Lumber Liquidators - Morningstar Bamboo- DO NOT DO IT. LL misrepresents skill set required by HSS installers. LL HQ contradicts HSS authorizing general contractors to install floors.
Update by user Jul 10, 2015
After months of dealing with this nonsense, I have come to the conclusion. Lumber Liquidators (LL) falsely advertises, or at the very least intentionally misleads, customers with regards to the "professional installation services" that "you can trust".
They claim Home Service Store (HSS) is separate, although an affiliate, however, the email that referred the ONE contractor to me who turned out to be a convicted felon with multiple felonies, and had a HISTORY of at least 3 failed installations (LL failure to warn customer), was referred to me in an email sent by LUMBER LIQUIDATORS. As far as I know no other business who is "separate" doesn't have control over another company's servers. LL admits the contractors they suggest are prescreened, including a criminal background check, but I guess the "prescreening" doesn't mean they will actually tell you if they find something, or if you need to be worried about having to confront a troubled individual or allowing them to scan your belongings and have knowledge of where you live if you complain. The "contractor" they referred to me even took unused material without permission (not scrap).
They actually appear to SUGGEST contractors, as in my case, or via HSS, that they have described as a "mistake" and do not consider "floor installers". http://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/258370621.html. They criticized the couple in this news piece (see link) for using a general contractor. Yet, that is exactly what they referred me to leading me to believe he was a "professional installation specialist" via their advertisements.
They don't consider him a "professional floor installer". When I have confronted them about this, they HAVE NOT DENIED IT. Instead, they rubbed it in my face that I "trust(ed) HSS" and them by stating (Matthew at LL HQ) "Lumber Liquidators, Inc. did not hire HSS to install your floor, you did."
Yet, they still refer new customer to HSS.
Like I said, I was the 4th failed installation by this contractor. Apparently they don't feel they have a "Duty to warn", because they can twist the wording in the contract (intended for unknown events), to somehow mean they actually warned you they may expose you to risk, and they will expect you to allow unqualified people to repair any damage they create despite the fact the floor will never be warrantied because it isn't professionally installed. People have a RIGHT to know about these FACTS that affect the price of the floor AT TIME OF SALE. They have a RIGHT to know the advertisements LL does on behalf of HSS and the contractors are false.
HSS tried to retain the ill gotten installation fees right up until I let them know that I knew the local Lumber Liquidator's Store refuses to use HSS any longer, AND I knew the contractor told them that he fired his entire crew after my install. Until I told them this, they were prepared to hold me to their contract, and acted ON BEHALF of the so called "installer". So I have my installation fees back, now I need LL to demonstrate to customers if this is a "rare" or "green bus" event, and correct it, by refunding my money for the damaged floor that could have been avoided had they authorized installers PER THEIR ADS, or, demonstrate that they stand behind referring general contractors as something they are not, "professional floor installers".
Yes, it may make their installation pool smaller, and prevent them from selling as much product, but at least they will be a company operating with integrity and honesty. For goodness sake respect your stock holders and your own product.
Update by user Apr 26, 2015
So, installer initially denied the installation was improperly done in a response mediated by the Illinois State Attorney General's office. He felt it was done correctly with a couple of small mistakes.
(This was apparently filed before my phone call from HSS on April 3.) He confirmed a criminal record. He admitted to having to REPLACE three floors. He admitted his "crew" were 2 "carpenters" and 2 "laborers". He did not address why they took my material without permission.
He did not address why he was not there to supervise the installation. He did not address why they didn't follow manufacturer's critical specs. Again, he felt the floor overall was installed properly. When HSS confronted him with the Floor Installer's report, he finally agreed to fully refund the install.
However, HSS said I had to take up the authorization of the installers with Lumber Liquidators. The damaged boards because of mis-authorization apparently isn't HSS's fault in their opinion. SO, I am waiting to find out WHY HSS didn't catch the felony record of the installer. And why if he had three floors he had to replace, why they didn't notify me of this knowledge, before misrepresenting the installer as a professional installation specialist.
