Kitchen and Clent from Hell

  • Advertise with us
Project by Moron posted 01-09-2008 10:30 PM 3489 views 7 times favorited 40 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Thrills and spills on this one…............still a tad bitter about it.

Client wants a “taupe” colour when in actual fact, taupe is a word used to decribe a colour. It took three months just to agree on a colour and that in itself was a costly disaster. Being so frustrated I finally cut a piece of MDF 12” wide x 96” long. I painted it with post cat high solids white primer, sand, repeat, sand and then top coated with cloud white post cat lacquer, glazed the entire piece with “taupe” stain glaze and then top coated that with post cat lacquer. I then cut the piece into 8 equall squares to show the designer.

The designer (unbeknowest to her that each piece was almost exactly the same) sees them and tells me to bring 4 of them to the client, the other four were not the “right” colour.

The client sees the samples (which are all the same colour), looks and me and barks “How couldyou even bring that one, it’s absolutly hideous!”..........same for #2 and settles on #4….....and they are all the same colour

This gives you an insight into the difficulty of client.

I took digital pics of the original kitchen with a story pole/stick that had heavy black marks so that it could be clear as to what hieght the appliances were at, that she so loved before. Suddenly the new microwave that was the perfect hieght in the old kitchen, which is installed at the exact same hieght in the new kitchen isnt working…........redo the whole built in cabinet.

This went on and on and on and on and on… was a project from hell. The shaper bits were all custom made…........very expensive.

near the end and after countless trips to touch up this and touch up that I requested that the client might be so kind as to take green sticky pads, and place a “stciky” on any and all defeciencies…....days later my daughter and I drove the hour trip and I told my daughter that when we get there the whiteish, taupish kitchen was going to look like a christmas tree…...........and when we got there… did.

The client (she) leaves her home and my daughter asks “How are we going to fix all this?”

I reply “we arent”.......”peel every one off and lets go for breakfast”

The client returns. looks at everything and exclaims ” Oh, you must have worked so hard, it’s perfect”

In the end the clients husband who holds the purse strings says to me “I’m not paying you until you satisfy my wife!”

to which I reply “No where in our contract does it state that I have to satisfy your bride and furthermore, you’ve been married to her for 50 years, thrown several million dollars at her and to date, you’ve never satified her!”

beautiful kitchen when it was done regardless of the fact I got burned for near 50 grand.


We live, we learn and those who have never made a msitake never did much!

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

40 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4398 days

#1 posted 01-09-2008 10:46 PM

ouch :(

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 4036 days

#2 posted 01-09-2008 10:48 PM

If I had a dollar for every dollar i lost from folks that didn’t pay I would have enough to take vacation. No matter how well I wrote a contract, the worse it got. Then I had a new way of working.

Say a job would bid at 10,000 dollars. I bid at 12,000 just to have a cushion. I then charge 50% down before I start building. (6000.00) then 25% when I am ready to install. this is now 9,000. the rest is due at delivery. If there is no BS from the client, I only charge them 1000 more to make it the real 10,000 and tell them that I came in under budget and refuse the rest of the money.

They tell 10 friends how honest I am and they promote me as the most amazing guy in town. If there is BS, I deduct it from the extra 2,000 and if they are real jerks, I keep it all. I may lose a few jobs for being a bit higher than I used to be, but at least i have a 20% cushion to play with.

-- making sawdust....

View Grumpy's profile


24818 posts in 4088 days

#3 posted 01-09-2008 10:49 PM

That hurts. Better luck next time.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View TomFran's profile


2959 posts in 4231 days

#4 posted 01-09-2008 11:24 PM

Wow, what an experience. That’s one of the things that makes being in buisiness for yourself so risky – people who won’t pay after the services are rendered. I feel for you.

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4455 days

#5 posted 01-09-2008 11:27 PM

Roman, that is one for the books! It always amazes me to watch people fret over paint chips that are nearly identical, when it is going to look somewhat different on the wall anyway.

