The Knitting Journeyman

Gathering Up One Thread At A Time As I Weave This Web Of Mine.....

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Why I Can NOT In Good Conscious Recommend Mr Sandless of St Louis

          Let me start by saying, these are my own personal experiences, my own personal view points, and things that have happened to me and to my partner.

          Let me also tell you the reason we chose Mr Sandless.  Now, we know, sanding and refinishing the floors is a much better option for these floors, but we did not have the time, the money or the inclination to empty the house and stay in a hotel for at least a week in order to have the floors done.  Not to mention, we have rabbits and dogs and fish…and what hotel is going to give us the room we need to house 2 rabbits, 3 dogs (big dogs), 2 kids and 2 adults?  At a price we can deal with while we are in the process of moving, on top of having the floors redone?  Mr Sandless was a quick, low smell, effective way to protect the floors quickly and without hassle.
          In 2009, when we bought the second house, we looked into Mr Sandless, basically because the carpeting in the bedrooms of that house seemed to be original, as in put in in the 60s, or 70s, if not earlier.  Mr Sandless was also something that R wanted to look into for his own house, but, with one elderly dog still gimping about, it wasn’t the right time to do his house.  R called and talked to Mr Sandless, got price quotes, got some information.  In the end, we decided to wait to get the floors of the second house done because there simply wasn’t enough time for us to manage everything, between the move, the issues with the break-in at the old house, closing on the new house and everything else.  But we kept the number and the idea around, knowing we’d get back to it eventually.
          Mr Sandless did call periodically to let us know when they were running specials and whatnot. 
          After Shadow passed away, we decided it was time to have the carpet removed and have the floors refinished.  Again, we were in the midst of moving, us into R’s house, and trying to coordinate with the friends moving into the other house as well. 
          Even from the beginning, it is hard to reach Mr Sandless by phone.  There is always an element of phone tag involved, at least that’s how it works with us. 
          We finally got an appointment to get an estimate on having the living room, hallway and one bedroom done on June 8, 2010. 
          Lou, I believe his name is, came in the evening.  I had been told to expect him to take measurements and whatnot.  I had also been told to make sure I told him about a board in front of the front door with a hole in it that needed to be repaired, as well as a cat stain in the corner of the living room, plus the issues with Shadow.  Lou came in, very polite, but quite harried.  It is a busy business, I understand that.  The first thing he pointed out when he entered the house was the board with the hole in it.  You can’t miss it.  We spent several minutes discussing that board, and Lou determined it would be better for us to let them remove the board and replace it.  We discussed that board several times during the estimate process.  Lou had to go through his list of did I tell her everything…and I had to go through my list of did I tell him everything.  We went through the discussion of why filling the hole in the board with putty was not a good option, because the putty would shrink and crack and need to be replaced and a new board would solve all the problems.  The last thing we spoke about as he was walking out the door was that board with the hole in it and him guaranteeing it wasn’t a big a deal.  His guys could come in, pop that board out and pop a new one in without a problem.
          Our only concern, after Lou came over, was how dark the floors would have to be to cover all the stains from the dog.  R didn’t want the floors too dark…and as you apply color/stain to the floors, the stains get darker as well.
          Things that Lou assured me were that I (or someone) could be there to tell the guys how dark to go, that all carpet removed would be cut into 3 foot lengths, that anything they removed would be cut into 3 foot lengths and that the trash pick-up would take anything so long as it was in 3 foot lengths.  He told me his guys would cut and bundle the carpet and padding and we had nothing to worry about.  He also told me that by the time his guys left that evening, we’d be able to put light furniture on the floor, but we should wait for the heavier stuff until the next day.  He also said his guys would be there at the house around 9, 930a, and would be done, depending on how many coats of color/stain they had to put down, between 3-5p that same day.
          That evening I never got a firm date of here’s when we’ll be here.  It was I might have a slot open on this day, or this day.  This day at the latest.  I’ll call you and let you know.
          Now, I do not know how all the phone calls went, because R took the calls.  I know that we did get a call to let us know that one day was out because another customer took the slot.  I do not know why the second day wasn’t available.  But I do know they scheduled to come on Monday, June 14.  It was the first day that E was really sick and she spent practically the entire day in bed.
          Monday, June 14. 
I got up, with R, and I was already starting to feel the brunt of moving.  I was tired, working into exhaustion.  Then E got sick…she’d awakened around 5 that morning, crying and hollering for me.  So, I had given her some medicine and tucked her in bed beside us.  It was not shaping up to be a lovely day.  We were all tired and grumpy, but we had things to do.  E slept.  R went to work.  I got up and set about my own work. 
          Nine o’clock comes and goes and I don’t think too much about it.  Lou had said between 9-9:30, and I wasn’t going to worry about things until at least 15 to 10, 10 o’clock.  Ten thirty or so, I email R.  I think it was closer to 11 when the guys finally called R and told him they were lost.  He gave them directions.  They got lost again. They finally made it around 15 to 12, noon, sometime in there.  I didn’t take really good notes of what happened then, because I honestly didn’t think we’d be so upset and frustrated over things, the way we are now.
          Two gentlemen showed up.  I want to say, after they finished R’s house (or the first house, since we’ll need to differentiate the two) I was willing to give Mr Sandless three stars out of five (5 being the best) based solely on these two men and their behavior.  They were so polite, so friendly.  I can’t tell you how many times the one guy apologized for being late and for getting lost.
          Now, when we walked through the house to show them the rooms they would be working on, as we chose not to do the dining room or the other two bedrooms at that time, there was some discussion about the closets.  I apologize for the descriptions I am about to use, but I totally forgot the gentlemen’s names.  One was taller and more heavily built (not fat) and one was shorter and thinner, and that’s how I’m going to refer to them here, since I don’t have much of an option.  The shorter one asked if they would be doing the closets.  I said I wasn’t sure what had been discussed, because R and whomever had had lots of conversations without me.  The larger guy said, yes, we’re doing the closets.  I said, great, because we really want them done.  I thought that matter was all taken care of after that.
          I checked on E in her room, still crashed.  I went back to work at my computer in the dining room.  