I also want to hear it from them that Carpenters qualify to be labeled by HSS AND LL as "installation specialists"...and why they would keep referring an installer who can't even follow basic perimeter requirements, or isn't knowledgeable in the use of moisture meters, or proper acclimation. The installer tried to refer the product as a DIY product in his response- which it IS NOT because of the pre-site assessment and moisture related trouble shooting skills needed when readings indicate a variation. The meters are very expensive, and many don't have bamboo setting, and require knowledge of how to measure the material using different settings. So, in a nut shell, I have damaged material because of the unprofessional installation and LL/HSS took so long to address this, and because they carelessly referred an installer that describes his installers as carpenters and laborers and has a history of misapplying material in a significant manner that demonstrated an unprofessional approach disregarding installation directions and lack of knowledge.
Yet they still referred him. People unaware of this who complain to LL for product performance issues have to struggle to find out if the problem is that the installer wasn't authorized properly. HSS happily facilitated a warranty on a product that would not be serviceable because they contractor they authorized isn't a professional. The installation was not professionally done.
I just need LL/HSS to tell me why they labeled the installer something he was not, or if the installer applied for authorization representing himself as a "professional installation specialist", and what they asked from him to demonstrate he was if he claimed to be a general contractor or carpenter. I would like copies of the application forms as well as records of complaints they were aware of about his company's work. HSS told me they ran a criminal back round check. I want a real reason why it was missed.
They were felonies. I want to know how a place that advertises "installation services you can trust", can get away with providing a service that doesn't appear to exist. I want answers. LL needs to take responsibility for directing HSS, and make sure the installers are "professional installation specialists" or warn customers that they don't recommend the use of general contractors and you can not "trust" anyone referred by them, because there is no real screening process and they will not warn you if the installers their refer don't comply with the manufacturer's installation directions.
Because I would not have purchased the product or used their installer had they properly advertised. They need to remove this "floor" from my house.
Update by user Apr 03, 2015
HSS called me, they stated the floor inspector confirmed what I had said regarding the flooring being installed improperly. They contacted the installer and he finally agreed to return the full installation cost (which I am assuming includes HSS's "cut").
HSS assured me they removed this contractor from their list. (However the Springfield store (an employee) told me they won't use HSS anymore) (I don't know to what extent). HSS was going to finalize the refund. I notified her that I have board damage now, because this took so long the flooring couldn't expand and contract, and that because my situation is in many ways similar to the NY news piece (link embedded below), that I feel as though, I should get the same resolve.
Especially since the couple in the piece DID NOT use HSS's/LL's installer. Because we were denied a Professional Installation Specialist as advertised, we have a floor that is damaged, the warranty is void, and as noted in the news piece, needs to be completely replaced.
LL didn't use the news piece to clarify the warranty on the product (misleading consumers about what it really covers), it didn't address shrinking (not covered) which is an extremely common problem because customers aren't alerted to the high maintenance nature of this product. LL called the couple's installer a "rookie", yet paid to remove the product, helped them find a correct product, AND paid for the install. Is this "normal" for LL?
Not in my experience so far. I asked the inspector why LL didn't cite the customer's at fault for the shrinking- (like in SO MANY internet complaints that have been rejected on the basis). He stated it IS an installer issue.
A professional installer checks moisture in various spots repeatedly to look for a difference in readings.
He checks the boards repeatedly. If the boards are installed too soon (not acclimated), I guess it makes sense that they will shrink if installed in a dry climate. But the piece makes it clear LL understands the critical nature of moisture testing and having a professional flooring installer doing the work. So the question is, who decides the qualification criteria that determines who can become a LL authorized flooring installer?
Or LL? Who "labels" the installers if they are just general contractors?
Update by user Mar 29, 2015
HSS called, said they are waiting for the inspector's report. When asked if the installer was asked about returning funds, HSS said he'd return $500 of $2133.45.
I flatly refused and asked if he realized he violated (presumably) HSS's agreement to send skilled labor to do a job? They took my material (stole) without telling me. He tried to misapply material a second time. His work voided the entire floor's warranty.
HSS could not tell me if he represented himself to them as a "professional installation specialist". Said failure to catch his criminal record was "probably" because searches only go back 7 years? He acquired his business in late Oct of 2012. HSS authorized him in 2013- she couldn't say when.
I voiced concern that he's been allowed to do this for how long???? It's 2015!!! I asked how many other people are having failing floors and their requests are being denied because of this installer? How confident of him to believe HSS will back him!
Clearly he's not worried about what HSS thinks about him or his "quality" of work. Wonder why?
Original review posted by user Mar 22, 2015
I had Morning Star Bamboo installed by a HSS (Home Service Store) recommended installer, and paid for it by a loan facilitated by LL. I signed a contract that I was lead to believe applied to a "professional installation specialist".
