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Thread: Product Reviews

  1. #1
    War. War never changes. Est's Avatar
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    Ok, so this's a very open, wide topic.

    What I want is to hear from the members of Terraforums about products they've tried and their thoughts on 'em.

    I'd like to hear about anything at all. If you had an experience with a product/company that upset you and you'd warn people against using their products, or if you bought something that you really like and you wanna tell about it, then I wanna hear it!

    New users, old users, this is a good chance to find out if other people here share some more interests. If nothing else this's something to idly pass the time with.

    I'll post some of my own reviews soon!
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  2. #2
    War. War never changes. Est's Avatar
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    Creative X-Fi Review:

    I recently purchased a new Creative X-Fi ("extreme fidelity") soundcard on ebay. Specifically, the Platinum X-Fi version.

    Retail Price: ~$199.00 - $179.00
    Price Ebay Seller Payed: $209.16 TOTAL
    Price I Payed: $107.51 (free shipping, too!)

    Good deal for me? You betcha!!

    I was drawn to this model of of the X-Fi line because I was looking to expand my horizons, get something to play with, and learn a bit along the way.

    Product Specs: I wont bore you with the exact specs, but this is a PCI card (2.2) with the new X-Fi technology by creative. It's available in a number of versions. The "Platinum" version that I picked up comes with the basic card, and software AS WELL as a front panel that goes in to one of the CD bays in the front of your case for easy access for things like mic, headphone jack, optical in/out, as well as left and right for your standard RCA cable. The panel also contains a receiver for a remote that comes included with the Platinum version.

    Pros: There's a lot of software. Really! Some of it is more useful than others. I don't use any of the music creation features, but have made extensive use of the EAX features for gaming. I have a standard 5.1 computer speaker surround setting (also made by creative.) Theyre not new so I'm sure I'm missing SOME of the benefit of the card, but I can definitly notice the difference.

    Nuances show up a lot better. Games are emersive especially with headphones. I've only got a standard pair of headphones, but games sound pretty dang cool! There's plenty of things to play with as well.

    Cons: Big ones. Very big ones. Ok, first of all it's a bit pricey, so if you're paying retail price, you probably want to have a good reason for getting it.

    CREATIVE. The X-Fi line has a MAJOR FLAW. There is a wretched snap-crackle-pop (hereafter refered to as SCP) that MANY users experience. There are 3 modes of operation for the soundcard that allow you to manipulate different features: Music creation, gaming, and music/movies. For me, music/movies is unsuable because of extreme SCP. I have manipulated it to the point where I can use the Gaming and Music Creation modes (too bad I don't need the music creation mode.)

    Creative has failed to effectively respond. We've gotten the standard runaround for a LONG time now. They blame it on Nforce 4 boards, and PCI latency this and that, but the fact is that I have all of the requirements as described by Creative. In fact, I exceed all of their requirements. Many attempts have been made my many users to get a fix to no avail.

    Furthermore, there's no Linux divers, and they refuse to give ALSA the information they need for them to make a driver. Creative has stated that a Linux driver will be made available in the 2nd quarter of 2007 (the X-fi line was released AUGUST 2005.)

    Overall: Would not recommend this product. Creative is sort of on my S-list after the SCP debaucle. When it works, it's GREAT, expecially if you can get a deal for it. However the product has been released non-functioning. Creative has given people the runaround so long that they can no longer return their product from the place they purchased it.

    Until all of the issues have been resolved, I wouldn't look at the X-fi line. Even after that, you may want to look up how Creative has adressed the problem and decide if you really want to do business with them.

    So I can't really give this product a star rating because it's incomplete. The fact that it was released incomplete is a major turn off though. Would be great fun if it was fully functional though!

    --So, here's an example of a review. Mine's sort of lengthy... But oh well. I'll have to come up with some other stuff that other people can relate to. By no means do you need to follow this format. Hope to hear from some of ya!
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  3. #3
    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    My most recent "big" acquisition was a GPSr...a Garmin Quest.

    I got it for both car navigation and to use for geocaching. I bought it for a pretty good price from a seller on eBay.

    I have not had time to use it a whole lot YET...but so far my comments are:


    1) The manual absolutely SUCKS! I am the kind of person who reads the instruction manual when I get a product. [Unlike some people I know who don't bother to read the manual and then whine and complain because they don't know how to use their item.] But the instructions are very poor. For two weeks I thought the voice direction feature wasn't working. By sheer accident, I discovered in order for the voice feature to work, the unit must be powered up by the CAR, not by the "On" button on the unit. NOWHERE in the manual does it say that the car must start up the unit for the voice to work. I would be using the unit inputting information, then put it in the mount while it was still on. So the voice feature wouldn't work. Wouldn't you think the manual would have step-by-step instructions starting with: "With the unit OFF, place into window mount, plug into power source and start car; unit will power up and voice will be activated."
    2) The user interface kinda sucks too. It just seems to me like it could be much more user friendly. I'm sure the more I use it, I'll get familiar with the VERY confusing menus. But its not something to take out the package and start using IF you are not already familiar with GPSrs.
    3) Although I didn't have to wait too long for tech support when I called...the advice offered was ridiculous and definitely not "technical". I hope that guy is not representative of Garmin's support team.


    1) Very useful. Its already gotten me out of a situation where I found myself lost in a bad neighborhood at nite. I hit the "Home" button and it took me right out of the bad area and back to familiar ground.
    2) Voice commands are useful
    3) Can also be used as a hand-held GPSr so its dual function (car and off-road/pedestrian)
    4) Has handy lists of shopping, restaurants and points of interest which is useful when you are in an unfamiliar area and need something.

    I think once I am more familiar with this unit, I am going to love it. It has a lot of really cool features. I just wish I had more time to go geocaching. I definitely need more experience in that.

    So...the unit gets a big thumbs up; the manual a BIG thumbs down.
    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

  4. #4
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    Most recent purchase

    Dadant Bee supply's

    Spent 500 dollars all together(including shipping), on 2 complete hives, 2 large supers 2 medium supers 50 large foundation, and 5 pounds of Small foundation's Frames were included. I also purchased 2 top veils including a jaket, I purchased a smoker, hive tool and bee brush, I for got the queen excluder, but that will come later IM gonna experiment with Unlimited hive. So IM just gonna buy one

    Pro's The site is amazing, I saved about 150 dollars compared to other places, but in the end thats about what I spent on shipping. Every thing is a good price.

    Con's are some of the pre built hives (un assembled) are off by 16ths of an inch inplaces so I had to do some manual labor, wich was a pain! lol

    The website is easier to use if you have their catolog and just punching in the item numbers. The cart doesnt work with Firefox. And you cant order bee's through them I have to go through another company.

    Other wise a great purchase... Is this what you were talking about est? *

  5. #5
    Doing it wrong until I do it right. xvart's Avatar
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    I think this is a great thread! I have already wasted some time on the beekeeping website just cruising around. Pretty neat stuff. I bet that is a fun hobby. Speaking of beekeeping, anyone know what the only words in the english language with 3 consecutive double letters is? I'll post the answer at the end.

    I review books on Amazon fairly regularly and blow countless hours reading reviews. I have always wanted to expand into general wares and products but I believe that I would become too consumed with reviewing everything! I'm actually ranked something like 6005 out of all the amazon reviewers. Reviewing, in my opinion, is a great investment of time.

