Caveat Emptor

My husband and I try to be good consumers. Some of the things that we bought when we first moved here and did not know with whom to deal did not last, so we paid attention to the business which were recommended to us. Thus it was with the people who put carpet in most of our house two and a half years ago.

My husband wasn't happy with the carpet from the start because he would sweep up canisters of fibers, but my sister, who had just carpeted her house, assured me that was normal. Then we noticed that for having been advertised as trackless, it wasn't, really. We have ripples in the carpet. I didn't think that was supposed to happen when you had it professionally installed. Next came the fact that it was hard to keep clean. When we had had the carpet two years, Stanley Steamer told me they couldn't get it clean anymore in a certain place because of the wear pattern.

Wear pattern? In two years? With only two of us and no kids living in the house? That didn't seem right!

I thought we had papers on a carpet guarantee, but my husband, who does the filing of such things, couldn't find them. Then I got sidetracked and for a while did nothing. Today, though, the last day of my break, I decided I was going to talk to the carpet people.

They were very nice to me and agreed to come out to the house to investigate. When the wife walked in and looked down, the first thing she did was say, "Oh, my!" I figured that meant that she saw the problem the same that I did.

The husband, though, got down on his hands and knees and brushed back the nap of the carpet. "Doesn't feel dirty," he said.

I knew that. Hence the wear pattern issue.

Having said that the carpet didn't feel dirty, he assured me that the dark path I was seeing was caused by grease from my kitchen. Now, I know that grease does track. I am, however, an adult, and I make a reasonable effort to keep my kitchen floor clean. I didn't see how grease could be such a problem.

Funny how the wife just clammed right up while all this was going on.

The husband put on his glasses. "I guess I need these things," he said, ""cuz I ain't seeing what y'all are seein'."

Glasses on, he decided that the problem was my sweeper. Now, by this time I was sort of irritated. First I didn't keep my kitchen clean, and next he questioned my ability to run a vacuum.

I said I didn't think the problem was the sweeper, and he said he wanted to see it, so I got it out. He proceeded to sweep. "See how that sweeper picks the nap up?" he said.

I did see. But I did not see that the sweeper took care of the dark path from the garage door to the kitchen. And the wife was silent.

After making a couple of passes with the sweeper, he told me that he had recently swept another home in which people had had complaints about their carpet. Seems he and his wife ran a carpet-cleaning business for a while, and they have industrial strength sweepers.

He looked at his wife. "Doesn't look as good as it would with our sweepers, does it?" he said.

Of course not! Then again, should I need an industrial strength sweeper to keep my carpet looking nice?

The next issue was the wrinkles. Since we had had the carpet more than a year, they would come out and stretch it. For $150 if we moved the furniture, $200 if they did. I told them I would think about it.

I know that things wear out, but I would not expect carpet for which I paid good money to wear out in so brief a time. And like I said, I did not expect carpet that was professionally laid to wrinkle. Ever. I thought that was the point of having it professionally installed.

And even though this carpet store had put carpet in the local schools and in the house of one of the teachers that I know with no problem, I don't think much of their business tactics. I know "Mom and Pop" businesses are becoming a thing of the past, but I would think the way to maintain your reputation would be to take care of problems when they occur. If the husband could explain away the "wear pattern," so be it. But he couldn't explain the wrinkles away.

Recommendations from people that you know about whose business is reputable are not enough, it seems. When it comes right down to it, I guess you have to go by that really old saying: Caveat emptor–let the buyer beware. And evidently you don't have to be wary just of the merchandise you purchase. You have to beware of the service you will receive as well.

I really thought we had done that. 


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