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Having Issues with Installer, what to do?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by MattW, Jul 6, 2013.

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  1. MattW

    MattW New Member

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    This isn't really a stove issue so I'm not sure this is the right place for all this, if not I apologize in advance. All parties names are changed. I will strive to be as objective and factual as possible, the other parties might post here too, you never know.
    My wife and I are building a new house and we chose an Alderlea T-6 stove with some helpful advice here. (http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/...w-stove-alderlea-t6-maybe.91507/#post-1199003). The room we are putting the stove in doesn't really have corners or an appropriate wall to put a stove against so we decided on a alcove/chase in the vaulted great room clad in stone. I went around to all the shops and got estimates for the install and stove and settled on Merv to buy the stove from and handle the install. Since Pacific Energy had a promo on the stove I bought it at this point and Merv said I could leave it in his warehouse rather than take it to my jobsite. I thought sure sounds good. During the purchase Merv held himself out to be a stove expert and seemed to have all the answers. I had done some research on the stove and alcove and knew a bit about clearance to combustibles, however for aesthetic reasons I wanted to find a way to lower the height of the alcove opening from the mandatory 84 inches to combustibles, we wanted it to be about 70 inches. No problem Merv says, "just wood frame to the mandatory clearances and steel stud frame the small piece that lowers the opening." Great simple I say and head home. At this point those of you that know about these things are probably shaking your heads.
    Fast forward a couple months and we are framing the chase and alcove. I am not a stove installer and my contractor hasn't built a home with a wood stove before (in my area it's commonly believed that wood burning is banned even though it's not) so we decide to ask Merv to come and check everything out so we don't have any screw-ups. Merv seems reluctant saying "our deal on this stove didn't include site visits" but he comes in the end. It's about a 25 minute drive each way. At this point we reiterate and show him how we have framed and sheeted up to or exceeding all the clearances for the alcove and make sure we have sufficient clearance in the chase for the stove pipe. It is said again that we want to lower the height of the alcove opening. Merv again says that is all fine as long as the combustibles meet the clearances, just steel stud and cement board the small part that is closer than the clearances and cover everything in stone. He draws a line on the framing at 86 inches, "frame the front in wood down to here and steel below down to 70 inches". The back and sides are already complete as per his instructions framed and sheeted in wood. Myself, the contractor and two framers are all present and all leave with the same plan how to finish this alcove and chase. We finish building everything and tell him to send the installers.
    The WETT installers show up and seem a little confused at what they see but they install most of the chimney anyway, they can't finish the job because Merv has sent them with a lot of wrong parts. On leaving the installer Wilf says he need to check on a few of the things he's seeing here. It is Friday.
    Monday I phone Merv to see when Wilf is coming back and Mervs wife answers. She informs me there are issues with the alcove and chase and the height of the opening. I say there shouldn't be since we built it to Mervs specifications. She also informs me Wilf is away for the week.
    Next Monday Wilf is back and tells me that either I have to have an 84 inch or more high opening in the alcove or build the entire thing of steel studs. No simple task since the back wall is load bearing. Lowering the opening at the front limits the air space around the stove and deflects too much heat onto the wood sides.
    I think well we all make mistakes, I'll phone Merv and see if he can help me out a bit. I phone Merv and get his wife "Oh it's you, we've been expecting your call" I'm told in and unfriendly tone. Then I get Merv.
    Me: Hi Merv
    Merv: (angry voice for entire conversation) If you think I'm paying for any of this you can think again
    Me: Um
    Merv: You guys built this wrong that's not my fault
    Me: We built it how you told us
    Merv: That is not how I told you
    Me: That was the whole point of the site meeting, stove pipe clearances in the chase and the height of the alcove. We were all there, you drew the line on the framing.
    Merv: I did not
    Me: You're denying you drew the line?
    Merv: We never talked about any of this
    Me: I'm not sure what to say to that
    Merv: Are you calling me a liar? (also carries on for a while about how hard he has worked at this job with site visits and all and how he's gone above and beyond in every way)
    Me: Well Merv I'm going to get this fixed but we'll have to talk some more
    I then get the load bearing wall re-engineered with steel stud and I'm getting set to re-build the whole thing. I think, to avoid any further screw-ups I should get the stove over here to actually measure against and check clearances and make sure the trivets can swing etc. I'm also concerned that Merv is a lunatic and has my stove. I call Merv to tell him I'm coming to pick it up but I get Mervs wife whom I leave the message with. No one calls back. I call a few more times and no one answers. I leave a message on the machine. I go to pains to be friendly and try and keep things pleasant Merv calls back.
    Me: Hi Merv
    Merv: (again angry whole conversation) You can't have the stove.
    Me: I already paid in full for the stove
    Merv: yeah, and that stove is the only assurance I have that you won't stiff me
    Me: long pause... then I'll pay you for the install so far and get the stove
    Merv: I want to see this job to completion
    Me: I don't see that happening
    Merv: I'm keeping this stove
    Me: put together the numbers what you have into this so far, I want to pay you, take my stove and part ways
    Merv: Give me a couple days ( again much carrying on about how hard done by he is in this deal and how dare I call him a liar last time, which I didn't actually)
    So now it's been a couple days and I'm going to Mervs shop tomorrow. I want my stove at my house now. I'm hesitant to do any further business with Merv on this install although I'm fine with Wilf who is a hired WETT contractor. I'm concerned with Merv thinking he's going above and beyond that his price before this is over might also go above and beyond. I don't want any further dealing with a dishonest man. I realize now that I should have had Wilf looking at the alcove right from the start, if only I'd known then. I sort of feel like Merv should have known that and put me in touch with Wilf. I understand in a way Merv wanting to keep my stove as leverage (for business reasons) but on the other hand, he gave me bad advice, lied about it and is now accusing me of plotting to stiff him on the install. I never suggested any such thing or even asked for compensation, I had originally just intended to ask for a bit of a price break if he could see his way to do that. What to do next? Am I missing something here that I'm actually the bad guy but I don't see it? Am I off base in thinking Merv is wrong? Is this just the norm in the industry? Thanks for any thoughts you have.