    Maybe I will post some book reviews as time goes on.

    bookkeeper and bookkeeping.

    "The tragedy of life is not that every man loses; but that he almost wins."

    "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

  6. #6
    War. War never changes. Est's Avatar
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    PAK: How's the weight of the unit, or rather, does its weight or any other feature make it somewhat inconvenient for going out and geocaching?

    Also, what type of batteries does it use (for when you're wandering around without an outlet or cigarette lighter)?

    My dad has a GPS thing solely for use in the car. It's got a neato touch screen, but it needs to be plugged in to be used. I second the usefulness of these products! Without it, I'd still probably be stuck with my buddies in downtown LA from our Disneyland trip from the start of summer. At least half of us would be under sidewalk concrete.
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  7. #7

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    For those really interested in reading reviews, you may want to check out Epinions. *I find browsing around there great fun and always check out potential buys there first. *Here's a link to a list of my reviews for anyone interested.

    For now, I'll share my recent experience with Ryan Homes. *I apologize for the length, but this is actually a work in progress; so far it only covers up to pre-closing...things went downhill from there (Think: house cracking in half and falling over a hill).

    After looking at pre-owned homes for quite a while I decided to go with a Ryan to save time. *I wanted the home soon and looking around was taking too long. *At $210k, the home seemed like a good value. *Nevermind the fact I ended up paying $270k...more on that later.

    We signed for a home in July, shortly before our vacation to Vegas. *It was set to be done at the end of November. *What followed was one of the most ridiculous ordeals of my life. *I'm really at a loss on how a business can survive when they treat their customers as we were treated. *Oh, where to begin...

    Getting Started
    We looked at two Heartland communities, one Maronda, and about six Ryan before settling on Linden Vue. *It had a great view, a nice culdasac lot available, and was just plain 'quiet'. *It felt like somewhere you could be comfortable. *Not an overcrowded, loud family playground, but also not a sterile lifeless retirement community. *It felt like somewhere that could be home. *The sales manager, Lauren, helped with that.

    You're going to hear a lot of bad things in this review. *I'll take this opportunity to point out that no experience is completely good or completely bad, but will always have both good and bad attributes. *Lauren was a ray of light in this black experience; she was personable, disarming, and kind. *She was very helpful in the beginning, and equally as helpful when we started to have problems. *She acted as a mediator between us and our loan consultant and was about the only redeeming part of our Ryan Homes experience.

    So we got to sit down and talk about pricing, estimate costs for upgrades, and walk the open lots. *The house plan we liked wasn't really available on those lots (too wide), but Lauren suggested another similar plan. *She even took into consideration our emphatic desire for a first or second floor laundry-room. *We were not willing to buy a house that required us to visit the dungeon to wash our clothes...

    So we signed the papers that week, and built a Fayette style home instead of the Savoy we originally looked at. *We included a custom modification of a second floor laundry-room, and put the house on the corner lot with a $15k upcharge. *Lauren stayed until 7:30 taking care of us, when she was supposed to leave at 5:00 (it was Sunday). *The process itself went very smoothly and we had no complaints at this point...not about the process at least.

    I was put off by the pricing. *We paid extra for 1/2 inch carpet padding (3/8 is 'standard'). *We also paid extra for an open railing on our stairs; as opposed to a completely solid waist high 'wall'. *So, uhm, we paid more for them to do less work using less materials. *Yeah, a lot of our 'upgrades' were like that. *Either illogical things that only cost more because they know people prefer them, or that should be standard. *It was all communicated to us, though, so I can't fault this point.

    The Loan Process
    It would be arguable if this belongs in this review in some cases. *However, Ryan homes FORCES you to use NVR mortgage, who I figured at the time they must have some kind of financial interest in. *In our case the price of our home would have increased by over $20,000 had we used an outside mortgage company. *I'm going to shock you here and say: it probably would have been worth it. *NVR introduced themselves as a "Ryan Homes Representative" and I found out later that they are actually the parent company that owns Ryan Homes.

    We got to sit down with our loan officer, Jen, early in the process. *The meeting went well; she was personable and willing to explain everything we didn't understand. *In the beginning, it looked like the whole process might actually go smoothly. *However, things went down hill pretty soon after. *If you are familiar with the term 'bait & switch', then you already have a head start understanding what we went through. *Let's start with the following unaltered excerpt from an email I sent to our loan officer in early September.

    I feel the need to discuss a disconcerting feeling we've been having concerning this purchase in written format so we can better understand where everything is going. *In brief, I'm going to assume you are familiar with the term 'bait & switch'. *If not, please reference here: *We are beginning to feel that NVR, through you, is engaging in this tactic, though I can't say for certain whether it is intentional or not. *Allow me to explain.

    Since we've begun looking at a Fayette at Linden Vue, our proposed mortgage terms have changed several times. *Our monthly payments have gone from $1600 to $1800 to $1400 to $2300 to $2200 to around $2280, with an equal number of changes in terms (P&I or I-only, interest rate, PMI, etc). *To put it another way, our proposed payment has gone from 60% of my net income to 84% since we started talking. *Often, this occurs because you say you think we can get approved for a loan and it turns out we cannot. *This effect was most pronounced in the situation just before our vacation. *In our meeting you said: " those are your two choices. *We will try for the first but your debt-to-income ratio might prove problematic, but I'm sure we can get you approved for the second option." *Though that may not be an exact quote, the underlined/bolded part is completely accurate. *Yet less than a week later you called us in Vegas to tell us that we were rejected for BOTH loans, stating "...just like I thought, your debt-to-income ratio posed a problem." *You were sure we could get a specific loan, but thought our debt to income ratio would prevent us from getting said loan at the same time? *These statements are mutually exclusive; they cannot both be true. *How can you be sure we can get something that you think we cannot?

    This issue is compounded by the impediments to clear communication that seem ever present. *Though I have limited time to spend on the phone, you seem to insist we avoid written correspondence, which is strange as it would provide better reference material for us both in the future. *Email also does not require both of us to be available at the same time, and so is accessible 24 hours/day.

    During the last conversation I had with you before my vacation, I had four questions to ask, yet was only able to ask one. *Our phone conversation lasted 22:36 according to my cell phone. *the last half of the call consisted of ten minutes where I said nothing, because I could not get a word in edgewise, followed by thirty seconds of me saying 'okay' three times and then 'goodbye' because I had run out of free time and forgot my other questions by that point anyway (another reason I prefer written correspondence). *That time was taken by you explaining loan terms to me that you had already explained in a previous call, and that I knew before I met you anyway.
    I appreciate that many of your clients have little or no knowledge of the loan process, and that you wish to make them aware. *However, if I tell you that I understand a term or idea I would appreciate it if you did not explain it to me anyway. *There are hundreds of companies that make contact management software, specifically designed so that you know what you have and have not discussed with clients in the past. *As well as detailing what you have offered them. *It would be a worthwhile investment.