this is the living room, before work is completed

this is the hallway--we were not expecting this much damage there--we think it's from the previous owners
this is the bedroom-sideways sorry--these stains we expected--the end product is so much better than this

        Now, let me say, the moment the men walked in the door, the larger man noticed the hole in the board in front of the door.  You really cannot miss it.  Apparently, Lou had forgotten to write it down that they’d be replacing that board.  They had nothing in their van with which to replace it.  The gentleman explained again why putty was not a good idea, and how simple it would have been for him to pop that bad board out and pop a good board in.  He said it was a shame Lou had forgotten that and that he’d mention it to Lou once they got back to the office.  He also said it wouldn’t take but a few minutes for them to come back and fix that board at a later date.  I started to get wary right there.  After all the conversation Lou and I had about that board, and I know R was very specific during conversations about wanting to get that board taken care of as well, and Lou had forgotten to even write it down anywhere?  It was not mentioned on the work order at all?  Give me a break.
          These men set to work with a vengeance.  Honestly, it was such a relief to get that carpet out.  I got to see the master bedroom once during the process, roughly after the first coat of color/stain, or after the cleaning of the floors, I’m not sure.  The men took a break, since they’d worked through lunch since they’d been so late.  I crept through the house, checking on E, who was still dead asleep.  I took some almost before pictures, since I hadn’t had a chance while they were ripping up carpet.  I failed to notice that there was still carpet in the master bedroom closet at that time.  I was rather …shocked by the state of the floor from where the dog had slept.  It was bad, yes, but not as bad as we’d feared.  As terrible as that sounds.  We were actually afraid that we’d have no choice but to replace the floor in some places.  The wood is stained, oh yes, but still intact.  Not rotted or anything.  That is a big plus.
          I don’t know how long the guys were gone for lunch.  As hard as they were working, it didn’t bother me.  It looked to me as if the shorter guy was in training and the larger guy was in charge.
          When they came back, they got right to work.  The larger guy kept asking me about the color and everything, with every coat they put on, explaining things as they went along. 
          In the end, now that it’s all done, even R is saying we should have let them go darker, that it wouldn’t have been as bad as he had thought originally, but we are still happy with what we have.  Plus, we are also planning at some point to strip all the floors, sand everything down, and refinish the floors the right way, so whether they are too dark or too light at the moment is utterly moot.
          Now, I want to stress again just how polite these two men were.  As the shorter man finished and was closing the front door behind him, he actually told me he hoped my daughter got to feeling better soon.  I was very touched.
          The larger gentleman told me not to move any furniture in that night, but we could move the lighter stuff in the next day, but to wait a couple days to move the heavier stuff back in. 
          Wait.  What?
I didn’t argue.  I just listened and made mental notes. 
          Lou said:  by the time my guys leave, the floor will be dry.  You can walk on it.  You can move the lighter stuff, like the couches, back in.  Wait until the day after to move the heavier things, like the tv, back in. 
          His worker said: you can walk on it, in socks, today.  You can move the lighter stuff in tomorrow, like the coffee table.  But wait on the couches and the tv for at least a couple days.
          Ok then.
          I had made sure I was absolutely clear when Lou told me, and again when the gentleman told me, as that was one of the really important things for us, since we had most of our furniture in the carport…and we were still in the process of moving and re-arranging and deciding what would stay where and what would go.
          The floor was mostly dry by the time these guys left.  It was still a little tacky, but not badly.  These guys left, walked out the door as they finished putting the last coat on, so yes, it was a bit tacky.  The floors looked good.  We had not expected perfection or a miracle, as we knew what was wrong with the floors before Mr Sandless showed up.  The floors turned out looking so much better than we had anticipated.  It was terrific.
          The larger man also explained the warranty to me.  After pointing out what the paper says, he said, doesn’t matter what it is, call us and we’ll fix it.
          I was already on the not really believing it side of things based on the entire issue with one small board with a hole in it that had been talked to death that hadn’t even appeared on the paperwork, but I smiled and agreed. I’m Southern; polite is in our DNA, whether we like it or not.
          He did leave us with about a gallon container of the color/stain in case we had issues, what with three dogs trolling around, in case we needed to cover some scratches or something up.
          Based on the professional and polite manner of the men, I was willing to give Mr Sandless a great deal of leeway and far more credit than they actually deserved. Because these guys were so polite, we asked them to check out the second house to give us an estimate on it.  I actually handed the guy my house key, gave him directions, and let these guys just go into my house, unescorted and unchaperoned.  That’s how much trust and respect I felt these men were due.  They went over, checked things out, came right back, returned my key to me.  No problems whatsoever.  It didn’t hurt that we were in the process of moving.  The only thing they could take that I might be upset over is fiber and yarn, and I wasn’t worried about that.
          The larger man told me he’d tell Lou about the second house and that Lou would call us with the estimate.  He also said again that he’d tell Lou about that board and Lou would get back to us.
          As far as I know, we’ve had to do all the calling.  R had to bring up the board, and the master bedroom closet, when he finally did get in touch with Lou.
          With the second house, since we had people moving in in a couple weeks, we had to get the floors done, fast.  At first we were told one day, with the possibility of another day.  Then it became Mr Sandless wanted the same guys who did the first house to do the second house, so that on their break or their lunch or after they were done with the second house, they could run over to the first house and fix the things that had missed the first time, namely the master bedroom closet and the board with the hole in it.  We got that taken care of, the timing, at long last.  They were scheduled to show up, around 9:30a, at the second house on June 22.  We were given a much more specific start time that time, apparently due to the guys being so late the first time.

