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Red Dot D+B
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anybody been down this road with some learning to share?

We're a small D+B company that did a very high end remodel for some "difficult" people. It came out great, post-build appraisal was 1.5 cost of construction, etc. The project (2 new baths) was closed out by City inspector July 11, 2008. We provide a one-year warranty and had about 15 call backs during that period. My tile setter (sub) re-polished and regrouted hundreds of square feet of marble over 4 visits.

Just got another call back for tile issue. I very politely explained to HO that the year warranty period has expired and that tile setter has no further obligation to do additional work. After some back and forth I offered to bring in another tile-setter at my cost just to maintain a good relationship.

Two days later, a $100K job we had been designing and planning for a year was cancelled by the prospective customer who had received a "horriffic" reference from this customer indicating we don't warranty our work.

No way am I inclined to extend my warranty after that - but reputation is so important.
 

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Red Dot D+B
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
No, simply because prospective customer wanted references on all projects over the past year. This job was closed out prior to that time.

The prospective customer got phone number from another reference who knew I had done work for this couple who happens to be on the same street.
 

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Anybody been down this road with some learning to share?

We're a small D+B company that did a very high end remodel for some "difficult" people. It came out great, post-build appraisal was 1.5 cost of construction, etc. The project (2 new baths) was closed out by City inspector July 11, 2008. We provide a one-year warranty and had about 15 call backs during that period. My tile setter (sub) re-polished and regrouted hundreds of square feet of marble over 4 visits.

Just got another call back for tile issue. I very politely explained to HO that the year warranty period has expired and that tile setter has no further obligation to do additional work. After some back and forth I offered to bring in another tile-setter at my cost just to maintain a good relationship.

Two days later, a $100K job we had been designing and planning for a year was cancelled by the prospective customer who had received a "horriffic" reference from this customer indicating we don't warranty our work.

No way am I inclined to extend my warranty after that - but reputation is so important.

So you still haven't fixed the problem after a year?

And now you wont because its been more than a year?

The builders of high end homes around here will go back after 10 years if they did something wrong.
 

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It sounds like you need a new tile guy!

Without knowing all the circumstances of your last project,I can only hope that you would follow through do the repairs.

The fact that the situation arose so soon after the job was completed can only lead me to believe that it was a botched job and the fact that a year has elapsed isn't Carte-blanc to being relieved of the warranty.
 

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Carpe Diem
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Hard to form an opinion when we don't know the specifics to why the tile callbacks occurred.
Also, just because you offered a 1 year guarantee, what did the tile guy offer you? What is the tile guy saying about his, or the new tile guy saying about the old tile job?
 

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Sorry if I seem callous but you may have actually brought this on yourself by going beyond what you should have done time and time again. If they accepted the original tile job why are you going back and polishing the tile. If they are scratching it after the fact then that's on them. I'm all for going the extra mile and making a customer happy but going back 15 times .... why would you do that? You repolished and regrouted 4 times over that year? Why did you feel that was your responsibility? I may have done it once as a gesture of good will but I would have explained that scratches that appear after this are their responsibility. My warranty specifically explains what is my responsibility to fix and what is their responsibility to maintain.

Now that being said, that's just not right that they are bad mouthing you to prospective clients when you have already gone above and beyond. I think I would start with a conversation with them and ask them why they feel they deserve an extended warranty. Then I would follow it up with a letter spelling out what you have discussed. I also think a meeting in person with the prospective clients might be able to salvage their project. Just explain to them that some people are just impossible to please. Show them pictures of the finished work. Show them any paper work or letters you have from the problem clients that shows that they were very satisfied at one time but they just had unrealistic expectations. Give them as many other references as you can. One bad apple should not be able to spoil this project, are you absolutely certain this is the only bad reference they got?

In the future, I suggest you need to take further steps to set expectations before hand. I feel like I am constantly setting expectations from the minute I meet a prospective client all the way through to the end of their warranty period. Under promise and over delivering does wonders for client satisfaction.
 

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Red Dot D+B
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
There's no botched work here.

We keep getting called back to address NEW issues (i.e.) scratches in the marble that are being caused by normal use. We've responded to every call like this over the warranty period - but no one is going to keep marble flooring from scratching.

My point is, when does it end? If not at the end of warranty period, then when.
 

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Professional Instigator
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There's no botched work here.

We keep getting called back to address NEW issues (i.e.) scratches in the marble that are being caused by normal use. We've responded to every call like this over the warranty period - but no one is going to keep marble flooring from scratching.

My point is, when does it end? If not at the end of warranty period, then when.
Do you have a written policy that states the warranty is for a one year period?

If you do then send them a copy of it and call it a day.

If you don't draft one up and keep it on file for the next jobs.

Is the one year warranty a local rule?

We have a one year mandatory local rule for warranties, If you do as well show them the website of the DL that states warranties are for one year.

By continuing working to work on the project you are technically still working on the project and the warranty has not kicked in yet
 

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There's no botched work here.

We keep getting called back to address NEW issues (i.e.) scratches in the marble that are being caused by normal use. We've responded to every call like this over the warranty period - but no one is going to keep marble flooring from scratching.

