At the age of 45, I have never been so horribly treated by an established business. Here is my story:
We went to a Home Improvement event in downtown Kansas City and fell in love with a beautiful Coast Spa. The salesman was very informative and helpful. He sold us the floor model "as is" at a nice price. As we were signing the contract, we found out it was Esther Williams selling the spa and the salesman, a Coast Spa representative, was only helping. We found out later that Esther Williams has been in business here for over 30 years.
If we had met any of the 5 Esther Williams employees I have since met, we would never have purchased the spa.
Delivery was smooth until they placed the spa on the ground. They said to fill it (350 gallons) to check for leaks. We did and they disappeared. We assumed they went to get the cover and stairs that had been forgotten. The office is only 10 minutes away, but it took them 5 hours to return.
We were away by the time they came back. When we returned there were no messages, but we did find a partially assembled cover and lifter, and a small set of stairs (not what we ordered) and a plastic bag of spa chemicals to use. The cover had three holes in it where it was obvious the lifter parts had gouged it.
We called and it seems they don't take messages. It was Friday evening and they are open on Saturdays so I called the next morning and no answer.
Monday I called and finally talked with Susan. She said she forgot to call me Friday to say we needed to empty the spa so they could finish installation. She admitted her crew had asked to fill the spa, but nothing could be done about it. I asked about the damage to the cover and she said it would be fine. I asked how long before they could replace it and she said that was not possible. I asked where the stairs that I ordered were and she said nobody gets those without paying more. When I explained the saleman said we would, she said it was a mistake.
We called the Coast Spa representative and he contacted Esther Williams to clear things up. They agreed to replace the cover, install the lifter without dumping 350 gallons, and deliver the correct stairs. This was to happen the following Thursday.
Friday came and not a word from Esther Williams. It ended up taking three and a half weeks to get the cover and proper stairs. The lifter was never installed properly.
During this time the spa blew a fuse while we were in it. Scared my wife and I to death. We called and they couldn't get anyone out for 4 days (remember they are 10 minutes away). I asked if it would be OK for the spa to be down that long and they said not to worry about it as long as the chemicals were in it. They were.
Come to find out, stagnant spas, chemicals or no, develop bacteria. When the spa was fixed, water tested, and warmed up, we used the spa. The next day we developed strong skin irritations which became infected. Seems we were ill advised and contracted folicule infection (foliculitus). Other spa dealers in this area could not believe we were not warned and advised properly. They looked at our chemicals and that is when we found out no chlorine to kill the bacteria was provided. It took three full weeks to recover.
A week after they finally fixed the spa, it broke again. This time I submitted a complaint to the Better (ha!) Business Bureau.
They repaired it and it seems to still be working so far. Their reply to my BBB complaint was obnoxious. They played me out to be some whining customer that they bent over backwards to accommodate. That they had done nothing wrong at all. They never addressed their ill advice or have never offered any compensation for any of the troubles they have given us.
I contracted an electrician to inspect the spa and without flat out accusing Esther Williams, he let me know the problem was from the Esther Williams installation and repair earlier. He also informed me of the Esther Williams reputation in the area. Advice: Never pay in advance. Hold your next payment until Esther Williams makes their repairs or you are put at the bottom of the list. And never, like I did, pay in full.
So now we go back and forth with the BBB complaint. Reply within 10 days or the complaint is considered resolved. You can't find record of my complaint on the BBB web site. Esther Williams is listed as "no complaints".
I know there are many people out there who have had much worse experiences and total ripoffs, but what is this world coming to if you have to fight a company just to get what you paid in advance for?