Lew Migliore, the Industry's Troubleshooter and President of LGM & Associates Technical Flooring Services. LGM specializes in the practice of consulting on and trouble shooting all flooring related complaints, problems, and performance issues having experts in every category as well as related educational services.
Installers are not 'Quality Control'
The comment, "the installer should have noticed this problem before installing the material," should resonate with you. This is a comment that is used continually by manufacturers, distributors and dealers when a flooring material claim for a visible or supposed visible defect exists.
Any time a complaint is filed for a problem which involves a physically manifested condition in a flooring material; a blemish, flaw or imperfection that was expected to be seen by someone, that someone accused is most often the installer. Where is it written that installers are in charge of quality control?
Let me share this with you. We get samples of material in here all the time that someone says have a flaw in them. Very often we can't see it at first nor may it be evident in photos emailed. One recent example was some tiles we received that were marked on the back to coincide with the flaw in the face no one here could see. Only when the tiles were examined in bright sunlight did the blemish become evident.
So, if we can't see the flaw and we're consciously looking for it and know it exists - how is the installer whose concentrating on how he's going to approach the job, layout the material, work in the space, not cause any damage, finish on time, not get paid enough and any other number of considerations to properly install the material, supposed to do quality control at the same time?
Actually quality control guidelines are in writing and they exist in common and standard industry practices. The Carpet and Rug Institute has a publication; I've mentioned it before in this column, called Areas of Responsibility. In it each party involved in the process of getting the flooring to the end user has areas of responsibility.
The first one in line when it comes to quality control is the manufacturer. Since manufacturers examine and inspect all material produced before it ships they are first in line to insure the product has no visible defects.
Next the dealer is supposed to inspect the product and later the installer should note if there are any visible defects if he notices them while he's working in tight space, maybe with poor lighting and any other distraction he's confronted with.
Any blemish should be seen by the manufacturer first, the standards of care should exist which would be, as you might guess, the manufacturer looking for and noticing defects. If they exist, the product should be relegated to seconds. The installer should not be given the burden of responsibility for doing everyone else along the line's job. In the truest meaning of the term, "this is not my job" applies here.
Visibly obvious flaws in the product get the first opportunity for notice by everyone who looks at, or should look at the product before the installer. In the case of the tile mentioned earlier, the manufacturer and distributor both told the dealer the installer should have noticed the blemish before installing the product. Why didn't the manufacturer notice it? The blemish was in the material, put there during the manufacturing process, so they should have seen it.
Now the claim is going to be argued with the defense the installer should not have installed with the blemish. Shouldn't the product have been shipped without the blemish? If litigated, which would be rare if at all, the legality is that the manufacturer has the obligation to ship materials that are merchantable for service which means complying with the product specification, installable, suitable for their intended purpose, without defects. That's not the installers' job.
Edited by Admin 12/9/2011