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
- Company Response
A common challenge in the construction and renovation industry is managing the stress of having substantive work completed in your home over a number of months. Some clients find this process more difficult than others. As a professional renovation company with over 12 years of experience and over a thousand completed projects, we invest time and resources in pre-construction planning, setting up the site and talking with clients about what they will experience. Right from our first site meeting, we are honest and transparent with respect to time lines and expectations of living through construction. Working in older areas, such as the Glebe, and on homes that were previously rental properties can hold a number of surprises that impact the time required to complete a project as well as the budget.
The need for contingencies is also discussed with our clients to ensure everyone is financially prepared for the unexpected.
Despite the advice, guidance and documentation we offer as part of our services a very small percentage of clients maintain an unrealistic expectation that can never be met. They assume no surprises, an impossible time line and zero challenges. A professional and reputable company that encounters challenges and makes a mistake, stands by the client and their project to ensure a quality end product. Lesser companies often walk away from such challenges instead of sticking with a client.
Unfortunately, the recent CBC article gives a one sided and narrow view of the process and conclusion to the project. One of the main allegations is that OGC was withholding money from the client. The $1000 was a good will credit that OGC was offering to the client. In doing so, we requested that they sign an agreement to not publicly slander and/or write an exaggerated review about OGC, focusing only on the negatives and not the many positives to bring a project to 100% completion. Protecting our reputation is what motivates us to go above and beyond by providing "freebies" and "cash rebates" as part of the inconvenience that is expected in renovations, in turn we ask the clients to not paint us with a negative brush as there are also many areas of a renovation where we pride in going above and beyond when construction challenges do arise. The client can always choose or deny the offer and there is certainly no extortion as the client implied. We always seek to end projects on a positive note and that reflects on our commitment to customer service.
At the end of the day, we delivered a beautiful kitchen and bathroom for a difficult client, as well as critical electrical updates required to bring the home up to code and ensure the safety of their family. We also corrected the error with the sink at no additional cost to the client. When such errors occur, we always look back at how to improve our business processes to minimize mistakes.
Every employee at OGC is committed to our clients' projects, from financial administration to framing. Our passion for our projects and industry experience, skills and service is what defines us. A one sided article from one client does not define what we do and who we are. We will always pursue beautiful designs and positive relationships with trades, clients and suppliers throughout Ottawa.