Having read through all of the complaints on various sites against Empire Today a.ka. Empire Carpets, I realize that my story is not unique. It seems that Empire has a long history of fraudulent sales practices, and selling inferior products. My story is long, but please read through all of it if you are even considering ordering anything from this scam outfit. Please read my report and any others on here before you think about giving this rip-off company a dime of your money.
Back in September of 2007, I was planning a party at my home scheduled for Saturday, October 20, 2007. I had recently remodeled my kitchen, which made my carpets in the remainder of the first floor look rather worn out. These carpets had been installed for about 10-12 years, and while not in dire need of replacement, certainly were in need of updating to match the rest of the recent renovations.
Having purchased carpet and had it installed by Home Depot at one of my rental properties (a VERY high traffic installation), I was familiar with their service, and quality of their carpets. They had done an excellent job at a very reasonable price. I decided to bring my business back to them for my needs at my home. I visited the local Home Depot in Manchester NH, and they came to my house on September 30th for an estimate. After selecting the same carpets and pad I had installed in my rental property, they gave me the price....$1,400. I told them I was very happy with that, and asked it to be scheduled ASAP. It was explained to me that they were very busy at the time, and could do the job around the 3rd week of October.
Since this was very close to the date of my party, I decided I did not want to risk not having the carpets completed by that date. I told them that I would have to find someone who could do it sooner. Later that evening, I saw the Empire Carpets commercial on one of the local channels. The idea of "quality products and next day installation" sounded great. I gave them a call and set up an appointment for a salesperson to come to my house.
On October 2nd, 2007 Janice Arel with Empire Carpets in Manchester NH arrived at my home. She came into my home and introduced herself. She met my 6 year old daughter, 8 year old daughter, 3 year old Chocolate lab, 5 year old Black lab, and my wife. I showed her the areas I wanted to have carpeted. After a few more minutes of exchanging pleasantries, we sat down at the kitchen table to discuss my carpeting needs.
I started by explaining to Janice that I needed carpeting that would hold up to a very high traffic condition. I further stated that having 2 children, 2 dogs, and 2 adults walking on the carpet daily, I needed a good quality carpet that would hold up to this type of use. She told me "we'll fix you right up". She went back out to her car and returned shortly with her sample book. We started reviewing my choices.
Having previously had carpeting installed by Home Depot in one of my rental properties, I was somewhat familiar with what I was looking for. The carpeting installed by HD has been in my rental property (a very high traffic application with 4 children and 2 adults) for 4 years, and still looks new. I wanted to have the same type of carpet installed at my home.
After a few minutes, I found a nearly identical carpet and pad to the one I had selected from the Home Depot salesperson a few days earlier. It was very similar to what I had installed in my rental property. Immediately after I selected this carpet/pad combination, Ms. Arel told me "Oh no, you don't want that combination, it will never stand up to the traffic". I again told her that I had installed the same thing in my rental property 4 years ago and it still looked great. She again assured me that this particular combination (estimated by her at $1,450 installed) would not work out.
She stated that I definitely did not want a thick pad or carpet because it would show wear sooner. She directed me towards a carpet/pad combination that quite honestly looked much cheaper than my first choice. I AGAIN reiterated that I did not want to be changing the carpet in a few years. She assured me that this carpet pad combination would do the trick. I said "OK, you are the expert". I did not know how soon I would live to regret those words.
I asked her about the pricing. She told me it would be $2,150 installed. She told me it was the best she could do. Since it was $700 more than the carpet I wanted, I immediately told her to forget it. Strangely enough, her "best deal" suddenly got better, and she dropped the price to $1,950. When I again asked if she could do better, she told me if I signed up for THEIR credit card, she could drop it lower. I did so, and the "best she could do" suddenly dropped to $1,840.
Since I was desperate to have the job completed in time for my party, I agreed. Before signing the paperwork I again asked her if she was sure the carpet she recommended would stand up to my needs. She assured me that this would definitely do it, and if I went with my first choice I would likely be changing the carpets in a year or two. How prophetic of her, because I am now faced with changing them after taking the advice of Empire Carpet's "expert". It is clear that Empire's salespeople are trained to milk the customer for the most money, and not to take their best interests into account when recommending carpet.
I signed the paperwork, and prepared to have my carpeting installed.
NEXT DAY CARPETS? NOT. This is another integral part of the scam. You see their advertisements every day promoting next day installation. They do not provide it! The only reason I went with Empire in the first place was because they could have the job done before my party. They assured me that it would be done in time. Were they done in time? Yes, by 1 day. The salesperson was at my house on October 2nd, and the carpets were finally installed on October 19th, one day before my party!! There was a litany of excuses why it took over 2 weeks to have them installed, but once again, Empire's fraudulent sales tactics shined through. If I wanted to wait until 1 day before, I would have had Home Depot do the job for a lower price with better quality.
