by Lew Migliore
Does it seem as if the claims you file are taking longer to process or are being denied? It’s not your imagination. During difficult economic times, especially when business if off 15% to 20%, manufacturers are loathe to honor claims. You’ll have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the complaint is legitimate and the flooring material is actually defective.
In the case of carpet, with business as bad as it is, you would think there would be more attention paid to shipping product without flaws or defects but this isn’t always the case. If the product is made and has a minor flaw, it may be better for the manufacturer to take a chance and ship it or grant an adjustment on the material. If a blemish isn’t noticed then the product brings top price. If it is and the claim can be settled, the manufacturer still comes out ahead because the product is out the door, on the floor and it was paid. Don’t think this happens? Think again.
At the retail level, if you do something wrong or a problem arises with the flooring after it’s installed, the first reaction is to file a claim for defective goods. But, more of the problems we’re seeing are not related to manufacturing. You may not understand the product you sold and the performance failure could be just that; the wrong product in the wrong place, which is the biggest problem in the industry.
The second largest problem is installation related. Not doing what should have been done such as sealing the edges and seams of carpet, not acclimating material—especially wood—not following installation guidelines, moisture and temperature issues in the substrate—beneath it and in the air—are all your responsibility. It’s up to you to make sure the products you sell deliver as expected and are installed the way they should in environments that won’t compromise the material or installation. These issues are not the manufacturer’s.
We’re hearing dealers lament about how they are supposed to know all this stuff. You’re the supposed experts and as such, it is your responsibility to know installation methods and site conditions. Just like computers and cell phone technology keep you on your toes, so too will floor covering. There is so much new material coming down the pike. New backing systems, installation systems, tools and aids, adhesives, face yarns, and green- related issues, you’ll have to know.
This is not your father’s or grandfather’s business anymore. The amount of technology in the industry that exists and is developing is amazing.
We already have the means to make carpet completely recyclable without the use of latex or primary and secondary backing as you know them. This will eliminate most structural integrity claims such as tuft bind issues, delamination, edge ravel, filament slippage and dimensional stability. This product will also install without traditional means of installation. It will be cheaper to ship because it will weigh less, be easier to handle and carry but require the use of firm dense cushion to support and bond without adhesive.
The future is truly exciting. Almost all of the new technology will help eliminate claims but you’re still going to have to know what you’re doing.