Start with Part I below if you haven't already.
I called the Extreme Hardwoods business phone early the next morning from my sister's house-- too early to expect Jeff to be in the office to answer, but the men were supposedly scheduled to return to my house at 8:00 in the morning (which at this point I was pretty much taking to mean noon, but one couldn't be sure). I left a message on the voicemail which went pretty much like this (I am paraphrasing, of course, because I don't record my phone calls, though after all of the problems I've had lately with deceptive business people, I'm beginning to think I always should):
"After showing up several hours late yesterday without proper notice, your crew did not finish sanding the floor. There are still several areas near doorways that have not been sanded. They also did not clean up after themselves. They did not vacuum up the sawdust left from sanding, and they did not put dust cloths in the doorways, even though during my previous conversations with you, you insisted your company would make every effort to contain the dust. I specifically hired a professional to do a job I could have done myself in part because I have a small child and a husband with severe allergies in my home, and I did not want them to be exposed to the dust from the floor sanding. There is now dust on every single flat surface in my kitchen and dining room. None of the finish swatches you put down on the floor are dark enough to cover the stains that remain there after sanding, and there are still several dark stains on the floor, despite the fact that you insisted you were certain that most of the stains would sand up.
I am extremely dissatisfied with your service at this point in time. I understand the bad weather contributed to the delay in starting the job, but it does not excuse poor workmanship after your crew arrived. I hope we can come to an amiable solution in this situation, but if you do not make an immediate effort to increase my level of satisfaction with your service, I will do my very best to make certain that every man, woman and child in the St. Louis metropolitan area has the opportunity to know just how dissatisfied I am."
What can I say? I get really wordy when people piss me off.
Jeff called me back almost immediately to tell me that he was already awake because he had just found out his aunt died.
I have no idea whether this story was actually true. On Wednesday, when I asked him why the crew had showed up so late and no one had called me, he had told me, over the phone, variously:
1.) That the reason the crew showed up so late on Wednesday was because they were stuck in traffic the likes of which he had never seen in the St. Louis area in his entire life,
2.) That the reason the crew showed up so late on Wednesday was because one of the crew members had been in a car accident on the way to work,
3.) That the reason the crew showed up so late on Wednesday was because the occupants of the house they had been working at before mine had thrown away some of the crew's sanding equipment, and the crew had to go dig the sanding equipment out of the trash.
Then there was also the bit, previously mentioned, where he told me over the phone the crew was already on my street when, in fact, I could see my entire street from my front window and there was no floor sanding crew on it, and then he told me they must be mysteriously lost. On my street. Which I could see from my window.
Seems like an awful lot of calamities to happen to one business in one week, I thought.
Then again, I can personally attest to the fact that when Calamity rains on a person, it generally pours. And, where dead relatives are concerned, I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt.
So, I offered my condolences, and apologized for calling at such an early hour, explaining that I would shortly be on my way to meeting the men at the house, and I wanted to discuss the fact that they had not finished the sanding and had not brought the right color finish before they arrived, so that they would not show up without the proper equipment.
And then he started YELLING at me that he thought it was absurd that we had already had six phone conversations about a "small three-day job," and said, "If I had known the deal would go south like this, I would have backed out right at the beginning." He then proceeded to tell me that the men had "worked late" (I suppose working for two entire hours, and then cutting out of work before 4 p.m., is working late?!?!?) because "You and your husband had a problem with the contract." By which he meant our refusal to let two men we had never met before start major construction work alone in our house without finding out when we could actually read and sign a supposedly required contract for the work-- the contract that Jeff failed, on two separate scheduled occasions, to provide. Nevermind the fact that the contract issue added a whole other half hour or so on to the nearly FIVE HOUR delay before the crew EVEN SHOWED UP to my house.
Then he told me that he was of a mind to pull out of the contract entirely, and he would send his men to pick up their equipment from my house and then tell them to leave. He claimed that after they got the equipment back, he would send back the 50% deposit we had given him in the mail.
Now, at this point, I probably should have taken him up on the offer, despite the fact that I was pretty sure I'd never see that check again without taking him to small claims court.
