Avoid Empire-Today at all costs!
I come from a unique perspective in that I worked as an Independent Sales Contractor for Empire for a year and a half. Unfortunately, I cannot speak to Empires business model or practices due to a confidentiality agreement, but I can speak as a customer who used Empire 4 times, once prior to my employment. So trust me when I say avoid at all costs unless you want the risk of them having to come back a repair things, damage to your property, no shows, out of stock, charging you in full before the job starts and endless emails, phone calls and hassles!
My first install was approximately 6 years ago. I ordered laminate for 2 rooms, a hallway and stairs, got a phone call the next day saying they don't do laminate on stairs, but that they would do hardwood at no additional cost, I was assured it would match the laminate. It was not suggested that I do the entire job in hardwood, which I could have afforded. It never looked right and friends always asked, why do laminate and wood together? After the install we noticed every nail on the stairs was popping out. They never set the nails. A safety hazard. We called and it was repaired. So when I got a call, as they had seen my resume on line, to come work for them 4 years later I accepted. After all, they had fixed the stairs. I did enjoy the freedom the job gave me and working with customers, that's about all.
My next install was a little over a year ago for carpet in 4 bedrooms. Once completed I noticed a 1 inch gap from the wall in an area, a seam that was buckling and visable on one half and the other was perfect, and exposed tack strips that punctured my foot! They came back did the repairs except to the seam. I was told it's the type of carpet, but why then was one half of it perfect? I just accepted it.
The third install we were fixing the house up to sell and we did tile and carpet on the stairs and hall where they had done wood and laminate years before. They started with the tile in the kitchen. I had just had all my cabinets professionally painted. They took no precautions and covered nothing. My painter who was doing another job for me noticed they had scratched almost all of my kitchen cabinets and he was furious as was I. The contract does say baseboards can be nicked, but not cabinet doors some which were as high as a foot from the floor, I called installations to complain, they assured me the bathroom cabinets which were next would be covered. The next day they started on my bathroom and again did not cover the cabinets. I had to stop them and have them cover the cabinets. Later I came upstairs and they had gotten thin set all over the carpet I had put in 6months earlier. While I called to complain they scrubbed the dirt in with a cloth and water. Really? Now it was all ground in! I was offered to pay for the cabinets a carpet, but I did not want to make waves with the company I worked for, my husband wanted to be reimbursed, but I didn't pursue it. Once the tile was done, we noticed numerous areas were the tile was crooked and sticking up. I asked for a different crew to come make the repairs and they sent the same ones! Next the carpet? They charged me in full when the installer arrived, we get alerts on every charge, I didn't make a fuss as it was a one day job. The carpet installer said the wood stairs had to come out, I didn't want them out in case the new owners wanted them. He kept insisting. I called the install manager and he told the installer that yes we can carpet over stairs. Did they just get this installer off the street? Surprisingly, no other issues with the carpet.
We purchased a new home and needed flooring. My husband begged me to use someone else and quit Empire. I told him I'd talk to the install manager and make sure we got one of the best crews. I was assured everything would go smoothly this time....Ha! A drunk driver crashed through the living room the day of closing. I had placed the order for tile and hardwood prior to closing , but had to remove from the order the hardwood from the front room. When the room was repaired I added the wood back to the order and made one other change. For these changes I was referred to by my General Manager in an email he copied to several people in the organization as a "sales rep with half a brain". Really, for making changes to an order because a drunk driver ran into my house? This was totally out of my control yet he slandered me within the company! Anyway, the hardwood was first to go in, again I was charged in full $10,517 before the job even started and it was 2weeks later that it was completed. Against the law and breach of contract! Before they started the lead installer said Empire ran out of stock and he only had enough to do 2 bedrooms and hallway. They finished early and had done the mbr and hall and 2/3 of my daughters room. The installer said he could have finished my daughters room but that he stormed out of the warehouse in anger leaving 3 cartons behind. He said he was so pissed because Empire was "consistently running out of stock" and that "other companies he does work for are never out of stock "! His words not mine. No one could tell me when the wood would be in, so I asked the install manager to go ahead and start the tile and he said they would start Monday, this was Saturday. Monday came no one showed. I called to ask why and the assistant install mgr said "they didn't have any installers who could get through the border checkpoint in Temecula". So, they're hiring illegals? That was news to me. I decided to have a painter start since we couldn't get anyone to do tile and the wood was out of stock. I told the install manager the painter would be done in 4 days which was Friday. They got the wood in and wanted to start Wednesday and I said no Friday the painter will be finishing up. The installer came Friday morning while I went out for coffee, 15minutes. The painter said the installer took pictures of the area he was working and said "I can't work like this." And stormed out again in a rage! I called install and the general manager and got a tongue lashing as they had seen the installers pictures. I then took pictures of my daughters room and office which were nowhere near where the painter was working and the installer could have worked without even bumping into the painter. I forwarded them to install and the GM and all I got was an "oh". I also want to ad that I was accused by the GM of writing a bad yelp review which I did not. He called me a liar and said it was in front of him and he was reading it. Come to find out my husband called to complain and threatened to yelp, but never did. When I confronted the GM he said he never said he actually read the post on yelp. Now who's lying? No apologies for yelling at me or talking down to me....typical! I have since written reviews about Empire on yelp, consumer websites, etc...I asked for a different installer because of the installers anger issues. I was assured by the GM they would not be sending the same installer. The next day again they couldn't send anyone else until the following week as they couldn't get past the border checkpoint. I had to use the same installer. My daughter couldn't sleep in her room for 2 weeks as it was and it couldn't wait another week! That morning the same installer ran the security gate to out community and refused to pull over until he got to my house. He exited his truck in a rage (what's new) waving his arms and swearing at the security guard. I stepped in calmed him down and talked to the officer. The installer was lucky he did not get cited or had I not intervened arrested! The job was finished and for once done right the first time, I should say so far as I can tell. I cancelled the tile order, resigned and turned in my samples. I did get my kitchen tiled by another company and they took great care with my kitchen cabinets, I didn't even have to ask, not one nick or scratch, go figure! Bottom line read the reviews on Empire and how the majority are bad. You might get a reply saying only disgruntled people do reviews on sites like yelp. Not true, don't by the spin! Do not risk going with Empire!
Product or Service Mentioned: Empire Today Laminate Flooring.
Reason of review: Problems with payments, quality of work, damage to my propert, no shows, crazy installe, lies told by local managers, use of illegal workmen.
Monetary Loss: $14900.
I didn't like: Job quality.