Here's the short and sweet (sorta):
Oh Empire Today made their commericals sound great! So we called and they sent someone. He showed samples of laminate (3 types - good, better, best) and we went with better. Of course good was "on sale for 50% off!" We decided on better anyway. It was called "AMERICAN DREAM." Of course we were approved for the 1 year no payments plan. He said everyone gets approved somehow - they have 3 ways to get it! I'll soon figure out why.
They installed the next day. The installers said they needed more money (upfront, payable to them, cash, check or credit) because they needed more bags to float the floor. Didn't we already pay for that? We signed a contract for over $4000 for about 500 sq. ft. (Yes I know! What a ridiculous price!!) We called Empire Today and let them handle it with the installers. We paid no more money.
Several days later we had a leak in the attic. It ruined the floors upstairs and down (minus our newly installed $4000+ laminate, thanks goodness!!!) Since we were quoted over $15,000 to do the rest of the house, we decided to buy the materials ourselves and hire a contractor to install the flooring. I scoured the internet looking for AMERICAN DREAM. Here's where it gets really interesting.
There is NO American Dream. It doesn't exist. American Dream is the name Empire has given the Quick-Step Eligna laminate product. Here's what's even funnier. I called Empire, and after several unreturned calls, I finally get the person who answers the phone to tell me that American Dream is a "series of Quick-Step." Wrong again! I had already called The Quick-Step company, spoke to Amy in customer service and she said they had never heard of American Dream.
So I decided to order the Quick-Step Eligna U1010U product (tore the code off the extra box they had left me) from Affordafloors.com and only paid $2.08/sq. ft. WOW! For 1054 sq. ft. of the same laminate WITH underlayment AND shipping, I paid $3033! AND I'm getting it installed at $1.35/sq. ft. Not quite $15,000, is it?
Here's another interesting catch. Empire Today offers a guarantee that they'll match any price! Read the fine print. You have to have it written on the competing company's letterhead 1 DAY IN ADVANCE! Oh but wait! Empire installs the next day. AND if that isn't bad enough, if you don't know that American Dream is really Quick-Step, how can you possibly research and find a competitive price? Ahhhh, but that's where they have you, isn't it?
Alas I called several times to speak to someone. I was ignored. No return calls. In the beginning, I was so sure I had the wrong floor installed. The sample was so much thicker! When I figured out what was really going on and left messages with the receptionist, I suddenly got some calls from the "higher-ups!" They sent out the sales man(who was so very rude!) with his samples and the floors were what we ordered. By that time I had figured as much. The sample, however, really was thicker, but that's a whole other story!
Moral of the Empire Today Story:
Be prepared. Take this information and get your money's worth! Don't let them overcharge you. Get your floors the next day, but get them cheaper! (And as for those rebuttals I see everyone getting from Empire - should I get one, I WILL follow up on it and report what they have done to correct the situation. I'm sure there will be nothing to write about!)