Buyer Beware - Mannington Blue Ridge Hickory Plank

Following is a letter sent to American Express, placing a dispute on part of the monies paid for Mannington engineered hardwood flooring:
FastFloors.com is the vendor through which I purchased hardwood flooring manufactured by Mannington Wood Floors. The first incident occurred when I was shopping various vendors to obtain the best possible price on the flooring for our newly constructed home. In early April, 2005, I was given a quote of $14,835.27 for 104 boxes of Blue Ridge Hickory Plank BR05NA1. (Copy attached.) The FastFloors.com representative I spoke with informed me that she was placing this quantity of the product on hold for me with their distributor, because it is popular and might sell out, resulting in a back-order situation when I needed the product. I had already received a quote at a lesser price from another vendor, but when I called them back to order, they stated that they could not obtain the product for me because someone else had already reserved it. (FastFloors.com). I called a few other vendors, and no one was able to get the product for me as quickly as I needed it, so I called FastFloors.com back the next morning and ordered the flooring. I was told that the employee who had given me the quote the day before was no longer with their company and they would not honor the price she had quoted for me. Instead, I would have to pay $15,600.00, which was $764.63 more. I had no choice at this point but to order at the higher price because I needed the wood which FastFloors.com had placed on hold the previous day.
This difference of $764.63 between the amount quoted and the amount I was charged is my first claim against FastFloors.com. This is only for my original order of 104 boxes of wood flooring.
When the wood arrived and my installers began the installation, I was at work. I received a phone call a few hours after installation began, and it was the owner of the installation company. He had called to tell me that he wanted me to leave work and take a look at the wood, because it looked terrible and he didn't want to proceed any further without my authorization. I arrived at our new home and was horrified to see that the wood was marred by big streaks of black and dark red areas; large gray areas where dead wood had been used to make planks; worm holes and other unacceptable flaws.
I have included a catalog photo of how this wood is represented by Mannington; a website image from FastFloors.com; and a photo of an actual sample board from a local retailer. None of these, nor the actual wood samples Mannington mailed to me, depict accurately what FastFloors.com insists is "normal character for hickory". I contacted Mannington, and I contacted Galleher, (which is FastFloors.com's distributor), and both told me the same. I contend that if the photos and actual samples of this product do not depict it accurately, it is fraudulent misrepresentation of the product being sold.
My installers were using glue to install the wood flooring, and I told them that the wood they had already laid would have to be removed. They returned the next morning and began prying up the installed wood with saws and crowbars. The sub-floor sustained heavy damage and had to be replaced throughout the rooms which had required removal of the installed wood. I have included receipts for new plywood sub-flooring from Home Depot, and the bill from my installer to do the necessary repairs and the necessary hand-selection of the wood acceptable to floor my home. I have also included pictures depicting the removal of the sub-floor, and its replacement. The insulation was heavily damaged with sawdust from the removal of the bad wood, but I have not included the charges for replacing this item because our contractor was kind enough to give us left-over insulation from another job and my husband installed it.
The total square footage of the actual wood flooring that had to be removed and replaced was 446 square feet, at a cost of $2744.48. This is my second claim against FastFloors.com.
Mannington does allow a customer to reject any planks prior to installation, and receive a refund, but I was not allowed to return the 446 square feet of wood that had been cut and/or installed and then removed. I would have been willing to pay for this wood if it had been advertised accurately and if I felt that it was the first quality product promised to me at time of purchase. Unfortunately, it is the belief of the installers, my contractor, myself and others I have shown the wood to that what I actually received is "cabin grade" wood, with some first quality wood mixed into the cartons. The boxes of wood I received did not have the usual Mannington logo on them, unlike other boxes of their product which I happened to see when I was picking up two of the additional orders of wood flooring at Galleher's distribution facility.
Even if that is not the case and the wood I received was indeed a first quality product, half of the wood I received looked nothing like the representations I viewed before my purchase and based my purchase decision on. I ended up actually requiring twice as much wood as I had originally ordered, because half was unacceptably marred and flawed. FastFloors.com contends that I did not receive defective wood. It may not be defective, but it is definitely not what is represented in the various ways I saw it prior to purchasing. I feel the advertising of this particular product is false and fraudulent on Mannington's part, and that at the very least, their customers should be warned that the planks have huge areas of "character" in them, so the customer isn't caught off-guard as I was. Customers should be advised that they might want to order twice as much flooring as they measure for, so that they can hand-select their planks as we had to. I was extremely lucky that I was able to obtain enough acceptable wood to finish my house without delaying our final inspection more than 4-5 days.