Problem was, at this point, I had AN ENTIRELY BARE, incompletely sanded wooden floor in HALF OF MY HOUSE. Including in the hallway you have to walk down to get to the bedrooms and bathrooms, and right in front of the front door. In the middle of winter, with snow on the ground, so that no one could walk into my house without tracking water in. Bare, unprotected wood boards, that any sort of spill of liquid could possibly ruin. And I had possibly toxic wood-and-floor-finish dust everywhere. I still had a small child, with no relatives nearby who had time to watch him while I worked, a husband who is allergic to everything in the air anyone could possibly be allergic to, and a big from-home project to finish, the combination of which would pretty much prohibit my finishing the job myself in any sort of timely fashion. And if I hired another contractor to finish the job-- if I could even find one who would be willing to finish a half-done job-- and if I could afford to pay them on top of what I had already paid -- who knew WHEN they could come? I might unable to use my living room or hallway for weeks!
Plus, there was the dead aunt story. If it was true, it could sort of explain why he was being an such an asshat on the phone.
So, I told Jeff from Extreme Hardwoods that he was most certainly not going to pull out of the job-- he was going to finish the job, in a timely fashion, to my satisfaction. His crew was going to use proper dust containment procedures from that point out, and they would make every effort to clean up the mess they had already made. And if he fixed all the problems, and finished the job quickly, I would pay him in full, and we would be square.
Well, so, that was a really dumb idea on my part.
This story is already getting really long, so I'll try to list the ways Extreme Hardwoods screwed up their job in a short a way as possible:
1.) They used a wood stain that was too light to conceal the pet stains, even after I told them AGAIN that I wanted a darker finish.
2.) They scratched a very long scratch in the floor, across nine floor boards, which was too deep to sand out, and is now very visible due to the fact that they used a penetrating wood stain on a fresh cut. When we asked them about it, they tried to blame the scratch on us, claiming it was a knife cut we had made when we tore up the carpet. When I told them I had taken extensive photographs of the floor before they started their work, in case of just such a scenario, that proved the scratch was not there beforehand (entirely true), THEY STILL STUCK TO THE SAME STORY that the scratch had been there before.
3.) They did not buff/screen/finely sand/whatever it is you're supposed to do to the floor properly after the initial sanding, and therefore they left spiral marks from the sander all over the floor. Marks which are now quite visible, because, again, the penetrating stain settled into the scratches. Marks which I am not sure I will ever be able to get removed, because I am not sure I can ever get my floor sanded again, because they sanded the floor quite deeply, I suppose because they were trying to sand out the cat piss stains, and you can only sand a wood floor so many times before there is no wood left to sand.
4.) They left pools of polyurethane in multiple spots on the floor that left visible ridges and ripples as they dried.
5.) They left wood stain handprints on my walls.
(And no, that's not right next to the floor-- that's halfway up the wall. Good thing I have yet to paint that wall the color I want to paint it. But they didn't know that).
6.) They splashed wood stain all over my MONTH-OLD CURTAINS, THE CURTAINS THAT MATCH MY SOFA ACCENT PILLOWS PERFECTLY THAT I HAD TO GO TO THREE DIFFERENT STORES TO FIND, which, by the way, it would have taken them approximately TEN SECONDS to pull up over the rod so they would not be in the way (they did this on the first day, but not on subsequent days).
7.) They did not clean up any of the dust in the rooms outside the living room, and they did not bother to use dust cloths on the second day despite my complaint (although I am not sure how much sanding they actually even did on the second day-- see sander marks above).
It took two people cleaning for six hours, an entire roll of paper towels, an entire canister of Clorox wipes, and lots and lots of dish soap and special floor cleaner to clean up the mess, and I STILL smell burning dust when I turn on my toaster.
Thus far, all Extreme Hardwoods has offered us is a $50 refund toward the dust cleanup, and a free spot-refinishing of the areas of the floor that have polyurethane ripples on them, the latter of which we have yet to take them up on, BECAUSE OH MY GOD WE DO NOT WANT THESE PEOPLE TO COME BACK INTO OUR HOUSE.
Forget the fact that they might damage something.
I might damage THEM.
I don't know how this is the same company that came with such a glowing recommendation from my husband's coworker. I guess she got lucky. Really, really lucky. In the sort of way I never seem to get lucky, ever. Well, except for that one time I met my (then) future husband in the food court at the Galleria.
Now, Extreme Hardwoods apparently needs to send an "impartial third party" (i.e., as far as I can tell, some buddy of Jeff's) out to look at the damage tomorrow.
At 7:30 in the morning.
Not like it matters, since I'm sure they won't be here until 10:00.