          Let me take a step back and explain why I personally cannot in good conscious recommend this company, Mr Sandless of St Louis, MO
          I told you about the conversation about the closets…the hall closet was done.  The living room closet was done.  The closet in the master bedroom was completely ignored.  I personally think it’s because they would have had to have removed the closet doors and their track in order to pull up the carpet, but that is only my opinion.  Three closets to be done…and two were done…but one was not.  What is wrong with that picture?
          There were no room dividers set down.  You know, the gold or silver strips (yes, they do come in other colors and other materials) that separates the carpeted area from the non-carpeted area.  None.
          There were carpet tacks, all over the place, in random places.  Some of them were broken carpet tacks, as in sharp pieces of metal sticking up out of the floor when you least expect it. 
          When they pulled the carpet up from the top of the basement stairs, they didn’t bother to do anything outside of the hallway.  The top of the stairs, where the carpet had been covering, every tack was left alone and untouched.  There were still carpet remnants attached to them.  All they did was pull the carpet up and go. 
          They didn’t bother to remove a rather large blob of candle wax (it’s been there for years) on the living room floor.  R hadn’t realized the wax was still there until after the furniture had been pulled out of the room.  It took roughly 2 minutes to pry the wax off the floor being very careful not to scratch the floor with a scraper…what did these guys do to the floor that it didn’t even touch the candle wax in their sandless sanding approach?  It looked as if they hadn’t even touched the candle wax, except to color/stain it.
          There are splashes of the color/stain on darn near every wall in every room they did.  I didn’t take pictures until later, but there are enough splashes and splotches that we have more painting to do than we originally wanted.
this is our front door, at the bottom--this is one of many drips we have all over the house

       Yes, we planned to paint the living room…and then we decided to paint the bedroom…and the hallway.  But now, we have to paint them.  We even have to repaint the front door, because that is where the worst slosh of paint is.  On the outside of the door, where everyone can see.
          There was even a huge glob of what we think was top coat, roughly 2 inches by three inches, splattered on the front porch.  Luckily, when it dried, three days after the process, it just peeled right up off the porch, so no harm, no foul there.
          There was some plastic debris in the yard, but not enough for us to gripe about.  It could have blown off of the truck, or out of the garbage can.  Not a big worry there either.
          If we had only had them do one house, I stand by the fact that I would have given them three out of five stars.
          The only thing I can say at this point is: at least the floors look good now and we are going to redo them the right way later on.
          After having them do the second house, I am barely able to give them one star out of five.  Which is terrible, because the floors in that house look incredible.