What I got was at best a general contractor who lacks serious understanding of Bamboo flooring, now I have gaps, buckling, and cracking boards. Lumber Liquidators (LL) is apathetic to customer's complaints regarding HSS not authorizing installers per LL advertisements. Says the problem is between the customer and the installer. Doesn't grasp that HSS is damaging the reputation of the product, or else they don't care.
"They can't control their manufacturers in China", "they can't tell HSS how to do their job selecting qualified installers, "HSS can't tell independent contractors how to do their job"-- all appears to me to be a strategic business model, where they use an IRS classification, to justify not demanding performance of a service as promised from these "contractors". This doesn't make sense. Their contracts are written to protect the contractor and allow them the right to cure- even when they are proven to not possess the qualifications that HSS should have established they had before authorizing them. They don't have to do that.
The contractor has their own contract with the customer. This "excuse" is a fallacy to make the uneducated individual walk away and expose themselves to more risk believing they have no choice. The wording applies to a "professional installation specialist". HSS tries to force the consumer to believe, the installer has a right to try and fix a problem, even if evidence suggests the installer isn't in fact a installation specialist.
A bully tactic in my opinion. I found out my installer wasn't. HSS actually made excuses for him to explain things they couldn't have possibly known. Despite me making it clear I didn't believe he possessed the skills to do the repair, HSS MADE ME submit a "punch list" of things to fix, to submit to him, "before they'd address his ability".
I submitted the whole floor- because he was willing to cover up subfloor problems with product, the entire floor was in question. The warranty couldn't be valid until it was confirmed nothing else would "pop up" after the end of the installation warranty period. The "installer" may fix problems discovered within a year, but who knows if they're fixing it correctly or temporarily? You realize your "one year warranty" is the amount of time you have to discover what else they messed up.
Anything that goes wrong related to installation after that is your fault for "trustingHSS" (Customersolutions@trusthss.com). They will actually BLAME you for using their suggested installer- because YOU had a CHOICE to use them- but that logic doesn't apply to them. The difference is you didn't know what they were exposing you too, they continue to use installers who misapply material as long as they agree to fix their mistakes (without telling customers). You quickly realize that the wording in the contract that you thought was boiler plate language meant for unforeseen circumstances, appears to be their way of notifying you that they will continue to refer contractors who may have a history of misapplying material and voiding warranty, and you may be referred a contractor who defined by their work is indeed, not a "professional installation specialist".
This boiler plate language is manipulated into some form of consent to be exposed to unqualified installers. (This is my opinion after going thru the experience). HSS claims independence from the installers- but they collect the money. They facilitate the bank loans with the contractors.
They write into the HSS contract for the warranty to be valid, they HAVE to receive the payment. Their HSS warranty, becomes a punishment, because it prevents you from acting in a manner that would allow you to use your credit card to resolve disputes effectively with the installer, and takes away consumer rights in a manner that the contractor's contract doesn't even do. Because HSS collected the fee, this strategic payment placement places a brick wall between you and getting your money back. How can you try to collect money from the independent contractor, and have him be concerned about his credit reputation from multiple complaints, if you paid HSS?
This protects the contractor from their work being reflected in their credit rating as well you'd think. The customer has to "trusthss" (trust hss) but hss doesn't trust the contractors to pay them for their referral service? Not so "independent". A lot of conflicting interests in my opinion that are't reflected in the advertisements.
I asked HSS to request that the installer return my installation fees because not only was it clearly discovered the installer used handy men to install the floor, but they also took my molding without telling me, installed the material without proper expansion allowance (1mm, perimeter spacing some areas), and they assured me the subfloor was fine and didn't need to be repaired when it did- significantly damaging the floor. They told me 3 times it was fine. HSS stated they were sure they were professionals, and they used them "a lot" (when I questioned their ability to repair the floor!). When I questioned acclimation method used by the installer (time), HSS didn't say a peep about the fact that the product is suppose to be acclimated using a moisture meter, not time.
HSS will not answer my question regarding requesting a return of funds based on the fact they referred a bad installer to me and probably had no reason to believe he was anything other than a general contractor. Who would try to keep funds that possibly the installer agreed to return? Especially when it was their failure to perform a service as advertised, not even considering what the installer did, that directly created the situation that allowed this to happen. HAD they done their job, he would have never been authorized.
