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Hearth and Home Ithaca - change in service approach ?

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by RiddleMasterMorgon, Mar 14, 2013.

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  1. RiddleMasterMorgon

    RiddleMasterMorgon Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Messages:
    141
    Loc:
    Fingerlakes Region, NY
    I am afraid I have to vent my frustration in this forum and seek some opinion as to my sanity....

    The Hearth and Home in Ithaca was a great place as far as I was concerned for the last three years. I bought a BOSCA pellet stove there, and although they usually would not carry BOSCA, they agreed to find one and install it. With some minor prodding, the install went pretty smooth and I was a happy customer. I always had the impression that competent people are at work, cleaning service was great and my electronic board issue in year 2 was fixed on warranty in a reasonable time. Now, the only (minor hitch) was that they did not install an OAK back when, which I only figured out after a year and our first flue clean - so I went back, complained and sure enough the owner promised that I would have the 150 USD as a store credit (I was thinking about a second wood stove, so that was just fine with me and/or I could have spent on the next annual cleaning - no problem at all)...or so I thought.

    (Mistake Nr 1: Although I am the handshake kind of guy, always get it in writing, peoples memory is terrible lately)

    Couple of weeks back in 2013, I call the store to schedule my annual clean and get an appointment within days. I told the person on the phone that I have store credit I want to have moved towards the cleaning and I get the promise they they will look into it and it would be no problem.

    The guy comes out (new hire) - cleans the stove in a two hour long ordeal (usually 45 min) and starts packing up his stuff when I asked him how bad the flue pipe was, given that I burned through 4 tons by now. He tells me he does not have the equipment with him to clean the flue pipe and that on his order he only saw a 'pellet stove cleaning'....I was speechless, the guy just used the vaccum cleaner on it - something I do every other day, so yeah, no wonder he remarks that the thing looks pristine.

    OK, my mistake Nr 2: I write him a check for the cleaning work of 200 USD and have him only make a note on the invoice that they don't cash it before talking to me about my store credit (which he knew nothing about of course) and the fact they did not do a pipe clean either.

    Well, you can guess where this goes: No one called, my check was cashed right the next day and I drive to town to vent my anger. Now the (new ?) sales guy tells me he knows nothing about a credit and there is nothing 'in the system'; the stove clean was correct since it was marked as a pellet stove service and that would not include the flue clean (which would be an extra 200 USD !) and they cashed the check and that would be that.

    My objection that no one told me there would be two different service levels and that in previous years this was always one and the same thing were answered with: well, the guy who used to do this gave the service away and is no longer with the company...(there was also some badmouthing of the former employee that I will not repeat - all of which total BS, the guy knew his stoves).

    So I demand to talk to the owner, my phone gets noted down and I wait.....and wait...and wait....I call again 7 days later reminding about my desire to talk to the owner and I am told that the owner has many post it on his desk and that could take a while...but they would agree to come out and clean my flue for 30 USD and eliminate my store credit.

    I am still not OK with this since from my point of view I have paid the full 200 USD for exactly such service AND I have 150 USD store credit. For sure I am not paying a single more dollar to these people. Well, I am waiting for an answer still and have given up on them entirely. The owner Jay used to be pretty accessible in the past, but things seem to have changed a lot.

    I started to question my sanity (the classical 'could it be my fault ?' if someone gives you the stare just long enough) , so I walk over to the direct competition in town (Ithaca Stove Works) to ask what exactly a pellet stove clenaing would cost there and what exactly it would entail....sure enough, the WHOLE thing gets cleaned out (including the flue) and it costs only 180 USD....so much for that.

    More interesting though, I hear the story that actually three people that left Hearth and Home Ithaca not too long ago are now working for Ithaca Stove Works and they would be happy to send 'my' service guy out....

    ...so end of story, I decided to get yet another stove clean and this time for real. And although this will set me back another 180 USD (rather than the offered 30 USD, see above) by now I am so mad about this story that it does not matter anymore. My future business will go to Ithaca Stove Works and Hearth and Home in Ithaca will never seen me again in their store.

    Here are some questions though that I have for the community:

    - what is a common price for a pellet stove cleaning ? Is there anyone not doing a flue cleaning with it ? Would that not be a serious burn hazard - especially if I might not even know that the service level changed ?

    Is this just a stupid attempt to price the service so high that the service part of the business seazes ? Do they think they can have a viable business based on stove sales only ? I mean, 200 USD for a stove clean that usually took about 45 min is not a bad rate to make business out of I would think ? Thats more/about the rate for a car repair in this area.

    Any comments from folks on this forum ? Maybe from some of the dealership owners ? I would really like to rationalize what this was all about. And although I agree that I made mistakes along the way - I kind of want a world where a handshake actually does mean something....now, feeling much better already.