Also, I used to work for a company that sold factory-made cabinets, and it was unbelievable how many people insisted on having us swap out doors because of grain variance, as if they wanted a kitchen that looked like formica or something!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4130 days

#6 posted 01-09-2008 11:38 PM

It has been my experience that most folks are good people but we just cant win them all.


my policy is not much different then yours…..........this one got away on me

we live…...we learn


-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View TreeBones's profile


1827 posts in 4260 days

#7 posted 01-10-2008 01:41 AM

Beautiful kitchen. I have learned to try and pick out this kind of client ahead of time and steer clear. My toughest client was the grumpy wife of a retired quality control supervisor (he must have learned from her). We all learn the hard way sometimes.

-- Ron, Twain Harte, Ca. Portable on site Sawmill Service

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4225 days

#8 posted 01-10-2008 02:17 AM

I feel for you!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Don Kondra 's profile

Don Kondra

117 posts in 4123 days

#9 posted 01-10-2008 03:08 AM


I’d be learning about alternative collection options…. within the law :)

Beautiful job Roman but that sure takes the edge off the satisfaction. Great trick with the color samples.

Did you ever tell them?

Cheers, Don.

-- Don Kondra – Furniture Designer/Maker

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4216 days

#10 posted 01-10-2008 03:51 AM

Hi Roman;

I feel for you buddy. I would have run from this client and DESIGNER at the start. I don’t need the practice.

Having specialized in high end renovations for a quarter of a century, as well as a secondary company providing cabinets and furniture for these projects, I was reduced to babysitter on many occasions. It was a full time job hand holding with these clients, or at least the wife. It always amazed me that their door knob was more important than my very being, and it amazed them that I didn’t agree.

Most often the husband would go to work early and come home late. I can’t say I blame them for leaving early, but I always wondered why they ever came home. Generally these were nice guys when the “little women” wasn’t around, but when she was they did anything needed not to rile her. Fear would leak out of them.

I actually wasn’t paid the escrowed retainer fee of $64,000.00 on a project because I upset the wife, AFTER the project was completed. She called one morning a few weeks after the job was done, complaining I never came around anymore. I politely explained the project was complete, why would I keep coming by. She said, “so you were only in it for the money”? It took several months for me to collect most of the money, but never did get all of it.

After years of watching ladies like this I came to the conclusion that they are miserable because they serve no purpose in life, and they know it. Their life is meaningless from a productivity standpoint, so there is no feeling of accomplishment, or satisfaction. They keep buying more material items in the hope this would bring them happiness.

I had a lady insist to my laborers that the boss come down to the corner, where our dumpster was placed. I went to meet her, only to listen to her complaining about this unsightly dumpster, and insisting it be moved immediately.
After fending off her suggested locations, due to they were impossible based on the size of the dumpster. She eventually said something about having to walk her dog past here everyday and seeing this dumpster. At that point I asked her where she lived. (until that point I had assumed she lived in the building by the dumpster). She said she lived a couple blocks over, but walked past here everyday.

That’s when I not so politely told her to go get a job.

Unfortunately, by the time we learn all the things to watch out for, were too old to do the work anymore.

Good luck next time around.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4130 days

#11 posted 01-10-2008 04:22 AM

Don Kondra

No, I never told the designer, nor the client about the colour. I didnt see any gain in it. This wasnt the first time “designers” (and just a note…there are some good ones out there) looked at colour that was crap three days before only to be perfect at the moment.


I am quite blunt when it comes to money. Since then… money …..then me no show up. On the above project. It was one of ….in fact it was the only time I listened to my wife who begged me to finish. I wanted to walk from it months before the end. .......I do listen to my wife, I just dont do what she says <g>.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Karson's profile


35152 posts in 4637 days

#12 posted 01-10-2008 04:56 AM

Roman I feel for you. Loose a little here but you make it up on volume right.

It’s a very nice kitchen. You did good.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4227 days

#13 posted 01-10-2008 12:08 PM

Motthunter has a great suggestion and it has worked in the past for me, although we weren’t installing cabinetry and kitchens. My job for 15 years was subcontracting for many different telephone companies. Most of these GC’s were people who severely underbid a job just to get it, and it showed in the beginning when they couldn’t afford the 50% down, or wanted to keep a portion of my paycheck as a retainer. I never got those “retainers” back. One of those was for $2600.00 from a one time good friend of mine. I still have a photo of him standing as an usher in our wedding party. Some friend huh? Many of them also had these 25-30 page “contracts” for you to sign. Just another way to rip you off. I’ve actually placed bids on a napkin before. When it’s signed, it’s a contract. 25 pages is a coverup. You need to read them all before you sign.