So I want to know what information HSS had to determine the installer was more than a general contractor- which is not sufficient according to Lumber Liquidators Corporate office.
http://www.nbcnewyork.com/on-air/as-seen-on/258370621.html. I want to know how many misapplication complaints the installer had before me, and why they felt I didn't need to know about them before representing him to me as something he is not. Did they refer this installer to anyone after I notified them he misapplied material over holes in subfloor that caused the floor to warp? Am I really the first misapplication complaint for this unknowledgeable contractor?
Unlikely. HSS states they've used him "a lot". How many customers have had their flooring ruined, facilitated by HSS not selecting contractors according to LL advertised standards, and have had LL blame product performance failure on unprofessional installation or speculated "site conditions"? IF Lumber Liquidators won't "fire" HSS, why don't they change their advertisements to properly inform customers of risk, that HSS may suggest a general contractor and therefore you can't "trust HSS", because they have no way to determine the ability of the contractors to properly install a product, and aren't acting in a function that allows them to label them?
What IS their "prescreening" process? If a general contractor applies to be an "authorized installer", is it HSS who then determines "general contractor" is synonomous with "professional installation specialist"? What is the questionnaire they give to contractors to submit requesting they be authorized? Do they ask them if they read the installation manuals like they do customers when a problem occurs?
Does prescreening involved back round checks? My installer appears to have a record of multiple felonies, including possessing a firearm by a felon. REALLY?! Thanks HSS for putting me in a situation to have to be confrontational with someone like this and not telling me about him when he entered my home.
All I can say is Lumber Liquidators needs to be honest. Maybe they can't tell contractors how to do their job, but they can screen the heck out of them before they authorize them, and do lots of reference checks, and back round checks. They don't have to use HSS if they can't figure this out. If HSS as a relationship that prevents them from doing their job objectively, perhaps LL shouldn't use them.
They can help people's flooring be installed properly. Sure not accepting unqualified contractors as installers reduces the "pool" of installers, and reduces sales if there aren't enough installers, but your product that you claim you care so much about along with quality will be represented better if installation error isn't confused with product flaws. Sometimes mass sales isn't worth sacrificing the reputation of your product! People work so hard for their money, to do home improvements, would it be that horrible for you to expect HSS to hire only "Professional Installation Specialists" that aren't just general contractors with some experience installing a limited variety of flooring?
The flooring inspector they sent out to me answered my question as to why Corporate LL didn't cite "site conditions" as the reason for the shrinking boards/Morning Star Bamboo (same as mine) instead of blaming the couple's installer (not HSS provided), (the inspector WAS a "professional installation specialist"), he said, "it is an installation issue", he explained the installer determines if the environment is suitable for the product. He shared delaying an install himself for several days because of unexplained humidity variations in a house from one side to another. HE stopped the job, as dictated by the industry, and determined an air conditioner draining improperly was the source of the improper readings. Multiple moisture readings by a real professional, prevented that customer from certain disaster.
The inspector has worked in this area for over 25 yrs, never heard of the installer HSS recommended to me. The industry in the area is apparently well known to each other too. I really want to know what the requirements are for a contractor to be authorized by HSS. P.S.
The boards gapping are a tripping/pinching hazard to little toes, people with disabilities, the elderly, and paws. They really need a clear safety warning regarding the shrinking/buckling potential of the product if humidity cannot be maintained...although I have to say ours has been (humidifier on furnance with smart thermostat that manages humidity- we have 1/2" and 1/4" gapping.) I don't suggest Morning Star Bamboo to anyone. Too many variables that could lead to failure and fixing means pulling up the whole darn floor- inspector says it's really difficult to fix individual boards- and that is what LL will give you for your "warranty"- which by the way has to be more than 10% defective for them give you replacement boards. They don't pay for the labor for repairs.
Yes, fine print details not explained to you during the hard sell and so disgusting they had the nerve to use as a "selling point". Who does these things intentionally and thinks it's genius?
People who care about money or quality? :/
Reason of review: Not as described.
Monetary Loss: $4000.
Preferred solution: Same solution as given to the couple in the local New York Story in the link I provided in the complaint, with proof that the installer is a installation specialist along with references and history of complaints, or a refund.
I liked: When i thought they were objective, Installation financed.
I didn't like: Advertisements are misleading, Taking away consumer rights, Not being honest about installers, Customer service, False advertising, Product is not high quality, No written warranty before sale.