    I mention this because I'm not sure if you don't listen to my questions and concerns, or just forget what I say shortly afterwards. *Several times I have had to call you to change good faith estimates because you have closing or prepaid costs too high even though you know our limited available funds. *The most recent iteration of our loan is no exception. *During our second to last phone conversation I explicitly stated that we would like to pay the taxes ourselves instead of rolling it into our mortgage payment. *However, during the following call, at the end of last week, you said you included taxes in the loan terms anyway and, when questioned, seemed to imply you never had any knowledge of our desire not to. *In addition, I have stated during every conversation we've had since you sprung the new loan terms on us during our vacation that we would like to roll all the closing costs possible into the loan via 'seller assist'. *Only this latest time that we spoke did you mention that we need to modify the sales agreement with Lauren, which I'm not sure is even possible this far in without additional charges to us

    I apologize if this email seemed a bit terse. *However, I will not stand by and watch my life sold out from under me by legalities and fine print. *I have outlined our requirements for this loan below, ALL of which you have agreed NVR could accommodate during our phone conversations. *Please write up a new acceptance letter for us to sign so that we can wrap this up quickly, or please send us a written explanation of why NVR is unable to meet the agreed upon terms. *If you could also notify Lauren of any changes that need made to our contract so that we can take care of that with her during our meeting tomorrow, we would appreciate that as well. *The amortization table you promised some time ago would be helpful too. *I can be faxed at xxx-xxx-xxxx with a cover sheet.

    • No or minimal money due at closing (under $1000).
    • No property taxes built into the mortgage.
    • Mortgage payments of $1818.35, including P&I, insurance, and homeowner’s association dues.[/list]

      It is my assumption that we need a new acceptance letter to sign, as you told me during our last phone conversation that the letter we would be receiving (and did this past weekend) was based on us coming to closing with some thousands of dollars, and would also assume rolling taxes into the mortgage payment. *I am unsure if that is correct, as the terms on the letter seem to match the good faith estimate you said that you modified and emailed me the afternoon after we spoke. *Please clarify this situation for us.

      Granted, this is not something that a loan officer wants to see in her email. *However, note that I stated facts and relevant information, and avoided any kind of ad-hominem or appeals to emotion (Yes, my email was somewhat emotionally charged, but every accusation had supporting evidence and did not rely solely on my personal feelings). *Unfortunately, not everyone believes in clear concise communication.

      I received a call two days work. *I had about 20 minutes left to finish a project that the CEO was expecting me to have ready for him to see. *So I was a little annoyed, but didn't have time to express that. *That's okay because the call was basically for her to tell me how unprofessional and insulting I was and engage in two seperate ad-hominem attacks before setting up a meeting with me for the following week. *Apparently she finds facts insulting...strange. *Allow me to summarize and translate this phone conversation: "I want everything to be fine so tell me everything is fine even if it isn't...otherwise I'll throw a temper tandrum." *She was engaging in a form of projection, yelling at me because she wasn't happy with the way she handled the situation but didn't want to take responsibility for the results of her actions. *She insisted our current loan met the criteria I outlined, so I assumed we could still work this out.

      So I left work early (again) next Tuesday to speak with her. *We had a meeting where she apologized and we came to an uneasy peace. *The recorder I brought with me may have contributed to that. *She told me that the paper I recieved did meet the terms I was looking for. *She then explained that I needed to sign that now, and then I could call in the first week of October to lock. *Since October was only a few weeks away, and the paper she had with her did outline acceptable terms, I felt comfortable signing.

      So lets move on to early October. *I wrote an email to NVR on Friday asking that my rate be locked in. *This email was sent to both of the people working on my loan to expedite the process. *I did not receive a response until Tuesday, which basically told me I could not lock because the lock period on my type of loan was only thirty days. *Note that I mentioned above the only reason I signed the papers was that our verbal agreement was acceptable, and part of that verbal agreement was a 60 day lock. *I knew the rates were going up; and I knew that we were borderline already. *The extra half a percent could easily make the difference between us living happily ever after and us defaulting on our home. *However, an understanding of situational ethics does not seem to be a requirement to work at NVR morgage.

      This specific situation never did come to a head. *Our house was set to complete far ahead of schedule, so we were able to lock by October 15th, just days later than we originally intended. *So November 8th, three days before we were set to close, I tried to contact Jen to verify our appointment. *She wrote back that they couldn't get the loan. *I was really quite upset that it was now three days before we were supposed to have the house, and I had already switched the phones over and reserved a moving truck, and they never bothered to contact us. *She said that they got another loan though. *It was like the other, but better. *I looked at the estimate she sent and it looked like she was right, the payments were $80 less. *I calculated that we must have had a 6.67% rate to get these payments; about 1% higher than the going rate. *This is reasonable on a 80/20 loan. *So we set the closing for Friday, November 18th, the next week (a day before we had planned to be moved in).

      On Monday I get the papers from the loan company and start looking over them. *Let's take this point by point. *First, the payment was what she quoted, but it was an interest only payment for five years. *So if we sold in five years, when we should have had just over $14k in equity in the house, we would have nothing. *After those five years principle and interest payments kicked in and the payments jumped by just under $500/month. *In short: the "P&I" payments on the new loan were almost $500 more than we had talked about until this point.

      Now, everyone there knew our financial situation. *So it stands to reason that any ten year old could tell you that if we signed this loan, we would have to either sell the house in five years (with no equity) or default on our mortgage. *No raise could begin to cover $500/month (I would need another $15k+ per year) and planning for raises I haven't received yet would be unwise. *So I can only conclude that Jen was trying to make the sale on the house without a thought or care what it would actually do to our lives.

      But let's look at facts. *Jen, in the beginning, told us an interest only loan was out of the question. *She insisted no lender would agree unless we had less than 33% income-to-debt ratio (we had over 55%) AND at least 5% down (we had 0%, plus financed closing costs). *When confronted, she emailed back that we had always been looking at interest only and never talked about principle and interest. *Now, review the email above, especially the third bullet point. *Remember she called me just after receiving that and told me our current loan already met those criteria. *I also checked every good faith estimate she ever sent and the original loan papers. *All good faith estimates listed "P&I" payments and the original loan papers showed it as a principle and interest loan.

      This actually gets worse. *After that I reviewed the good faith estimate for this specific loan. *It lists it has a 5/1 ARM 103 conventional loan with a 7% interest rate. *The papers I received from the lender list it was an interest only with almost a 10% interest rate! *No wonder the interest payments are as high as P&I payments should have been. *This discrepency shows that NVR outright lied, and I was lucky enough to catch it in writing.

      There was yet another problem too (yeah, it's actually possible for it to get worse). *The closing costs on this loan approached twenty thousand dollars! *That's well over double what we were quoted on our initial loan, and double what any standard loan requires. *In fact, just the extra closing costs eats up our first four years of expected equity (expected meaning what we would have had on the loan originally agreed to). *Take all of these facts together, and I can't think of a clearer, more obvious, situation that qualifies for the title "bait & switch".

      At this point we cancelled the closing and spoke to Lauren about the only option we felt was still viable if NVR could not resolve the situation: cancelling on the house. *She provided the phone number of Tom, the head of the Pittsburgh NVR office, and informed us that if we wanted to cancel on the home we needed a mutual release form from Paul, the head of the Pittsburgh Ryan Homes office.

