THE FEARLESS CONSUMER- On the carpet: Spotty installation riles nurse

Sara Anderson wasn't happy. She had agreed to pay For the Floor $2,500 to install carpeting in four rooms, but when she surveyed the finished job, she claims she discovered that a floor-length curtain from her bedroom "had been thrown in the bathtub with some sort of brown liquid on it." 

The same liquid– perhaps Coke– was splattered around the bathroom; there was also "a big stain" on the carpet under the bedroom window. 

Anderson claims she called For the Floor owner Jack Ostrowski to complain, and says he agreed that she "shouldn't have to pay the full price." Although she expected him to get back to her with a new price, she says Ostrowski didn't call. Several days later, on May 31, she put her complaints to him in writing. 

In addition to the ruined curtain and stain on the bedroom carpet– which, in spite of cleaning, was "still noticeable"– Anderson claims the installers also left cigarette butts, staples, and a soda can in her driveway.

"I have never seen such sloppy work," she wrote, and, in closing, reiterated that she "would appreciate a new quote." 

Anderson claims that Ostrowski didn't respond, so she went in person to the store. By her account, Ostrowski said he would "speak with the installers" and call her the next day, but didn't. In early July, Anderson finally ran out of time: She had sold her house, was moving to Roanoke, and wanted to pay her bill. 

So she went to the store and gave the bookkeeper a check for $2,000, stating that she and Ostrowski had discussed a $500 deduction for damages. 

Ostrowski's response, when he saw the check, was that although they might have discussed a $500 reduction, he hadn't agreed to it. He then mailed the uncashed check back to Anderson. Shortly after that, she got a bill for the full $2,500.

Anderson filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau in September, to which Ostrowski responded that he would knock $250 off the total. Pointing to the "time, emotions and annoyance" she had put into trying to resolve the dispute, however, Anderson rejected the offer.

"She's trying to steal $500 off me, and I'm not going to let her," Ostrowski began when I called to discuss the matter. As we talked, he focused on the ruined curtains.

"If those are $500 curtains, I'll eat the tires off her car," he declared. I then brought up the carpet.

Ostrowski says he didn't realize the carpet had been stained, and claimed he was "never told" about it. When I pointed out that she had detailed that part in her letter, he admitted he hadn't read it. Still, he said, $250 was his limit: He'd already lowered the price from $3,200 to $2,500, he said, because Anderson is a nurse and he'd recently had "a life-threatening illness." His take on her request for damages: "She was trying to squeeze as much money out of me as she could." 

Anderson said she was surprised to hear Ostrowski's claim that he had lowered the price. She remembers telling him she's a nurse, she says, but recalls nothing about such a Florence Nightingale Special. 

In the end, Anderson agreed to settle for $250, and Ostrowski promised to reduce his bill accordingly. 

Do you have a consumer problem or question? Email the Fearless Consumer or write her at 100 Second Street NW, Charlottesville, 22902.