I have included photos of the horrible wood I received, to demonstrate how misleading the advertising of this product is by both Mannington and FastFloors.com.
My third claim is for the excess shipping I had to pay to get enough decent wood delivered to finish flooring my house. The amount charged was $678.90. I am not billing for the two trips I personally made to Galleher's warehouse to pick up wood in my own car, which cost me several hours of missed work.
My fourth claim is for $5,460.00, which is the amount of the bill from my installers to remove the bad wood, do the labor necessary to replace my sub-flooring, hand-select all of the flooring that was acceptable for installation, and re-install the 446 square feet of wood that had been removed. They also re-boxed and taped some of the 104 boxes that had to be returned to FastFloors.com via Galleher Distribution, but did not bill me for that work.
My fifth claim is for the materials cost of the new sub-flooring. A copy of the receipt from Home Depot is included, in the amount of $310.74.
The amount that I feel I should be credited in this matter is $9958.75, which is my actual cost above and beyond what this flooring should have cost me. While I feel that Mannington should eventually be responsible for these costs, I made my purchase from FastFloors.com and it is my understanding that they would need to work with Mannington on being reimbursed.
___________________________________________________
American Express denied my claim initially, and I had to pay the entire bill I have re-opened the dispute this week and they are taking a second look at this complaint.
I have been corresponding with Mannington's California customer service representative, and he states that he sees no difference between my photos and the pictures in Mannington's advertising materials. The only explanation I can think of for this is that he could be blind.
My advice would be as follows:
Do not buy this product and expect to receive the Blue Ridge Hickory Plank 5" Natural floor represented in Manninton's advertising materials without considering the following carefully.
If you want the floor in the picture, buy about 220 - 230% of the square footage calculated, and be prepared to hand-pick EVERY plank. Of course, you will need to have many thousands of extra dollars of credit available on your credit card to accomplish this. In my case, that was nearly $20,000.00. Then, make sure you have help on hand to re-pack the boxes you need to send back for credit. The planks are random lengths, so they are like puzzles to put back together. Mannington will only take back FULL boxes. If you don't fit the pieces together correctly, you won't end up with a full box. Each box weighs 46-47 pounds, so don't do this with a bad back. And make sure you have plenty of room in which to accomplish this feat. It will take you a full weekend at best for a quantity of about 100 boxes, and that's if you are lucky enough to have a couple of young teenage sons willing to help you. My boys really wanted to be out riding their skateboards and weren't too happy working on this project all weekend.
American Express wants 30 days to work on this again. I fear it's going to become necessary to sue Mannington and FastFloors.com
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\\ ` It sounds like you bought everything over the phone or online. Spending that much money sight unseen probably not the smartest thing. Why would the flooring installer even install any if he thought was bad? You have to be able to see it's low grade as soon as you open the box.The flooring should sit in the house for about 3 days to acclimate to the temp. The first thing I would of done is inspect the material in least some of the boxes. Now your into this project for so much money and grief, So by contracting yourself and trying find the best deal what did you really save? I put about 800 sq ft of Mohawk oak Flooring in my house. First I get away from HD and Lowes found a small show. He suggested what flooring would be best to use. Took in the warehouse opened up some boxes we laid it out on the floor to look at. He said any unopened boxes we can return. Had us take a box home to lay out. Explained the waste factor 10% to 20% ( I maybe had 5% Milled my own T&G on bare ends) I was looking at floors $5-$8 the one he suggested was $3.5. After doing the wood floor I bought 1000 sq ft of floor tile , sent him two customers ( that went threw him) so service dose pay for the customer and store owner. I see al these bargain places everyware what's the old saying you get what you pay for. Unfortunately these places hear your argument every day that's how they do business I.I'm sure they will make you a partial offer ( small ) you know they might not even do that You accepted the floor and put some in. Another thought they most likely have multiple law suites against them Don't be surprised if the close the doors, they will be back with a new Name INC.
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Sacramento Dave wrote:

Yes, after viewing the product in stores, ordering catalogs and actual samples. It was a name brand product, so if it had been accurately represented by Mannington, everything should have been fine.

Not sure why he didn't call earlier. Maybe he wasn't there at the house when his guys started, but called me when he got there and saw what was there.
You

He told me he wanted it to acclimate for at least 2 weeks, which it did.

I'm not a flooring inspector, and if the product had been accurately represented, there would have been no problem.
Now your into this project for so much money and grief, So by

Mannington denies that I would have gotten better wood by paying more. The problem is their misrepresentation of their product.

And if you'd opened the boxes to inspect and there was a problem, you could not return them. That doesn't sound like a fair policy either.
>Had

That's fine, except when you buy name brand merchandise from a company such as Mannington. You are saying that I ended up with a lesser grade of wood, but Mannington and Galleher categorically deny that.

FastFloors.com is owned by Tonger Industries in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
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Which part of "the boxes (...received from the retailer...) did not ave Mannington's logo on them" do you not comprehend.
Mannington didn't screw you, but the retailer did, foisting off junk in place of most of the actual product you oredered.
--
Jim McLaughlin

Reply address is deliberately munged.
  Click to see the full signature.
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Jim,
Mannington claims that this product comes in plain boxes with white stickers at each end, which is what I received.
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Given that this was apparently the only set of boxes of this product available at short notice anywhere in the universe, I suspect that what you actually got was a collection of all the packets that got sent to other clients and then rejected and returned. If so, then they ought to have been sold as seconds, but that's the middleman's fault, not Mannington's.
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This customer left out a few really important facts. First, whether you buy Mannington or any other name brand from a local store or an online retailer, as long as the dealer is authorized by Mannington, you will be getting the exact same material. Most legitimate retailers will make sure a customer views a sample and/or is informed of what they are buying. FastFloors.com has a message on EVERY image of their web site strongly recommending the customer gets a sample prior to making a purchase. Additionally, wood is a product of nature and will vary in shade, markings, etc. Hickory varies dramatically from board to board. If you don't want any variation in your floor, paint the floor or use solid carpet, but don't use natural hardwood.
The owners of FastFloors.com have been in the industry over 25 years and have zero complaints with the BBB or any other governing body nor have they ever been sued by any customer in any court of law. The reason for their success is that they try really hard to please every customer, including the unreasonable customers and the dishonest ones as well. The owners of the company are in the office every work day and are always willing to step in and help personally.
Now let's mention something about Mannington, one of the oldest and most reputable flooring manufacturers in existence. They are the ONLY manufacturer (that I know of) who offers a pre-installation warranty. This means for ANY reason whatsoever you are not satisfied with their product, you can return it no questions asked as long as it has not been installed and get a full refund. This customer bought and received a first quality natural wood floor.
Okay now let's get to the customer. The customer ordered the flooring then claimed they were dissatisfied, the material was junk, second quality, etc. FastFloors.com offered to take back ALL of the material just as the Mannington warranty allowed. The customer did not return the flooring instead ordered almost the entire order again (basically double the amount) and had her installer hand pick through it and only keep what she liked. Mannington then took back EVERYTHING she didn't want, no questions asked, and FastFloors.com gave her a full refund. This was the customer's choice.
After FastFloors.com did everything in their power to satisfy the customer, what does the customer do? She decides to dispute the charges in an attempt to get all of her money back even though she kept all of the flooring. FastFloors.com sold the customer exactly what she asked for. They then worked with her on multiple shipments, clams with Mannington, returns, etc. to make sure she was happy, and she turns around and tries to get money back she doesn't have coming.
The facts are very simple, the customer was not happy with her selection. She picked the wrong floor for her needs and now is trying to throw the blame on the dealer and the manufacturer. All she had to do was return the flooring, get a full refund and buy something else. FastFloors.com is a family owned honest company. I know this first hand because I am the General Manager and one of the owners of FastFloors.com and I dealt with this customer personally. My name is Tony and I would be happy to talk to anyone who has any questions or concerns resulting from this customer's false claims.
Out of the tens of thousands of customers we've satisfied over the years, occasionally we get one that we can't satisfy and I take it personally. In this case it is by no means any fault of ours and I will not stand by while false claims are posted against us. Again anyone concerned is more than welcome to contact me directly at any time.
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Hey Tony, glad you posted your side of the story. I think most of us know the customer was probably the problem. I chose Mannington and I'm pleased with the result. My dealer sell Mannington because of their reputation and quality. Maybe next project you will be my dealer.
--
Ed
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome/



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