Complaint Category: None of the Above - Product Quality Complaint Issue
Complaint: The fence being constructed is not the fence we requested, safe, or acceptable by our HOA.
We requested that ***** ******, of Princes Fences, come out to quote a fence for our backyard. We told him that the fence down the hill was the fence we wanted. He told us he could not give us that exact fence because he did not believe in "toenailing" because of durability. He did not explain that this meant we couldn't have a fence we wanted or that it would not look anything like it.
We signed a contract and wrote a check for $2925.00 down for Princes Fences to start construction on our fence April 10th, under the impression that the final product would be as we requested. When the project supervisor came out he stated that there would need to be some jack hammering needed to place some of the posts. While reviewing the contract we noticed that there was no cap on the charge to jackhammer. It is per number of posts/hour. At this time we inquired about a cap and an agreement was reached that jack hammering was not to exceed $650.00.
Construction began and on Friday, April 18th we came home to a partially completed fence. After inspecting the fence a bit closer we noticed several issues.1. Posts were not measured before being placed resulting in inconsistencies in the number of pickets placed between posts (anywhere from 8 to 18 pickets between posts). 2. 2x4s sticking out on the outside of the fence (not on the fence we showed ***** we wanted). 3. Inconsistencies in the 2x4 and picket placement giving the look of a roller coaster.4. Nails shot through pickets and 2x4 that are sticking out and others that only went through the pickets and not the 2x4 (causing a hazard for our children and dog). 5. Damaged, splitting posts and pickets that appear to have been eaten by bugs. 6. The placement of the 2x4s attached to each side of the house are inconsistent (one on the inside of the fence and the other on the outside. 7. Connection of the 2x4s attached to the house on the gate side was extremely high..
Initial Business Response
Before I start my response, our company has been in business for almost 12 years and have pleased many many many customers without ever having a single complaint before. Statistically, I guess it is our time to encounter someone that is impossible to work with.
The fence is exactly the fence that was requested and agreed upon. We emailed pictures of the fence's design along with the proposal. I specifically pointed out that we would not be toe-nailing the horizontal 2x4s, but that we would attach the 2x4s to the inside of the posts rather than in middle of the posts. This method produces a significantly stronger fence. In using this method, admittedly, at each corner post, a small section of the 2x4 will be visible from the outside. We always face these visible portions away from the higher traffic area so that it is less noticeable. This small detail of 'three 3" sections of 2x4 being visible from the outside' is the difference of this fence not looking like the one "down the hill" from the outside. In our meeting on Saturday April 19 (further detailed below,) I offered to toe-nail this fence if that is what she wanted so that it would look like the one "down the hill," but she declined.
To provide a little more background, when my supervisor marked the fence lines on Friday April 11th about 5PM, he mentioned the jack-hammer. *******, *********'s husband, insisted there would be no need to jack-hammer as he watched the builder excavate the lot and that there was plenty of dirt over any possible rocks. Then upon the mention of a extra charge for jack-hammering, he got extremely upset at this possibility and accused us of having hidden fees in our agreement, despite the fact that the ROCK DISCLAIMER is an entire section of our proposal. The first line is in bold and underlined to state "The total price, as listed above, assumes that the project does not require any rock demolition." My supervisor showed the homeowner the specific wording in the signed agreement, but the homeowner still insisted that it was a hidden charge. My supervisor called me and I re-iterated that these charges were part of the agreement. He said that our company sucked and he didn't wish to move forward with the fence as he did not like the way that we did business. About 930AM on the next morning, the homeowner calls me and apologized for his behavior. I accepted his apology and did agree to a $650 cap on the jack-hammering charges, although it is not in writing.
We returned on Tuesday (April 15th) to begin to dig the holes and set the posts. As suspected, we hit rock immediately. My supervisor rented the jack-hammer for a week as we had two other jobs that I suspected would require the jack-hammer and I could save money for everyone. My installers jack-hammered for 13 hours over two days to finally get all these posts installed. Admittedly, they moved some of the holes to the left or right within the fence line in order to miss the "bed rock," again...in an attempt to save the homeowner money.