So, on October 19th, 2007 two young gentlemen arrived at my home to begin installation of the carpet. Both of these young men were very polite, professional, and efficient. They did a very quick job of installing the carpet, and removing the old carpets. When they were done they asked if I had any questions. I said no, tipped them $20 each and said goodbye. These subcontractors (NOT Empire employees) were the only part of my Customer Service experience with Empire that was remotely professional.
After only about 1 week, the transition strips between the new carpet and my living room, bedrooms and bathrooms were bending and pulling up. The nails that held the strips in place were popping out daily. One morning one of my dogs was lying on the floor choking on one of these nails that were supposed to secure these strips. The strips were made of a cheap, inferior gage metal and the nails used were too short to hold them in place. This was just the beginning of my nightmare with the quality of their products and services.
I spent the next week or so walking around with a hammer pounding these nails back in place. After 2 weeks of doing this, I went back to my local Home Depot, and bought heavier gage strips and the proper length nails. I replaced all of the strips, and just wrote this off as a "fluke" and since it did not cost much to repair, I did not call to complain. I simply decided to move on and not worry about it.
My problems continued for about 6 months, as the carpet was shedding like one of my labs in the hot humid New Hampshire summer. I called the 800 number to complain about this, and was told that this was "perfectly normal" and would subside after time. Well sure enough, it did subside after about 6 months. Unfortunately not only the fuzz of the carpet fibers had gone away, so had the original shine, luster, and 2 tone color of the rug. I again called to complain, and was again told by an "associate" who refused to identify herself that this was "normal".
We continued to maintain the carpet at normal intervals, vacuuming 3 times a week. While the carpet was certainly not dirty, it did NOT look like a carpet that was only 7 months old. I thought that perhaps it just needed to be professionally cleaned, and contracted a commercial cleaning company to clean the rug. $125 later, the carpet still looked like it had been in my house for 5 years. Around this same time, I noticed yet another problem with the carpet. Anywhere where there was traffic, the carpet was compacted down so that there is literally no cushion between the rug and the plywood below. By contrast, anywhere that was not walked on still looked new. This carpet that I was told I had to have by their "trained salesperson" was falling apart below my feet.
Since I travel on business 30 weeks a year, I simply learned to live with it. It was not until my wife urged me every day for a month that I decided to call and try to file a formal complaint with Empire Carpets. The carpets were badly worn anywhere that there was traffic, and the pad was completely compressed. I began calling in November of 2008. After placing 3 phone calls and being promised I would receive a call, I was finally contacted in December by yet another "anonymous" associate who took my complaint, and explained that they needed to send someone out to see if it was installation related.
On December 29th, 2009 Empire finally sent a representative to check the installation. He was very polite, and friendly. He looked around for a few minutes, and then told me "it's not an install problem"(big surprise, huh?). I asked him how long he had been in the carpet business, and he said 25 years. I told him that I realized he could not comment on the cause. I asked him directly "off the record, should this carpet look like this after only 14 months?" He replied "no" and walked out of my house.
On January 2nd, 2009 I received a voice mail from someone named Eleanor (603-669-2320) who stated that the results of the first inspection proved the issue was not installation related. She further stated that I now needed to allow an independent inspector (who in reality works in conjunction with carpet manufacturer) to come to my house to see if the issue is related to a defect in the carpet. I called Eleanor back 3 times that week, but did not hear back from her. Apparently Eleanor is the rep in the Manchester NH area.
On January 5th, I received a call from a Ron Assante with Inspect Solutions. He informed me that a gentleman by the name of Dana Masters would be contacting me to arrange an appointment to check the carpeting for defects. On January 12, I received a call from Mr. Masters who told me he would be at my house on January 14. I explained that I was in Dallas on business, but that my wife would be home and for him to go to the house. He did in fact show up on January 14.
Mr. Masters spent a total of about 10 minutes in the house. While the sub-standard carpeting showed signs of extreme wear throughout the living room, hallways and stairways, Mr. Masters took pictures only of an area in front of where my couch had once been. When asked why he did not inspect the hallways or stairways, Mr. Masters replied that he didn't need to. It is actually comical that in Mr. Master's "independent" report he only stated there was worn carpeting in the living room. Since he didn't even look at the hallway or stairways, he could not report on that. Sure enough, when the report came out, he ONLY discussed the living room. He only spoke of 1 area in front of the old couch location, and made no mention of the rest of the badly deteriorated carpet in the remainder of the house.