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Sorry, it's late and my eyes are tired. I'm a little confused with the long story. What essentially is (are) the error(s)? Did the alcove ceiling get installed at 86" and the WETT installers insisted it be 84"?
  3. Rickb

    Rickb Feeling the Heat

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    Basically by dropping the opening of the alcove the installer has concerns with heat build up, and doesn't think the clearances are enough. Which is prob true. I dropped my alcove but used all stone and metal for this reason.

    As to the idiot shop owner. I would go to his shop ask them for the stove. When he refuses call your credit card company while standing there in there stove and tell them you want to dispute the charges. When they ask why, say the store owner refuses to give you the merchandise. I did this once. Took about 2 hours to get all my money back and the store owner got to deal with it.
    Joful likes this.
  4. MattW

    MattW New Member

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    No the alcove ceiling got framed down to 86 inches in wood and we then steel studded it down to 70 inches to make the proportions of the alcove and chase look right. The WETT installers say it has to go back to 86 inches with no steel studding lowering the ceiling or frame the entirety of the alcove in steel stud if we want the ceiling at 70 inches. They say restricting the airspace above the stove deflects too much heat onto the wooden sides. The error is that although I thought we had done our homework we were advised to build the alcove incorrectly which isn't so bad, it's his behaviour afterward that has me a bit baffled. Sorry I wasn't clear.
  5. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    Can you just raise the ceiling height back up to 86"? It seems like it would be worth rebuilding the entire thing just have a lower ceiling height.

    I would demand a refund on the stove if he won't give it to you! From what you have said, this situation is his fault. And now he is denying even having the discussion? That's pretty unbelievable! I would do no more business with the store, nor would I want to buy a stove from them. What happens when it needs service or warranty? You will need to deal with them again, it won't be pleasant.

    Take a look at your bid, compare it to what you have completed at your house and pay the appropriate amount, get a refund on the stove and run!
  6. MattW

    MattW New Member

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    I could raise it to 86 inches but it just doesn't look right, I don't know what else to say. I'm building the last house I'll ever live in and my wife and I want it to be right. Once I compromise on the height it is literally set in stone (we're stone cladding the alcove). It's not that it's a great deal of money to rebuild in steel stud, not an amount to break us. I don't even consider this all to be that huge a mistake with the rebuild. I'm just surprised that rather than saying sorry guys I've misled you and I'll help where I can on the price he's taken the route of getting mad at us and becoming obstinate.
  7. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    It's pretty unbelievable.
  8. MattW

    MattW New Member

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    I know, I sure didn't see it coming either
  9. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Take your receipt to the stove shop, demand your stove, and a refund of the labor he will not be performing now, and if he refuses, call the cops. The while he is arguing with the cops, call your credit card company, dispute the charge, tell them why, and let him have the worst day if his life. Also call PE, and explain to them that one of their dealers will not give you the stove you already paid for. F HIM!

