Recently, CBC News Ottawa broadcast our experience with this company.
Right from the very beginning, we had serious concerns with the design, workmanship, management, and planning of the project. Numerous jobs had to be redone (tiling not straight, exterior door installation, sealing of the door frame, kitchen wall not straight, etc.). The sink cabinet was erroneously built too small; it was never fixed, we had to purchase a smaller one to fit it in. On several occasions, we had to take time off work to address issues ourselves, as the project manager would not even respond to phone calls or e-mails regarding issues that required immediate attention.
Also, sub-contracted trades were home only for minutes at a time. On numerous occasions, they told us they had to balance too many jobs at once and had to travel back and forth between projects.
In December 2018 the project was "substantially" completed. A few remaining items would be finished after the snow melted. In February 2019, OGC offered us a refund for expenses we had overpaid (door, electrical, new sink, shipping, other products) $1,350 and a "good-will gesture" of $1,000 to cover the time we had taken off work and the disappointment of ending up with a smaller sink. No conditions or requirements were mentioned. In March 2019, we accepted in writing. We thought the nightmare was over.
However, in April 2019, almost 2 months later, we were surprised with a legal agreement which OGC demanded we sign. The agreement makes the client legally bound to not say anything, ever, anywhere that could be seen as negative (verbal or written). We immediately declined to sign the agreement. OGC repeatedly indicated the outstanding work, and the money owed would only be done AFTER we sign the agreement. The company indicated "this is company policy" and that "OGC's lawyers have made it mandatory to sign."
What followed afterward was a stressful and frustrating process of numerous warnings, e-mails, registered mail letters to the President, phone calls, and legal consultations. We indicated we felt extorted and we were prepared to file a complaint with the Ministry of Consumer Services regarding breach of contract. Finally, on May 9, 2019, OGC accepted to complete the work. Still, OGC involved their lawyers, who contacted us by e-mail to address the fact that we would not sign the non-disclosure agreement. We indicated that our position was firm and non-negotiable.
Our case is not about money, delays, poor workmanship or a smaller sink. This is about principles. Demanding perpetual silence in exchange for doing what has been paid for and is owed, is – in our opinion – extortion. We chose not to yield to what – in our opinion – was an extortion attempt. Following the CBC story we received numerous messages from others who signed a similar agreement with OGC. This is Canada, we expect respect towards our fundamental right of expression.
Norma and Bart