          Tuesday, June 22
          Since the workers blamed me and said I told them not to do the master bedroom closet on the first house, even though they would be more than happy to come fix that, and the board, I asked R to stay home from work and to deal with them.  That way, if anything went wrong, it wouldn’t be on my head again.  It’s like a female taking a care to a mechanic.  A female is told one thing; if the male took it in, he’d hear something completely different.  We can trust a guy, but what does a silly little girl know?
          Ok, so they’d been to this house once before…but I do believe they got lost again that morning.  I think they arrived around 10:30, 11 that morning.  R took care of things.
I did not go over there at all, until after they were done.
1.     They did not even have the work order with them when they showed up.  How unprofessional is that?  They had to ask R what they were supposed to be doing there, which rooms, etc.  Now, I know they are busy and I don’t expect them to remember the details of every single house, but you forgot your work order?  Really?
2.    They forgot to bring simple things, like tape to tape up the carpet rolls.
3.    The closet spacers, the things that were there to keep the sliding closet doors from being pushed out and off track, rather than the normal left or right, were gone.  Not just removed and set aside, but completely gone.  

you can see where the little spacer things go on the floor...they keep the doors, which slide left and right, from swinging too far out or in, destroying the track and the door
4.    Again, no room dividers.  The second house has brand-new carpet throughout the living room and hallway.  The areas where carpet ends and wood floor begins were full of unpulled tacks and improperly cut edges.

this is what Mr Sandless considered a finished job, instead of installing little room dividers--you can't see all the tacks still under all that mess either
5.    There were brown stains at one side of this new carpet, brown like wood floor stain, that will not come out.  So, even though this is a rental property and we knew we’d eventually have to replace the carpets, we have stains in our carpet that will not come out by normal means, which means we now have to replace the carpet that much sooner than we had planned.
6.    The carpet that was supposed to be cut and bundled into three foot lengths?  None of the carpet from all three of those bedrooms was even close to three feet in length.  One was closer to seven feet.  The picture shows the taller one cut mostly in half—that was R’s doing.  We were trying to see what tool we could use to cut the carpet down.  The carpet itself was wrapped around a piece of wood and metal with nails in it, which might have come in handy to know before we cut ourselves on the nails when we were cutting the carpet down to a reasonable size.
you can see the carpet padding mess on the ground--it was everywhere, inside and out:  those are twin mattresses, to give you a field of reference for the length of those bits of rolled up carpet--no where NEAR 3 ft in length, not any of them

7.    These men were aware that children had lived in this house, since they knew it as my house and they knew I had children, and they knew a family with young children were moving into it, because I told them, not to mention the toddler accoutrements that were sitting in a pile in the living room.  Not only were there tacks unremoved all over the place, there were broken ones.  My 9yo daughter found one by falling on it and cutting her arm up enough for her to ask if she needed to go to a doctor.  They knew this place was a rental house; if we had a tenant who sued us for an unsafe environment, I would have turned around and sued Mr Sandless, because we have two houses that both prove these people do not take the time or the care to remove all the tacks.  And I am not talking about one or two tacks, I am talking about dozens of tacks, not along the edges near the walls, but in the middle of the rooms.
8.    There was a pile of thin boards, edging or whatever, full of nails, just stacked, or piled, or dumped in the carport in front of the garbage cans.  Here’s the property manager in me peeking up again.  If a neighbor kid had gone onto that carport and fallen, they would have been in the hospital and we could have been sued.  There were four garbage cans sitting there, and one recycling bin.  Two of the garbage cans were empty…and these dangerous boards were dumped on the ground.  
these are the boards that were all in a pile--i did not grab my camera first--I immediately picked them up and got them out of the way of small children--then took this picture...the cuts on my hands are still healing