On January 21st, I received another "anonymous" call from an Empire rep. She explained to me that the damage was (drum roll please………) Consumer Related!!! How convenient that the "independent" inspector whose job it is to make sure the carpet manufacturer does not have to pay claims on their shoddy carpet came back with a report stating the issue was consumer related. I immediately told the woman I wanted to speak to a Supervisor. I was told none was available, and that I "needed to learn how to take care of my carpets" and I would not have this problem. I again asked for the name of a Supervisor, and was told that they do not give that information out.
On January 27, I got another voice mail from the elusive Eleanor stating that she heard that I was upset with the report, and wanted to review the report with me. I called her 4 times (603-669-2320) over the next 2 days, and got voice mail every time. I left her 4 voice mails telling her I wanted the name and number of the highest person in the Empire organization. I never heard back from Eleanor.
On February 2nd, 2009 I received a call from a "Darlene" from Empire calling from a Massachusetts phone number (781-297-5226). Darlene (who also would not give me her last name) started the conversation by stating that she wanted to go over the results of the report. I told her I was fully aware of the results, and that the results were BS. I told her the same long story I've laid out here, clearly explaining that it was an Empire employee who told me I HAD to get this particular carpet and pad combination if I wanted it to hold up. She told me that there was nothing she could do (unless I wanted to pay to upgrade the carpet) about the situation. I told her that their sales practices are fraudulent, and that I was convinced to buy a much more expensive carpet based on false promises in an effort to increase the amount of my sale.
I asked her if she thought they owed me something for outright lying, and supplying sub-standard materials. She said "Tom, if we gave out money every time we had a problem, we would have been out of business a long time ago". I replied back to her "if you didn't use fraudulent sales practices and provided good quality products you wouldn't need to worry about giving out money, would you?" She did not speak for about 10 seconds. I went on to tell her that I am not someone who is looking for something that I do not deserve. I told her all I wanted was to get what I paid for in the beginning, nothing more, nothing less. She thought about that for a minute and then said "Tom, you sound sincere and I think we should do something about this. I am going to have Helen Brown call you." When I asked for Helen Brown's email address and phone #, I was again told that they do not give that information out and that I needed to wait for Ms. Brown to call me.
On February 5, I received a call from Ms. Brown. (1-888-588-2315 X 7782) If her name sounds familiar, it should. Her name is all over the consumer chat boards, generally because she is the one who they send the angry consumers who have been ripped off. Sadly, if you read the other stories she never does anything to resolve the situation.
I once again told my long sad story to Ms. Brown. Ms. Brown listened very politely while I talked for about 20 minutes. At the end I again told her that I felt that there Sales tactics were fraudulent, and intended to rip off customers. I further stated that I was not as upset that the carpet DID wear, I was upset because the Empire sales rep purposely defrauded me out of additional money to sell me inferior carpet that could never stand up to my needs.
After listening to me, she again reminded me that the report stated it was consumer related. I asked her if she had listened to anything I had said in the previous 20 minutes. She stated that they would replace the carpet, if I paid to have it installed. I asked her "let me get this straight, you want me to pay to re-install the same junk carpet so that I can be in the same situation in 6 months???" She immediately replied "well, if you want to upgrade to a carpet that will suit your needs you could pay the difference and pay to install it." I immediately replied back "now you want me to spend another $1,000 just to get the carpet that your salesperson assured me I was getting in the first place?"
I told her this is unacceptable, and that I wanted the name of the president, VP, or whoever is the highest up in the company. Once again, I was told that this information could not be given out, and that I would have to speak to the "Regional Manager" a Charles Edwards of Philadelphia. I asked her for his name and phone number and (you guessed it…..) she could not give out that information. I told her to have him call me. Today is January 9, and I have still not heard from Mr. Edwards.
My question to anyone who is thinking of giving this scam outfit one dime is this: If they were truly an honest and forthright company, why would they go to such lengths to hide any means of contacting people there? I have scoured the internet for email addresses, phone numbers, or physical address and come up with nothing. It is obvious that they do this for a reason……….if they didn't their email and phones would be blowing up with inquiries from ripped-off customers like me.
In summary, please do not even think of using this company for anything. You WILL end up just like every other person who has posted a similar story to mine. Nothing will ever be done; they will take your cash, and leave you wondering how you could have fallen for such an outright scam. They train their people to lie in an effort to increase sales, and use low quality materials to do the job. They do not care about repeat sales, all they want is one shot at you……….it's all they need.
Please, spread the word about these thieves. Don't let this happen to you, your loved ones or friends.
TomNew Boston, NH