Mills need to honor claims

Home Columns Mills need to honor claims

Volume 26/Number 16; Dec. 17/24, 2012

I have been in the industry for many years. My family and I were major regional retailers out of Cleveland—Pearl Carpet and The Pearl Rug Co.—from 1936 to 2007. I mention this only because I want you to be aware I am not a beginner in this business. For the last 15 years I have been an independent flooring agent as well as a trade showroom owner in Scottsdale, Ariz.

I am bringing you an issue I feel needs to be brought to light to reputable manufacturers and suppliers. The problem is manufacturers avoiding taking responsibility instead of honoring legitimate claims.

This has been an issue in our industry for as long as I can remember, and there needs to be a way to bring this type of conduct to the attention of dealers and other interested parties.

I want to describe a situation we recently had to address. We were contacted by a local interior designer to help with selections and ideas for a 34,000-square-foot residence in Cleveland. We attempted to create a custom print carpet through a Dalton supplier.

Unfortunately, this company was so disorganized we became frustrated, and the designer, because of time constraints, had to pick a running line printed product. Upon delivery, the carpet was installed and we were then contacted about a problem.

I forwarded pictures of the carpet to the mill’s owner (I’ll call him Mr. X.) and he indicated seeing nothing in the photos that would signify a claim. The photos showed subtle dark streaks on the light background of what was a floral print. The people on-location believed it was color transfer from the dye in the print.

I contacted Mr. X. and told him Stevie Wonder was alive and well in his inspection department, and he should look at the pictures again. He did finally admit to seeing the streaks but was sure it was dirt.

With that, I knew I had to prove my claim. We contracted an inspector, but not just any inspector. This person is certified in color matching and is very knowledgeable about identifying the origin of streak marks. He determined it was dye and that he could color match to the carpet’s background to get rid of the streaks.

This was great news. We could correct the situation and not get into issues of remaking the product. I thought the supplier would be thrilled. Instead, the mill rejected the inspection report and refused to pay for the inspection of its defective carpet. To add insult, it would not pay for the repair after we were able to make both the client and designer happy.

After numerous efforts to contact him, Mr. X. finally responded and gave me his thoughts. He still refused to accept responsibility and fell back on the old escape tactic—You cut it, you own it. I reminded him that his in-house inspecting before shipping failed and wondered why we should be held fully responsible for not seeing the defects ourselves.

He felt it was a split, indicating if we had not cut it he would have sent all new carpet, which would have cost the company far more than the repair and inspection.

I really did not understand how that could be better for him. None of this policy is noted on any price list received from the mill. The response from Mr. X. was unacceptable and does not represent a company with integrity. This was a company that, knowing the claim is not big enough to take the legal route, will try and negotiate or not cover the claim altogether.

Why this claim should even be negotiated is beyond me. The supplier is attempting to make someone else share the responsibility.

I am angry and tired of this type of treatment. I am speaking out on behalf of those in the industry who have integrity and to expose a serious issue.

I am presenting this to you with the hope we can create a platform to address these types of companies in our industry.

Unfortunately, in today’s legal system, telling the truth about a problem with a vendor can still possibly result in creating expensive legal fees. It comes down to who has the deeper pockets to pursue a principle.


Gary Lester

Lester & Associates

Scottsdale, Ariz.

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