In April of 2014, we went to Hearth Fireplace Depot to look at 3-sided fireplaces. Phil, the salesperson who helped us showed us a floor model we were interested in, and after discussing its features with him, we decided to buy it. We put down a deposit on the fireplace and on installation. One of the features we discussed was that, according to the salesman, a fan was optional in this fireplace. This was what we wanted, since we find the fans too noisy, and we also wanted the fireplace to be a backup heat source in case of a power outage. Phil asked about the square footage of the rooms we wanted to heat and said that the fireplace would throw more than enough heat for that space, with no need for a fan.
At the end of April, the fireplace was installed. It looked great, but there was a problem. It kept shutting off. The installer said that the safety mechanism was doing this because the fireplace needed a fan. I explained what the salesman had told us and that we didn’t want a fan. (We wouldn’t have minded an optional fan, but we didn’t want to have to have the fan on in order to use the fireplace.)
When I spoke with Phil, he said he could get us a newer type of fan that is quieter, so we agreed to this. However, he later told us this would not be possible. He said that the safety could be disabled after the gas inspection, but I would not agree to this. I contacted the manufacturer who said that the fireplace should not require a fan, and if it wasn’t working, the company needed to fix it. Phil said that the manufacturer didn’t understand how old the model was. He then offered to send the installer with the regular fan, so I could see what it sounded like. If I didn’t like it, he offered to sell us a newer model fireplace for an additional $1400.00, and the vent hole would be a few inches higher. We hadn’t planned on spending that much, but as we now had a hole in our wall, I agreed. When the installer came, he had been told to install the fan, instead of to let me hear it first. I straightened that out and upon hearing the fan, decided it was, indeed, far too noisy. I said that I would like to purchase the newer model. As he left, he told me he had disabled the safety on the fireplace that was in our house. I don’t know why he did this. When I spoke to Phil again, he said that the boss wouldn’t go for selling us the newer model for $1400, but instead it would cost another $2050.00. I said that I would like a refund on the original fireplace, and I would like my wall repaired to its original condition, then.
A couple of weeks went by, and I had heard nothing from the company. When I called back, I learned that our salesperson was no longer working there. Cliff, the owner spoke to me and said that we had bought the floor model “as is” and we would have to live with it. I disagreed, saying that we would not have bought it had the salesperson not given us incorrect information. He said, “Well, I’ll have to take your word for that,” in a tone of voice that indicated he did not believe me. He was rude and belligerent, but I finally managed to get him to listen and said that I was willing to purchase the newer model but didn’t think it was fair to have to spend another $2050.00 to get what we’d been told we were buying in the first place. He said he would see what he could do.
A couple more weeks went by, with no contact from the company. I left messages for Cliff a few times, but he did not return my calls. By this time, it was the middle of June, and we were going to be away for most of July. So, upon a friend’s advice, I called the City gas inspector. I expressed my concern that we had a fireplace installed that we could not have framed (we were supposed to have the inspection after the framing), because it wasn’t working properly, and I was concerned, because the safety mechanism had been disabled, and the company was not returning my calls. I asked if I could have it inspected before it was framed. He said he would do so, but suggested I first contact Hearth Fireplace and let them know that I’d spoken with him. So, I left this information in another message for Cliff, and, lo and behold, he got back to me 20 minutes later. He then agreed to sell me the newer model for an additional $1700.00, and I agreed to this. Unbelievably, he then told me that the original fireplace did have a fan in it, but it was hidden. This makes absolutely no sense, given the previous occurrences (such as the safety mechanism being triggered and the installer bringing a fan over that time), so I don’t know why he would make such a preposterous claim.
The newer model was installed at the end of July. The metal patch that was put over the lower part of the now too-large vent hole was unsightly, but I decided to live with it. I was unable to get the framing done until September, and then I had the gas inspection on October 2. The installation failed the inspection, because the vent was installed too close to a exterior wall that was perpendicular to the wall with the vent. As a result, the fireplace had to be moved over 4 inches. This would not only require the vent hole to be enlarged further, requiring more patching, but it would mean the lovely oak mantel I had had custom built would need to be redone, as there was a jog in the corner of the wall that it was built around.
I called Cliff to discuss what would be done and express my expectations. I said that I expected the wall to be patched in a more professional manner, and I wanted to make sure that there was proper insulation and vapour barrier added, as well. He refused to guarantee this, saying that his installer would “do his best,” but would not tell me what would be done. I also said that the carpenter was wondering if he could invoice Hearth Fireplace directly for rebuilding the mantel (as the carpenter assumed that, naturally, Hearth Fireplace should and would take responsibility for that), but Cliff said that we had already cost him enough money, and he would not pay for the additional carpentry work.
My husband spoke to the owner, as well, who kept threatening to “leave it” (the City gave him several months to comply with the inspection report). At this point, we had already waited 6-months to have a fireplace that was safely installed and that worked as we’d been initially told it would. So, we agreed to have the installer come and move it. I discussed with the installer, when he came, about how the hole would be patched, and the new patch job looks much better.
The carpenter, who had to make three additional trips to my home (1. to dismantle the original work, 2. to take measurements of the new configuration, and 3. to install the new mantel and framing), as well as purchase new materials and spend time rebuilding the mantel, invoiced me $504.00 for all of that. In order to be reimbursed for this from Hearth Fireplace, I had to file a claim with a consumer organization. Hearth Fireplace waited until the very end of the final day (November 11) the organization had given them to comply (or else the complaint would appear on the organization’s website and affect the company’s rating) to notify me that they would be reimbursing me for the $504.00. This, they did, about a week later.
Dealing with this company has been the absolute worst consumer experience I have ever had. It was a 7-month long nightmare. The owner does not take responsibility for his employee’s errors, whether they be errors in information or, even more serious, in installation. This ended up being not only extremely frustrating and expensive for us, but our family’s safety could have been jeopardized.
I could not recommend this company to anyone.