Do not believe anything the sales rep tells you. Read the fine print. I was misled into signing the contract. When I realized my folly and cancelled, I had to pay an administrative fee of $1130 for absolutely no work done. Go with a local plumber not only does a plumber have the technical expertise but also knows the local rules and regulations and can acquire the appropriate permit.
The Clarke rep sold me on their system with two statements that combined to be one big falsehood. One, he told me I could get a rebate from the city to cover the sump pump. And second, when I asked him directly, does this require a permit, he said a permit was definitely not required as they were certified waterproofers. I paid the down payment and booked the work. The day before the work was scheduled, I searched the city website for any forms I might need Clarke to complete to get the rebate. Come to find that to get the rebate, the work DOES require a permit AND an inspection by a plumber preapproved by the city. I then searched the Clarke website to see if a plumber would be on the job and found that Clarke knew all along that a permit was required (and there are no plumbers involved in the installation). I complained about this misinformation and Clarke has since deleted the page trying to cover its tracks, but an archived copy exists (Homestars won't allow it to be posted here). About noon the day before the work was scheduled I called the rep and told him what I had found. I even forwarded a link to the Clarke page mentioned above AND an email from the city permit technician stating that a permit was required. I told him we could not proceed with the work until the permit issue had been worked out as I did not want to be saddled with fines and the cost of additional work. Despite my directions to postpone, they sent a crew the next day anyways. I sent them away and called the rep again. The rep conferred with the production manager, but they did not offer any solutions only statements of disbelief because they'd never needed a permit before. They refused to help me with the permit application. They also complained about the cost of sending a crew, which was not my fault as I had told the rep at noon the day before to put a hold on the work. Next the rep and his manager suggested I go ahead without the permit. I did not feel comfortable with this and asked to cancel the work all together. The rep then informed me that a 7% administration fee, quoting the exact amount as $267, would be deducted from the refund of my deposit. I expressed my dissatisfaction with this but did find the fine print did said this. Then they offered to deduct the amount of the rebate from the cost of the project if I did not apply for the permit and let the work go ahead without. I was still uncomfortable not having a permit so I confirmed the cancellation and requested the deposit be refunded less the 7% administration fee to be deducted from the deposit on orders cancelled after 10 days of booking date. Later I received a call from the rep that the administration fee was now $1130. He said this was based on the whole amount of the project, not just the deposit. However, 7% of the whole project equates to $890. Any complaints I made to the rep were met with its out of my hands. I was told on two occasions that the production manager would call me to discuss but he never did. It was a constant back and forth through the powerless rep that left me $1130 out-of-pocket for no work and heading to small claims court.
My rebuttal to Clarke's response:
1. The work was scheduled on a Tuesday, I called the rep on the Monday at noon (not Sunday, nor the night before, as Clarke has FALSELY claimed I have phone records). I specifically told the rep that I wanted to put a hold on all the work until the permit issue was worked out. If he did not communicate that properly, it was not my fault.
2. Miscommunication was the whole source of my problems with Clarke:
a. The above communication error by the rep.
b. The only person I spoke with at Clarke about my permit concerns was the rep. He was the go-between with all Clarke personnel. In fact, I was told that the production manager would call me but s/he never did. No one except the rep ever reached out to me.
c. The only people I spoke with at Clarke regarding my concerns about the refund was, again the rep, multiple times, who could only say he would talk to the owner, and on one occasion the owner, at the end of October. The owner was not interested in hearing what I had to say and hardly let me get a word in edgewise. He did say that, if the rep had said that the administration fee would be based on the deposit (rather that the entire quote), then he would honour that. He said he would speak to the rep and get back to me in a couple of days, because he did not like to leave these things unresolved. That was the last time I spoke with the owner. Three times (Nov 17, Dec 2, and Dec 13 again I have records), I asked the rep to have the owner call me to resolve the refund complaint, to no avail. Finally, after I emailed the info line asking for the owners email address, the owner did email rehashing the excuses you read above. His message came through the email of another person at Clarke the owner keeps himself well insulated from direct contact with the customers.
d. Clarke admits to promoting the rebate program that requires a permit and plumber inspection. In fact, they state that they removed the information about the program from their website BECAUSE the last thing we want to do is mislead our customers. Well, I was misled. First the rep said I could get the rebate without a permit or inspection False. Then their website let me to believe that they were familiar with the program, so I expected they would help me with meeting the criteria. Instead, they just sought to bypass the rules and pressured me to do so too.
e. Finally, the contract specifically stated, A 7% administration fee will be deducted from the deposit on orders cancelled after 10 days of booking date. So, reader, what does this imply to you? Seven percent of the deposit or 7% of the whole project? It does not specify. I do not think I was unreasonable in assuming that, for absolutely no work done, it means only on the deposit. Even the rep told me so. The owner is the one who reneged on the agreement. So they held back $1133 rather than just the $267 that the rep said I owe.
