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AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation installed a smaller, cheaper, less capable sump pump than what they said I would get; another basement waterproofing failure that increased their profits at my expense. When confronted about this they had a list of excuses, as they had for so many discrepancies between what was offered and what was provided. In this post I review yet another example of AquaGuard not delivering when performing basement waterproofing in my house.
As the arbitrator noted: “While the Owner contended that 1/2 horsepower pumps should have been installed based upon the Proposal, the Contract simply requires two heavy duty submersible pump systems with a five year guarantee. Contractor in fact installed 1/3 horsepower pumps, which satisfied the Contract.”
All true and sound Contract Law, I am sure. If you are like me, i.e., not a lawyer or schooled in Contract Law, you might be confused about the difference between being told something by a company, having them hand you a proposal that says the same thing, and then being able to deliver something cheaper and less capable! The fact that it was “legally” OK, because the Contract didn’t specifically call for the thing you were told you were going to get, may leave you as a customer with a bad feeling in your stomach. I thought I was getting what they told me they were going to deliver, in words and in their proposal. I certainly did not expect they could go back on their word because every detail of what I was told was not spelled out in their contract. I was wrong.
But there is more.
The Arbitrator further noted: “…Contractor’s standard practice was to install 1/3 horsepower pumps because Contractor no longer had confidence in the 1/2 horsepower pumps, which had in the past caused repeated maintenance problems. [AquaGuard’s General Manager] testified that the Proposal paperwork had simply not caught up to the company’s standard practice. There was no evidence that the 1/3 horsepower pumps were inadequate for the type of drainage system required for this project.”
Again, all true. But, if it was the contractor’s standard practice to use the smaller pump, why not tell the prospective customer? Why not simply cross out the incorrect information on the Proposal and note the correct number? In other words, why play fast and loose with the truth?
With respect to the Arbitrator’s comments regarding the Proposal paperwork simply not catching up to the company’s standard practice, it is interesting to note what AquaGuard’s General Manager had to say when asked about how long these forms had been in use. The following is from his sworn deposition. The questions (Q) are from my side and the answers (A) were made by AquaGuard’s General Manager:
Q. …this proposal would be obviously misleading since it was a mistaken old form, correct?
Q. What methodology did you — what business model do you have to verify the things you’re telling people are true or not?
A. Well, they were left over from the old regime. And when I came in, we changed the contract and we didn’t change the proposal.
“…we changed the contract and we didn’t change the proposal.” Why would a company do that?
Now by the old regime I believe AquaGuard’s General Manager was referring to the previous ownership, which was bought out by the current owners in the 2007 timeframe. This would place the forms of the proposal at something like 4 to 5 years old! One could be forgiven to think it was time to update them. In lieu of updating them, one might educate the sales force to inform potential customers of any discrepancies, if any existed. Apparently that didn’t happen in our case.
The pattern of offering one thing and providing another, in all cases something either cheaper, less effective, or totally useless, is a recurring theme in the dealings I had with AquaGuard. In this case the sales representative and the proposal both made it clear that they would install 1/2 horsepower submersible sump pumps on the sump enclosure. Instead, they installed 0.3 horsepower pumps as is clearly shown in the photograph above.
Maybe this was a one-time problem, unique to my situation. Regardless, in my case the lesson is clear. Trusting in fair dealing and good faith with a company left us dangerously exposed when things went wrong. Whatever pride in workmanship or integrity AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation has did not apply to the situation in my home.