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This is my rundown of my experience with Empire Today.  I hope you enjoy!

Since writing this post, we have received hundreds of emails over the years with similar stories about Empire Today. They focus on marketing more than service and product quality. They basically outsource everything and don’t care what happens on your project unless you can get a good service rep.

My wife and I decided to put new carpet down on our first floor.  Over the years, it has been destroyed by our two dogs.  It is beyond cleaning at this point.  Luckily for us, not our whole downstairs is carpeted.  We have wood floors in our kitchen, so that doesn’t have to be redone.  The new carpet will be good since we plan on selling our house at the beginning of next year.  Our upstairs carpet is still in good shape and could look great with a nice cleaning.  I will save that for another day though.

As with any project, I look at my DIY options along with get some recommendations from people that I trust.  I looked at the DIY option for putting in my own carpet, but I don’t really have the time or the necessary tools.  Though I try to do a project once on my own, I know my limitations.  I won’t take on something that I can complete to the highest quality.  So, with the DIY option out, I was on the hunt for a company that could provide me with the service I needed.

I talked with quite a few people that have recently had carpet installed in their home.  I got all of their reviews and opinions.  With the reviews and opinions, I found that Empire Today did a good job with most of the people that I spoke with.  You might know Empire Today, as it is one of the largest flooring companies in the US.  They do thousands of install jobs everyday.  I have seen great reviews, so I decided to try them out.

How to Hire Empire Today

Grade: A

Empire Today works by setting up an appointment for a salesperson to come to your house.  They will measure the square footage and then give you flooring options.  You can go to their website at www.empiretoday.com and setup a free consultation.  Many times they can do it the same day depending on when you set it up.  This is where they are super efficient.  You can also call their toll-free number at 1-800-588-2300.

I setup an appointment the day before and the salesperson was punctual.  One thing I noticed is that Empire Today hires out their sales organization to 3rd party providers.  This would explain why they can have quick turnarounds on their consultation appointments.  Many other companies do this, so I wasn’t worried.

The Salesman Experience

Grade: F

You know how this experience is. There is something about a salesperson.  I have never really met one that I trusted and that is for a good reason.  While there might be some really good salespeople, there are ones that just give the trade a bad name.  Unfortunately, the salesman that my wife and I got was one of those…. 🙁

The salesman that came to our house was very quick on his measurements and his explanations.  We told him that we weren’t looking for anything fancy for the house.  We just needed something similar to what we had in order to look nice for when the house goes on the market.  Should have been easy enough, right?

After the measurements, he went to get his samples.  He came back with a few, but not many.  He sat us down and started to work out some math.  Now, Empire Today was having a 50% off everything sale.  This means that it was 50% off the product, materials, and installation.  That means 50% everything.  That makes the math easy!

Empire Today bad deal
The sales banner what was on the site when I contacted them

Knowing this information, the salesman allowed us to pick out the color and carpet style that we liked.  This is where the process went south, very south!  After he did his math, he told me his quote.  Eye-popping is an understatement.

Empire Pricing

Grade: F

You never really know what the quote is going to be with Empire. The sales people work on commission and are a third party. They can make up any number they want and since they have these “deals” all of the time, it can make it look more like a deal than it should be.

My $4,500 Quote

Yes, the quote for the carpet was $4,500 for just 610 square feet!  Now, I might not be a carpet installer, but this seemed really high.  But “luckily” for us, with the 50% sale, we could get the carpet for only $2,250!  Sweet….

Since I didn’t know what the true cost of installing carpet was in our area, I asked a simple question to the man.  What is the cancellation policy?  This is a great question to ask by the way.  Empire Today has a 3 day no-questions asked policy.  This was good enough for me.

The way Empire Today gets you is that they require that you sign the contract that day.  That is how you get their sale.  Now, this usually isn’t a problem for me if I know what I am receiving.  Unfortunately, I had a feeling that this man was blowing smoke.

In order to keep the deal, I asked him to just put down a 10% deposit.  Now, if I would tell you that I wanted to put down a 10% deposit on a $2,250 order, what would that amount be?

$225, right?

Well, my second clue that this person was not up to snuff as that he couldn’t do the math.  He sat and thought about it and then had to pull out a calculator.  This was when my lovely wife just spoke up and said “it’s $225!“.  The salesman’s response was just as stupid as his math, “Hold on, I am trying to calculate the deposit.“.  I just had to laugh.  People like this make me angry.

Either way, I put some skin in the game, just to make sure that it wasn’t actually a good deal.  The deposit was nothing and I put it on my credit card to get some points!  The salesman left promptly after we signed the paperwork.

Now, it was my turn to go to work.

The Revelation

I am not an un-informed consumer. I know how to do research and find out if you are trying to swindle me.  I always like to give a company one chance to make an impression.  It is up to them on how they choose to do so.  I jumped on my laptop and started looking around.  I even went to Home Depot and Lowes to compare the price that I received from Empire Today from their product and service.

