Initially I was recommended by my cousin and a friend to go to Sound FX because they did good work and because they had good prices. Sound FX is located at 2200 N. Oracle Rd. Approximately one month before my audio system was to be installed, I went to Sound FX with the two people that recommended them to me and was given a quote: A Pioneer in dash CD player (model 8400), a DVD player for the glove box, two 7 inch TV monitors for the sun visors, two 10 inch subwoofers (Kicker L7 solobarics), an amplifier, the box for the subwoofers and the installation of the system which totaled $2,000.
June 3rd, Monday My cousins Eddie, Cisco, a friend O.J. and I dropped the car off and I paid $2,000 cash for all the equipment and installation that I received the quote for, as written on the original receipt. I was told that it would take approximately 3 days to complete the installation.
June 4th, Tuesday I stopped by to monitor the progress of the installation looking at the box that was being constructed for the subwoofers that were to be installed into the trunk of the car. I asked how the box was made and was told that it was precision tuned and ported for the best sound quality. When asked what they were going to use to cover the box one of the installers said they would match the upholstery that was in the trunk (a carpeting fabric that has the look of salt and pepper). I then asked one of the installers if they could make a Firebird logo on the box. The employee said that it would be no problem and that he would use black vinyl to make the logo and the cost would be $29.95 to do the work. I said ok.
June 6th, Thursday I arrived in the afternoon expecting to pick up my car; I was informed at this time that it was completed. The CD player had been installed, but the TV monitors and DVD player had not yet been installed. They loaned me one subwoofer that they used as a demo, as the ones I had purchased were not available. The entire subwoofer box was covered in vinyl when it was supposed to match the fabric in the trunk (picture 22). The Firebird logo that was centered on the top portion of the box was horrible and resembled an inkblot more than a Firebird logo (picture 23). I approached the owner, Chris Brooks, and told him that I was not satisfied with the shoddy work and was confused as to why my entire box was wrapped in vinyl and not fabric. He said that it was what I had asked for.
I disagreed but we came to the conclusion that it looked bad and that he would reupholster the box. I was also informed that the DVD player I had purchased would not fit in the glove box. I decided to go with a smaller DVD player that would cost more and have the cost of the original one subtracted from the cost of the more expensive one. I told Chris B. that I needed to have the vehicle finished by Saturday because I had a photo shoot on Sunday and a car show that I was entering the car in.
He said that there would be a problem getting the other DVD player in by Saturday, but if I wanted to pay an extra $35 to red label it (overnight express), then it could be ready by Saturday.
June 8th, Saturday I called Sound FX around noon and asked what the progress on my car was and was informed that it would be ready before their closing time of 6:00 P.M. My cousin Armando and I arrived there around 5:00 P.M. and the installation was not complete: The two TV's were installed but one did not work and the other would only show a black and white picture on the screen. The TV that was on the driver's side had a dry strip of superglue that was exposed between the visor and the cover that was made for the TV. The remote for the CD player was missing. The DVD player was installed but it was not the one I had ordered. They installed a defective one that someone else had returned. The box they made for the DVD player was scratched and unsatisfactory (picture 1). When I tried to play a DVD, the sound on all the speakers on the passenger's side would cut in and out when the glove box was opened and closed (pictures 2 & 3). The subwoofers I had purchased were still not installed; instead, the demo was still there along with a mismatched one that they put in the trunk. The amplifier was set back too far in the trunk causing two scratches about one inch in length on the window tinting that was on the rear window, which was caused when the convertible top was lowered. The rear glass would rest on the amplifier.
Chris said that he would get it repaired. I was told to go ahead and take the car because they would not be able to work on it again until Tuesday. I was very upset about this but decided to take the vehicle because there was no need to leave it there if they were not going to be able to work on it until Tuesday.
June 11th, Tuesday I dropped the car off sometime before noon and went to speak with Chris. I told him that I was not satisfied with the way things were going and wanted to know what was going to be done. He said that he was going to have the visor and TV on the driver's side redone, that he would get the rear window fixed and finish the rest of the install including the DVD player.
At some point while I was there Chris and I decided that the box in the trunk was not right so he convinced me to reupholster the entire trunk to match the interior of the car. He said that he would charge me 3 hours of labor or around $150 to have the trunk redone. I asked him how much longer it was going to take to finish the installation because I was entering the car in another car show. He told me 3 days.
June 13th, Thursday I arrived at Sound FX at around 5:00 P.M. hoping that the car would be done, but to my surprise, it was not. The DVD player had been partially installed. The remote control eye for the DVD player still needed to be installed (picture 4). The TV on the passenger's side was operational but the sound was still cutting out when the glove box was opened and closed.
