Sunday, June 13, 2010

Love Thy Neighbor (14th increment)

Where to begin? Large stores such as Home Depot claim that, sure, you spend a few more dollars with us but you have a dependable, reputable firm to back up all of the work. You have a contractor who will be there when he/she is supposed to be there; you have a huge company standing behind you, ensuring the quality of the work. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But the Home Depots of the world still have to hire contractors and by their very nature, contractors are not the most reliable bunch. Okay, so ours comes over on a Saturday morning after we've done all the demolition. (Did I mention that demolition involved removing all of the old cabinets, sure, but also removing about 4 layers of flooring to expose the hardwood underneath. Good times . . .) He takes one look at the place and asks us if we have a permit. No, HD never told us we needed one. Well, you do, he says. What?! Here I stand with my kitchen completely ripped apart, I've been living without a functioning kitchen for six or seven weeks, and now he's telling me I need a permit? Does he have any idea how long it can take to get a permit, even in a small town?

Okay, he says. Here's what I'll do. Since I don't want any town officials to see my truck in your driveway when we don't have a permit, I'll do your job on the weekend but you'll have to wait until I'm free, a couple more weeks.

And we, of course, play the role he's assigned to us perfectly, and gratefully accept. Somehow he's managed to postpone our kitchen installation by two weeks and we're THANKING him.

So two weeks later he shows up on a Saturday and he's alone. No helper, no teenage boy, not even a German Sheperd, nothing. Just him. He gets to work and he works the entire day. I go get him large Starbucks drinks, I offer help, I do anything to facilitate the process. He comes back the next day and repeats his effort. By Sunday evening, he's finished the job. We give him a healthy tip, very healthy. We thank him heartily and he takes his leave.

The next day I walk into my almost finished kitchen and I notice something. The large cabinet above the appliance garage is installed upside down. Now the door opens the wrong way. So now we have to change the way the door of the garage opens or it will look ridiculous. But I want the cabinet to open the other way. 'cause I think that makes more sense. The problem, of course, is that in order to accomplish that, the door must be taken off, a new door ordered and new holes drilled into my gorgeous new cherry cabinet. I could insist, of course, that HD reorder both cabinets and take these down and install the new ones but . . . there would be wall damage and since that cabinet was the corner one, it might damage the contiguous cabinets. There was simply no acceptable fix. Then I started noticing other things, such as scratches made with box cutters, scratches made with saws, dents, defective cabinets, glue showing on the side of the long cabinet by the entrance, and the list goes on and on.

I can't give you a breakdown of the events that ensued. First, because it's boring. Second, because it's too painful for me to recount. I will say that we went through another three or four contractors and I finally kicked them all out and called it a day. Do I have perfect cabinets? Not a chance. Was the quartz countertop installed to my satisfaction? No, but I wasn't present the day the installer came so it was my fault. I left it to Dean who is non-confrontational to the max. It has an ugly seam in a very conspicuous place and shouldn't have a seam at all for such a small counter, in my opinion. Still, the quartz countertop had to be worth it since, as the company spokesperson promises, it is impervious to damage—unless of course you hit it with a pot or pan, at which time it chips. But how often do you handle pots and pans in a kitchen, after all? Does it have a lifetime guarantee? Yes, it does, but not for any damage it may suffer during normal usage. I'm serious. I asked the company salesman what exactly did the lifetime warranty cover and he didn't seem to know exactly. Not thermal shock, he said. And not chips or cracks caused by normal use. And not stains caused by hot surfaces. And . . . Are they kidding? How can they say that with a straight face, is what I want to know. And then there's that promise of the Microban . . .