Glass door installer is stalling on me. Next step?
October 28, 2016 12:08 PM   Subscribe

Back in July we were doing a number of renovations on a house we just bought. A local company did both window and roof work, so we thought we'd kill two birds and hire them. Turns out that was a mistake.

The roof people were awesome, and the roof was completed a few weeks later. We had also asked their window department to measure our master bath shower enclosure for a glass door that had never been installed by the previous owner. It took eight weeks for the order to be fulfilled (by a company called Agalite), and the door finally arrived. The guys came to install it, but they apparently measured wrong.

The entire job was $1000. The project lead told me I could just pay them $700, and I could remit the final $300 when they came back to finish. So I did that. (Rather wishing now that I hadn't.) They left the big piece of wrong-sized glass with us, and said they'd be back but had no ETA.

It's been eight weeks since that conversation, and still no shower door. I emailed their office staff today. They said they had no idea when the door could be ready, but they would contact the glass manufacturer. I asked them what to do with the loose glass door that's been propped up in our bedroom. It's a bit of a safety hazard and I'm annoyed now that we're dealing with this. They said not to dispose of it, so it's still leaning precariously against the wall.

My question -- I ordered a glass shower door back in July. It's almost November, and they still can't tell me when I'll be getting it. When this is over I'll definitely Yelp the heck out of them, but right now I just need that door done. I don't know whether $1000 for a shower door is a lot or a little, but I agreed to the price. Since the delay, though, and a taste of their beyond craptastic customer no-service, I'm wondering if I have any wiggle room on that.

I plan to tell them that I'm not going to pay the balance of $300, on the basis that it took so long for them to do the job. I don't want to come off as unpleasant. I just think they should cut me a break because it was their screw-up, after all.

Would it be better to phrase it as a question: "I feel I should get a discount on the price of this service, since it was delayed by sixteen weeks (or however long it's going to be before we receive the product). Can you please give me $300 off the total price?" That leaves them the option of saying no, of course. I'm asking for $300 because that's the amount I haven't paid them yet. I doubt I have a hope of getting anything beyond that, since we'd be in refund territory and I'm sure I'd be waiting forever.

Also, what if they just never come back with the door? I can have another company do it, but I'll be out $700. Would it be worth going to small claims court? I have no idea how much it would cost to get representation.
posted by cartoonella to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You know - is there a way to escalate this to the owner? Do they have a storefront you could walk into and ask to speak with them? Or an address you could mail a hand written letter to? That would be my first stop.
posted by INFJ at 12:22 PM on October 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Id start with making them come and take away the mis-sized glass. They told you not to dispose of it, which is fine, but then let them deal with it? maybe some day they hope to charge someone to install it if they happen upon a job where it fits, im all for reduce reuse recycle but it shouldn't be you problem or be getting in your way.

I'd also ask them to show you the purchase order for the new, correctly sized, door. They cant tell you when it will be shipped but they should be able to tell you when they ordered it. Depending on how long they sat on this I would make your demands for a refund/price reduction at that time.

currently in the midst of a home remodel myself (we got a temporary toilet installed today so we're no longer couching/hoteling, yay!) so you have my sympathies.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:27 PM on October 28, 2016 [5 favorites]

I was abandoned twice by contractors during a big remodel, a roofer and a structural engineer. When I made it look like I was getting my paper trail together to take them to court, they suddenly got the jobs finished.

Do not use email with them anymore. Use registered mail.
Take notes when they call you on the phone, and write down who you talk to each time.

Send them this dry letter by registered mail, signature confirmed, stating all the facts:

You paid them 700 on a 1000 dollar bill, balance held until completion, on Date.
Their staff measured the door, on Date.
The door that was delivered could not be installed by their staff, as it did not fit, on Date.
You emailed, and were told not to dispose of the wrong door, and that they would check, on Date. Include a copy of the email.

Ask them to contact you within the week to discuss completing the work or refunding the money.

Make no threats. Sign it and send it.
posted by the Real Dan at 4:02 PM on October 28, 2016 [6 favorites]

Do you have a written contract with these people? The contracts my company uses (I work for a renovator) specify a time frame in which the work is to be completed. (It's typically something like 120 days from the contract signing date, varies depending on the size of the job and how busy we are at the time of signing.) If you have something similar and they've gone outside that frame, you can use that as leverage. I mention this because a lot of our clients don't seem to read their contracts (or anyway they don't remember what is in them, one or the other) so if you have one maybe you should take a look at it.

Aside from that, the next thing to do is to contact the owner of the company by phone. Delays happen, but they should be doing a better job of keeping you in the loop. I don't think you're likely to get money off (and if they know they're not going to get paid they have no incentive to finish the work) but there should be something they can do to move this along faster for you. For instance, there are lots of companies that make shower doors; if this one is held up for whatever reason, they should at some point talk to another company who can do it faster. They might lose some money going that route, but that's their own problem.

Finally, if they don't have a satisfactory answer you can ask them to return your $700 deposit so that you can do this through another company. My company has done this before once or twice, when a client has signed a contract with us and then for whatever reason decided to go with someone else after all. They're not required to do this (again, unless there's somehing about it in your contract saying otherwise) but a lot of the time they'll do it just to keep the peace. If you want to go through another company, tell them to return your deposit and that they can come pick up the mis-measured glass by X date or else you'll be disposing of it because it's not your job to store it for them.

Small claims court is your final recourse after that. (Unless your contract specifies that you need to do mediation first.) You shouldn't need to pay for representation, half the point of small claims court is that the issues are minor enough that people can easily represent themselves. You'd just want to bring all your documentation regarding what's been happening and lay it out for the judge, who I bet would be pretty sympathetic. Eight weeks to correct a mis-measured shower door, with no explanation or ETA regarding a replacement, is unacceptable.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:54 AM on October 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

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