I remember in 2004 in Austin doing a walk through with Benn on a newly built DR Horton. My pen was flying and Benn’s blue tape was slinging as we found endless standard defects ranging from bathroom caulking an inch short to paint retouches needed. The confidence of all repairs being done perfectly was high because Benn had done dozens of contracts the two years prior with this same builder, many in the same subdivision. There wasn’t a second thought given to whether or not the tiniest of cosmetic details would be flawlessly repaired.
But that’s DR Horton in Austin. What about KB? Did I personally hold the same confidence level held with KB Homes? Absolutely not. I thought perhaps it was a regional issue, but an anonymous couple bought a home from KB and had such a terrible experience that they launched a website called aKBHomeSucks.com where they tell their tale, invite others to tell theirs and have even started a radio show with a full PR campaign behind it. Their story is harrowing and they shared with us directly their plight as well as in detail have outlined on the website their frustrations.
Would a homebuyer be so angry at a builder that they would launch a site out of revenge? Maybe. But to hear what this particular couple has gone through and their continued devotion to the issue as their prime cause now, it is apparent that revenge is not the motivator here, advocacy is.
Here is how aKBHomeSucks.com was born:
After purchasing their new KB home, they found various defects. They would call in a defect and become frustrated with the repair staff (likely subcontractors, we believe) would not understand the problem because they didn’t speak English (despite being issued a work order), would take more than three visits to “attempt to redo the fix” and made the homeowners feel like they were rushing through tasks and were annoyed to be there.
KB Homes allegedly “abandoned” the subdivision before finishing the fencing, thus making access to properties easy for burglars. Shortly after moving in, their home was burglarized which is how they found out that the home was also burglarized before they moved in and all appliances had been stolen. They have surveillance video of the burglary and they believe that it was KB Home workers that broke into their home, continuing the pattern.
The homeowners claim that calls for repairs began taking longer and longer to respond to, even emergency calls. The fourth time their kitchen ceiling caved in, a worker “discovered no one had bothered to install the required flashing in the wall to divert rain water from the patio overhang.” The homeowners allege that KB Homes staff “covered up” and failed to disclose known defects of the home.
The homeowners claim that any attempts to discuss issues with upper management results in being “talked down to,” furthering their frustration and affirming their belief that they don’t matter to the builder.
They begin investigating the structure of KB Homes and are frustrated that their story is ignored by the media and believe KB Homes’ co-founder Eli Broad’s board room ties to CBS, ABC, Disney, Telemundo, AP, UPI, and NBC has silenced their cause. They say this is why they have moved their pleas to the web and devoted themselves to helping other KB Home buyers who have experienced this to have a voice.
What KB Home can do
Regionally, KB Home is not known for a quality product or for customer service- I am not a licensed Realtor nor have I been, I say this as a consumer tapped into fellow consumer sentiment. They are known, however, for having the biggest house at the smallest price in the suburbs.
KB Home has and will likely continue to ignore the aKBHomeSucks.com homeowners as their demands began small (please fix our kitchen ceiling so it doesn’t cave in for a fifth time) and after repeated faulty repairs, ignored cries for help and even devoting themselves to a blog and radio show, the demand has grown to buy back the lemon of a house they were sold.
But KB could do something. In addition to ramping up their standard customer service, they could put PR boots on the ground. Because of the margin, they will not likely change the quality of their product, especially in a down market, but they could be prepared to deal with the fallout better. This homeowner never should have felt so pushed that they devote their personal time to a site about their home being a lemon.
KB should have a digital monitoring war room like Dell and have expert staff on hand to monitor social networks like Twitter, respond professionally and with a solution and follow up to said solution and continue to follow up directly and personally until it is resolved. KB is dealing with peoples’ homes, the biggest investment one will ever make and the place that should be a refuge. Reading aKBHomeSucks.com, these people feel imprisoned in their home. KB seems deaf, at least to the homeowners congregating on aKBHomeSucks.com, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
I know you’ll keep your low quality, KB, but at least change your standards of customer service and willingness to help people who dumped money into your lap.