17 Jun Yelp Gambino landscape lighting review
by Mike Gambino
I like to read online reviews before I buy things and I take them with a grain of salt because what always amazes me is how some reviews could be so polar opposite from others that you have to wonder if they are describing the same business. Could different people really have that different of an experience with the same company and are the claims made true or embellished or even flat out false?
I got my first Yelp review and am finding out that Yelp does no investigation of said reviews as to their validity. Basically anyone can say anything about any business whether it is true or not.
First I am going to post here the review in full unedited made by Fran K who doesn’t have the courage to even post her last name. Then I am going to state the facts of the situation as they happened.
This guy is the epitome of every bad thing you hear about contractors: arrogant, chauvinistic, overcharges, and doesn’t stand behind his work.
We called him out last month to fix some lights that were out in the backyard and to add one new one. We had previously had the same lights fixed a month earlier by the guy who did our Xmas lights for $160. Mike told us that the work that guy did was incorrect and dangerous with exposed wires at the transformer and everything had shorted. He said he cleaned it all up and replaced the transformer, bulbs, added the new light etc. and charged us $867. A week later they were out again. He came back and blamed it in the wiring of a light we had added in that section about 6 months ago. So he rewired it and charged us another $220. Now last night, one week later, the lights are out again. So we call him and he tells us its our fault and he is not coming back and to f-off. Do you want this guy at your house? Fran K. Sherman Oaks , California
What Fran K doesn’t tell you is that this landscape lighting system is not a Gambino landscape lighting system. In fact it was NOT originally installed by us but by someone who built homemade fixtures on site by cutting sections of pipe and putting light bulbs in them. Two years ago we were doing an installation on her street and she asked if we would fix her backyard lighting.
When I looked at the system I advised her that there were many problems and that it wasn’t worth paying us to work on it as the fixtures were not fixtures they were sewer pipes with exposed bulbs and she had poor system connections in short there where so many things wrong that it was best to start new. Fran K declined and asked to please just make it work.
Against my better judgement I agreed and we did just that. When we where done she asked us to do the same to the front yard which was in bad shape as well but at least had recognizable fixtures that were meant to be outdoors and not homemade.
Two years went by and I heard no word from Fran K except ironically for the 2 references she gave us who we did work for and were very happy.
Earlier this year I got a call from Fran K’s husband whom I had never dealt with and didn’t know. He asked us to come out again to do “maintenance work” as he had several issues he wanted resolved.
In the front there were several sockets we replaced, a cut cable or 2 we repaired , bulbs changed and everything worked when we finished. In the backyard he brought us to the pool equipment area where he began cursing and throwing the F word around about his christmas lighting guy who screwed up his outdoor lighting, how he was going to sue him and how he wanted the lights to work.
The wiring had all been pulled out of the boxes and left open. half of the outdoor lighting was not working. I once again advised that this system was a big mess and needed replacement, he asked for an estimate and I gave him a ballpark for a new system installation which he balked at right away and said just make this work. We quickly determined that the christmas lighting had been plugged in through the outlet installed in one of the transformers which should never be done as its there only for timer devices not high load christmas lights. Anyway the outlet melted from being so overloaded so the transformer needed to be replaced which is what we did.
We added one additional light at his request, replaced bulbs and when we left everything was working. We left an invoice behind and went on our way. A few days later Mr. Fran K calls and asks for a discount on the bill because his wife is a fellow trades person apparently an interior designer. I explained that I had already replaced the transformer that had been damaged by their Christmas lights being plugged into it without charge even when it clearly had been burned out by negligence and was not under warranty. I in fact “ate” the cost of this transformer because I had been referred to 2 other clients by them but giving them an additional discount off an invoice that I had already lost money on was not going to be. I shortly received payment in full shortly thereafter.
One week later I get this nasty message from Mr Fran K about how I’d better get down there right away as I had ripped him off and those same set of lights were out again.
I didn’t appreciate the tone of the call however remained professional and went out with my head tech to see what was up. We found that one of the wooded posts that supported a transformer had been broken so we replaced that and that one breaker had tripped inside of that transformer.
When we reset it it wouldn’t reset, so we isolated the shorted wire and disconnected it then we where able to get the transformer breaker to reset.
We visually inspected the line the best we could to find the short but much of the cable had been covered by dense bamboo roots and could not be inspected. We did find a newly installed very low quality fixture there that had a very poorly installed interior wire nut connection made from its lead wire to the main cable. This was consistent with the rest of the cheap work done by others on this system. It is evident that this customer in their actions and from the condition of the lighting installed did not want to spend the money it takes to do it right. We replaced this splice with a proper one, re connected the cable to the transformer and everything worked. The amperage reading showed that load had been reduced to a normal level and we felt secure that we had fixed the problem.
Again I advised the client that this repair was only temporary and there were big problems in the near future with this system as it is in very poor condition. He said he didn’t have the money right now so we left it at that.
Another week or two goes by and I get another manic insane angry phone message from Mr Fran K on a Sunday evening about they just got back from vacation and how the same set of lights were out. He insisted I come 7AM the next morning. I called him back and he got verbally abusive so it was then I told him that it was best he got someone else to work on his system as this was not our system,we had done everything we could he didn’t want to spend the money to do the work right and re-iterated that the system has many problems which were not caused by us but would not be fixed for free by us. He started screaming about calling his lawyer and suing me and that’s when I hung up the phone.
As for me being chauvanistic, I have no clue where that came from as I have as much respect for women as I do for men and I had no dealing with her over this situation. She referred us to 2 others so that tells me that she was pleased with our work. As for being every bad thing you hear about contractors then how do you explain the extensive collection of testimonials I have received over the yrs.? Her negative review is the only one I’ve ever seen on the web.
She claims I told her to F-off. That’s pretty good since I had no interaction whatsoever with her, didn’t even see her let alone talk to her during this transaction.
She claims I don’t stand behind my work. Again pretty funny for a contractor who has his name all over his equipment. Fran K. that system you have in your yard is not a Gambino landscape lighting system. I don’t stand behind other companies work Fran K. that’s what you are mistaken about.
You say you had your Christmas lighting guy out the month before to fix the same problem. So why are you not writing a bad review about your Christmas lighting guy and why did you not call him back to fix it again? He was the one Mr Fran K. was throwing F bombs out about when I got there and how he was going to sue him too.
I’m arrogant and overpriced.? That’s subjective and have not heard that before except from you so I will keep it at that.
Well I will let the public decide for themselves. My track record speaks for itself after 22 years in business I guess its inevetible that someone would come along and post a negative review bolstered by a false account of the facts.
PS- Mrs Fran K is an interior designer practicing in Los Angeles. I find it amazing how she says in her first sentence about the epitome of everything bad you’ve heard about contractors- Is that really a fair description of the perception of contractors or just your preconceived bias Mrs Fran K? I wonder what contractors who work with her have to say? I know of one who did not have very flattering things to say.
This landscape lighting blog is published by Mike Gambino of Gambino landscape lighting inc. all rights reserved. Mike is a professional landscape lighting system designer/ builder and has been designing, installing and maintaining landscape lighting systems for more than 20 years. Mike resides in the Los Angeles area with his wife and 2 sons. To visit his website go to www.gambinolighting.com . To inquire about hiring Mike please click here .
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