You can just see where the BBQ (covered) is in this photo (on the right). That’s the fence section that’s warped.

Our PVC fence has warped from the heat of our BBQ. I take solace in the fact that our BBQ has such a incredible BTU output – but the warped fence is a pain in the ass.

Structurally it’s not a problem. It’s just a bit unsightly.

The fence has a lifetime warranty, so I thought having it fixed would be a simple matter of calling in the installer to replace a few boards. It’s not the post that’s warped, just the boards – all it would take is about 2 minutes to remove the top rail, cut about 8 boards to length, replace them, and put the top rail back on. Easy peasy.

But if you can find me a company today that won’t try to get out of warranty obligations, I’ll be eternally grateful for restoring my faith in humanity.

The first question out of the estimator’s mouth was “was there a BBQ there?” And I’m not a very good liar, so I don’t bother. Yes, there was a BBQ there. “Well, that’s not likely covered under warranty.”

“How was I supposed to know that you couldn’t keep a BBQ next to it?” I asked.

“It’s plastic.” He said, as though this was self-evident and the most natural thing in the world. Now, I’m not stupid. I know plastic can melt in the heat, but still.

“Yes, it’s plastic,” I argued, “but this is also a deck. It was never an option that there wouldn’t be a BBQ and no one ever indicated that we needed to keep a minimum distance between BBQ and Fence.” There was always at least a foot of space between the fence and the ‘cue anyway. How much space SHOULD there be?

He wavered a bit in his conviction to deny me the claim and said there was a 50/50 chance it might be covered. Clearly he knew I was upset. He said he would call me back by the end of the day to let me know at the very least how much it would cost to have it fixed.

I didn’t hear back from him.

I finally called the office yesterday (nice follow-up, people!) and wound up speaking to the owner. He told me the BBQ damage wouldn’t be covered. I complained again that no one ever explained the BBQ would damage it, and again got the same glib response: “It’s plastic.”

It doesn’t seem the best approach to try to make your customer feel like an idiot, does it?I

I expressed my disappointment. I’m sure my voice was rising in anger, but I made every effort to keep my cool. I told him I understood his position, but I explained that the fence is on a deck where a BBQ is a standard piece of equipment and that we should have been warned to maintain a certain minimum distance. I had basically given up hope that they would do anything, so I said that I wouldn’t be bringing any future business back to them.

At which point he caved… And I think it was something he decided in the moment. He said the best he could do would be to provide me some boards so I could do the repair myself. And he said he would provide them for free.

And I’m okay with this solution. I think it’s fair (and quite frankly, I can probably do it myself faster than scheduling a crew to come and do it). To his credit, the owner was able to come up with a compromise that we both could live with – and that itself goes a long way towards making amends.

I’m not one to complain in general, but when it gets you results it’s clear to see why people do make a fuss. I’ve long assumed that people will make every effort to help – but that’s just not the case. People act mostly out of self-interest, and I need to stand up for myself more often, rather than let people take advantage of me. Lesson learned.

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3 responses »

  1. Meei says:

    I LIKE your deck!! Gosh wish I can be right now. or have one .

  2. Meei says:

    With advance planning the young family can become the family of four…. make sure you don’t make 4 fully grown human share a bed!

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