3. In my view, Clarke was not going the extra mile to improve [my] experience. They were just pressuring me into a project by a company in which I had lost faith. Doing projects is how they make their money or sometimes almost doing projects. To improve my experience, they could have:
a. Informed me truthfully about the rebate program and their role in it at the time they sold the project to me.
b. Helped me with the rebate conditions and application in the first place.
c. Refrained from pressuring me into the project when I had already lost faith in their company.
d. Provided the refund that any reasonable person would expect.
e. Not bill me for communication errors committed by their own staff.
f. Been more responsive to my requests for communication, instead of leaving me to deal with the rep who was powerless to help, consistently responding that he would convey my concerns but it was out of his hands.
g. Just been open, honest, and communicated better.
4. I agree, with Clarke on one thing. If you need a sump pump, you should get one, regardless of a government rebate. Once I decided that Clarke was not a company that I wanted to deal with, I got a quote from a local plumber. Same work but they would apply for the permit and arranged inspections and their quote came in at three quarter the price quoted by Clarke. Additionally, they were very easy to communicate with.
- Approximate cost of services:
- Company Response
Good morning, Louis,
We are disappointed you were dissatisfied with your experience with Clarke Basement Systems. We understand your frustrations and appreciate your feedback. However, we would like to add more to the story. Your project was scheduled in our system for a very long time. You received a confirmation call 3-4 days in advance to confirm that all was still on schedule and that our crew would be at your home on Monday morning to begin the job. You claim to have cancelled on Sunday afternoon, the day before the installation was scheduled. Our inspector was led to believe that you did not want to cancel the job but instead just change the scope of the work. Willing to accommodate, our inspector showed up at your home Monday morning to put a new plan together. We told our crew that changes would be made to the original plan, but the job was still scheduled to be installed. Unfortunately, you sent them away once they arrived and told them they no longer had a job to install at your home. If there had been a definitive cancellation, our crew and inspector would not have come to your home first thing Monday morning. However, if you did cancel on the Sunday before the job, our business is not open on the weekend so come Monday morning, our team would have been thrown for a loop. In our contracts, we have a last-minute cancellation policy of 7% of the job for situations like this (taken from the initial deposit). The 7% is to cover the time lost for the crews who no longer have work for the day and any other expenses that it may affect. The only additional money added was $110, which covered the cost for the crew coming up only to turn around once they got there. That could have been avoided if you had definitively cancelled the job. If a permit was required, our owner told you that we would pay for the permit and the plumber (who would confirm that the City of Peterborough approved the work). Also, our owner offered to discount the project by $800 to ensure you would get the money for your rebate (even if the City of Peterborough didn’t refund you $800). We felt we were compromising and going above and beyond to rectify the situation, but you rejected our offer. In this situation, we felt we were going the extra mile to improve your experience with us. Our owner, sales, Service, and production departments have spoken to you several times. You are correct regarding your comment about us removing a subsidy rebate from our website. We removed it, as the last thing we want to do is mislead our customers. However, the government provided this information on our website, not us. We are sorry that it did not apply to you. We, unfortunately, do not make the rules. It would be best to buy a sump pump because you genuinely need one, not because you get a government rebate. A rebate is an excellent “bonus” for homeowners for doing the right thing for themselves and their homes. We install over 500 sump pumps every single year. We are proud of our work and the basements we keep dry daily. We are sorry that you were unsatisfied with our company for your project. Our offers still stand on compensation, so please reach out if you have a change of heart.
It is interesting to see how differently you see it. We are glad you found another solution to prevent your basement from flooding. The solution you got with your plumber was undoubtedly different from what was discussed with our inspector. This may be why you changed your mind about not moving forward with us in the final hours, as with our system, you were getting A LOT more than just a sump pump. However, we respect your choice and are happy to hear you are still trying to solve your water seepage issue. We stand by our comments and encourage any readers of this review to look through the hundreds of positive reviews we have accumulated over the decades we have been in business. We wish you the best, Louis and hope everything works out for you.