Ya gotta protect yourself out there. People are freakin’ weird when it comes to saving a buck. Some are just too anal for their own good and complain about everything. That’s what lawyers are for. If someone wants to “hold a retainer” that’s fine, as long as it’s in escrow. When they won’t do that, then it’s a positive indicator that you’re not gonna see it either.

Hey, I’m sorry for venting myself here. I’m not in the contracting line of work anymore. Today I’m a nurse…so I’m still involved heavily in the “psyche” of it all!

People. Ya gotta deal with them no matter where you go.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4216 days

#14 posted 01-10-2008 01:53 PM


My wife has a tendency to tell me how to “do it” also. I don’t take kindly to that, since I’m the one with the experience, but sometimes I go against my better judgment and do what she suggests. And usually I regret it!

Reminds me of a sub contractor on a large project.(at least for me) The sub and I agreed on the price and the payment schedule, based on progress.

That night his wife called me to say “we don’t work like this, blah, blah, blah”. I told her not to call me again, and hung up.

The next morning when the sub arrived I told him if his wife ever calls me again, I’ll throw him off the job so fast his head will spin. And he’ll never see another dime of his money.

She didn’t call anymore.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4130 days

#15 posted 01-10-2008 02:42 PM


I have five bathrooms in my house. She decided to paint the only one that didnt need painting. What a debacle that turned into.

Nothing will test the strength of a marriage more then putting the cover on a pool together at the end of the season.

She bet me 1/2” the cost of our boat, that the laundry cabinets I made for this project wouldnt fit into the room. To date and after 25 years of this trade I have not yet had one cabinet that didnt fit through all doors…...touch wood. On another note, same project, the bride of the client on this project screamed at me over the phone that she couldnt possibly enjoy her summer at the cottage with four boys and only three bathrooms amogst them and that she simplymust have her next bathroom vanity immediatly ( my first thought was that I grew up in a place where seven kids got along just fine with an outhouse).

I had the vanity couriered up and then floated to the island on a barge only to show up 4 days later to see that such urgency and such expense led to the all wood, custom coloured vanity and wooden top that was wrapped in cardboard followed by stretch wrap sitting in the rain for 4 solid days….........and somehow I expected to hear that it was all my fault.

For every job gone sour, at least a dozen went well.

My fav., gone bad, turned out good went something like this.

A rather big kitchen, over the 100,000 dollar mark. Lots of curves and accesories and made from curly english sycamore veneers with black walnut highlights and installed in a mansion on the water. Not one single trade got paid in full, most of the time the cabinet guys are the last ones in and the last ones out. our “holdback” was about 17 grand. She refused to to pay it as it was her “opinion” that the finish was faulty.

I paid a visit to the site and she showed me all the streaks on the finish. The whole time she is talking he is also obsessivly and compulsively applying hand cream to her hands and then rubbing the cabinets. I said nothing. I offered to take a door off, take it back to the shop and see what could be done to fix the finish. Taking one of the curved doors back I waited for her phone call. Bare in mind that the whole kitchen is made from a large flitch and all doors are in sequence.

She phones and I tell her that there is nothing wrong with the finish, that in fact the streaks are hand cream from her hands and that mineral spirits will work to clean them up….......she EXPLODES…....I hang up.

She phones back, she EXPLODES…........I hang up

repeat several times.

Her secretary phones me and I can hear her exploding in the back ground. I politely tell her secretary that if she doesnt want to speak to me personally, then I dont want to speak to her either and hang up.

She phones back and firmly demands that I drop her door off because she is having a party. I explain that I need a certified cheque before I drop the door off…...she explodes…...I hang up.

She phones back and says she doesnt have the time to get a certified cheque. I explain that I dont have the time to drive for three hours to drop her door off without a cheque….........she explodes….. I hang up.

She phones back and says that my certified cheque will be waiting….....I thank her.

We were th only trade to be paid in full.


-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

showing 1 through 15 of 40 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics