Should I be satisfied with the way my movers repaired this table?
September 3, 2011 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Should I be satisfied with the way my moving company repaired this table?

(NB: All relevant photos can be viewed here.)

A couple of weeks ago Mr. enlarged and I enlisted the help of a local, highly-rated moving company for a same-city move. Overall, we were pleased with the movers -- they worked quickly and came in well under budget. But they didn't use any furniture pads (despite having them piled up in the moving truck). For most of our furniture, which was mostly secondhand IKEA stuff that was already scuffed up, this was okay, but they wound up leaving a pretty deep gouge in the top of our solid wood dining room table (also from IKEA, but probably the nicest piece of furniture we owned).

A few days later we called the moving company and explained the problem; they were extremely responsive and came within an hour to pick up the table and take it to their woodworker. They considered just paying us for a replacement, but ultimately decided that the woodworker could easily repair it at a much lower expense.

Today they delivered the table (I was out of the apartment when it arrived), and... I am not pleased. On top of the filled-in gouge, the woodworker appears to have painted an archipelago of large fake "knots" that look nothing like the other knots in the tabletop (and one of which spans multiple planks of wood). It looks extremely obvious to me, like someone drew a bunch of turds on the tabletop with a brown sharpie. I think it looked better with a huge scratch in it than it does now that it has been "repaired." Mr. enlarged thinks it looks fine and didn't even notice the fake knots until I pointed them out.

The table hasn't been sold by IKEA in a long time, but probably cost in the $200-250 range when it was purchased; now the closest thing IKEA sells (we have chairs in a matching stain and so I don't want to buy just any old table) is a similar-looking but slightly nicer (expandable) table for $300. (Our entire bill for the move was around $300, which makes me feel a little ridiculous for rocking the boat about this.)

So, my questions:

-Does this repair just seem obvious to me because I was looking for it? Does it actually look fine to the impartial observer?
-Is this really the best that a skilled woodworker could do, given the damage?
-Should I be pursuing this further with the moving company? They are licensed and insured, but we didn't pay for insurance beyond the default $.30/lb coverage. Regardless, they have been very responsive so far, and have many ridiculously positive reviews on Yelp.
posted by enlarged to show texture to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
No, it's not just you. That's an awful excuse for a repair. I would certainly demand better.

Not knowing what their guy used to do that work, it's hard to say what the repair options are now. It's quite possible that it can't be re-fixed without stripping and refinishing the whole top, the cost of which would exceed the value of the table.
posted by jon1270 at 12:44 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Not just you. I looked at the "after" shots first and saw it immediately. You're right: it looks exactly like turds. It looks like they filled in the scratch by grabbing a handful of poop and smearing it across the top of the table.

My dad is a pretty skilled woodworker (only as a hobby, though he hasn't touched it much in recent years), and he could do a better job blindfolded with a hand tied behind his back.

This is an unacceptable repair job. You should definitely pursue it with the moving company. (Who, in turn, should pursue it with the repairman, but that's not your problem.) I think you're going to want either a replacement table or have it completely refinished. I don't know what the best option is.

Sorry about your table. :(
posted by phunniemee at 12:56 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Totally unacceptible. Tell them that when they deliver your brand new IKEA replacement table tomorrow they can take this one and use it in their own home.
posted by rhizome at 12:58 PM on September 3, 2011

Best answer: I do this for a living, that would get me fired.

That being said, pine is a very soft wood. An alternative fix would be sanding the gouge out. Which may result in what I call "cup holder" dips in the surface of the piece. Or filling the gouge and, usually, sloppy brush strokes over the gouge itself.

Does the finish where repaired still match the overall finish of the rest of the table?

At the shop I work at that is a complete refinish of the entire top, sanding the gouge out and leveling the surface to avoid the cup holder effect.

They are trying to save money. They have insurance no? Express your dissatisfaction.
posted by Max Power at 1:00 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Does the finish where repaired still match the overall finish of the rest of the table?

I believe they actually stripped and refinished the entire tabletop, because a) that's what the moving company rep said over the phone (albeit along with "it looks AMAZING, I think you're going to be very happy with it") and b) the tabletop is considerably glossier than it used to be (which I'm also not thrilled with, since now all the small pen dents and stuff that were already in the tabletop are much more obvious, but that's a much more minor concern).
posted by enlarged to show texture at 1:12 PM on September 3, 2011

The "repair" looks very obvious to me, but I'm not a professional, so take my comment with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, looking at the "after" photo, the dark brown fake wood knot spots stand out to me in a very obvious way - my eye was immediately drawn to them, and they do not blend well with the other spots. If I were in your shoes, I'd definitely call the moving company and tell them that you're dissatisfied with the repair, and why. I'm confused about why they would need to paint on the fake wood knots if they stripped and refinished the tabletop; surely if they did the latter, the dent would be out of the table...?
posted by UniversityNomad at 1:15 PM on September 3, 2011

I have no practical advice, but I laughed out loud when I saw the repaired table. I would bring it up, though politely, as they seem so responsive and have good reviews.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:25 PM on September 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

absurdly bad repair. older table with low cash value. Call movers, say Look, guys, I really hate the repair. I'll settles for $100, cash, because it was an affordable move, you guys were easy to deal with, and you made an effort. Thanks.
posted by theora55 at 1:26 PM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I looked at the "after" photo first. I thought you'd spilled something on the table.
posted by smorange at 1:27 PM on September 3, 2011

Best answer: "it looks AMAZING, I think you're going to be very happy with it" A salesman at his best!

That gouge was fresh, over time it would have oxidized and darken, making it much more difficult to sand out. Fresh digs like that, even if they can't be completely sanded out, would be almost invisible after a full refinish.

They filled (poorly) the gouges, resulting in the ovular patterns you see. Then they painted ... err touched up ... the wood filler, then they sprayed the entire top.

Again, if my shop did this we would not be in business, the movers DO have insurance no?

The cost of your table is secondary to their responsibility.
posted by Max Power at 1:33 PM on September 3, 2011

It was their choice to not use proper protection; their negligence resulted in damage to your property and your table should have been properly repaired or replaced. Simple. It's admirable that they've been trying to work with you, but no matter what the bill for you move was, you should not feel guilty for politely demanding that they fix or replace what they damaged. This is what their insurance is for ... use it.

I would not take anything less than an equivalent replacement table because this accident was completely preventable had they used proper padding/wrapping and your table looked in great shape before they damaged it. Buy a new table, send them the bill, and if they don't pay: small claims court.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 1:39 PM on September 3, 2011

Best answer: No, the repair is indeed bad. The fact that one of the knots crosses two very different strips of wood is just the beginning of how looks absurd and unprofessional. Since it's solid, this could have been easily repaired by sanding down that section (or all) of the table, a light coat of stain, and a few fresh coats of polyurethane (I just refinished a table, took me a weekend).

I don't think you need a replacement table because it's solid wood and solid wood is forgiving -- you could very easily refinish it yourself. Lots of resources online (and at the hardware store) on just how to do this and would cost you about $40.
posted by mochapickle at 3:21 PM on September 3, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, all, for these extremely helpful answers. You've confirmed my suspicion that this repair was very shoddily done. (And that "turd-like" is an apt way to describe the results -- thanks, phunniemee.) I will be contacting the moving company and seeing how they would like to proceed, whether it's paying me the pre-damage value of the table, buying me a new table, or taking the table for more repairs (at a different shop, of course). I'll post an update when this has been resolved -- and, worst come to worst, an AskMe on how to refinish a tabletop!
posted by enlarged to show texture at 3:53 PM on September 3, 2011

I worked for a moving company for a few years. If they didn't pad a table and chairs they're morons. Those will always get scratched, even on a local. Never accept a repair from the company. They have insurance, make them buy you a new one.
posted by no bueno at 12:07 PM on September 4, 2011

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