Man waits 6 years for $18,000 patio

September 28, 2009 7:41:38 PM PDT
After six years of banging his head against a wall, a Calistoga man has finally gotten the backyard patio he paid $18,000 for. But, he did not get satisfaction until he contacted 7 On Your Side.

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This is a story of customer perseverance and a company trying to improve its customer service. The way Jerry Baker's patio looks today is quite a contrast to what it looked like back in 2004.

"We had the patio installed in 2003. By 2004, it started to sag and really come apart," Baker told ABC7.

He ordered the patio through Expo Design Center which is owned by Home Depot. Home Depot contracted the installation to the Paving Stone Company of California. It was the Paving Stone Company that Baker first called to repair the patio. The company ignored him at first, but finally began returning his calls.

"In the middle of our negotiations for the repair, they closed the company and lost their contractor's license, and moved out of state," Baker recalled.

Then, he called the Expo Design Center, but Expo Design eventually went out of business too. All this happened as the condition of the patio worsened.

"It just became not a safe place for kids to play, because there were places that kids could trip and hit their head on sharp corners," Baker said.

So, he called the Expo Design Center's parent company Home Depot. Negotiations dragged on for nearly three years.

"There came a point when the frustration level here in Calistoga got a little higher than I would have liked," Baker told ABC7. "That's when I decided to call 7 On Your Side."

7 On Your Side contacted Home Depot and within 10 days they leaped into action. They sent out a new subcontractor, Barazani Outdoor, to do an inspection.

"From our observation, both the retaining wall that was holding the raised patio together and the sand installation were done improperly. So, the entire patio was sagging along the borders," said Roger Van Alst with Barazani Outdoor.

Home Depot agreed to have the old patio ripped out and ordered a new patio put in all at no cost.

"It was a much bigger job than even they realized," Baker recalled. "But, we are very happy with the end result."

State regulators say Home Depot has taken big steps to improve its customer service over the past three years. In 2006 that was not the case. A group of Home Depot customers gathered in ABC7's studio to complain about the company.

"Their mistake becomes your problem, because then it's your issue to resolve when it was really initiated by them," Autumn Casadonte of San Jose said in 2006.

"We basically had a baby faster than we had a kitchen," said Eric Knopf during the same interview.

7 on Your Side took those complaints to the Contractors State License board and the board met with Home Depot the same day ABC7's story aired. The company now has a representative to deal specifically with complaints from Northern California customers.

Regulators are happy.

"In this case, Home Depot now has really turned things around. They're very responsive to the complaints and they try to take care of the consumers if there are any problems," says Rick Lopes with the state license board.

When hiring a contractor, it is that contractor's responsibility to fulfill the contract even if the work is subcontracted to another company. If not, customers can file a complaint with the Contractors State License board.

Related Links:
Contractors State License Board
Woman gets Home Depot to change policy
Angry Customers Lash Out At Home Depot

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