On Friday (April 18th,) my installers returned to work on the fence. They worked all day, but did not get finished. That night @ 7:34PM, she sent an email that she was not happy with the fence. She sent some pictures and described the different spacings of the posts. I replied back that I would meet with her the next day to review the fence and I also let her know immediately that we do often offset the post spacing when there is bedrock involved in order to help to save the homeowner some money. Upon arriving at our meeting, ******* was being super-confrontational. I specifically asked him 3-5 times if he wanted to resolve these issues or just argue. We finally worked through everything and I scheduled my installers to come back on Monday to address everything. At 10PM on Sunday night, I received an email from ********* that they have decided that ******'s Fences can not meet their expectations and that we need to remove the fence, return her yard to its original state, and refund her full deposit (despite the fact that the fence is approximately 90% complete.) I let her know that her offer is unacceptable, but I offered her a deal for us to "walk away" and she can have someone else finish the fence, but we will keep the deposit. This is a terrible offer for us, but we are too busy to continue to deal with them. She refuses this offer. I counter-offer independent mediation through the BBB, but she refuses this offer. Then, I get an email from her HOA that this fence is unacceptable. Well, of course it is unacceptable....as we were not allowed to complete it. I emailed the HOA to voice that fact and that I would call him back to discuss. I attempted to call him on Tuesday (April 22,) but he was out of the office until Thursday. I also left messages on Thursday & Friday (April 24 & 25,) but he has not returned my calls.
In response to her issues:
#1...the posts were measured and were moved in order to avoid bed-rock. I specifically stated that we would come back, move the posts to where they would have been before any offsetting, and rebuild the associated panels. There are only 2-3 posts that this would be necessary out of approximately 42-45 posts.
#2...I offered to toe-nail the associated 2x4s and there will be no 2x4 visible from the outside. I subsequently thought of use deck hangers, but she had already decided that we could not meet her expectations at this point.
#3...the roller coaster that she is referring to is also called the contour of the land. In our Saturday April 19 meeting, I asked which fence panels were an issue for her. I took note of those and was prepared to correct them....there were like 3-4 to adjust each less than 2".
#4...we were not finished with the fence. The fence has not been reviewed for such things.
#5...this is a wood fence. She never made this point during our meeting, but wood is wood and cracks are possibly going to develop as it dries. When the wood comes out it is saturated with the treatment and it dries significantly over the first couple of days. A certain amount of cracks is typical. ******* showed me one pickets out approximate 700 where he suspected that it was infested with termites. It appeared to be something in the tree before it was cut, but I had told him that we would not use that 1 picket.
#6...again, we were not finished with the fence and it had not been reviewed.
#7...the ground slopes up significantly at the edge of the house. The 2x4 is 6' above the ground at this point. I was not sure if they wanted the fence to be 6' tall or if they wanted it to be less so that it would be more level. I am sure that if we choose either, it will be wrong.
Additional perspective, during our April 19 meeting, ******* argued that the post spacing on one side was not acceptable. We measured and all the spacings and all were within 4" of each other....ranging from 92" to 96" He insisted that all the spacings should be the exact same. He further suggested that we should never have to "vertically slice" any pickets except on the end. He said that we should space the posts in such a way that when we installed the pickets, all of them should fit perfectly between the posts. I showed him that the fence "down the hill" had the split boards between every post that I described and their post spacings are similar as well.
In summary, the homeowners have been unhappy from the beginning at no fault of ours. Our rock charges are specifically detailed and highlighted in our agreement, we were trying to save the homeowners money by shifting the holes to one side (which we offered to change,) and we meet with the customer immediately upon knowing of any issue issues to develop a plan to resolve the aforementioned issues (which the homeowner initially agreed to and subsequently revoked.) They have been argumentative and incapable of conducting a discussion without malice. As I stated in my opening response, statistically, I guess it is our time to encounter someone that is impossible to please.
Complaint Resolution: Company addressed the complaint issues. The consumer failed to acknowledge acceptance to BBB.