It only took me about an hour to realize that this salesperson was just padding the hell out of his pockets.  I found comparable carpet products at both Home Depot and Lowes that were much cheaper.  By my calculations, I could have paid about $1,700 for the carpet, install materials, and installation.

With this information, I realized that Empire Today was not providing me with any 50% off sale.  They were just increasing their prices by double and then cutting it in half.  They were still higher than the average in our area.  Tisk, Tisk!

Armed with my easy findings, I decided to call Empire Today’s customer service.

The Customer Service Experience

Grade: B

I called the number and went though about two number punches in order to find my department.  It was quite easy. I was only on hold for about 30 seconds.  That is a much nicer experience than dealing with Time Warner Cable.  The lady rep that I got on the phone was extremely polite.  That is a great way to start off a call.  I proceeded to let her know about my experience with their sales rep.  I definitely let her know of my position on the whole experience and she was generally apologetic.

One of the things that she told me, which irritated me a bit, was when she told me that they aren’t responsible for the sales reps.  Since they hire a third party company, they don’t take responsibility of their actions.  Oh, NO NO NO!

Let me tell you one thing, Empire Today.  No matter where you get your salespeople, you are using them as the face of your company.  They are the first people that we see as consumers.  They are the ones that are supposed to build your brand.  I don’t give a crap if you don’t actually hire the reps, but you hired the company that does.  It IS your responsibility!

When someone tells you they don’t take responsibility for their reps, just cancel the order. Don’t keep going like I did. They aren’t worth it.

I was on the phone with this rep for close to 45 minutes.  The reason why it took so long as that she was working with upper management to give me a price that I would accept.  Once I get burned, I am much harder to please, so I made her work a little harder.  By the time, I got finished with the call, I didn’t cancel the installation.  The reason is that the customer service lady brought down the price to what it would cost me for just the carpet at Home Depot or Lowes.  That was acceptable to me.

This customer service agent did exactly what she was supposed to do.  She worked to fix my issues and did it politely.  I even asked for her manager and made a call to him to talk about how well she did.  Good customer service is rare, so I will do what I can to make sure the agent’s manager know.

The Installation

Grade: N/A

We scheduled the installation day for a week out because we were going to be out of town.  Another aspect of Empire Today’s business is that they have third party installers to do the work.  It is the same as their salespeople.  They just have a huge network of installers that are in your area.  This makes it much cheaper for them.

The installer came early, which was great.  They were very nice and polite.  The main installer asked if I wanted to review the materials before he brought it all in. Of Course!

He brought me to the back of the van and there it was….Utter Disappointment!

Are you f’ing kidding me?  So, the carpet that was brought was as thick as Astro Turf.  This was definitely not what we had picked out.  It was so hard and the color wasn’t even right.  I was pissed.

I didn’t get angry at the installer, because it was not his fault.  He was very polite and even told me that he didn’t think it was the right carpet.  He did a little digging and found that the salesperson changed the tags on the carpet in order to match the invoice, but it wasn’t the right carpet.  Luckily, the installer had the same product line in the van, but in a different color.  We compared and that was the confirmation that I needed.

I told the installer to wait and I called Empire Today again.  I got a different rep and this man was an ass.  The was very rude. I told him that we needed to cancel the order immediately. I gave him my reasons and he tried to counter them saying that it was what I ordered. I assured him that it was not and it was an inferior and unacceptable product. I wouldn’t even put that crap in a rental property.

After 20 minutes of back and forth, I finally told him that if he didn’t cancel the order, then I would be calling them in a few days when the carpet started ripping up (it was already coming out in handfuls when you put your fingers through it) and they would have to do a full install of new carpet. I told him to cut the loss now and move on.  He obliged and that was that.

I walked back to the installer and told him that I was done and the order was canceled.  He was honest and told me he wouldn’t even install that in his house.  I really liked that installer.  He was honest with me, even though he wouldn’t be paid for the job.  It just shows that there are still people around that will do an honest days work.

Overall Experience

Grade: D+

My experience with Empire Today was not a good one.  Yes, I gave them a D+ because they had one good customer service rep (not the cancellation rep) and their website is super easy to use.  I wish I could have graded the install, but since it didn’t happen, I can’t.

After going back and talking with the people that used Empire Today, they told me that their salespeople were really good.  I think this will happen when you have a company that uses a third party organization for its sales staff.

From my experience, I DO NOT recommend Empire Today.  I think that they have practices that are not ideal and they leave the pricing up to the individual salesperson.  This leaves the system open for manipulation.

I have to call into question the good reviews you see that they have. With so many contacting us over the years about similar issues, I’m skeptical about their 4.4+ star ratings you see.

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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