      Our first step was to contact Tom in an effort to resolve the situation amicably. *I did not wish to attribute the bad feelings I had from my relationship with Jen to the whole of NVR, so I openned my call with Tom in a friendly and personable manner. *He responded with rudeness, insinuating that I must be a liar because Jenn told him something different than I. *Now, even if it was true, anyone who would say what he did directly to a customer should be fired without warning (I certainly would in any of my businesses). *The fact that it wasn't true made the situation that much worse. *Still, I made an attempt to work with him to gain a better financing option, and played the part of the reasonable mediator even though that was his job. *Unfortunately, he could do little.

      We decided that we had to give up the home, and worried that Ryan may not want to refund the money we already paid to the electrician, Guardian, etc; we soon found that was the least of our worries. *Not only did they not want to let us out of the contract, but told us that if we didn't close by the end of the month (just days after the original completion date of the house) they would charge us a 1.5% 'holding fee'! *Even worse, this would continue to be charged every month until the house sold, either to us or someone else. *The following unaltered letter I sent to Paul at Ryan Homes sums up the following situation nicely.

      Dear Mr. ********:

      As we discussed during our earlier call, I am sending this letter to outline my situation up to this point. *Lauren ******, the Ryan Homes sales consultant I am working with, indicated that it would be advantageous to resolve this before the month's end, which you verified during our call could result in an over $3500 'holding fee’. *I would like to start by providing you with a quick synopsis of my current situation.

      I visited many Ryan Homes communities and spoke to four different sales representatives before deciding on Linden Vue. *Lauren took the time to sit down with me and reiterate many Ryan Homes policies that I had heard from other representatives, including the mortgage process. *I was told that I would be required to use NVR mortgage to finance the home, or I would lose any incentives, which totaled some $25,000 on the home I was looking at. *I was also told, however, that NVR would be able to provide me with all required information on their loan program(s) in written format, and that if I did not agree with their terms I would be under no obligation to purchase the home and my $1000 good faith deposit would be returned. *As Ryan Homes and NVR Mortgage are sister companies, sharing both financial and controlling interest, this seemed a perfectly reasonable arrangement to me. *This financing agreement was supposed to take place within the first few weeks from my understanding of the process.

      The purchase agreement originally signed on July 24th is attached to this letter. *Paragraphs one and two of section 3 on page one make the above methods clear. *Paragraph two clearly states “If, within forty five (45) days from the date this Agreement has been signed by both Purchaser and Seller (the “Commitment Period”), Purchaser has not obtained a Commitment, Seller may, at its sole discretion, elect to terminate this Agreement…If the Commitment is not issued due to Purchaser’s lack of good faith efforts to obtain the Commitment, Purchaser shall be in default…”. *As evidenced by my following description of events, as well as numerous emails, estimates, and phone logs, I have pursued an agreeable financing option in good faith. *Paragraph two further states “If the Commitment is not issued in spite of Purchaser’s good faith efforts, the Seller may terminate the Agreement and, in that event, Seller shall refund the Deposit expressly conditioned upon Purchaser’s execution of a Mutual Release Agreement after which neither party shall have any further obligation or liability to the other.” *The next paragraph then states “If the Commitment is terminated by the Lender in spite of Purchaser’s good faith efforts, Seller shall terminate the Agreement and refund the Deposit.” *It seems clear that these statements apply to this situation as explained below.

      A loan was presented to me shortly after construction of the home was started, and I was informed that financing would not be a problem within the limits I had. *NVR was ready and able to provide a 5/1 ARM principle and interest loan for 100% of the purchase price with payments under $1750 per month without taxes, which worked out to an interest rate slightly higher the prevailing market rate at the time. *These terms were presented to them as my limits and they were in full agreement that they could meet each and every criterion. *I asked that the written information be sent to me so that I could review and accept the loan. *However, before that could be sent, Jennifer ******, my NVR loan agent, told me that the loan was no longer available. *She presented two others instead, one that she insisted I could definitely be approved for. *However, again, before I could receive a paper on these I was told that they were no longer available and more were presented. *This process repeated several times, while construction on my house moved ahead swiftly. *While I was working on finalizing my loan with NVR, I met with a Guardian representative and my electrician, both of which required immediate payment for extra work in cash. *Over $1700 were paid to Guardian Protection Services and Capozzi Electric during this time for a home which was not mine.

      When a loan finally was presented to me for final approval, the payments were approximately the same as we had spoken about initially. *I asked for the written papers outlining all of the loan terms for review. *When I received these, I found that there were a plethora of penalties and requirements that were specifically excluded from the initial offer. *However, my primary concern was that the new loan was an interest only loan with an interest rate almost 4% higher than originally presented, which made purchase of the house financially unfeasible for me. *Jenn insisted that previous loans we spoke about were also interest only, despite the fact that I have several written documents that indicate otherwise.

      After several email and phone exchanges a slightly better interest only loan was presented to me via email by Jenn. *Upon questioning Stephanie ****** gave me further clarification, except that her numbers did not match those that Jenn provided. *When I then spoke to their manager, Tom *******, he was less than polite and seemed concerned only with upholding NVRs interests without care for the ethical overtones of the situation. *He gave me further details on the loan, and provided numbers that disagreed with both Jenn’s and Stephanie’s. *This disagreement from conversation to conversation has been the norm since I signed the original contract. *I requested a written outline, which he said he would send by Friday November 18th, but that I did not receive until after our call on Monday November 21st. *I performed calculations on this data, and assuming a monthly payment equivalent to that originally proposed to me this loan would only allow me to build up a small portion of the equity I would have had in the original, mutually agreed upon loan. *Jenn, as well as Tom *******, Jenn's manager, did not feel that NVR would be able to provide a better financing option, especially with interest rates rising. *Additionally, Lauren informed me that Ryan Homes would impose a $1000 holding fee if I did not close by the end of the month, since the house had already been completed. *You corrected her and indicated this would be a fee of 1.5% of the value of the house, or almost $4000 per month the house remains unsold.

      I do not wish to fight Ryan Homes or NVR on this issue. *Although I truly do love the house, it appears as though there is no solution that is positive for both sides, and I simply do not have the financial capabilities to commit myself to the altered loan that is now being presented. *I do not place blame on Ryan Homes specifically, but hope this was an example of extreme miscommunication. *However, there is strong evidence to suggest that NVR is engaging in fraudulent ‘bait & switch’ tactics, to illegal increase their profit on the loan, or allow Ryan Homes to leave the agreement by leveraging obscene charges against me. *As such, I feel that the best solution to amicably resolve this unfortunate situation is to cancel my purchase of the home in question. *I'm sure you will agree that it is the best alternative for all parties.

      However, Lauren was not able to cancel the agreement, as the only forms she has available are to place a buyer in default. *Since NVR, as a Ryan Homes representative, was unable to provide the promised financing as presented in what I perceive to be a legally binding oral contract, and was further never able to provide a loan that I, as a buyer ‘accepted’, and therefore was at fault for this cancellation, I was instructed to contact you and ask you to provide a mutual release statement which would release me of any financial obligation for the house and would sanction the return of my $1000 deposit. *To avoid complications with the holding fee at the end of the month, Lauren suggested that we try to sign the release statement as soon as possible.

