One of the things I didn’t blog about last year were the rather protracted contract negotiations that were finally resolved at ThePlaceThatShallNotBeDiscussed, and which yielded a sizable signing bonus and back pay. There were any number of things I could spend it on: I could put in an above-ground pool, I could save it for a down-payment on a car (my jeepy-jeep isn’t going to last forever), I could save it towards a new a/c unit (mine’s going to blow any year now, I’m sure)…
Instead I decided to sink it into some new flooring for the kitchen. The house is twelve years old and has been through two dogs and two kids – the entire house could use new flooring. Not to mention that there is – was – carpet in the kitchen under the table. When the Ex and I built the house, we weren’t thinking about what a hassle it would be to feed children in an area that had carpeting. We were barely married – we weren’t thinking about kids at all! And while mine are a goodish age and I mostly don’t have to worry about food at the table, I would still be a much better mom if I didn’t have to worry about the kitchen floor at all.
Kim and I had been looking at flooring options as we dreamed about home renovation projects we would one day tackle. We had picked out a nice smoky greyish-tan cork-based hardwood that looked modern, but not too modern. We picked out a few more options that would match our newly refinished kitchen cabinets and not clash with the kitchen table, and started pricing them out. Surprisingly, Home Depot had the best prices. AND they were running a special on flooring installation.
So we gave Home Depot a call to come out and do a professional measurement. I gave him my cell phone, and Kim’s cell phone as a secondary number in case I couldn’t be reached (my cell phone reception at work is sketchy, at best). This turns out to be important later. I scheduled something for the next day, the guy called Kim’s cell phone to make sure she was there (but not my phone), showed up, and all was good. He said they’d call to go over options in a day or two. This was August 18th.
The next day, I got a call on my cell phone to get the product information for the quotes. The guy took down the SKU numbers, got my email, and said he’d email me the formal quotes, but it looked like $1600 for one and $3000 for the cork one we really liked (and ultimately got). In my head I had made a deal that if they came in under $3000, I’d go with the one I really, really wanted. I called the guy back the next day and placed the order. He fumbled over a few instructions (because, as we found out later, he was an idiot who didn’t know what he was doing), and pretty soon I had a flooring order installed! When I asked if the flooring would be there in a week because we were hoping against hope it would be finished before Kim left, he said maybe, but he doubted it. My confirmation email with the order said 2-3 weeks on delivery. And everyone said they would call to schedule the delivery when the material came in.
Flash forward two weeks! Kim’s just left (sniffle), and I was checking messages from my home phone that I never use. I had one message from Home Depot from the 19th or 20th saying the measurement had been done incorrectly and they needed to talk to me before they ran the quote. Obviously that wasn’t the case, because the quote arrived and the order placed. Also – where the heck had they gotten my home phone number? I had another voicemail, too, saying my payment couldn’t be processed and to call them back. I checked my credit card and sure enough the payment had posted. I called Home Depot and left a message for the manager, which was never returned.
Another week goes by. We’re up to what – September 3rd? It was a Wednesday. I get a call on my cell mid-morning. It’s the delivery service contracted by Home Depot – my flooring is in! Not only that – it’s out on the truck for delivery! And the dispatcher wants to know when I can meet them. Huh what? I kindly told the guy that I could meet them after 5p, which obviously wasn’t what he wanted to hear. I had him confirm that it was out right that minute for delivery, which he did, and then I told him that no one from Home Depot had called to tell me it was in, and that they were supposed to call to schedule delivery. I told him I was at work and couldn’t just leave unannounced. He asked me to hold for a minute, came back on the line and then said he looked closer and wouldn’t you know! It actually said on the slip to deliver between 5:10 and 5:50. Uh, sure, boss. At 6p that night, the guy actually delivering materials called me and said they were at Home Depot, waiting for the material to be loaded (so it wasn’t on the truck? whaaat?) and they’d be a little late. At 6:20, he called back and said they were paging and paging the Home Depot guys, but they weren’t answering – could they reschedule. When I said I could meet them any day that week after 5, he said he’d try to page someone again. 20 minutes later, I had my material. Or what I hoped was my material. I asked the contract guys if they knew how the installation piece worked – I knew the wood had to sit in my house for three days to acclimate, but no one had called to schedule installation. They said they didn’t know, but they were sure someone would call now that it had been delivered.