9.    The recycling bin…that says in big letters right near the handle “recycling only, no trash, no yard waste”, they dumped the carpet padding in it.  In fact, there was debris from the carpet padding all over the house, all over the porch, all over the carport.
10.  I am not sure what the excuse was, but they couldn’t possibly make it back to the first house in order to do the closet or fix that board.  That board that it won’t even take 5 minutes to pop out and pop a new one in.  I do know that R has tried to call Mr Sandless/Lou several times…and as yet, as of July 6, he has not gotten any call back whatsoever.  Now, the whole point of waiting until Tuesday to do the second house, rather than on Monday, was so that the same guys who did the first house would be the ones to fix the things left at the first house.  It was apparently a really big deal to Lou, who is the person R told me he had been talking to when all of these conversations had taken place.
11. My vacuum.  My wonderful pet hair sucker-upper.  I had it sitting upstairs in the living room because I needed to take it to get it serviced, because hay and vacuums do not really like one another, imagine that.  The workers ‘borrowed’ the vacuum, without asking or telling anyone…and the vacuum was completely destroyed.  When I took it in to get it checked out, I was told whatever had been done, the carpet padding (the only orange material anywhere in that house) had compromised the engine and I’d be better off tossing the machine.  So, now I am out my vacuum that sucks the dog fur off of anything, because they couldn’t make a call and say, hey, we see this vacuum is sitting here, mind if we use it?  I hate to call them out on this one, because under any other circumstance, I’d be so happy they tried to clean up after themselves and not leave a mess for me to deal with…but this one time, it was wrong time, wrong place. Except that there was carpet padding everywhere…and I spent a good deal of time sweeping and vacuuming it up with the shop vac.

So, here we are.  Two houses done.  We will never ever use Mr Sandless again.  Not to do the three rooms left in our own home.  Not on any rental property we ever buy.  Nor any other property we ever buy.  We will not recommend them to anyone, ever, but we will be more than willing to explain why we cannot CANNOT in good conscious recommend them.  When we start buying property out of state, we will not be able to trust any other Mr Sandless because of the damage this particular Mr Sandless has done to the overall reputation of Mr Sandless in our minds.

And being unable to recommend them actually sucks…because the floors themselves look good.  It is not a process I would actually recommend for every house, or for every circumstance, but it worked for us for what we wanted and for what we needed, when we needed it done.  It’s all the extra work we have had to do and that we continue to have to do that is really bothering me.

       We paid over $1000 for each house to be done, expecting that all the work would be done by Mr Sandless.  Now, we have had to go over every room, and hallway, and closet, with a fine tooth comb, at both houses, to ensure that all the tacks, and bits of tacks, are all gone.  We have had to buy and install room dividers.  We now have to buy new closet spacers, to keep the closet doors from being pulled off the track.  We had to spend a great deal of time cutting up carpet so that it could be thrown away and so that the garbage company would actually pick it up and haul it away.  We have had more clean-up work to do than you would think possible.  We have to repaint, A LOT.  We are still trying to get Mr Sandless/Lou to call us back.
     R does not call every single day.  Maybe we should.  Maybe that’s how to get Mr Sandless/Lou to respond.  But both R and I have lives outside of trying to chase Mr Sandless down to get them to do the things they agreed to do and are supposed to do.

     After the men did the first house, my major thought was we can do this better.  Mr Sandless of St Louis seems so unorganized, very polite, but not entirely professional or on the ball.  R’s main complaint, outside of their work, is that it doesn’t cost that much to give your workers GPS in their vehicles so they don’t spend so much time lost.  Heck, does your office have a computer?  Google maps does work, if imperfectly.  Your guys being lost costs you money and costs you customers.  Getting lost on us once was bad enough, but getting lost the second time, and showing up with no work order, that just proves how unprofessional Mr Sandless as a business is, how disrespectful and uncaring towards the customer Mr Sandless truly is.
     Every employee you send out represents you as a business.  You are only as good as your weakest link.  I did not get the impression that these two men are weak links.  When they get to where they are going, they work hard.  But they are sloppy.  They are extremely friendly and polite, and that really gets points with me.  But the fact that the workmanship, the things left behind, undone, half done, that speaks many more volumes than politeness can send away.
     Not responding to phone calls, whether they are from happy customers, disgruntled customers, or someone looking to become a customer, that is just poor unprofessional business all over.  As far as I can tell, there is someone in the office who can answer the phones, but she is a receptionist.  When you’re calling Lou at the number he gives out for him specifically, you wait and wait and wait, and pray you get a call-back.  When your own men say Lou will get back to you on this real quick, it behooves you to do so, whether you are looking forward to the conversation or not.

     So, this is our experience with Mr Sandless.  Although it does not look at all good that we will be getting a call-back from Lou, or anyone else, and it looks bleak for us to get that board replaced or that closet done by Mr Sandless, if anything happens, I will let you know.  Just do not hold your breath.

Please note:  all pictures, unless specifically noted, were taken after we started to clean up the Mr Sandless mess.  IE: boards now in trash, 7 foot long bit of carpet cut in half…even some of the color/stain blotches were photographed after I attempted to clean them off the walls/doors.