The Bathtub Debacle

My favorite topic of complaint over the last few months has been our attempt at home remodeling. Many of you have heard bits and pieces of the story, and I even mentioned it in an earlier post, but I thought I’d go ahead and get the whole story down in one place.

This all started when the people who owned my home before me, who by now we all know are lazy jack wagons, ignored the upstairs tub dripping. They must have ignored it for at least a year. This leak proceeded to run along the side of the tub, and work its way through the grout between the tiles. Unfortunately, there was just sheet rock behind them instead of green board or hardi board, either of which would have been waterproof. The sheet rock slowly dissolved, leaving only a thin skin of paper holding up the entire tile wall.

Here’s why the previous owners are awful human beings: the water leaked enough to cause a water stain in the ceiling of the garage. Did they take that as a hint to fix it? No. They decided to simply replace the sheet rock in the garage to trick us into buying the house. We could have knocked off a large chunk of the price if they hadn’t been so deceptive, and would be having an easier time paying for their laziness right now. I hope a sinkhole swallows their current house and their insurance refuses to pay for it.

So Hubby and I got the leak fixed, discovered the illusion that is our “wall”, and started showering downstairs. This spring we had decided to get the whole shower fixed. We found a contractor who shall remain anonymous until their work is completed, at which point they will get a whole blog post, which I’m hoping will be entirely positive. We finally agreed on, and purchased tile, and ordered a tub.

Woe to ye who do not research large purchases ahead of time, for ye will surely be subjected to endless torment and frustration.

We went to the normal places to shop for a tub: Home Depot, and Lowe’s. I always prefer to support local businesses when I can, but I couldn’t seem to find a local plumbing supply shop, until we stumbled into Austin Plumbing Supply. I had already found a tub online at Lowe’s that was on sale, and would be shipped to our home for free. I should have ordered it and stayed home.

We went to the showroom, which is on Burnet (at this moment, but who knows how much longer it will be there). The person we were dealing with, who I believe was the owner, Bill Sullivan, said we should go over to their warehouse and see what they had there. We 10 minutes over there, where he tried to sell us two tubs that were not even close to what we wanted. One was basically the same as the one we already had, and the other was some big, fancy Whirpool number. This is how the conversation went:

Me: “That’s not what we want”.
Bill: “Yeah, but I’ll make you a deal on this one”.
Me: “I don’t want a deal on that one. I want a tub without all those jets and things”.
Bill: “This is usually a $1,500 tub. I’ll give it to you for $700. That’s less than half what it usually costs”.
Me (thinking I know $700 is less than half of $1,500, jackass. Don’t insult my intelligence): “I don’t care. That’s still way more than I want to spend, plus it will cost me a ton more to install. I found a tub I want for $500, so I’ll just go order it from Lowe’s”.

After a bit more discussion along this line, he gave me a rather irritated look, and said we should all go back to the showroom. We drove back through traffic, all the way back down Burnet. He had me find the website with the tub I had in mind, and said they would match the price. At the time we were on a deadline for the contractors to get started (little did I know that date would be missed by 2 months at least), and he told me we would have it delivered in time for the start date. After he ran my card he said it would SHIP within 2 weeks, not ARRIVE within 2 weeks, which is what I needed. I should have cancelled the order at that second, but I didn’t know any better.

After that, there was a consistent string of delays, ignored phone calls and emails, and excuses. We finally got the tub and the flange (part of the tub) delivered, but no tub skirt. The skirt is the front white wall of the tub, and this one was a separate piece. When the tub was delivered, the (seemingly 15 year old) delivery boy told us the skirt would arrive in a couple of days. I called the store after he left, and they said it would be a couple of WEEKS.

We stopped hearing from them completely, and I even emailed them saying, “Please just email me back if your business is still open”. I had no idea that I was correct. The local paper did an article about the fact that Austin Plumbing Supply closed its doors without telling anyone, before they declared bankruptcy. I found out because my contractor physically went over to the store to find out what was going on, and saw numerous customers wandering around, unsure what to do when faced with the inexpicably locked doors.

The Statesman has since written another article about the bankruptcy, and the effect on customers. Personally, I feel really lucky that we got a tub at all. I’ve disputed the charges for the remaining purchase with the bank, and it’s already been refunded. My contractor says we don’t need the skirt (oh yeah, turns out the tub is discontinued as well, so getting any remaining parts my be nigh impossible), and she can build and tile a small wall instead.

I’ve posted this before, but I’ll post it again: this is the link to Austin Plumbing Supply on Yelp. For those of you unfamiliar, Yelp is a website where people can review businesses and restaurants. They have a five star scale (five being the best), and this place has an AVERAGE of one star. One!! It turns out that I’m not alone. Bill Sullivan is apparently rude to every person he comes across, and once he has your money, doesn’t care about actually providing the materials he’s promised. No one deserves to go out of business more than this guy. I am gleeful at his downfall, and I hope he can never open another business again.

Hubby and I were very lucky, and I hope everyone uses this as a lesson to research any place you’ll be making a major purchase thoroughly before handing over your card. Hopefully, the world is now a little safer for consumers, and with any luck, I’ll be able to shower upstairs in less than 2 weeks!


June 23, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , . House Stuff.


  1. Book Reviews: Mercedes Lackey « My Attempts at Cleverness replied:

    […] there was no blog post Saturday. Yes, I’m a terrible blogger. I’m sure after the Great Bathtub Debacle you understand a bit of why I’m so scatterbrained lately, and will excuse one missed post. […]

  2. Our Beautiful Bathroom « My Attempts at Cleverness replied:

    […] Yes, that is a tile being held in place with maksing tape so we don’t have a gaping hole straight through to the attic. I’m sure the kitties would have had a blast wriggling through and then getting trapped over there. After a few months of ignoring this, and showering downstairs, I decided enough was enough. We ordered a new tub, then all this crap happened.  […]

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