      So I would like to ask you for your help in having a mutual release statement drafted and faxed to Lauren ***** at the Linden Vue community before November 30th if possible. *If it will require more time, I would appreciate it if you could please notify me and have the release include a notation that waives the holding fee. *In either event, please notify me in a timely manner by 4:00 on November 28th. *If you have any questions, or wish to discuss the situation, I am available after 5:00 pm on my cell phone at (xxx) xxx-xxxx and available for limited discussion before 4:00 pm on my work phone at (xxx) xxx-xxxx. *However, I am easiest to reach via email at *I appreciate all your time and effort and look forward to resolving this situation as quickly and amicably as possible.

      Paul was extremely unresponsive to us, and was openly rude on the phone. *He laid the blame on us for not expecting them to screw us; I found that part especially amusing. *However, the afternoon after I had my lawyer call him he gave me a call after working hours and, in a helpful and friendly way, offerred to try to work out a solution for me. *To make this long story a little shorter, I agreed to close if they met the terms listed in my first letter to Jenn above, and they did manage to do this.

      I would like to point out, however, that he only gave a few days extension on the holding fee. *He refused to extend it further until the day the extension ran out. *He did this, obviously, to try to scare us into closing; worrying that our time would run out and we'd be stuck with the charge. *This worked to the degree that I just about gave myself an ulcer, but I refused to capitulate out of fear. *These actions are most definitely not those of a company that is concerned, in any way, shape, or form, with their customer's well-being.

      Further, my lawyer told me that a court would be unlikely to hold up the sales contract as it stood because it was ridiculously one-sided and the customer (us) was pressured into signing it without proper legal consultation. *Again, these are not the actions of a company that can be trusted.

      The Laundry Room
      It's going to become a recurring theme in this review that I agree to continue because I'm promised 'x', and then 'x' is taken away. *The laundry room was important to my partner, but an absolute requirement for me. *I would not have bought the house, not even really considered it, without a second floor laundry room. *Lauren told us she heard of someone else doing the second floor LR, so she knew it was possible. *Unfortunately, it turns out that someone else was a Ryan Homes rep and not a normal customer.

      She called and left a message on my cell (Lauren was nice enough to respect my wishes to be contacted on my cell and not at work) that our 'change request' was 'denied'. *This was disconcerting, because it sounded like she was telling us something we knew might happen. *So I left work a little early and rushed down to speak with her before she left at 5:00. *I will admit that at this point I was a little defensive, believing that a war was imminent between Ryan Homes and us. *My paranoia was further fueled by my experience with NVR so far.

      The meeting did not go badly. *Lauren explained that they said there wasn't enough room, but then looked at the plans with me as I explained exactly where it could go and how the space requirements could be accomodated. *We had taken the time to figure out exact spacing and sizing before hand, so I knew it would fit. *Lauren wrote up a second change request, and attached a drawing to it. *This time it was accepted.

      So: imminent disaster averted! *Horray!

      The First Meeting & The Project Manager
      So we got to sit down a little while later with our project manager, Rob. *This first meeting was for us to get an understanding of what would be going on throughout the process and just for us to meet Rob. *Things went pretty smoothly. *Rob was a nice guy, and he and Lauren went through the whole house, floor by floor, with us making sure everything was like we wanted. *They fielded our questions well and we felt pretty comfortable afterwards.

      They did a good job on this one.

      So, when you walk into a new car dealership and purchase your car and sign your loan and you're done, you expect to drive out, right? *You don't expect them to say, 'oh, by the way you'll need to pay the service department over there $120 to put oil in your car before you can take it', do you? *Further, if you would then respond 'oh, I can do that for 1/5 the cost', would you be annoyed if they told you 'no, you can't do that until after we're done and the walls and plaster are up and you would half to knock a huge hole through several walls so you'd better pay us now!', wait, I think I merged analogies.

      That's basically what happenned. *We like TV. *We don't spend 12 hours a day on it (hardly 2 really), but we're not going to live without cable. *Similarly, we think it would be nice to have phone lines. *Well, these don't really come with the house. *If you're saying 'huh?' then you're responding similar to me. *Granted, we get the 'standard' package, but that includes all of two cable outlets and two phone jacks. *We had to pay extra for additional ones in any of the bedrooms. *I sure hope you don't plan to have kids...

      So we said we could do it ourselves or, better yet, hire in an electrician we prefer. *They wouldn't let us. *Our only other option is to do it after we close on the house, meaning the walls would be up. *If we tried that we would have to tear down the walls, put new ones up, paint again, etc etc. *They know that, so they know we're stuck.

      So we had to drop another $350, cash, upfront, not in the mortgage, just to get a phone jack in three bedrooms plus the kitchen and a cable jack in three bedrooms plus the family room. *This wouldn't bother me so much except that they call this an 'option'. *They have to be familiar with the real-estate market. *You will easily lose a couple thousand dollars off of the mean selling price of your home if you don't have these things. *It would be like trying to sell a house with nothing but a single globe light in the kitchen (we'll hit that point soon enough); it doesn't really noticably affect value, but does seriously decrease salability. *So in the end you get less offers and are likely to have to take a lower one.

      The Electrician
      Guardian wasn't too bad though; at least not compared to what happenned next. *One sunny Tuesday afternoon I received a call from Greg. *I don't know a Greg. *He introduced himself as a Ryan Homes representative; the guy doing the electrical work. *He said he was scheduled to be in on Thursday. *Before we go on, let me give you some background.

      Before deciding to buy the home, it was explained that Ryan walked their customers through the process, so all we had to worry about was enjoying the fruits of their labor. *This is, after all, the only real reason to buy a Ryan or Heartland or whatever home. *If you're willing to do work yourself, you can just design the whole thing from scratch and subcontract yourself. *Then you get a better quality home, designed specifically to your exact liking, and all for less money. *I've watched several of my brothers do this in the past.

      So I was surprised about how long electrical work took. *I mean, once they start they work straight through. *If he was due in on Thursday, two days from now, he must be working all the way through until we meet with him for the extra 'stuff'. *Oh, the bliss of ignorance and naivety...

      My mistake was assuming that we were taken care of as promised. *We were told that we would receive one or two weeks notice before the electrician needed their specs. *We were given the electrical outline way in the beginning, but told we didn't need to worry about it 'for now'. *But here I am on the phone with Greg, who is telling me that he is going to need me to get the electrical requirements faxed to him by Thursday at 6:00 am; less than two days later.

      I was not living with my partner, Dawn, at the time. *I imagine most people are like this. *I mean, I didn't move out of my parents house until my wedding night. *So Dawn was almost a two hour drive away. *I wasn't planning on seeing her until the weekend. *My weeknights are filled with work on my online businesses anyway. *So I explained the situation and asked what we can do about it. *His response was basically that nothing can be done.

      So I was basically getting the idea that they expected me to just make the decisions. *So Dawn and I will both be spending our lives in this home for years, potentially decades. *This is a place we have to live in; a place we have to call home. *We're paying tens of thousands of dollars extra to build a new home so we can customize it to our needs, and I'm told one of us should go screw ourselves and have no say in any of the electrical layout. *That doesn't fly with me.

      In the end I had to drive two hours on Wednesday, to spend an hour talking with Dawn, and then drive two hours back home, taking all the fun out of the process. *Further, because I didn't complete what needed done on my website on Wednesday, I had to spend about fifteen hours the next week not only making that change, but cleaning up the mess that was left because the change wasn't made. *This is all a direct result of they're failure to contact us as promised, but they refused to take responsibility for that decision. *Honestly, I'm not sure who's fault it was as I'm not sure if Greg or Lauren was supposed to contact us. *The fact that somebody dropped the ball doesn't bother me as much as the fact no one bothered to make it right. *I am a customer, right?

