There's a whole lot that needs to be said about Lindal and now I'm breaking my silence. In the past 6 years I've seen Lindal up close and personal, having spent two years in Lindal sales, then four as a sunroom dealer/builder. I also built a sunroom on my home to use as a model.
My negative Lindal experience in all three areas - as a rep, a dealer and a customer - has turned me into a committed consumer advocate, and I hope my observations can be of value to other customers and dealers.
I never would have imagined writing an expose' - that is, until last year - when Lindal secretly installed a Homes Dealer in my backyard, gave him my sunroom business, then lied about it. He was even given sunroom billing on the dealer-finder in my own city. This violates their own published policy of "protected territories" and non-competition between the two divisions. I had to read about my replacement 6 months later in the company newsletter. The area demographics in this slow economy can barely support one dealer but that doesn't stop Lindal. If they can't make money on customers they'll make it on new recruits.
This entire incident was particularly maddening, given that I had spent much of the 5 years cleaning up the mess of the previous three unethical, incompetent dealers who came before me. I've made a big investment in the goodwill of my area and in my dealership, and did a huge amount of damage control for Lindal. I certainly didn't anticipate being stabbed in the back.
I have 25 years experience as a building designer and contractor, including executive-level sales management for other name-brand products. In all this time I've never seen anything as dysfunctional or predatory as the Lindal Cedar Homes business model.
Something's seriously wrong when a company has to resort to fraud and deception - including blindsiding a loyal dealer like me - in order to sell products and collect recruiting fees.
Designing and building a pricey, complex project such as a home or sunroom poses huge psychological hurdles for the consumer. To overcome these obstacles Lindal presents itself as a full-service company with big promises of "thoroughly-trained" dealers who are supposedly design and construction experts. This is all nonsense.
Lindal DOES NOT teach design or contracting and will recruit anyone regardless of background or suitability. If you lack previous experience or training, you won't receive it at Lindal.
Lindal is all about MARKETING, and nothing else. They play both sides to their advantage. When they want your money they spin the illusion of being "all things to all people." They spend big bucks on fancy marketing materials on the front end but nothing on customer care or physical development of dealerships for the long term.
In fact, they want nothing to do with the customer. When the rooms leak or your independent dealer skips town with your deposit, Lindal suddenly morphs into "just an innocent supplier." And there is no reliable system in place to handle warranty and repair issues, whether it's a $30,000 sunroom or a $300,000 cedar home.
Imagine buying a new $30,000 automobile and finding out later that you have no aftermarket support. Would you even consider buying another such product or recommending that company to a friend? It boggles the mind, but it seems that Lindal has become it's own worst enemy.
Unlike other name-brand companies which operate from local service centers or regional outlets, the Lindal dealer system is a transitory amrketing arm for the factory. It's a revolving door, with extremely high turnover rates.
In order to replace the many that fail, recruiting efforts go non-stop year round. The website lures them in, the area managers do the close, and the recruits are sent to Seattle for the final brainwashing. The program is a cottage industry unto itself and makes Lindal a small fortune through peddling samples, models and literature to a constant supply of naive, eager entrepreneurs.
The failure rates are alarming. Of the twelve dealers in my orientation class in 2000, only one is still with Lindal - a 92% turnover. 27% of dealers in the 2004 roster did not make it into 2005. And a random sample of 95 dealers in 5 years showed a whopping turnover rate of 69%.
As a warning to potential recruits, Lindal has cleverly worded its dealer contracts in order to escape the oversight of Federal and state agencies who police fraudulent business opportunities, so you may want to get legal advice.
It raises the questions: "Is this an intentional recruiting scheme to solicit big bucks from naive investors - knowing that most will fail with little chance of legal remedy? Or, are their recruiting methods simply misguided and ineffective? Either way, it's not good news for potential customers or dealers.
I became a dealer by default. The dealer I originally worked for in Raleigh, NC - Brian Hippman of Quality Interiors - went bankrupt in 2001 in order to avoid criminal prosecution for the disappearance of customer funds. He fleeced me, our subs, suppliers, customers and other creditors out of $250,000. Some customers paid twice to get their sunroom packages, others were left with unfinished projects, demolished yards and dreams.
Even though I had no formal relationship with Lindal and did not handle customer funds, I was caught up in a stressful two-year legal battle while Lindal played "innocent supplier." Unlike the other Ripoff Reports involving Homes Dealers and Lindal's alleged theft of large deposits, Lindal Sunrooms did not steal the customer's money directly, but recruited, endorsed and abetted the dealer who did.
I found out later that he was knowingly recruited in spite of a history of bad credit, was encouraged to continue submitting orders in spite of being insolvent, and was endorsed on the corporate website long after he had failed. When the entire house of cards collapsed Lindal was the only party who suffered no losses, and collected all monies owed. Customers take heed, because placing an order through any Lindal dealer will place you in the same vulnerable position.
In 2002 I built a glass-eave sunroom on my home to use as a showplace. Within months the interior was covered with dark water stains, even though the ads promise that Lindal's exclusive built-in condensation system "channels all internal moisture away from the structure." This a deceptive advertising.
I have to sand and reseal the interior twice a year to keep it looking fresh. As a dealer I later went on several service calls with sunrooms that had the same problem. Customers thought they had a rain leak, but it's actually condensation that forms on the interior overhead glass and drips all over the cedar eave blocking, the mullions and the window sills. It's a mess.
I did an experiment to find out exactly what was happening to the water. I sprayed several ounces on the glass in line with the weep channels, but could not make the water appear outside the building, even with several repeated attempts. Not one drop. Part of it soaks into the cedar blocking and drips on the sills and floor, the remainder drains into the hidden eave filler where it is absorbed by the soft wood.
The water is not being channeled away from the structure at all, but quite the opposite. Some is dripping inside and the remainder is collecting in the concealed area under the eave flashing where it eventually rots and weakens the eave support. Every repair we did on overhead glass panels had this rotting problem, even though the flashing was intact. Now I know why.
If you are in the process of building a glass-eave sunroom, ask your carpenter to mill a piece of pressure-treated lumber for this part. It will last years longer, and will not weaken the structure when it later turns to mush. If you would like a remedy to control some of the interior dripping, contact me for my solution.
I sent Lindal 2 emails when I first noticed the stains but in typical Lindal fashion I received no response, so I called the engineer. His copout answer: "It's a problem with your installer." This is standard Lindal code for: "Please don't bother us with this. Go away." NEWSFLASH: My installer did not design and engineer the sunroom. They did.
When I originally discussed the model with the Sales Manager, he was less than enthusiastic about building it on my home and warned me that I would not be able to keep it looking "like new." I thought he was referring to the exterior, but now I understand. Models in protected showrooms do not get condensation!
I no longer sell or endorse Lindal products, but I discovered so much useful information while researching Lindal Cedar Homes that I decided to build a website about it.
I encourage you to visit my site: www.sundesign123.com and read my detailed "10-Point Survival Guides" for Customers and Dealers. If you are already involved in a transaction or are considering a dealership, it may help you in navigating the Lindal waters. (No pun intended!) It could also save you the headache of a lifetime.
Read about Lindal's complaint history with the Federal Trade Commission (for customers and dealers) and take advantage of the resources for repairs and legal help. If you have been ripped off or need further information, please join the growing list of complaints and then contact me for support.
Many Thanks to the Ripoff Report and Ed Magedson for providing such a valuable public service!
Durham, North Carolina
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Lindal Cedar Homes