1.) The sales representative would not disclose his figures or method of calculation of his estimate.
2.) The sales representative refused to provide us with an itemized list of material and labor costs.
3.) My wife and I were deliberately deceived regarding the nature and extent of coverage offered by the 30-year warranty, at the time of sale, in order to make the sale.
4.) Prior to signing, I was strongly discouraged from reading the legal documentation, by the sales representative at the time of sale.
5.) I was pressured into "˜hurrying up' and signing the paperwork by the sales representative; who had a prior commitment that he was late for (to go fishing)
6.) I was told by the sales representative that Empire Today did not subcontract out installation. However, two very young men wearing concert T-shirts arrived at our house to install our floor. There was no indication on their pick-up truck or on their clothing, that they represented "˜Empire Today'. In retrospect, I don't know who those people were and it is a little unsettling that they were in my house.
7.) Empire Today accepts no responsibility for the actions of its employees and refuses to even acknowledge, much less attempt to reasonably and amicably resolve this situation.
On December 22, 2009, an Empire Today sales representative came to our house to give us a free estimate on laminate flooring to replace the rugs that were damaged by a toilet overflow. Prior to his arrival, we did some comparative pricing from several local venders offering the same products and services, to establish a price range for the job, since our budget was very tight. After measuring the areas we were planning to replace, he produced an estimate that was nearly twice the amount quoted by their competitors. When I asked for a breakdown of labor and materials, the sales representative refused to divulge his figures or methods of calculation; just the total. This left me feeling very uncomfortable.
When my wife and I asked why there was such a dramatic difference in price between Empire Today and it's competitors, the sales representative told us that Empire Today's product came with an amazing 30-year warranty. He went on to claim that it covered complete replacement (materials and labor) for any damage, so long as it was not caused by a "˜natural flood'. Having two toddlers (1 and 3 years old), the thought of that kind of protection started to make that price seem more attractive. He inquired as to why our rugs had been removed. When I explained that we had a toilet overflow, he immediately pointed out that had we already installed Empire Today's product, "Empire Today would have replaced everything, free of charge." The thought of having a product installed in our house that would be replaced completely, if it ever happened again, was too attractive for us to pass up on. Having two children and wanting that level of security, the 30-year warranty, under those parameters, seemed to be a worthwhile investment. Clearly, we would not have purchased our flooring from Empire Today, paying double the price, without the warranty described by the sales representative.
Before I signed the paperwork to authorize the job to begin, I was attempting to read the legal language of the documents when the sales representative strongly dissuaded me from trying to understand the language of the document, indicating to me that "You don't really need to look at that" and that it (the document) "was a standard loan-shark contract". 'That uncomfortable feeling was returning. Additionally, just prior to the final signing, I waivered as I took a long look at the very expensive investment I thought I was about to make. At this point, the sales representative began pressuring me to hurry and sign, since he was planning to meet with a friend to go fishing after he had completed his work with us. My discomfort with the deal was increasing.
Despite this, my wife and I agreed that it was an expensive but necessary investment, based solely on the warranty, so we signed the paperwork. The sales representative was in such a hurry to leave our house; he left his coat on a chair in our living room. I had to run out to his car to give it to him before he sped away. I believe it is important to point out that we were not given a written copy of the warranty at the time of sale or installation. As a result, we had no reason to believe the salesperson had lied to us.
In April of 2010, our washing machine overflowed, pouring water all over part of our new laminate flooring and destroying a rug in one bedroom. Fearing the possibility of mold damage under the floor and the health risks associated with it, we called Empire Today immediately to have them replace the flooring in that area. At that time, a phone representative from Empire Today informed us that appliance failure was not covered in the warranty. When I indicated that our sales representative told us otherwise, the phone representative merely replied that they "˜weren't there' (at the time of sale) and therefore could not be held responsible for what the salesman had said. I told them that this response was unacceptable and asked for a supervisor. Each representative I spoke to that day said the same thing: "˜I wasn't there'.
Finally, I spoke to Tim Sherwin, a senior regional manager at the company, who maintained the same "˜I wasn't there' mantra. However, when I asked him point blank "˜Do you not feel any responsibility for what your trained sales staff is telling your customers in an effort to make a sale?' and "˜Do you support that kind of approach and behavior?' He fell back on the standard response "I wasn't there". I thought that is was interesting that he never disputed the fact that I may or may not have been lied to. He merely pointed out that if it wasn't in writing, Empire Today could not be held accountable for the actions of an unscrupulous sales representative and his blatant deception of a customer.
We have made repeated attempts to resolve this situation amicably. I have called Empire Today and written several letters, one sent directly to the CEO of the company. In each one, we have offered fair and reasonable solutions. Either charge us the average price quoted by your competitors for the same job (since there is no all-encompassing warranty to distinguish Empire Today as a superior product) or take back your product for a full refund, since it is not as it was represented at the time of sale. These attempts have all been completely disregarded. I have also attempted to dispute this charge though the company that holds the loan we signed with for the flooring. We even set a lengthy letter, detailing our ordeal to the Better Business Bureau in an effort to receive some measure of justice. All of our efforts, thus far, have been in vain.
In summation, I would not only never recommend the use of any of Empire Today's products or services to anyone, I would also encourage anyone and everyone to actively spread the word regarding their deceptive and unethical practices as well as their utter disregard for the consumer. It is difficult to imagine that the CEO of Empire Today who has been quoted in a press release (dated June 26th 2008) claiming that "˜Our employees are truly passionate about building customers for life' and that "˜We strive to provide world-class customer service throughout the organization, and this award [a business ethics in the marketplace award, bestowed upon Empire Today by the Better Business Bureau] just reinforces our commitment to achieving excellence in customer satisfaction. Our company is truly honored to receive this award because stellar customer services is our top priority'. Based on our experience thus far, it would seem that these words no longer hold any value to Empire Today, its representatives or its employees.
Product or Service Mentioned: Empire Today Flooring.
Monetary Loss: $3.