Thursday, September 22, 2011

Metricon 90 Day Warranty Experience

Hi All,

Been a long time since our last post ... busily settling in, unpacking, decorating, dealing with fencing, council, landscaping (mostly DIY) and all the other fun'n'games that our fellow buildees can likely relate to.

The main reason for this post is to record our experiences of the Metricon 90 day warranty process - as a warning to prospective Metricon NSW customers.

The "Process"

Prior to handover we organised a Tyrrells inspection report which itemised over 100 concerns for inside alone. After handover it was clear that many of these items remained, and furthermore that many had been missed by both Tyrrells and at our handover walk-through due to poor lighting due to lack of electricity connected. But never mind, that's what the 90 day warranty is for, right? You discover new concerns whilst you are living in your *brand new home* - like paint quality issues that you only see under certain light conditions, one bathtub taking 3 times longer to fill than another, toilet roll holders that fall off the wall, downlights failing, kitchen overhead cupboards with hinges that broke within days after handover, windows that don't open/slide smoothly, texta marks on your caesarstone, your garage door having schizophrenic behaviour, missing grout, etc etc. Surely all these things can be fixed at the 90 day warranty milestone.

So it was with high hopes that we had the 90 day warranty inspection with a warranty manager and warranty service coordinator from Metricon NSW. And these high hopes were quickly dashed as we travelled room-by-room discussing the issues, with the warranty manager being rude, defensive, and dismissive of most of our concerns. To give you some idea, his most common retort was "I don't see a problem with that". For those concerns that were impossible to argue, there was mostly a silent scribbling down onto a clipboard.

After this nasty and totally disheartening experience, we were completely in the dark regarding what have they agreed to fix (and when), and what are they not going to fix (and why?). Despite numerous attempts to solicit this, it was 6 weeks after inspection and only following a major escalation effort that we received a mediocre list of items that they planned to attend to. Interestingly, numerous concerns that didn't get refuted on inspection day were missing from the list! So what did this mean, are they not agreeing to them anymore, simply forgotten about on their way from the clipboard to the keyboard, or just incompetence?

There have also been absolutely no status updates by phone or email until last week when we escalated to management. The only trickle of activity was an occassional phone call from a traide or company saying he's in the area and can he come by in the next 20 minutes. Mothers with young kids out there - how much would you like that kind of short notice? :)

What Should Happen

It's really pretty simple:
  • Send warranty representatives to the customer's home that have an ounce of customer service in them. Your customers may already be a tad peeved about whatever issues are facing them, given that there is supposed to be a "QA process" to catch more of these concerns prior to presentation, or as we were assured by a manager at Metricon NSW: "it will be of showroom quality before we even present it to you".
  • Follow-up with the customer in the days after the inspection with a confirmed list of items, ranked in priority order, and with tentative time-frames in which they will be addressed. To give you an example of why this is important - one of our concerns was that in the days after handover, we discovered that some of the steel posts in our stair railings were actually so loose that they popped out. Obviously this is a high priority safety concern especially with young children - and we raised it with Metricon as such. Nearly two months later this is only just getting attended-to this week.
  • Put more emphasis on QA up-front. Issues that customers are finding post-handover should get fed further back to the QA people responsible for checking homes prior to presentation (we imagine these people exist at Metricon NSW, although it's an urban myth).

Don't Trap Your Customers

There are a number of situations during the warranty process where we've been made to feel trapped with no way forward. Again, prospective customers be wary... 

Paint Quality
The quality of painting workmanship throughout our home was really ordinary. Some Tyrrell's inspection items were touched-up before handover. For most of what remained, we were told by our SS at handover to use "soap and warm water" to remove various scuff  marks on the walls. This we tried, only to find more paint leaving the wall onto the sponge than the scuff marks themselves, and then leaving a water stain behind! Overall the paint also has a very chalky feel to it, and our 5 year old have done a better job cutting-in on the corners! We brought this all up at the warranty inspection, and after much resistance the warranty manager begrudgingly organised a Dulux representative to visit our house. The escape route from Dulux was that we did not upgrade to a "wash-n-wear" style of paint. Studio M never offered such an upgrade, and what about the "Metricon 3 coat system?" So you're trapped - no one wants to take responsibility. The Dulux rep did suggest to use Spray-n-Wipe on the walls (!) ... would you do this? Especially when it states on the label "Do Not Use On Painted Surfaces". Beware of this trap.

Timber Finishes
Another trap is wherever you have chosen a stained timber finish. If there are any significant imperfections in the timber or damage from installation, and the painter then applies stain over the top of the damage, then it can never be put right afterwards. Can you believe Metricon turned this around to being our fault for choosing timber. Why is this not the fault of the relevant trades and Metricon's responsibility to either catch early or put right? Another trap. 

Stair Installation / Under-Stair Access
A large crack also appeared in the bottom stair bullnose soon after handover that the warranty manager accused as being due to us not having completed our landscaping. Again trying to trap the customer into being at fault. The stair company who eventually came out to inspect this and the loose posts said that the whole thing had been installed very badly - by a Metricon subbie. So now we have a glued-up and clamped-up step all in the hope that it fixes the crack, otherwise the whole bottom of the staircase needs to be pulled out along with our timber flooring around it. This may have been prevented with better QA and also if the drafting department hadn't refused to put under-stair access in (due to our slab step-down), which we've since learned was nonsense. Trapped again.

We really love our new home, but Metricon NSW continues to demonstrate very poor form long after you've handed over that final cheque.