A tale of two home improvement projects

Monday, 26 April 2010 | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I've been in my duplex for about nine years now. The residents before me had a dog, and upon moving in, I vowed I'd change the wall-to-wall carpeting. I've also been meaning to redo my yard. Here's my tale of how two companies each gave me a very different customer experience.

Project #1: New Carpet

Though I had grand plans to get new carpet in the den, the stairwell, and on the second floor right after I moved into my home nine years ago, turns out, I had my own pet problems: namely a cat who liked to throw up. (Cat people, you know what I’m talking about!) So I kept delaying the new carpet, figuring it wasn’t worth it.

Fast forward eight years…dear old Whidbey dies, and I emerge from mourning and realize it’s time! After much carpet browsing and with help from my interior designer friend, I settled on carpet from Banner Carpets off of Burrard St. in Kitsilano. The wool blend carpet was the perfect colour, a decent price, and available for installation in a few short weeks. Or so I thought…

If only it were that easy. I paid a 60% deposit only to be told a few weeks later that the carpet wasn’t actually available and I’d have to wait for almost three months. I’d arranged a vacation around accommodating the install. Ah well, these things happen.

Ruby testing the new carpet

The evening after the carpet was installed, I settled into my den to watch TV. No signal. After a long wait on the phone with the service provider, we figured out the cable had been severed by the installers. Oops. They also damaged the wall in my stairwell in numerous places. Okay, these things happen.

A few days later, I received a call from Banner telling me the carpet in one room was faulty and needed to be replaced. I barely noticed the flaw but at least they fessed up. I then complained about the TV cable and the wall damage and was told someone would come to look at it at the time of the second installation.

Carpet installation damage

The installers came and went; I waited all day, but no one showed up to look at the damage.

I received a bill for the remaining 40% of the charges many months later. I actually thought I wouldn’t be getting one because of the headache and damage caused. I wrote a letter to Banner, listing the above mentioned complaints.

Lo and behold, they called me back on what must have been the day the letter arrived. Service was indeed improving! But I was in a meeting and asked if they could call me back that afternoon. They agreed and even gave me a time to expect the call. 3 pm came and went. I waited, and waited, and waited. I’m still waiting. That was months ago.

I haven’t raised a bigger stink because I do think their product is good, I just found the service lackluster.

What’s most frustrating is that anyone who’s had any home improvements done knows this kind of thing (and much worse) is very common. What can you do? Complain, write letters, talk to friends and acquaintances. So much business is based on word-of-mouth and personal referrals. If you find great service, be sure to spread the word, and if you experience bad service, spread the warning.

Project #2: Landscaping

So, here I am now, spreading a good word.

Another long term project was haunting me: re-landscaping the front of my property. I started by doing my research. I picked up business cards at local nurseries, talked to friends, surfed the web and got a few quotes.

I settled on Aloe Designs who, it turns out, had done some work for someone I knew, albeit it distantly.

Aloe did a number of things right. If only all companies could run this way! They:

  • met with me when they said they would

  • quoted me a fair price

  • made useful suggestions and put forth interesting ideas

  • did the work in a timely fashion

  • answered my questions and concerns

  • stayed under budget

  • and followed up to ensure I was happy with the work.

Aloe Designs landscape

They even sent me a Christmas card!

Happy stories are often so much shorter, aren’t they?

I’d love to hear some of your recommendations on great companies in any city. 

Aloe Designs landscape




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