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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Kohler Bathtub Delivered Damaged

Our tub arrived a few weeks back in the middle of a snowstorm. And it is a thing of beauty... except for that horrible crack in the bottom and a ding in the corner flange.

When you order your bathtub, the fine print will tell you to inspect the product as it's coming off the truck. If it's damaged, do not accept the delivery. The product will go back to Kohler and they will send out a replacement. Sounds straightforward, yes? Not so much.

The day it arrived, New York City was a winter wonderland. I was busy at the office. Henry my contractor was at the apartment waiting for the delivery. We had discussed it the night before. He would give me a call after it arrived.

I got a call while I was at work - but it was from the truck dispatcher.  She said the driver was steering his large freight truck around in near-blizzard conditions in Jackson Heights, and there was nowhere in my ice-bound residential neighborhood to park in front of my building. They couldn't reach my contractor Henry on his cell phone to meet them at the curb so they were calling me.

I didn't know what to say. Don't they think about things like snowy weather and residential street traffic ahead of time? While on hold, I overheard the Fedex dispatcher say that my driver had just hit a tree and the branch fell on a car, causing damage.


Meanwhile, I was also trying to reach Henry and his cell phone was going straight to voicemail. Totally unlike him. I had a sinking feeling that his phone was out of battery (and it would turn out that I was right).

Meanwhile, the truck driver was apparently traveling solo and unable to simply jump out of the truck to ring the doorbell to summon Henry who I knew was up working in the apartment, waiting for the tub.


Since when do truck drivers make deliveries solo, without a partner driving shotgun to help make the delivery? They can't even ring a bell?

Unfortunately, this is the world we are living in now, when delivery companies are squeezing every dime out of the bottom line. And one of the reasons I'm writing this particular entry, which in fact, depresses me to recall.

In the end, the driver was able to park, get out, ring the bell, and get Henry. He lowered the tub which comes in a crate, down to the curb where Henry was waiting with three guys (these tubs can weight 500+ lbs) to get it up to the apartment. He called me when it was over. And that was it. The tub sat in it's crate in the empty living room for the next month while they finished tiling the bathroom.

Then came the day they uncrated it to check some measurements - and discovered the damage - which had been hidden from view by the cables that had lowered the crate to the ground.

This is the information I want to share with fellow renovators so that you can avoid my mistake, which could have been costly:

When your bathtub (or other big ticket item) arrives, be on hand to supervise. Make sure they pull it out of the crate. Do not feel bad about annoying the freight truck driver - and he will be annoyed for sure. Do not be deterred by the fact that you can't even see anything due to the crate your tub is trapped in and the position of straps lowering it down to the curb. Make them take the f***ing thing out of its crate and fully inspect it. (What a farce the "inspection" clause is!)

My tub has a major crack in the bottom that was hidden by the straps and crating.

It is unfortunately in a very prominent position, almost where the "backrest" begins. You would be able to see it clearly standing in the doorway. Up close it is very deep, and the porcelain surrounding it is feathered with crackles.

In addition to the crack in the bottom, there's also a major dent in the flange. This will be hidden by the marble apron and deck. If this had been the only damage, I would just let it go. But the crack in the bottom cannot be disguised. 

These are the types of damages caused when they stack these tubs in warehouses and freight trucks and the tubs take a tumble. (But, beware, the manufacturer's insurance adjustors will try to say that you must have dropped a bottle of perfume on it.)

My contractor missed these dings, due to the crate packaging and position of the straps. And I am paying the price now, in the many hours and days that I have lost haggling back and forth with the manufacturer's insurance claims adjustor.

I can't tell you yet where my discussions with the Kohler claims adjustors will end. My friend John who is a developer of large condos with many units tells me he has had this happen 8 or 9 times with Kohler bathtubs. Tubs are fragile. Cast iron is strong and heavy but enamel fractures and the cracks feather.

A big thing like the Fedex truck hitting a car could cause a major crack. And that is my position with the Kohler claims adjustor. Send me your good karma thoughts!

UPDATE: Kohler replaced the tub! After rounds of emails, pictures of the tub and the crate it came in and the shipping label, plus my details about the weather conditions of the delivery day and the accident that I overheard the truck dispatcher reporting while I was on hold, Kohler claims adjustors came through for me.

I am grateful. My bathroom remodel centers around this under-mounted deep soaking tub with marble surround and deck. And we are back on schedule.

Note: If your product arrives damaged through no fault  of your own, it doesn't hurt to post to the manufacturer's Facebook wall and share it with your friends. You will get the attention of their PR department - no one likes bad publicity.

If you do this, and the problem is corrected, though, be sure to return back to the manufacturer's Facebook wall and share your thanks and praise. Everyone likes a happy customer.