No one called the next day. Or that week.
Monday I called to speak to the manager. I got his voice mail and left a message. I called back and spoke to some in Flooring. He was really very helpful and spent an hour on the phone with me reviewing everything that went wrong. He didn’t know why my sister’s number or my home phone number were attached to the account. He explained that the installation piece was contracted out, but he wasn’t sure why they had never called. He got them on the phone and found out that my order had been cancelled. Oh. Wait – what?!?!!! The guy who had processed my quote had entered the wrong code, the installer said, and they had left messages, only to cancel the order when no one from Home Depot called them back. The associate didn’t know anything about that (unless she was called the people in corporate who process the quotes), but got everything back on track and asked her to please call me because I had been waiting almost a month, had paid upfront, and was about to cancel the entire affair and contest the charges with the fraud department of my credit card company. I was. The installer promised to call me by end of business.
They called my sister’s cell phone.
When I finally got on the phone, we settled on an installation date for Saturday, the 20th. They asked if the material had been in the house for three days. I laughed and said it would be three weeks. They asked if I was moving my own furniture and I said I was (it was $45/piece and they wouldn’t disconnect the water line to the fridge). They gave me an arrival window of 9-11a.
I was still angry. Even when I thought I had fixed the problem, my order had been cancelled and the entire process mishandled. I wrote an email to Corporate. I called the store back the next day and finally got ahold of the manager. Let me tell you – the manager of my Home Depot should run every store ever. I ran down a quick bullet list of things that had gone wrong, he asked for a few minutes to look into it and promised to call me back. He did, apologized again, and asked what it would take to make it right. I asked them to cover the furniture moving expenses. “Done. What else?” I asked if they could reimburse my installation costs since that got botched. “Done.” He didn’t even hesitate. There was no pushback. I didn’t even have to mention that my mom-in-law has a dozen rental properties and pours half her profits into Home Depot fixing them back up. It was just – handled.
I happy(ish) again. It might have taken a month, and it might have been a lot of aggravation, but flooring with $1000 back? That’s worth it.
At least, that’s what I thought. Cooper Flooring called the night before installation to confirm my window. Everyone who was surprised when 11a came and no one had shown up or called, raise your hands. Exactly. I called Cooper and they said their workers had forgotten their paperwork, had to come back to the office, and it would be about 2 hours before they got to my house. When they finally did show up, the workers said no one had told them they had a job. Yeah. I had already called the manager of Home Depot (who had been nice enough to give me his cell number in case something else went wrong), and he promised to cover the expense of boarding Fenway (she was going to have to stay until Monday, because a four-hour delay meant I couldn’t get her before they closed Saturday night), and refunded me another $400. Luckily, that was almost the last thing that went wrong.
I snapped a few “Before” pics:
And then I let the guys get to work. A little while later, I went out to check on their progress. I shouldn’t have, because I started panicking – the color of the wood looked a lot different from the sample. It was beige-er and had more of a rose undertone; it wasn’t as grey as the sample.
So I panicked-texted Kim and tried to bury my feelings. At least the floor would be installed. At least it wasn’t linoleum and dirty carpet. At least it would all be finished and I would like it much better after I forgot what I thought it would look like. OR, when they finished, I would panic instead over the way the individual pieces squeaked and moved. If nothing else had gone wrong, I would have chalked it up to the fact that it wasn’t nailed down and hadn’t yet settled. But I had NO confidence left. So when the very nice manager called on Sunday to see how things went, I asked him what he thought and that is how he ended up at my house last night after his shift, to see how bad it was. He assured me it was just before it was a floating-floor and I was getting used to a new surface. He said that there was a one-year satisfaction guarantee, so if anything changed we could get the installers back out. And he said if that happened, to go through him and he’d oversee the project personally. Isn’t he the best? Really, it’s too bad he’s married. I was thinking of proposing by the end.
And I do like my floors better now that the initial shock has worn off. They looked a lot greyer when it’s dark out, too. I’m sure a new coat of paint on the walls will help, too. (Ahem:Kim:CoughCough)
So! All’s well that ends well, my mom would say. Fenway isn’t quite sure she’s forgiven us yet for putting slippery floors in, but the epic slideysock wars definitely have the girls on my side. They think the floor is gorgeous and fun to boot!