      That wasn't the end of it though. *Let's talk pricing. *almost $150 for a recessed light? *First, I've done recessed lighting before. *With no walls or ceiling in your way this is not difficult stuff. *Even if he only keeps $100 of that, I guarantee he's making four times per hour what I make as a web applications developer. *Other prices were similar. *Why can he charge this? *Simple, go back to the Guardian section; because he has a monopoly. *There are no competitors in this market. *I don't have a choice to bring someone else in, so he can price gouge. *This is unprofessional, unethical, and yet another example of an oil-less car.

      Yes, that last statement was making reference to my analogy in the Guardian section. *We found out after signing that the house came with inadequate, and borderline dangerous, lighting and that we would have to pay for this in cash ourselves. *So we dumped another $1100 out of my rapidly dwindling bank account, leaving us barely enough to pay for the house with, let alone worry about furniture. *To give an example, the only lights on the second floor were in the two bathrooms, and a chandelier in the entry way that hung between the two floors. *I guess we're not supposed to use the second floor rooms after dark...

      The worse part is yet to come, though. *Reference this excerpt from an email I sent to Lauren the following week, one day after Greg finished his work:

      We have run into several problems over the past week or two, all of which Dawn and I would like to stop in and talk to you about sometime soon. *Most are beyond the point where they could be rectified, but I feel you should know about them anyway. *One is more urgent than the rest, though, and I'd like to bring you up-to-speed with what's happening so far and see where we can go from here.

      Last week I received a call on Tuesday. *It was the electrician explaining that he was scheduled for Thursday. *I was a little surprised, wandering just how long he would be in working on the house, as you told us originally that Ryan walks their customers through buying a home and we'd have at least a week or two notice before we needed to have the additional lights/fixtures/etc decided on and turned in. *Imagine my surprise when he told me he needed them by 'tomorrow night'.

      See, we had counted on getting that 1-2 weeks warning, and hadn't even looked at the diagrams yet. *Dawn has class on Wednesdays, and I have my own online business to take care of, which unfortunately had a serious issue that needed immediate attention that night. *So basically I was being told: "Yeah, two of you will be spending as much as DECADES of your life calling this place home, but we think it's fine if one of you has no say in the decision". *I apologize if I seem a little upset, but Dawn had to skip class and beg for an extension on her homework, while I had to drive 2 hours out so I could talk with her for 1 hour and then spend 2 hours driving home...then the following days had to do 15+ hours of work because the problem on my site I could have fixed in 5 hours on Wednesday had gotten that much worse.

      Greg, however, was nice and tried to help us, though never went as far as offering anything that would actually make it easier on a few extra days to decide. *Then, we had a communication breakdown with him that night which is causing us great problems now. *As you probably know we are limited on initial funds and stretching ourselves for this house. *This means that we only have a limited amount of money to spend on extra electrical work. *So we had to be very careful when deciding what we wanted.

      So we went room-by-room with Greg. *When we got to the kitchen I said something similar to "It looks like we have six recessed in the kitchen, so we should be okay there" while he responded with "right". *A few days later, just this past Monday, Dawn and I were in for our walkthrough with Rob. *We saw no recessed lighting in the kitchen. *After spending five minutes scrutinizing the electrical diagrams with Rob we finally found the problem: the six lights were part of a 'premium lighting package'.

      The reason this is such a problem is that Greg indicated they would be there. *Because of that we spent our money getting lights elsewhere. *Now that we know about this we'd gladly trade some of our other installed choices for kitchen lighting, arguably the most important in the house, but can't because we already paid for the rest and have no money left. *Greg said that he could go in and add some recessed lighting, but in addition to the regular fees he wants to charge us a $75 'return fee'...he makes a mistake, and we get charged for it.

      I think it important to find out now if this is the way that all of the Ryan Home Representatives that will be working in the house view customer service. *Is Ryan Homes willing to do anything to help rectify this situation, or do they take a "let the buyer beware" stance?

      For now, my parents insisted that we have him go in and add four of the lights and are loaning us the money to pay for it themselves. *They are near retirement; they don't have a lot of money either. *But they know that when it comes to resale, not having those lights could easily drop the potential value by a couple thousand by driving off potential buyers. *I'd like to be able to pay them back, but the only way I can do that is if Ryan Homes is willing to intervene and help us out.

      I'd appreciate it if you could email me back about this or, if you would prefer to talk about it on the phone, please call me on my cell phone (xxx-xxx-xxxx) after 6:00 and I should be available.

      This is another example of a simple mistake that gets snowballed into something big. *Ryan should have agreed to push everything back a few days for us. *Yeah, I know they have already contracted workers, and I know it sucks for them. *But this is a business in the free market, and this was all due to their mistake. *If you don't take care of your customer, they won't be your customer anymore. *It's amazing how few businesses realize that. *I have, plenty of times, given customers free products or discounts, even at a loss to the business, to make them happy. *And you know what? *Their repeat business pays for that sacrifice ten times over. *Further, everyone is happy, making it the better ethical decision in addition to the better business decision.

      Further, were I Ryan Homes, I would have had the six kitchen lights installed at no cost to the customer. *Then I would have approached the electrician about what he really said on the phone. *If it was his mistake, have him install them without charge. *If he refuses, pay him...then start looking for someone to replace him immediately. *If it's a misunderstanding, chalk it up as a mistake. *Heck, charge the funds to 'marketting'; I guarantee the word of mouth that would result from that customer would do more good than $750 could ever do in media advertising. *That's totally ignoring any bad word of mouth (or word of epinion) that could come from the alternative decision.

      One Ryan Homes rep dropped the ball on this one while another watched it happen and made me pick it up.

      Now, this was addressed in limited capacity a little while later. *Lauren again acted as mediator, and contacted Greg directly for us. *Unfortunately, she's a sales rep, not a VP, so she had limited power. *She had Greg remove the $75 return fee, but we still had to pay for the lights. *So my parents still dropped $500 for my house.

      I discussed this with my best friend and his family a few days later. *Apparently, Greg Capozzi is the same guy that did the electrical work on their house. *They're summary of the experience included the word "nutball" if I remember correctly (their words, not mine). *Apparently he did something similar to them, though their solution was to just walk in on the weekend and wire in the extra stuff themselves. *I didn't take this option as I was told it was illegal since the house was still Ryan Homes' property.

      The Bathtub
      Yeah, I hear you in the back there yawning "is he done yet?" *No, I'm just warming up...

      The master bathroom comes with a standard bathtub. *In fact, it looks more like a standard bathroom with the word "Master" scribbled in above it. *Anyway, a normal tub fits a single person comfortably, but not two. *Since it is comfortable for one, I imagine the only logical reason to upgrade to an 'oversized' would be to hold two people. *So we upgraded (for well over $1,000) to an oversized tub to compliment our shiny new lenoleum and didn't think any more of it.

      Fast forward to our walkthrough, when we get to see this thing. *I'm wandering if even one person can really fit comfortably. *The 'oversized' tub looks undersized to me. *I mentioned it to Dawn, and a friend with me, and they were in aggreeance. *It was the same length as the normal tub, but some 75% wider. *The problem is that a standard tub is relatively rectangular, while this was almost a perfect oval (no straight lines, even down the side).