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  2. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

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    1,905
    Loc:
    central ct
    Seems to be a common theme these days....

    and we wonder why all our jobs went to china.....
  3. smwilliamson

    smwilliamson Minister of Fire

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    Southcoast, MA
    Feel better now? Anyone who shows up to clean the stove without tools to clean the vent should be shown the door and I would leave a google review, but maybe in fewer words...you don't want to come off as the cranky pants
  4. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Minister of Fire

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    NW Ontario
  5. RiddleMasterMorgon

    RiddleMasterMorgon Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Messages:
    141
    Loc:
    Fingerlakes Region, NY
    Thanks Scott and Lake Girl, google review is done and complaint with BBB is filed - for what its good, maybe it prevents others to fall into the some service hole, too late for me I guess.
  6. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Minister of Fire

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    NW Ontario
    Patience - may get your cleaning fee back eventually. Was the OAK mentioned in quote or invoice?

    Did you get the story on why the three service people left? Owner or poisoned working environment? From your comments on the new salesman, is it possible the owner is unaware of this dysfunction and salesman/serviceman covering their ignorance?
  7. RiddleMasterMorgon

    RiddleMasterMorgon Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2010
    Messages:
    141
    Loc:
    Fingerlakes Region, NY
    Hi Lakegirl,

    getting my money back is a faint hope I have, but not likely.

    The OAK was invoiced and payed 2 years back, so I have paperwork to back that up, sure. The people apparently left because they disagreed with the direction the owner is taking the company when it comes to how to treat customers (so I was told - which counts as hearsay only) and its possible that the salesguy made the call based on his own authority - we will see if the BBB complaint makes a difference. If the owner wanted to, he could certainly get to the bottom of it.

    I also heard (and thats hearsay again) that the owner filed for bankcruptcy last year - which is very likely not true, otherwise why would his doors still be open ? Not sure if one can look that up somewhere on a web page ?

    Ultimately, the market will clear this up and the 'invisible hand (Kaynes)' will do its work - its just unfortunate that in the meantime some people will pay the price....thats the downside of the 'free market'...

    On the plus, I had my pellet stove cleaned now from the competition in town. Sure enough they found the flue to be quite full of ash (fluffy, no problems with the pellets for sure, just the fact that 4 tons were burned so far and proof that the first guy did not clean it) - and it was even cheaper than what I payed the first time around....so my business just goes there in the future.
  8. Lake Girl

    Lake Girl Minister of Fire

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    NW Ontario
    If you have the documents for the OAK, should get a refund of cost and install that never happened. May want to get an estimate on what the OAK cost and install would be now. Get statement from the competition's service guy on the state of the stove/flue when they cleaned it, signed and dated - no longer heresay. In conjunction with the initial "cleaning" invoice and cancelled check, may help get the cleaning fee back - documentation is important!! Hope it works out...

    Is there any other hearth services besides these two? Old dealer may say his previous serviceman has an axe to grind... estimate from another party entirely would lessen that argument with BBB.
  9. Lousyweather

    Lousyweather Guest

    cleaning of a freestanding stove is $149, inlcudes cleaning of pipe, but does NOT include cleaning the chimney (if there is one)
  10. lederman1976

    lederman1976 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2013
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    ithaca
    I work for hearth and home and have so for 1 year. We take pride and and respect our customers very well. I am sorry to hear about you mishap or your bad experience but badmouthing is not the way to go! for every 400 customers there must be a stray baddie that just has to revolt.I do service calls on the occasion and also i do sweeps on the occasion. both are a different animal. you should ask what your getting before you buy! never assume. hell if i want something i ask before i buy. About the former employees! My partner and i have made at least 50 service calls to fix errors that they failed to do correctly. In this world nobody likes to be taken advantage of. It does not matter why they are gone it matters only that we are a STRONGER group of individuals that can perform as requested per customer. I take pride in the work i do and i have been in some real nice houses or estates that needed custom fabrication of units to excel beyond the limits of what most hearth stores are capable of. I am certain if you didn't bark like a mad dog some body would have heard your story more clear. I know just from this post the first thing i wanted to do was come sweep I would love to do that for you, But you have to pay.. am sorry your upset and want to take your self to stoveworks but i will say this.nobody works for free and i want free services also,so where do i get them. lol. It is your choice and i respect that as a person. i think it is a unwise choice. but in the end it its what you want. customer service means knowing and understanding the customers needs and requirements and meeting them on time.have a great night:)
  11. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    OK, look...this thread isn't gonna go anywhere that we want to go here. Take it outside and figure it out. Rick
    will711 and smoke show like this.
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