Customer Dissatisfaction

(Why you should keep an eye on your neighbors)


Today is the first day of February, 2018. And this week, I’m pleased to say, I was finally able to get my house completely repaired from hail storm damage. Practically ancient hail storm damage.

The aforementioned hail storm screeched through here last March. Last Thursday, the roofers and repairmen finally finished fixing me.

It didn’t take this long to beat Hitler.

Granted, this was no “normal” hail storm, whatever normal means when the sky suddenly starts pummeling you with ice, as if your house was a huge buffet of boiled shrimp. The Spring 2017 weather event that dumped tons of frozen golf balls on northern South Carolina was a thing of Old Testament proportions. I was at home during the attack, and it sounded like 10,000 teenagers were on top of the house, swinging bats, which can actually happen on college campuses in South Carolina if enough beer is involved.

During the following weeks, according to insurance estimates, over 45% of the residential properties in upstate SC filed hail-storm-based dented home claims. That’s practically every other house, and that means some of the houses next door didn’t notice, and that means one or both of your neighbors is an idiot.

To be fair, the roof replacement squad showed up shortly after the storm, and if there was a single Social Security number among them, I’ll buy you a hat. Regardless, they proceeded to do a fantastic job, based on my years of experience in professional roofing principles, which I can sum up as: “Yep. It’s on top of the house. Good job.” They showed up early, ate lunch under a tree, worked late, and were done in two days.

We should elect these people to Congress.

I can’t exactly say I’d recommend being inside your house while it’s covered in hammering foreigners (see 10,000 teenagers with bats), but it’s an eye-opening experience. For one thing, replacing a roof is an incredibly violent process. First, a ladder-armed prep team nails a giant blue plastic skirt around the entire roof line, effectively turning your home into a tent, or the world’s worst Witness Protection Program hideout. But the blue tarp will become a debris sliding board for what happens next.

And what happens next is this: your roof is completely denuded by a team of guys who seriously dislike shingles. They start at the highest point of the roof, and then move in a relentless phalanx all the way to the gutters, pulling, ripping, and tossing former roof parts onto the sliding board. Their mission is to remove everything that’s not wood, like some insane dentist doing an annual checkup on George Washington.

After the now-naked roof had been completely embarrassed, amazingly agile acrobats started scaling swaying ladders, carrying huge sheaths of shingles to the rooftop, as if some hen-pecked Pharaoh had decided to renovate the summer pyramid. The roofers blithely walked about, on boards temporarily nailed into the steep slope, toting supplies along the skyline and hammering them into place. It was a balance ballet that would have given a Wallenda pause.

And then they were done. Total casualties: one gutter splash guard and two very slow squirrels.

That left three more repairs to complete: replacing damaged window screens, replacing some siding, and resurfacing the deck. The window screen story was every bit as fascinating as you’d imagine, and the deck restoration would bring a tear to your eye, assuming you had some kind of weird deck lust. But the siding stalled.

For months.

I tried to be patient; after all, nearly every other house in the area had to be fixed up, all while trying to avoid running over every-other-idiot neighbors who might be standing clueless in the street. For six months, I called the contractor every two weeks, and every two weeks was promised satisfaction. But apparently repair contractors use a different dictionary, or they haven’t gotten to the S’s yet.

Finally, I called their main office and asked to speak to the company’s president, and if you think I got through to him, I’ll hit you with a roofer. The receptionist cleverly countered that the president was in a meeting, so I should tell her my name and need. I agreed, and added that I was nobody special, just yet another homeowner calling to fire him.

Two days later, the president called.

He was very polite, and very apologetic, and had some very bad news (in addition to apparently not owning a calendar). It turns out that the company that manufactured my particular decade-old siding was no longer in business, and so the president could not guarantee that any replacement siding would exactly match the color of the existing strips.

Great. I was about to be one social step away from abandoned cars on the lawn and duct-taped window cracks.

Of course, there was more bad news. I then learned that South Carolina is what insurers call a “no-match” State. What that means is that after any damaged siding is replaced, your average insurance policy doesn’t really care if your house looks like a diseased zebra. It should go without saying that most insurers will offer a full-siding-replacement “rider” (from the olde English term meaning more money), and if you think I’d purchased the rider, I’ll hit a roofer with your new hat.

Fortunately, however, the replacement siding did match its 10-year-old kin. The day after my phone call from corporate, a team showed up to take care of business, and they actually replaced more stuff than the contract wanted. When I got home I discovered that, for some reason, they’d also replaced large areas of completely hail-safe siding…siding on the wall under my deck.

Yes, the 2017 hail storm was a monster, but even monster hail doesn’t commute.

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