A check which I deposited today (reimbursement for electricity used by the disaster recovery company) represents the end of the ongoing disaster that was the flood. A few notes on the experience:
Almost every time someone came to fix something they damaged something else while they were there.
It took longer to completely resolve the problem than it took to build the house in the first place.
Proper drywall work takes at least two visits. Don't accept anything less.
Fieldstone's warranty representative was excellent. Thanks Daphne!
Shamrock Plumbing couldn't have cared less about us if they tried. Bob, in particular, kept using the word whatever in our conversation and described the whole thing as, "a little mistake." Please boycott them with me.
Free trials, negotiable prices, and smart consumers don't mix.
In the end we had Shamrock take their water softener back. You may recall that we had stopped the check we had payed them with so that for a while the price was again negotiable. The original price we were quoted was about $1350, which included the plumbing and installation. I was able, before the flood, to negotiate that down to $1147. After the flood I wasn't about to pay them for the installation which caused it, nor was I willing to pay for the plumbing which they'd have to leave me anyway and was, therefore, free. Add to that the fact that the only portion of their cost which would be recoverable should they fail to negotiate is the wholesale price of the softener (couldn't be more than $500 or so) minus whatever it cost them to remove it (maybe $100?) . That leaves them with a theoretical lowest possible price of $400. I'm confident that if they understood that they would have given me a much better price.
Shamrock offered to sell us the softener for $995, which I refused but told him to think about it some more. After a week or so he called back and said he was confident that $995 was a good deal so I told him to schedule to have it removed. The very next day he called back to offer to sell it for $800. At this point it might have been smart of me to accept but I chose to stand on principle and refuse.
So if you happen to be in the midst of a water-softener free trial keep in mind that they may be able to negotiate down as far as $500 or so before they can't stomach it. Power in a negotiation comes from whatever your best alternative is should you fail to negotiate. Your best alternative is probably to pick up a similar softener at Home Despot for $560 and install it yourself. Their best alternative is to write up your free trial as a marketing expense and swallow the cost.
Anyway, over the few months we had soft water I became accustomed to it. Also, the softener was bypassed for a few days and everything was crusty with hard water deposits in no time. So, yes, I'm a soft water convert. I actually prefer to shower in soft water now. I got used to that weird slimy feeling on my hands. After Shamrock took their softener back we bought a new one from Kinetico. The Kinetico softener is vastly superior in many ways.