When A Big Contractor is So Clueless About Paint

I am entering my fourth year of stay in Singapore, so naturally less and less things about the people here fascinate me to a point where I feel compelled to write them on my blog. But my recent four-week unfinished debacle to get my building contractor re-paint my wall (which they had to cut out to fix some choked pipes) is too far beyond belief not to immortalize here🙂

The story goes that my family moved into a brand new condo, where the building contractor still needs to fix every defect within 12 months time. Then another family moved into the unit right above ours, and found out that their washing machine drain pipe was choked. The only way to fix that was for the contractor to cut out my ceiling – the only access to that pipe. So I really had no choice but to say yes, after all the contractor was obligated to bring into previous condition whatever mess they created.

Anyhow, in the process, they not only ripped and re-plastered my ceiling, but also chipped some of my wall paint. So naturally I asked them to fix that too.

Now … this was made tricky because my wall paint is a custom color that no longer existed in the ICI Dulux catalog. We had ICI created that custom color through a color sample. So, repeatedly, I explained to the defect-fixing supervisor (whatever you call this position …) that he would need to come by to get the color sample, bring it to an ICI shop to get that color re-created.

I repeated the same explanation at least 20 times over a period of one week (and really, 20 times is NOT an exaggeration. I probably explained this way more than 20 times!), and his responses were:

“Ok lah, I understand. Tomorrow I come and show you the ICI catalog, you just choose lah!”

“Ok lah, just give me the color code and I’ll buy for you.”

The guy just never seemed to understand, no matter which version of English I use (American English, Singlish, British English, a mix of English and Malay, broken English, sign language, verrrry sllooooow English), including showing him the paint catalog that wrote in big bold letters: WE HAVE CUSTOM-COLOR CREATION SERVICE, that the color code and catalog would do no good because my wall color doesn’t exist either in the catalog or off the rack!

Anyhow, three weeks later, after many phone calls – from the polite to the angry, plus a very firm e-mail to the management company, the guy was finally convinced that he needed to come by and pick up this so-called color sample. After two failed attempts to show up, he finally did come (hurrah!!!), then TRIED TO CONVINCE ME TO CHOOSE A COLOR FROM HIS CATALOG.

Again, I repeated my explanation, trying to speak as slowly and nicely as my patience could hold, that he needed to bring my color sample to the paint shop so they could re-create that color.

Then he asked me, “You still got leftover paint or not?”

To which I snapped and asked, “IF I STILL HAVE LEFTOVER PAINT, WOULD I BE ASKING YOU TO ORDER MORE??”

Cutting story short, after several more explanation of this custom-color creation concept, he nodded. He seemingly understood and took my color sample. Two days later, he said he’s got the paint colors and arranged a time to finish the work.

On that specified day (just this afternoon, actually), they did show up and immediately started sanding and painting the ceiling. Job well done.

Then the guy opened the paint can for the wall color, and then called me, “Ma’am, I think you give us the wrong color code.”

I saw for myself that he had bought a milky white paint for what was supposed to be a beige wall! Apparently, instead of ordering a custom-color Barley White like what I had asked, they ordered a BARELY White off the rack!   I looked at him in disbelief. Obviously this guy was totally oblivious to the explanation I mentioned for who knows how many zillion times and was pre-occupied only with his own ideas and solutions (which included re-painting my whole kitchen, or even my whole house, with a new color because he couldn’t find my color off the rack).

I tried not to scold the Singaporean way, but was very clear in pointing out that he had not been listening to me at all, and that I was utterly upset that an issue over a can of paint had taken more than 4 weeks to resolve just because he refused to listen to me.

Then, in an apparent panicky mode, he asked his two workers to find whatever leftover paint they still have in the complex, and while I wasn’t looking they quickly painted the affected wall with the closest color they got. Then, with a big smile on their faces, the supervisor told me, “We found your color Ma’am, please look.”

Absolutely perplexed that they could come up with my custom wall color so fast, I approached and looked. In their attempt to make a quick fix, they had patched my BEIGE wall with some COPPER color! When I asked what on earth made him think that COPPER is the same color as BEIGE, he said, “But the paint is still wet Ma’am. When dry it will be the same color!”

That’s it. Then I lost it. I told him that since he’s picked up absolutely NOTHING out of my repeated explanation, I demanded to speak directly to someone in his team who knows about paint. So I spoke to Mr. Teng, his paint supplier, who immediately agreed with me that every paint company has a custom-color service and that he could provide such service within a few days. So obviously, the problem lies with the defect-fixing supervisor dude who either have a hearing problem, a serious memory block, or couldn’t understand my English.

And by the way, if you’re wondering which lousy contractor this was, it’s Great Earth, which builds many big projects in Singapore. Definitely we won’t be buying another property built by this company.

~ by elinski on July 2, 2010.

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