Empire Today Disgracefully Dishonest - Company Responds
MORAINE, OHIO -- I answered an add on craiglist almost 2 years ago. I get a call from Empire somewhere around Mid June of 2011. I meet with the "manager" to discuss the possibility of working for them as a sub contractor. I was asked to sign countless pages of a so called "agreement", never once being shown what I was signing. I had to fill out there ridiculous forms no less than 3 separate times. Each time I would ask "What is this for"? I was told some sort of different excuse each time. The first job I was to do for Empire, the temporary installation manager comes out to the warehouse with a blank paper with nothing more than a line for a signature. He said to me "Here you need to sign this before you start to do any work". Again I asked why, he explained it was just a technicality and that this form appears to have been lost and they need another copy of it. I loaded material to go to first job, Laminate flooring, and arriving at the job I noticed several details the sales person overlooked. After starting to lay out the material I realized the laminate was defective. The planks/panels where not milled properly, they wear out of square and when you put the planks together it would leave uneven gaps between the planks. I called to explain this to Empire, They wanted me to continue installing the product telling me "this is typical of this product, it's fine". I refused to continue and returned to the shop to show Empire first hand how bad the material was. There is day 1 where I invested time and was paid nothing for my time and expenses. A couple of days after that I was told they sent another crew out with the same material and they installed it, telling me that next time I have that situation to tell the customer "that is the nature of this product". Second job, I arrive at the customers house immediately seeing that the salesperson failed to accurately evaluate the scope of work. After about 2 hours of calling back and forth to Empire They finally contacted the customer and worked out a deal for additional money to correct the sales persons improper evaluation. This is job #2 that nothing additional was paid to me for the extra time spent correcting there mistakes. The third job I was dispatched to, we arrive to find 3/4" hardwood glued to concrete. Which the homeowner was to have torn out himself. The customer informed us that he worked on tearing out the floor for 3 days and finally gave up. Once again I spend hours calling back and forth to Empire to try to correct this issue. Which did not only refer to the fact the floor was not taken up, but the salesperson wrote on the work order that "glue may need to be scraped up in some areas". Again another over site by the sales person. The installation manager tells me "do what you need to do and we will pay you very well for the extra time" and also promised me that I would be paid the following Friday as I had to spend money out of my own pocket to buy the proper leveling compound to be able to properly install their new floor. That Friday came, and no check. I was told there "policy" does not allow for a contractor to be paid outside of there "scheduled pay period" This is job #3 involving a lot of extra time, and even money out of my own pocket that I was never reimbursed for. And what little I was paid was not paid to me on time as promised. Then the next job I was sent to I was told "We got you a real good job to help me make up for the money lost on the last few" I look at the stack of material and it is 3/4" solid Brazilian Cherry, and several buckets of glue. I informed them that you DO NOT GLUE DOWN 3/4" SOLID WOOD!(common knowledge/industry standard) The installation managers response, after I asked for an in writing guarantee that I would not be charged for this job after it fails, "it is in your contract, Empire will replace it at no cost to you". Arriving at the job site we notice that there is asbestos tile threw out the entire house. This is a type 1 asbestos that is only considered harmful if it is broken/cracked visibly degraded. In this situation the asbestos was in very poor condition and a danger to anyone in the home. I was first told "come back to the s hop and get a leveling compound/patch to cover all the asbestos tile (which is acceptable if the asbestos containing material is in good shape) Only after they realized that I was sent to the job with the incorrect flooring material (the 3/4" wood I pointed out from the very beginning) was I told to leave the job site. The next day about noon I was called by Empire demanding that I go back out to the job site and remove the carpet so I could save the job for Empire and they would not lose this customer. I again explained the condition of the asbestos and I went on to explain that if I removed the carpet it would disturb the degraded asbestos underneath of it putting myself and the occupants of the home in real danger and the response I got was "you will only crack the tile a little bit here and there when you pull the tack strip up" I said no I am not comfortable doing that. Not 15 minutes later the same guy from Empire calls me again. "We really need you to go out and save this job for us, we really got egg on our faces over this one" I again said no, to which he told me "come on and do this for us and you can put a feather in your cap and if you don't do it you will be blacklisted" To which I responded "if that's how you need it to be, fine!" and hung up. This is job #4 that I was never paid anything for the time invested (about 4 hours) loading material in and out of the customers house and countless phone calls back and forth to Empire while stuck at the job site.
To any customer thinking about having Empire out to your home, I hope this gives you a small look behind the scenes and what goes on there.
I am not looking to get millions of dollars from them, I simply want what is rightfully owed to me. They have been reported to OSHA, The Federal Trade Commission, The Bureau of Workmans Comp, The Attorney General of Ohio, and to all of the local news "trouble shooters". I will not rest until Empire is forced to close there doors!
I was never shown a "price list" there pay scale was never disclosed to me, I was asked to sign countless papers with no explanation of what they wear or why I needed to sign them, I was given an excuse for everything, lied to countless times, and not paid for my time and efforts. I was told by the general manager of this Empire location that "there are costs to doing business" and I was told every excuse as to why they could not pay me.
The office staff at this location is without a doubt the most unorganized mislead group of individuals I have ever had the misfortune of meeting. One person will tell you one thing, then the next person tell you something completely different. I urge all potential customers and/or contractors thinking of getting involved with Empire to take a good long look at not only this review but the countless others out there. They advertise in such a way as to make people believe they are saving money buy using Empire, when in reality they are spending more!
places like Empire are driving skilled trades people to work for minimum wage and introducing less skilled people into the trade due to there ridiculously low pay scales.