. But, the moral of the story is this:
NEVER, NEVER, NEVER buy special-order flooring – not at Home Depot -- unless you have at least a month before you plan to have it down. And even then, I’d still advise buying “in stock” if you can.


Karen Anne said...

I m not too fond of Home Depot. I bought a couple of faucets from them, the finish of which promptly deteriorated. It took months of their "checking with the manufacturer," and my emailing them before I saw a refund. I can't imagine buying anything serious from them again.

Kate R said...

Their garden plant selection is usually pretty good, other than that, I try to avoid them. The last 3 times I went there, they had a lift in the aisle I needed to be in & they block off the whole aisle, for 20-30 minutes. One time it was even the bathroom aisle. Really?!? For half an hour? I usually want to be in & out of the store within 10-15 minutes if I already know what I want. And God help you if you need to ask someone a question, finding an employee when you want one, who is not on a lift, is nearly impossible!

Now I pretty much stick to Lowe's & Menard's.

Joanne said...

Since I'm in the market for flooring I'm very glad you wrote this. I've never purchased a big thing from HD. Guess I'll stick with Lowes and Lumber Liquidators.

karen said...

Thanks for the advice. I just buy the cheap stuff from Lowes. It sticks on and has been on for yrs.If a piece comes up I replace it with an extra leftover piece. Which only happens when we have a water accident. Hope we don't have many of those. It looks cheap but I don't care. Good luck and sorry for all the problems.

Jayne said...

I'm not a fan of Home Depot either, mostly for the reasons Kate R said. Their customer service is just awful. Everything in or on my house came from Lowe's or the almost-local lumberyard except my kitchen sink. Buying that kitchen sink was a nightmare and if HD hadn't given me such a good discount on it I'd have gone someplace else. How's your head?

NV said...

Karen Anne -- My last two experiences with them have been better than in the past. Maybe there's hope. :-)

Kate -- I do a lot of Lowe's, especially now that there is one in town! Yes, I've noticed the aisle-blocking thing. It is tres annoying!

Joanne -- Good luck. Glad to help!

karen -- Don't decry the stick-on stuff. I was practically in tears when I pulled up the Novalis planks in the kitchen to clear the way for porcelain. That stuff sure was awesome!

Jayne -- I wonder how much money HD loses in the concessions it has to make for screwing thing up? Plenty, I'm sure.