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As the AquaGuard Waterproofing Corporation General Manager stated under oath, the proposal form used was misleading. Left over from the old regime, as he put it, whatever that means! Regardless of his comments, their salesman used it as the centerpiece of his pitch, going through it line for line, filling in blanks, etc. There was no doubt in our minds he was describing, in detail, what was to be done in our basement. You can imaging our shock and dismay when AquaGuard then claimed it was nothing more than “a proposal”, and they felt in no way bound to the details.
How could it come to this?
Obviously basement waterproofing solutions can be simple or complex, depending on the cause of the water seepage. A company comes to your house, touts their years of experience, offers you a solution that they claim will solve your problems, and then back peddles as fast as possible when things don’t work out. What is especially aggravating is that AquaGuard sold me a solution to the water seepage problem that could not work, as noted by every other professional who later examined our property. Even if the job was done in a workmanlike manner, which it wasn’t, it would not have addressed the real causes of water in my basement!
“The Trusted Name in Waterproofing”? This is what you get for putting your trust in AquaGuard. As their General Manager stated: “The contract is the only thing I look at. That’s the binding thing.” In other words, what their salesman told us was a sales pitch and shame on us if we believed him! When asked if he ever sought to ascertain whether or not the statements his salespeople make to the customers are accurate or not he stated with breathtaking audacity: “Every week, we go over that, and every week, they go out and lie“.
Let us look at a few examples.
Instead of the 1/2 horsepower sump pumps written in their proposal and described by their so-called Senior Inspector, they gave me a cheaper, smaller pump and declare it “sufficient”. Tough luck if you trusted their sales representations, because the size of the pump isn’t in the contract, merely in the proposal! Get the difference? Or you might be naive like me and expect to get that plastic vapor barrier in the drainage path because: 1) that’s what was described by the salesman, 2) is written in the proposal, and 3) is standard practice in the industry. Sorry friend, it ain’t in the contract so you’re not getting it. Better yet the AquaGuard Basement Corp General Manager, after the fact of course, declared flat-out that they never install a vapor barrier. So why, you might ask, is it in the proposal? The following is a direct quote from the General Manager’s sworn testimony at the hearing. (Questions by my side. Answers by the General Manager of AquaGuard)
Q. But all of these proposals, 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.
By “the old regime” he is likely referring to the previous, possibly the original, owners who may have run a reputable business that was bought out back around 2006.
Those are pretty old forms.
The list of things promised by not delivered goes on and on. You are basically at the mercy of whoever shows up to do the work and as previous noted, that could literally be anyone.
Three things to keep in mind or, if you will, lessons I’ve learned the hard way that you might profit from:
First, if there’s something in the proposal that you really want, get the salesman to write it into the contract form itself, dated and signed, otherwise you are out of luck. You might not get it even then, see example below, but at least it is on the record.
Second, nowhere in the proposal, or the contract for that matter, do they mention their reliance on subcontractors. This compounds an already bad situation brought on by outdated, misleading proposals. Not only can’t you depend on them to deliver what’s in their proposal, but you have no idea who will do the work. See previous posting on what happened in my basement when I got stuck with their unlicensed subcontractor.
Third, business names are for sale. It’s who currently owns and runs the business that matters, not how long the name has been around. If a reputable company sells out to some organization intent on making a quick buck, customers be damned, how would you know? If friends recommend a company based on experience before they sold out, you are left clueless about how well the current management is running things. With respect to AquaGuard, for example, they brag about being in business since 1990. They are really talking about how long the company name has been around. Most, if not all, of the current ownership and management came on board around 2006.
Regardless of the name, pedigree of the owners and management, etc, what does it matter when they give your job to some guy with a pickup truck that you, and apparently they, know nothing about? And when disaster strikes as it did with us, what good is that name and their slogans when the business model they follow can be summed up as “The subcontractor must pay for his mistakes”. And what about AquaGuard?