The trunk showed progress but was nowhere near done. It was bare wood and the subwoofers and amplifier had been taken out. I asked about the visor for the driver's side and was told that a dremel tool caught and ruined the fabric so they had to get it reupholstered. When asked when they were going to be able to fix the rear window they said that they would get it done as soon as they had a chance.
I was again told to return on Saturday and was told that it would be finished.
June 15th, Saturday I arrived sometime after noon and was not surprised that my car was not complete. They said they would have it done today. I was still missing the visor on the driver's side (picture 5). I was told that it needed to be picked up at the upholstery shop so that they could install the TV. The trunk was still bare wood but I was told that it would be done. I still had two mismatched subwoofers. I asked about the rear window and Chris said that he would not be able to get to it today.
I took the car and went to a tint shop and had the tint fixed myself. It took them an hour and a half and charged me $25. I returned to Sound FX around 3:00 P.M. and left the car there and was told that it would be ready that afternoon. I returned at 6:00 P.M. and the only thing that was done was the trunk was upholstered but was not complete, the amplifier was not installed and the subwoofers were not connected.
I was told to come again on Monday and leave the car. I took the car as it was for the show the following day and noticed that the head unit was not even connected to fit snug which caused it to rattle around as I drove (pictures 6-9).
June 17th, Monday I dropped the car off some time in the morning and this time when I asked when it would be done, Chris said, Do you want it done right or right away. I told him that I wanted it done right but that he should have never quoted me a time in the first place if he had no idea on how long it would take to do this install.
June 20th, Thursday My cousin Armando and I arrived there around 5:00 P.M. and absolutely nothing had been done to my car except that I now had two matching subwoofers, like the ones I had ordered but these were used and were on loan until the others arrived. Armando asked where the missing sun visor was and was told that it was still at the upholstery shop. I was told that they had the TV and that all they needed to do is finish the visor so they could do all the finishing touches.
We asked where the visor was and decided to go there ourselves to get it because it seemed that none of the other employees were motivated to do their job. When we arrived at the upholstery shop I asked the upholsterer when the visor had been finished. He said that it was dropped off on Monday and was ready Tuesday morning. The charge for the visor was $10 and Armando paid for it.
I was stunned because Chris had told me that my visor was ready on Saturday and needed to be picked up. Also, upon getting the visor I realized that the fabric was a different color than the original. Now I had a black visor and a graphite gray visor (picture 10). I decided that I would get the visor repaired myself because I was starting to feel like everyone there was incompetent.
My cousin charged Chris $13 for having to go for the visor and Chris paid him the money. I took my car and told Chris that I would get the visor redone in the right color and return it to him sometime the following week.
June 21st, Friday The cover of the remote control eye on the passenger's side TV monitor was missing (picture
15). I noticed it when I took the other visor to be reupholstered.
June 22nd, Saturday Out of curiosity I wanted to find out if I could get those subwoofers from somewhere else. Armando and I went to Sound FX to find out how much Chris charged me for the two I had purchased. He said, and I quote, I gave them to you for $265 a piece, but I'm not supposed to sell them for less than $299 because they can pull the brand from Me. That's why I didn't write the prices on the receipt(By this he meant that if the company found out that he sold me the Subwoofers for $265 a piece that they would pull the name brand, Kicker, from him).
I also asked Chris if he had my remote control for the head unit and he gave it to me. I went to another place in town and purchased the exact same subwoofers for $200 a piece. I then called Sound FX and cancelled the order for the two subwoofers and a pair of custom covers that I had ordered for them. After I had purchased those two subwoofers I was recommended to a place that could fix my botched stereo system.
I decided to see what they could do and figured that they couldn't do any worse. I spoke to one of the owners and viewed his portfolio and was impressed. I told him that I would return Monday because I needed to get the other TV monitor that I had already paid for from Sound FX.
June 24th, Monday I had initially went to Sound FX to get the bugs worked out of the stereo system and have them finish the job with the exception of the subwoofers and the two TV monitors. I went two pick up the other monitor so that I could drop it off at the other place, but to my surprise, it was nowhere to be found.
Chris then presented me with an entirely new receipt for the money that I owed him. I had paid $2,000 cash for everything but now the bill was over $2,700. When I looked at the receipt, it said that I paid $135 for each subwoofer when he told me the previous Saturday that he had sold them to me for $265 a piece. I was appalled and now also wanted to cancel the order for the TV monitor and subtract the installation for it. He said that I still owed him $16 and some change.
I asked for a copy of the receipt because the receipt I have had does not match the one that he had remade that day. How could I have paid for all this equipment and installation in advance when I had already cancelled the order for the two subwoofers, a TV monitor plus installation and still owe around $16? When I asked again for a copy of the receipts so that I could have an attorney look at them he refused to give me any receipts and told me to leave.
