Get Design Problems Fixed With "Honey & Vinegar"

Get Design Problems Fixed With "Honey & Vinegar"

A client once  said to me (famously--because I paraphrase it so often):  "I don't really expect everything to be perfect the first time.   I just want the person who's responsible to come back and take care of it till it's right."  The expression is: "you attract more flies with honey than vinegar",  but I say you need a bit of both to succeed.

I had to be persistent about the floor in my exercise room in my house for YEARS (yes, years) before a new manufacturer's rep in Michigan finally stepped up.  She was new to the Midwest, so, why not call her, too?  I never gave up, and they sent someone who took care of it in a promising way-- I feel good about it lasting a few more years.   After all that waiting time, it took only 5 hours of  skilled work!

Here's my advice for Getting It Done Right:

1.  Be kind and sympathetic when you complain (even though you are living with the damaged item).  Who you purchase from is as important as the product itself.  This connection is the most important--value it.  If it's truly the product and not an installation problem, whoever is taking care of  you is probably NOT the person who made it!  The original showroom I bought  my floor from closed.  They did an initial repair less than a year after it was put in, and they had done it properly (contrary to the manufacturer's lame excuses in their few early responses).  So,  this time I paid since this installer was not part of the original agreement.  Also, by now I would have needed to re-seal the floor anyway.

**You must understand the product's warranty and the seller's policies.  Read your agreement or ask questions.  My own design contract says "one year of normal use and wear".  In the past few months, I have paid to repair or replace several things that should have been taken care of by others because it's important for me to JUMP on anything.  It's how I work.  Time will be your enemy.  Period.  Some (certainly not all) will gladly look for a scapegoat.  The longer you wait, the easier that will be.

Most manufacturers will repair or replace, but sometimes not "in full" if they decide (rightly or not) that it's not their fault.  Recent example: an adjustable swivel base for a desk chair was replaced once (by the manufacturer) and broke a second time.  I paid for the part, the showroom replaced it (because I was willing to do the pick-up and delivery part) and we are used a simpler base this time. That was my condition for a second re-do.  Happy client.

Before that, I recovered a damaged chaise cushion with help of the fabric company and upholsterer.  We never completely diagnosed the cause of the damage, but fixed it -- ONCE and quickly.  Sort of a team effort with help on my costs.  Happy client.  Pretty much a certainty that someone had tried to scrub out a spill and ruined the fabric.

The more you (at least seem to) appreciate help, the better and more efficient the outcome.  Some help is better than none. Be flexible if you think that could be your only option. (Honey)

2. Pretty much, after a year, no one will eagerly jump in to redo or repair, UNLESS you have an agreement (that I would get in writing).  I have extraordinary relationships with my "People": my wonderful list of top quality, reliable contractors and vendors.  Nearly all of them have (at some time) stood behind work substantially more than a year old.

If you have been "shopping" vendors that have not done other projects with you, rework after their warranty will more likely be "on you".  It's more than appropriate to talk about how much it will cost...those I work with don't use repair work as profit-making projects.  Professional repair companies are just that!! I have (often) asked contractors I use to work with my clients to fix others' work if we are doing a second project.    That is not expected to be free, and they charge to cover their costs.

3. Going straight to the manufacturer and not the supplier, vendor, designer, installer will unfortunately not guarantee better or faster results.  But maybe it can work.  Manufacturers have people in the middle for a reason.  If your seller is worthless -- call, keep calling and climb as high up the ladder as it goes.  I have talked to presidents of furniture manufacturing companies a few times.  Not my favorite way to get results, but it has eventually been effective if no one else is responsive.  Not a bad challenge if you want one, but with my floor it made ZERO difference. All in all, take care of any product problems quickly and document your comments, keep e-mails or letters and be persistent.  Wait a couple of weeks and call again.  I think answers usually come slowly, sometimes REALLY slowly if I don't have a relationship with the company on the other end of the phone.  But don't give up and don't hesitate to tell your contact person that you expect their attention.  Persistence and patience are what you will need.

Finally:  Threats aren't usually effective.  The vinegar is the persistence/(maybe) nagging; the honey is your attitude!

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