      I'm a logical person, though, so I decided to get numbers before complaining. *Maybe it just looked small, right? *The standard bathtub in my current home at the time had 8 square feet of surface area (I figured the tubs are all the same height so volume is irrellevant). *I decided to measure my parent's tub as a second reference point in their master bathroom. *My calculations came to just over 15 square feet. *The only other size tub I have seen was in a condo on vacation. *I guarantee that was almost double the size of my parents. *Using a little geometry and algebra, we came to just over 10 square feet of surface area for this 'oversized' tub.

      This actually even gets worse, though. *They are all the same height, and so volume seemed irrellevant at the time. *Until I really got in there to look at the tub. *See, most tubs have sides that are straight up and down. *This one slopes in. *So the actual volume of the tub ends up being hardly any more than the volume of the standard tub I measured. *This isn't 'oversized' at's 'oddly mis-shapen'. *Or, less humorously phrased, shaped differently.

      We paid well over $1k extra for this. *Ryan didn't feel the need to address the issue in any way, shape, or form.

      The Master Bathroom
      No, I'm not done with this area yet. *There were numerous other design flaws in just this room.

      Let's travel back in time to the fifties. *No, I wasn't born yet, but I've seen TV shows =P. *More seriously, I've done my real estate research. *It's acceptable for a house to have one or two bathrooms and no master bathroom. *Heck, my first house had only a single tub/shower. *By the early 90s, a lot of this old mentality was being phased out. *Even on a used house today, you're sometimes surprised if a master bathroom has only a single sink.

      Yet here we are! *It's 2005, and our new house has one sink. *The cabinets were due in the day after we first saw the piping...piping for a single sink. *So there was no time to make the change, and it would have cost lots of money anyway. *To do it afterwards we'll have to rip out the entire cabinet, tear through the wall, jury-rig a solution, and then replace everything. *Let's talk resale again. *I spent months looking at used homes. *Had I walked in a newer one, saw a nice master bathroom, and then saw one sink I think I would have laughed. *It just seems ridiculous. *But we're getting used to this by now: 'cut every corner allowable by law and let the buyer beware!'

      We also paid extra for a skylight, the effect of which is unsatisfactory. *If you lay in the (tiny)(mis-shapen) tub, you cannot see out the skylight. *It is simply positioned too far over. *So it serves half of it's purpose by providing a little extra natural light during the day. *But forget those romantic nights enjoying a jacuzzi together admiring the stars. *I guess we already forget them when we first saw our mini-tub.

      Let's talk linen closet. *We had to give it up to put in the second floor laundry room. *During our walkthrough, we noticed something interesting though. *The 'oversized' midget-tub is wider than a standard tub, so they had to add a foot or so of walling jutting into the room (to cover the back of it). *This works fine as it lines up with the doorway into the room. *If you're having trouble picturing this. *Imagine a straight wall along the length of the room until it meets the tub, which is set back into the wall. *Now imagine a foot deep, three foot wide, depression in the wall just before the tub.

      So I asked about it. *They planned to, get this...wall it in! *They're going to make a big hollow space out of what could be usable space. *Upon my request they agreen not too, so now we can slap a wall there with a door in it, put up some shelves, and have a linen closet again. *But imagine if we didn't ask. *What if we assumed we'd have it. *Talk about wastefully inefficient...

      Seeing the House
      Since we're paying almost $300k for this product to be built, I'd like to be able to see it while it's in progress. *Dawn and I take trips down there every weekend to take pictures of the outside. *That's nifty and all, but the inside is where all the interesting stuff is starting to happen.

      We were told from the start that we're not allowed in the house without someone with us. *However, Rob, the project manager, will be happy to let us in if we give him just a few minutes notice. *The problem is: the earliest he can do it is after I start work...and the latest he can meet is before I leave work. *So, effectively, I can't see my house...ever.

      This is a common mentality around Ryan Homes. *Meetings with almost any of the 'representatives', which are usually subcontractors, require me to leave work early. *I have already used all of my personal days (usually by taking half days) along with a few vacation days, and I'm being conservative! *I never did meet the electrician, taking care of everything via my cell phone. *I also never actually went into the house except during the required meetings. *Had I actually wanted to work with everyone in person and see my house every other week, I would have had to designate 2005 a completely vacationless year.

      Let's think about that. *A new restaurant opens in town. *They begin serving meals at 9:30 am, and close around 3:30 pm. *How long do you think they will be in business? *Not long. *That goes for just about every other service industry. *But Ryan Homes has decided to try to get away with it. *The difficulty is alleviated by the fact that many of the reps will speak with you after hours, but I don't like feeling like someone is doing me a favor because I didn't skip work to talk to them. *I also don't like the fact that I never got a chance to see my house getting built. *If they're going to forbid our entrace on our own, then make someone available when we're available. *Ryan Homes needs to comprehend that those jobs they're getting us in trouble at are what makes it possible for us to afford a home...

      Final Walkthrough
      So the time comes for the final walkthrough. *We meet up down there at 4:30, a time that I had to leave work early to make. *I invited my best friend and my mother along, since they both have construction experience and are perceptive people. *In retrospect, I should have hired a home inspector to come through with us.

      There were a whole slew of problems. *We listed them faster than they could write them, and they had to use an external notepad to fit the entire list. *As we went through each room I could see Rob's face growing progressively redder. *Though to his credit he remained courteous and agreed to address everything. *My guess is that it was not his fault, but that of a plethera of substandard crews, though he should have been reviewing and approving/disapproving work on an ongoing basis. *Allow me to rattle off just a portion of the list from memory:

      • All of the doorframes were horribly chipped, dented, or scraped. *It looked like they did them the first weak and just smacked them with every piece of equipment they had while they worked the rest of the time.
      • The wood banisters for the staircase to the second floor, both on the railing going up the stairs and the railing at the overlook, were unsanded. *They were extremely rough to the touch, and I imagine a child or pet could hurt themselves on them. *They felt almost like sandpaper.
      • There were small holes at the top corners of some of the windows. *Twice we saw small bugs near both of these holes, indicating they lead all the way through and we'll probably have a bug problem in the winter.
      • The window sills had rough edges where they had been cut. *It looked like they simply forgot to sand and painted over the rough wood. *Again, I can easily see a child or pet getting splinters from these.
      • There was a gap in the plaster on the garage ceiling.[/list]

        To their credit, they did take care of all these issues in the next several days with the exception of the last point. *However, that made me wonder what else we missed. *If they think these things are okay, what other substandard construction went into our house that they figured was 'okay'.

        As for the last bullet point, we were told they don't worry about things like that because it's an 'unfinished' garage. *Whoever finishes it would take care of that. *Uhm, that would be me, and I don't really feel like doing extra work when finishing the garage to fix their mistakes.

        One thing I didn't mention was the door to the basement. *Just like we asked, it was set lower so we didn't lose all our air cond & heat down there and spend double for energy costs. *However, that left the basement doorframe about an inch lower than the doorframe two feet to the right that openned into the pantry. *It makes the entire portion of the kitchen look 'mickey-moused'. *Why it didn't occur to them to just lower the pantry door and standardize the construction is beyond me. *This is something very VERY noticable; most people I show the house to comment on it within a few seconds of walking into the kitchen.