    You have been very good and calm about all this. I don't know that I could have lasted that long.
    Kudos to you.
    USMC80 and Scols like this.
  10. ToltingColtAcres

    ToltingColtAcres New Member

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    ..assuming you paid by credit card, I would contact my credit card company and inform them the vendor has refused to deliver the merchandise, and initiate a chargeback. Then, look for another dealer to work with, and of course, contact the vendor and speak to someone in the appropriate department to relate your experience with one of their representatives.

    And of course, set up a web site documenting everything with real names, etc. Nothing a company hates more than "bad press", especially these days on the Internet. Everyone googles around when they are making large purchases. (As an aside, many years ago I got stiffed by a 'dealer' selling aftermarket Harley parts... I set up a web site, and in a few months, I had people around the country emailing me similar stories. Eventually, I was contacted by a detective in Dade County who found my site, and the guy had charges filed against him. I was never a party to the case because my credit card company reimbursed me the $1200, but, it does work)

    If you didn't (pay by credit card), the only other option I would see is to pay in full everything that is outstanding so you can get your stove, and document all the expenditures related to the rebuild, etc. and finishing the install (which I assume will be done by another party at this point.) You can also then get affidavits from the people who did the alcove build and who were present when the line was drawn on the wall, and then take the entire matter to small claims court.

    Even if you can successfully do a chargeback, I would still (depending on the cost of the rebuild) consider a small-claims action, since you were provided reasonable assurances by an individual who holds himself out to be an industry expert. Using the "reasonable man" standard of tort law, it is safe to say that, in absence of a specific disclaimer to the contrary, a layperson has a reasonable expectation that a stove company representative knows what s/he is talking about when it comes to clearances, etc. since those are common points of discussion an individual whom is purchasing a stove would engage Merv in.

    This story is an excellent illustration of why I pay for *everything* on my credit card. You have a significant amount of consumer protection when you do.

    This "legal" advice is worth exactly what you paid for it. I am not an attorney, I just play one on the Internet.


    Since the transaction has not yet been paid in full, the police will likely see this as a civil matter dealing with a contractual dispute, rather than a matter of larceny. Of course, it wouldn't hurt to visit the local police department and tell them you wish to file a larceny charge. Given the dollar amount it would likely be considered a felony in your jurisdiction, however, I don't think you will get a lot of traction via this route.
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    This sounds more like the builder's fault than the stove shop. Would the builder install a commercial range, a cabinet or a custom spa without first reading the specs and installation manual? The stove manual dictates clearance requirements. I'm surprised that neither the homeowner nor the builder read the manual. Had they done this they would have seen that the manual for the T6 clearly states it requires 90 inches ceiling clearance for a alcove. 70" is exceptionally low for any stove alcove. These specs are not based on how it looks, they are based on safety which should be the prime directive here. Ignorance is a poor excuse when documentation is readily available. Most insurance companies would take exception to skirting this directive.

    One way to mitigate the tall look is to slope the ceiling with a lower back than the front. That will vent the heat at the top of the alcove better. Another trick is to do a visual break at 70" or whatever looks right. This could be accomplished by having contrasting tile (or stone) scheme with say a darker tile at the bottom and a lighter more neutral tile above 70". Get creative and it could look very intentional and stylish.

    T6 alcove.JPG
  12. ridemgis

    ridemgis Burning Hunk

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    Agreed - right up to the point where the stove dealer came out to draw a line on the wall! Then he's got a problem.
    And the dealers "you can't have the stove" remark. Hogwildz is dead right- F#%^ him! Pay the man for his time and the stove and demand a firm delivery date.

