I always new it would happen sooner or later. We’ve had challenging situations in the past and knew that in this era of social media it would only be a matter of time. But it didn’t make it any easier to take. We had a very difficult client who ended up leaving a very bad review. I would just like to say that this client received the same desire to please, the same dedication, and the same pursuit for excellence we have provided for all our other clients in the past two decades. The same clients who have either left great reviews, gave us gift cards or even hand written letters of a job well done.
This particular job started several years ago. We were very busy at the time and weren’t able to start the job as quickly as the client wanted, so they hired another party to install the “flooring” (it was actually graded for exterior application as a siding product). We were still hired to do the sanding and finishing work.
Mistake number one, this is where the problems started. The contractor that installed the floor was not a qualified hardwood installer and broke several major rules during the installation process. This left the floor unacceptable in our minds, but our client insured us that it was fine and actually enhanced the “beach” look they were going for. After explaining the differences we would now have to make to our sanding and finishing techniques, it was agreed that those limitations and a less consistent final result were acceptable to the client and we would not be held accountable if we could not perform to our usual standard. Mistake number two, we didn’t get this in writing.
A few months passed and we received a call from our client. They weren’t happy with the finishing work on some areas of the floor and there was now an area of bubbling happening right in the middle of their living room. I went out to take a look at the job and was quite happy with the results, considering what we had overcome to get it done as well as we had. The big issue was actually the bubbling spot (which I’m positive was created by a wet furniture blanket or something another trade had used to protect the floor from their tools and equipment). Our client was actually alright with the other inadequacies, if we could fix the bubbling problem.
Mistake number three, we agreed to attempt a repair of the bubbling area. This didn’t blend in as well as I had hoped. It did fix the bubbling spot, but replaced it with a colour match problem. This spot that wasn’t created by anything we had done, now had become our problem.
This was a large job with multiple levels and stairs. Our offer to redo the entire room, stopping at the doorways to other areas was not accepted. Our client felt that we should redo the entire home, upstairs and down, including the stairs. That was going to cost a fortune… There is much more to this story, including a court battle, multiple other trades and a poor flooring inspector. I won’t get into that here.
At the end of the day, after all the dust has settled, I feel that maybe I should have bowed to the will of the client and performed tens of thousands of dollars worth of work to avoid the ensuing battle and this one bad review.
We have paid for our mistakes financially with the expense of legal representation and the wasted cost and time of trying to satisfy a client that we should have stopped the second we were presented with an inadequate floor to work on. We have also paid with our reputation and the image of our company being dragged through the mud by a dissatisfied customer. I can honestly say I have learned a lot through this whole process. As a professional, it is foremost my responsibility to educate my clients and at times protect them from themselves. This situation will never happen to me again.