        Bear in mind that this is only a sample of our list. *There was much more.

        At this point we were told that the sales associates have a master key to the house, so we can stop down and see it anytime they're around. *In other words, they could have done that the whole time, but didn't want us actually looking at the house while they were building it; maybe we'd see problems in other areas of construction. *But at least we had free reign the last week.

        As mentioned in the first section, our initial closing ended up getting cancelled and we finally closed on the house about a month late. *So a week before this final closing we decided to take advantage of the sales associate's ability letting us in and do another walkthrough of sorts. *Here's the list I emailed the next day regarding that walkthrough, which is shorter than it probably should be because the agent had to get back and cut our visit a bit short.

        • There was a spot touched up with paint after the fact on the wall of the hallway between the master bedroom and master bathroom. *Unfortunately, the painter used gloss paint while the rest of the wall is in satin / flat. *The result is obvious.
        • Several spots on the walls and moldings were not completely painted in the master bedroom.

        • Several rooms have cracks in the paint most of the way down the corners.
        • Rail banisters on the staircase to the second floor were sanded as requested, but they didn't finish them with varnish / shellac.
        • Front outside banister on the staircase to the second floor has several dents and marks that should be taken care of.
        • A large spot on the wall next to the front door was patched, but they completely 'forgot' to paint it.
        • Almost all the brass hardware on the front door has paint dripped on them.
        • Nicks on several walls; most notably in the living room.
        • Nails are showing on most molding.
        • Louvered Door to the laundry room has large paint drips hanging from most of the louvers.
        • The inside hand rail on the stairs leading to the second floor is not flush against the corner post at the top.
        • The duct work in the basement has an opening that was pointed out in the walkthrough. *When we were in yesterday it was still there and we could feel warm air leaking out into the basement.[/list]

          The best part is that after this walkthrough, which I'll note again was in addition to the pre-closing walkthrough, we went in for a third look. *This was on our own time, using our own keys since we had already closed, so we had the chance to spend a good 90 minutes carefully reviewing the home. *During that third look we noticed two main things.

          First, the house was filthy. *It is a brand new house, yet my socks were blackenning by walking across the lanoleum. *The countertops had light colored dust (probaby from paint or drywall work) and I can only guess about the state of the carpets. *The bathtubs were filled with light colored dust and had drips of paint all through them. *We went back the next day and spent five hours cleaning. *While sweeping the carpets I had to empty the sweeper after every single room. *This is due to the extra fluff that gets picked up the first time you sweep a carpet. *Note that I said 'first time you sweep a carpet'; Ryan said that they already had a cleaning crew in the house. *I find that hard to believe but, if true, they definitely did not bother to sweep any of the carpets.

          The second thing we noticed was that there were still a lot of problems. *Some were just never fixed last time, others were apparently caused while the contractors were fixing the last list. *Here is the new (third) set of requests copied directly from my email:

          • The paint problems on the laundry room door have been resolved. *However, it took all of my strength to pull the door open. *It now will not close (at all). *This door will need to be taken off the hinges and rehung.
          • The master bathtub has a lot of the original green 'stuff' still in it. *More importantly, it has a noticable amount of white paint. *This will need to be removed.
          • There is paint on the cabinets in the kitchen (closest to dishwasher)
          • The front door has a nick in it and several drips of what appears to be dark colored paint (it may just be that the white paint is too thin). *This will need repainted.
          • The front door will not lock when closed. *To get the deadbolt to engage, the door must be slightly open. *The deadbolt will likely need 're-installed', however that is done.
          • There is a gigantic dent/nick in the moulding in the dining room. *The molding will likely need replaced; it looks too big to be repaired.
          • The towel bar in the upstairs 'guest bathroom' is loose. *Touching it even lightly causes it to rattle out of the wall a bit. *This needs to be tightenned.
          • The paint to the right of the towel bar in the 'guest bathroom' is splotchy. *It appears that it may need another coat, or there was dark paint dripped on it. *This needs repainted.
          • The 'left' banister when going up the stairs to the second floor is still not flush, as noted on my last list. *I also noted that if even a few pounds of weight are put on the railing, the entire upstairs portion bends outward.[/list]

            While waiting for them to come and fix these problems, we noted a number more. *For one, the dishwasher did not work. *It would seem to run just fine. *But then you would open it and find nothing had been cleaned, and the drain at the bottom had a huge clump of dried dishwasher soap sitting on it. *Subsequent washes did not remove this, leading me to wonder if the water line is even hooked up. *Of course, they refused to do anything about this, saying it was a warranty issue, and told us to contact the manufacturer. *Remember, the whole 'single point of contact' idea is just outside their grasp. *Eventually we had a repairman come under warranty who was able to fix the problem...apparently the water line was never connected. *Who would've thought?

            There was also a whole new list of problems almost as large as the one above.

            If I need a new light bulb, I go online and order a new CFL for half what it costs in the store. *I never leave my house or wait in line; I don't even have to get dressed; my robe is perfect attire for shopping. *If I want a new video card for my computer, I do the same. *I can compare processing specifications, heat dissapation, benchmarks, pricing, and more. *If I want a new car, I can build it online, get msrp and wholesale values, get price breakdowns, preview colors. *If I want a new house, I step in my time machine and fly back to the 19th century.

            At the very least, I expected a price list and, possibly, a configurator on Ryan's web site. *Something that would allow us to plan and decide what we wanted. *Instead, they make you come in and talk to a rep. *They think this helps gain customers. *What it really did was make me go look at pre-owned homes first, potentially losing a sale for them. *Then it made me go to Heartland, where I would have bought a home without ever looking at Ryan...except Heartland does the same thing. *Neither are grasping this whole free market, competition, thingy...

            Anyway, being a web developer, I'm in a unique position to do a 'back-of-an-envelope' cost / benefit analysis on technologies that should be employed. *Here I'm going to ignore the obvious, like the way that all reps should use email as a primary means of communication (which Lauren did), and the fact that a pricelist should be available online. *Here I'll list a couple of things Ryan should do that, if they had them, would insure I would buy off of them instead of another company by simple virtue of the fact they have them. *In other wo

  8. #8
    Stay chooned in for more! Clint's Avatar
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    Apr 2003
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    Goodness me....

  9. #9
    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
    Richmond, Virginia/Zone 7
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    Its a little heavier than most hand-held GPSrs but its not "heavy." Its small enough to put into a normal-sized pocket. I bought this particular unit because it could function both as a car navigation unit with voice prompts AND a hand-held for off-road use. Of course, the voice prompts don't work when you use it off-road. I haven't had any problems carrying it around with me in my feeble geocaching attempts. lol

    As for has an internal battery. One charge will last about 20-hours in normal use. That lasts a long time since its not normally on continuously for that long.

    Although I'm still learning to use it, so far, I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a car GPSr without having to spend $1800 on one. Its convenient, too, to be able to move it from car to car with no hardwiring. Yeah, it would be great to have one of the expensive ones, but for the bucks, the Quest will do just fine. The Quest 2 is exactly the same except it comes with all the US maps preloaded.
    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

  10. #10
    Whats it to ya? Finch's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
    South Dakota
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    Nicholas, i dont think many will be able to read all that
    that makes no logic

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