Retail Education: The phenomenon

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Volume 26/Number 25; April 29/May 6, 2013

By Kelly Kramer

Earlier this year I encountered a situation that you, as a retailer, may have already had happen to you. Or maybe it will never happen.

A customer called me to complain that the carpet we installed nine months ago in her home was getting large spots on it. Only twice before in my career—which has spanned over 25 years—had I seen this. My first thought was pooling, and as it turned out I was correct.

We had the manufacturer hire an inspector and he basically came to the same conclusion. End result is that the carpet industry does not consider this particular thing a manufacturing defect—and I agree.

So it’s not the mill’s fault, and my installers did a great job on the installation, so it’s not my company’s fault. And it’s certainly not the customer’s fault. Is it possible that this condition, which is explained as a phenomenon, is nobody’s fault?

Well, here’s a personal, non-professional chance observation. All three of my experiences with pooling have been in homes that have heated crawl spaces. My semi-educated guess on this is that it’s an “electrostatic pile directional change.”

But having no one to blame, I did what I thought was the best ethical business solution: The manufacturer agreed to provide a replacement carpet up to a certain limit and our retail company agreed to provide some costs in material and the cost of installation of the replacement carpet.

So here’s the letter I had the customer sign off on:

“The carpet that was originally installed underwent a condition called “pooling.” This condition is not considered a manufacturer’s defect nor a problem caused by the installation.

“Pooling is considered to be a phenomenon because it is not fully understood by the flooring industry. It is thought to be a condition that is affected by the heating system in just a few homes. This happens when the nap (yarn) has permanently reversed its direction and therefore looks lighter or darker in certain spots—looking like water spots or pooling.

“All types of carpet have a nap (or direction), but some styles show this directional break more than others. Basically the smoother the cut, the more the change in nap direction shows. This is the same reason that some carpet styles show footprints and vacuum cleaner marks more than others.

“The style of carpet known to show the least amount of pile (nap) directional change is a loop pile berber. The buyers have been advised of this but do not wish to replace the original carpet with this berber style. As such, they have been advised that the new carpet they have chosen can and will show some amount of pooling in the future.

“Both the carpet manufacturer and the installation/ retailer have agreed to replace the original carpet for the buyers at no charge. This is not be-cause of any belief that there is a defect in the carpet or a problem with the quality of the installation, but to provide a high level of service in a highly unusual situation.

“All three parties have discussed the fact that because this condition is believed to be a problem caused by the heating system of the house, this will be the last replacement provided by the carpet manufacturer and the retail company at no charge.”

In the end, the manufacturer and our company bit the bullet and did what we thought was the right thing to do. This out of pocket expense was costly, but it is “Selling Clean,” and the reason our buyers will continue to refer us. To me that is what phenomenal service is about.

Thanks for reading.

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