by Lew Migliore
When the economy is down, claims go up. This cycle has been repeated several times in my almost 41 years in the industry. It’s more difficult to get claims resolved and has been for a while.
The first line of defense from manufacturers is to deny a claim. You have to be more diligent and most assuredly have a legitimate claim to file. The dealers’ problem may not necessarily be the mill’s and just because your business may be down too, you can’t pass off your responsibilities. Getting claims handled is going to get worse because manufacturers are tightening up even more in 2011. It’s interesting that the pendulum may have swung too far on this issue to the point it’s affecting customer service and relations, which hurts business.
Commercial claims have also increased as mills’ field technical people, if they have them, are on the road more than ever addressing product and installation issues. Commercial claims require the services of technical people that have experience, knowledge and the ability to get issues resolved. If you don’t utilize firms like this, your chances of resolving a major complaint are slim.
Product quality does not seem to be the issue that it was in the past. Actually, the products are better and offer good value and performance. Nylon and polypropylene use is down in residential and polyester continues growing exponentially. Processed correctly, with plenty of twist in the yarn, polyester will perform extremely well. Almost all the polyester being used today is solution dyed so stains and fading won’t be a big factor creating complaints. Polyester does like oily soil; it always has, but this is an inherent characteristic of the fiber that soil resist treatment has helped with.
As you well know, residential carpet sales are still off the mark but there are dealers we talk to who have not been affected as badly as some. That said, the attrition rate for mom-and-pop stores continues to dwindle and payments to manufacturers are slow.
On the commercial side, substrate moisture issues have dramatically increased over the last three years. These issues are huge in most cases and involve millions of dollars in liability. Coupled with this are concrete curing compounds and topical sealers being used more and more and even being specified by architects who are being sold a bill of goods on these products. The problem with these materials is nothing will stick to them whether it is a leveling agent or adhesive to install any type of floor covering. We’ve only started to see the tip of the iceberg on this issue, which is sure to generate more claims for installation failures. The resolution of these is amazing costly.
Almost every carpet tile manufacturer had curling issues in 2010. This is a product problem but installation was being blamed for it. It, too, has cost the industry untold millions in losses. The root cause has been the race to go green without fully understanding the chemistry and physics of doing so. We’ll continue to face this issue during the learning curve but it’s going to take a while.
Vinyl tile and sheet goods use have increased as has the use of rubber. There is a great deal of new technology being employed with these products. Complaints for indentation of tiles and sheet goods have increased. This may be due to some changes in the compounding of the materials but most can be attributed to feet on furniture exerting a great deal of force in a small location, heavy applications of adhesive and even moisture in the substrate.
All these issues increased in 2010 and show no signs of slowing any time soon. If you need help with any of these problems, call us at LGM. We’ve got the knowledge, expertise and answers.