    My stove seller was great to deal with, but I had to rule out three asshat installers before finding a guy who didn't BS me.
    Jack Fate and Joful like this.
  13. MattW

    MattW New Member

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    I appreciate your post and I do wish to see all sides of the issue. The Alderlea T-6 manual I have says 7 feet or 84 inches, http://www.pacificenergy.net/alderlea/pdfs/AL6B-190313-24.pdf, (page 7 figure 2A) and the WETT installer agrees with that, both the builder and I have read the manual. We stopped the wood at 86 inches to leave room for the slate floor that's to go in under the stove, so we'd still have our clearances. We had and understood all the clearance to combustible issues but in Canada at least (not sure about the USA) WETT allows you to decrease those clearances using non-combustible materials but the exact how to's are only found in their WETT manual. I didn't need any help from Merv over the clearances to combustibles we were asking him the how to on decreasing the alcove height in a safe manner with non-combustible materials, he gave us the impression that he did know the rules. No one wants the installation to be safe more than I and that's why I'm glad that Wilf the WETT installer has stopped things short here and like I said I'm not really that upset about the mistake and haven't even really registered any displeasure with Merv, he jumped to that conclusion himself, it's his behaviour since that's been maddening.
    I agree that safety is more important than aesthetics but I believe that done correctly I can have both and Wilf agrees, just not the way that Merv repeatedly said I could.
  14. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Personally I would dispute the charge and leave that stove where it is and go find another dealer. Once a deal starts going South it never gets any better. Just what I would do. He said you can't have the stove so get all your money back, be done with him and then deal with the alcove issue.
  15. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Good advice BB. PE stoves are easy to find in BC. If no other local dealer, get it from http://www.chimneysweeponline.com/ in Bellingham. Ask for Tom. He will treat you well.

    Matt, sorry for the wrong spec. I have an older Alderlea and took it from that manual. You are correct, they dropped the requirement to the more standard 7 feet in the current manual.

    PS: Welcome to hearth.com.
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  16. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    IIRC, any disputed charge results in a pretty significant charge to the seller, regardless of outcome.

    That's a pretty drastic change in behavior. Perhaps he has a reason to be defensive and evasive, if not an outright liar. I'd get away as quickly as possible.
  17. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    The nerve of that Merv! :mad: (Trying to make you laugh, lest you cry.)
    I agree, I would stick Perv with the stove if possible, cut him loose, and find a good dealer.
    If you post some pics of the situation, maybe someone can come up with a workable solution....
    Definitely not. :p;)
  18. MattW

    MattW New Member

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    No problem begreen, objective opinions are what I'm looking for, I don't want to get mad and then find out I was wrong.

    I visited Mervs shop about an hour ago. When I'm there in person he's completely polite and speaks in kindly tones. When I said I wanted a total for the job so far and to take my stove and part ways he seemed genuinely baffled, he even asked why I wanted that. I'm beginning to think he may be in some way mentally ill, dementia, alzheimers, bi-polar or something, he is quite old. He went on in granfatherly tones explaining how Wilf and himself were giving me guidance to get me fixed up after my crazy idea of how to build this. He couldn't give me a total because Wilf hadn't given him a total of the hours and supplies used so far. I've given him until Monday only because I'm thinking he's ill in the head.
  19. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    I agree. What in the world were you thinking? ;lol
    Direct him to hearth.com; He will fit right in here. ;lol
  20. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I am still chuckling over him sending out a Wilf. ;lol
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    You bad. ::-)
  22. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    I didn't know the installer was a woman.... ==c
  23. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    I get the impression that Merv realizes he screwed up, and doesn't want to acknowledge/admit that to you. He would lose face and it would make it easier for you to sue him (which it sounds like you could readily do under the circumstances for the cost in redoing the alcove)..

    He's probably being unreasonable just to strengthen his bargaining position, because unless you're a sue-er (someone who just loves taking people to court whenever they can) the best way out of this is to bargain down the price -- the idea being he will have to cut his price somewhat to compensate you for at least some portion of your costs to redo the alcove.
    begreen likes this.
  24. MattW

    MattW New Member

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    I'm thinking this about sums it up.
    I also thought a bit more about the wild mood swings and thought another possibility is that he is a telephone tough guy and I'm a bit scarier in person. We shall see.
  25. Michael Golden

    Michael Golden Burning Hunk

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    WILF! You guys lol!
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