I went to the other place and was told that the TV monitor that was installed was one that had been discontinued; So now I had two buy two new monitors and the cost to fix my botched system is around $1,200 on top of the $2,000 that I had previously spent for the original one. I was told that I could drop off the vehicle Wednesday morning to start the new installation and to repair damage that had been caused by Sound FX.
To put the icing on the cake, when I got home that afternoon the subwoofers and amplifier that are in the trunk quit working.
June 25th, Tuesday I looked to see what Sound FX had not finished and found this: One missing TV monitor, A mismatched sun visor, a loose head unit, the wrong installation kit for the head unit, a partially installed DVD player, a faulty connection in the wiring for the DVD player, a defective box for the DVD player, an incomplete speaker box in the trunk (pictures 11 & 12), two used subwoofers (pictures 13 & 14) and an amplifier that does not work.
June 26th, Wednesday I dropped the vehicle off in the morning to have my botched job fixed. I learned that the wiring that Sound FX had used was improper and faulty. I was told that it would add around an additional $500 to fix it. I also saw how they had installed the TV monitor on the passenger's side; they had taken apart the housing for the monitor and with the circuit board exposed they glued the monitor onto the visor with an excess of silicone (pictures 16 & 17). They also ruined the visor when it was installed (pictures 18-21).
I was called in the afternoon by the person who was repairing the stereo system and was told the reason my subwoofers would not work was because they were burned out. The amplifier that should have been screwed down to the speaker box was not screwed down. Silicone was used to mount the amplifier to the box (pictures 25 - 26). My total bill is now somewhere around $4,000, not including the $2,000 that I spent at Sound FX.
June 27th, Thursday I was called by The Stereo Shop and was asked to stop by at some point in the morning. I learned that the reason the subwoofers were burned out was because the specifications for the box were wrong. There is also a warning on the packaging of the subwoofers that states that if the box specifications are not met, then the warranty on that subwoofer is void. The amplifier would have to be pried apart from the subwoofer box because of the silicone.
Sound FX used wiring to power my stereo system that was meant for battery terminal wiring and not for audio systems (pictures 27 & 28). I asked what the difference was and was told that the current that flows in the wire actually flows on the surface of the wire and not through the wire. A battery terminal wire has fewer and thicker strands of wire causing less flow of current, which can also cause engine noise through a stereo system. The wire that is supposed to be used has thinner and many more strands of wire causing a greater current and less resistance.
I was informed that all the other wire used to install the stereo system including the RCA jacks where junk and improper for an application like the one installed in my car (pictures 29 35). I was further educated on how to correctly wire the power cable. The power cable is supposed to be wired directly to the battery (picture 39) but what Sound FX did was wire it to the auxiliary power source on the driver's side (picture 40 & 41). They did this because they ran all the other wiring on the driver's side, which they were also not supposed to do.
When the wiring (power cable and RCA jacks) is ran together, it can cause engine noise through the speakers, especially when you use bottom of the line products. Another mark that Sound FX left is a tear in the weather stripping of the trunk (picture 42).
I returned again in the afternoon to monitor the progress of the reinstallation. I learned that the box that was made for the subwoofers was particleboard (pictures 36 38) and it should not be used unless the box is sealed to prevent air leaks and also because it is porous and absorbs the sound. The material that should have been used is called MDF (medium density fiberboard) or soundboard. I also learned that the cover for the box was also not sealed and only held down with four screws, one on each corner. An installer laughed because he could not believe how Sound FX had wired the DVD player.
He showed me a set of RCA jacks that had been spliced with other wire and instead of using the proper connectors they just covered the bare wire with electrical tape.
June 28th, Friday I went to The Stereo Shop in the afternoon and liked how the installation was progressing. I was further amazed when I found out how Sound FX had installed the head unit. The kit that is supposed to be used has mounting brackets either on the back or on the side of the head unit to properly mount into the vehicle. Sound FX super glued the faceplate to the backside of the dashboard. They did not use anything else to hold the head unit in place.
I also learned another way how Sound FX cuts corners. Most, if not all radios need an antenna. General Motors uses a smaller antenna cable that connects into the female end of the stock head unit. Aftermarket head units have a larger female end and therefore you would need to buy an adapter to connect to the stock antenna cable. The adapter costs less than $5. What Sound FX did is slide the smaller male end of the antenna cable into the larger female end of the head unit and used a drywall screw to hold it in place instead of using the adapter.
July 5th, Friday At 5:00 P.M. My car is finally completed and the total price for my stereo system is $6,245.41.
I have since went to a lawyer and so far have gotten no responce from him. I'm not sure what else to do. The lawyer charges $200 per hour and I'm not sure what the total bill will be. I also have pictures of most of the damage that was done.