Need help on retail side for Sterling shower unit

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by thebigsee, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. thebigsee

    thebigsee DIY Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    Southern California
    Ordered a Sterling Ensemble Curve 36" shower unit about 2 months ago from a large local Southern California plumbing wholesaler. Was going to go to a big box store but saved a lot using my Dad's contracting license. It took about 5 weeks for the unit to arrive, and the back panel was cracked in the upper-left corner.

    The wholesaler ordered another, it took 2 weeks, then came in and it's the wrong model. They tracked down another, got it to us in a few days, and it's cracked in the same exact place.

    We are at our wit's end. We keep having to delay things, reschedule other contractors who are losing their patience, reschedule vacations, etc. For some reason, these panels appear to be in short supply, even though it's a mass-produced piece of molded fiberglass. And we live in LOS ANGELES, it's not like we're in rural Canada or anything. What is the deal?

    Is there anyone out there who can offer some advice? We feel like no matter what we do, we're going to get a cracked unit. The retailer is treating us like a nuisance at this point -- like we're making their lives a misery because we keep complaining about broken merchandise. We're considering asking for our money back (they would probably be glad just to get rid of us) and seeing if a local big box store can offer faster turnaround and better selection.

    This is all very disappointing -- I got so much good feedback from this site and others about the superiority of the Sterling Vikrell units. This experience has undermined my confidence in the product and its long-term durability.
  2. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

    Messages:
    1,143
    Location:
    South*East
    Sterling has a big problem with there packaging. Just go to the big box store and look at there Sterling inventory.

    John
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,932
    Location:
    New England
    Your retailer probably bought one. A big box store probably buys them by the trailer load. So, they fit together nicely and, if (and that's a big if) the retailer at the store doesn't drop one or run the fork lift through it, it has a better chance of staying whole. But, buying one, it can fall over in the truck, get stuff piled on it, etc., and especially if there's no outward visible damage, arrive broken.
  4. thebigsee

    thebigsee DIY Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    Southern California
    It's crazy. I feel like ordering 6 of them just to make sure we get one undamaged panel. All the other panels are perfect, just this one keeps giving us problems. I will say that the people at Kohler/Sterling are very professional and kind about it when you talk to them over the phone.
  5. thebigsee

    thebigsee DIY Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    Southern California
    Yes, it's funny, the boxes don't even have "This End Up" or "Handle With Care" on them. Even the shower door didn't have any writing like that as I recall!
  6. thebigsee

    thebigsee DIY Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    Southern California
    Update -- the plumbing wholesaler, no doubt motivated by a strong desire to not receive another phone call from my congenial but determined wife, apparently moved heaven and earth and delivered a new back panel early this morning.

    There are no cracks in it, to our mutual amazement. I will update this thread later this week when I have the unit 100% installed and give an overall review for posterity.
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,519
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    panel

    My initial reaction to your posting was, "Why would you go with a Sterling enclosure?" To me they are the "bottom feeders" as far as quality and durability go. And that applies to their whole line, tubs and all. I do appreciate that their tubs are so light that a 10 year old could carry them around, but once they are installed they have absolutely no reason why I would recommend them.
  8. thebigsee

    thebigsee DIY Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    Southern California
    I chose the Sterling based on many factors, not least of which was the overall positive reviews of them I've read on this forum and others. Terry Love himself as I recall said they were quality, and that was key in my decision. I certainly feel that compared to others that I looked at, they seemed much more durable and attractive. Time will tell. So far, I am delighted with it, it's a vast improvement over what I used to have.
  9. thebigsee

    thebigsee DIY Member

    Messages:
    94
    Location:
    Southern California
    Final update for posterity: I finished installing the Sterling Ensemble Curve shower surround over the weekend. It was of intermediate difficulty, I think most people could install it themselves if they have a good general set of tools (or can buy what they need), follow the directions exactly and take their time. Total time to install I estimate would be about 20 hours I guess -- that's just one person, no help, and I really took my time to make sure everything was plumb and level and securely installed.

    Cutting out the hole for the shower valve was a nail-biter -- I kept hearing Norm Abram saying "Measure twice, cut once" over and over in my head . . . I must have measured five times at least! Used a hole saw and went really slow, it went fine. The surround took some abuse (dropped tools, leaning, etc.) with no problems.

    Setting the receptor base was not easy -- had to line up the drain perfectly, set it in mortar for support, then make sure it was totally level before the mortar set up. I think it's absolutely essential to place these units in mortar -- if they're going to fail, it will be from stress on the pan.

    Overall, it's an attractive, practical, affordable solution to the formidable task of replacing a shower. Installed correctly, I see no reason why these units shouldn't last 20 years or so. The way I see it, bathrooms should be updated at 20 years anyways.
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