Hey College Pro, shouldn’t a paint job last longer than a week?

Jennifer Nichols is unhappy with her paint job by College Pro. Should she ask for a re-do?

Question: I had work done on my deck last summer by a company called College Pro Painters. I paid $2,305 in total for two coats on one large deck and three smaller decks. Within one week, the larger deck was peeling and continued to do so.

I contacted the painter, who said he would come to fix it. That never happened. I then applied under my warranty to have this rectified.

Warranty work is done from May through July. When I did not hear from anyone, I called the corporate office. The first contact I had from anyone was in September and the work has still not been done, even after two more calls to corporate.

At this point, weather will prevent the job from being done this year. I would like a refund for the work that needs repair, or at the very least, a written guarantee that it will happen in the spring. — Jennifer Nichols, Coventry, Conn.

Answer: Your paint job should last longer than a week. How much longer? At least two years, as College Pro guarantees on its website.

Also, it promises “energetic, dedicated, skilled house painters and window cleaners will work hard to deliver the service and value that you deserve.” Where was that energy when you asked College Pro for a touch-up? I wonder.

College Pro offers a few clues for fixing your customer service problem. It calls itself “a proud member of the Better Business Bureau.” That means it theoretically cares about what you tell the BBB. So you can complain to the BBB and you might get a response. (I say “might” because, as you know, the BBB is here for its members, not us.)

Related story:   Why did they close my PayPal account?

This is one place where a little social media shaming might have done the trick. Posting a photo of the peeling deck on Twitter or Facebook with a callout might have gotten the company’s attention. But before doing that, I would have recommended sending a brief, polite email to one of the company’s executives. They’re surprisingly accessible through their site, even listing their social media accounts.

I reached out to College Pro on your behalf.

“College Pro takes customer satisfaction very seriously and certainly stands behind its two-year warranty,” a representative told us. “We will contact Ms. Nichols today regarding her peeling decks to apologize, and then will make sure this claim is one of the first jobs we do this coming spring when the weather is OK to do so.”

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org.

  • Rebecca

    There are a few of these college painting companies. They recruit very, very heavily around colleges and universities around this time of year, promising a summer job where you’ll make thousands of dollars. In reality, they talk up a job where you cold call, walking door to door offering paint jobs like a gypsy. They will have signs in every intersection, sometimes these businesses actually charge their “employees” for the signs. They also really talk up how you can “hire” your own “employees” and set their pay and how you have to budget since you’re paying up-front, out of pocket for your supplies – how great that will look on your resume.

    I know this because a college boyfriend was involved in this nonsense. Mostly, I just want to warn any potential college students not to get suckered in. If you REALLY want to paint houses (or mow lawns or whatever), you’re better served not spending money with a third party company that takes a cut of your profit and doesn’t actually do anything except try to get you to spend advertising money to them and try to get you to strong-arm your relatives into having work done on their homes. It’s one step up from MLM.

    I’m glad the OP finally received a prompt response. They only work from May to July because it’s for college kids on break. Seeing as whoever fixes the deck isn’t receiving a check, I sincerely hope it is resolved as quickly as possible. I’m very concerned the company (who doesn’t have salaried, regular employees that do paint jobs) will simply tell the nonresponsive person that performed the original shoddy work to go fix it. Certainly it’s the right thing to do. But the truth is, this guy will be paying out of his own pocket for any supplies and other workers and won’t make a dime while he’s there fixing it. So I’m genuinely concerned it won’t happen. I sincerely hope it does. But I’m afraid we haven’t heard the last of the OP.

  • Rebecca

    This company doesn’t have regular, salaried employees that paint decks. They basically are a middle man ripping off college students looking for a summer job. It isn’t like they hire painters at an hourly rate to paint houses. They don’t have an employee they can send to go fix it. I’m very concerned their idea of resolving the issue will be to tell the person that did the original shoddy work to go fix it. Keeping in mind that this guy would have to pay for his own supplies and pay for anyone he hires to work with him out of his own pocket, I’d say this simply isn’t likely. Let alone the fact he did a terrible job in the first place. The company would have to pay out of their own pocket to send someone else to fix it. I hope they do, I’m just not seeing that as the likely scenario.

    I really hope I’m wrong. I feel awful for the OP. These are the worst cases here – a consumer that did absolutely nothing wrong and got screwed out of a lot of money.

  • PsyGuy

    Now we need to see if it happens, or the kids that run this business go out of business. Personally, the LW would have saved a lot more buying the pain and hiring some college kids to do the painting.

  • PsyGuy

    How is it one step up from other MLM’s?

  • Rebecca

    I only said it because they don’t require an initial “investment” for products like MLM schemes do. They don’t tell you at your “interview” that you need to buy a $3000 kit to display their product. And that you’ll get a cut for any referrals that then purchase the same kit.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a scam in my view. But it’s slightly better than the businesses requesting thousands of dollars to work for them.

  • PsyGuy

    Well okay so they are a less greedy MLM, still sounds like an MLM without the front load? Does it really make sense to have better and worse degrees of a scam? It’s still a scam.

  • Rebecca

    With that I agree 100% – I should just change it to “on the level on MLM schemes”.

Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.