My point is, when does it end? If not at the end of warranty period, then when.
Always good to have all the facts.
Why was there a need to regrout the marble?
 

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Carpe Diem
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I agree with OG 100%

and I didn't assume you had botched anything.

Lesson learned here. You should talk to the potential new customer and explain that the callbacks were not warranty work but were in good faith. There have been no installation or labor-based callbacks.

There may be no healing the issues with the past customer. You may have to cut your losses and move forward losing a reference.
 

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Red Dot D+B
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
There's no local warrantee mandated. We offer it because we should as good builders. It starts from the final inspection date because that's the point where things start getting used,

Grouting was redone as the HO's literally view it through a magnifying glass. I think the rand of reply's defines the problem: if you're TOO accommodating of a customer's whims, expectations become uncontrollable. If you don't respond to the whims, you're uncooperative.
 

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Grouting was redone as the HO's literally view it through a magnifying glass.
Whoa, right there is part of the problem. Why are you letting them do that? Your contract should reference some form of industry standards. Of course I can't find mine right now but it should dictate what is acceptable and not acceptable for tile and grout. For example, I think mine says paint is to be examined from a distance no closer than 6'. Damn it, I wish I could find my book, who did I loan that thing to this is going to kill me, anyway I'm sure SLS or Rory will post a link here to some industry standards, they are good with the links.


I think the rand of reply's defines the problem: if you're TOO accommodating of a customer's whims, expectations become uncontrollable. If you don't respond to the whims, you're uncooperative.
Yep, live and learn.
 

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Red Dot D+B
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Good question.

Other call backs included scratches on a door-mirror (just at their little dogs height) which showed up after 6 months -visible only from specific angle. Rubbing pocket door. Paint strokes visible on trim piece (4X), drywall fastener popping (1X), resetting a GFIC circuit (1X), troubleshooting lights -needed a new bulb (1X), Nuheat thermostat replacement - this one legit! Tile scratches or grout anomolies (4X).
 

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Professional Instigator
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Good question.

Other call backs included scratches on a door-mirror (just at their little dogs height) which showed up after 6 months -visible only from specific angle. Rubbing pocket door. Paint strokes visible on trim piece (4X), drywall fastener popping (1X), resetting a GFIC circuit (1X), troubleshooting lights -needed a new bulb (1X), Nuheat thermostat replacement - this one legit! Tile scratches or grout anomolies (4X).
If they call you out for anything that does not fall under the warranty you need to bill them for your time.

1 or 2 of those bills will curb the bs calls
 

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Other call backs included scratches on a door-mirror (just at their little dogs height) which showed up after 6 months -visible only from specific angle.
Nope not covered unless pointed out at the final walk through. Just ask them how many times have they cleaned the mirror in the past 6 months and it's just now appearing. More than likely it was caused by their cleaning.

Paint strokes visible on trim piece (4X)
How visible? :rolleyes: 4 Times :eek: Who's your painter MZ? (Sorry you're probably too new to get that one)

drywall fastener popping (1X),
I typically make it very clear that we touch up drywall only one time and strongly recommend they wait until the end of the one year period for that touch up. Unless it's brought up at final walk through of course.

resetting a GFIC circuit (1X)
ChaChing - I typically won't charge the first time for this but I clearly explain this in my warranty booklet that if they ever have problems with an outlet they should check their GFI's before calling me, then when they do call me I may politely point it out in the booklet to drive home the point that they should always check their warranty book first.

troubleshooting lights -needed a new bulb (1X),
Same as above - but I would be charging if they were calling me out for these type of things on separate trips. Like Rory said, after getting that first invoice, they may start being much more reasonable.

Nuheat thermostat replacement - this one legit!
:clap: Finally....On a side note, I've had a few problems with these too :mad:

Tile scratches or grout anomolies (4X).
Already discussed.


I'm sure you get the point by now and I think you understand where things went wrong. You got beat down by this client like a dog in Michael Vick's kennel. Don't let it happen again. Good luck.
 

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Good question.

Other call backs included scratches on a door-mirror (just at their little dogs height) which showed up after 6 months -visible only from specific angle. Rubbing pocket door. Paint strokes visible on trim piece (4X), drywall fastener popping (1X), resetting a GFIC circuit (1X), troubleshooting lights -needed a new bulb (1X), Nuheat thermostat replacement - this one legit! Tile scratches or grout anomolies (4X).
Starting today and I mean right now, you need to draft up a document for these types of customers to sign off on at the end of the project. Where you go over everything with them and basically inspect it at that time and get their written signature that they are accepting the job as complete and perfect at that time.

Resetting a GFCI circuit should be a charged labor trip. Lights needing a bulb should be a charged labor trip. Mirror scratches, paint strokes should have been caught at finalization or not at all.

I know it's hard to walk the line of doing the right thing, doing what is legal and doing what you have to do for customers like this that try to hold you hostage and your reputation hostage.

I deal with a lot of high maintenance customers. When you get enough posts to private message me, do so and I will give you some private tips on some subtle nuances in handling these call backs that will help you in the future.

While they are not unethical or illegal or anything like that, there is no need to post them publically.
 
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