Wednesday, December 14, 2016

HR Can Put Employees at Risk

I've written about problems with Human Resources departments several times - especially the sometimes unfair relationship between human resources and employees.  As you might expect, The Sliding Door Company's human resources department certainly is not without serious problems.  Clearly, this blog wouldn't be here if I didn't feel my rights were violated.  So, let's have a look at one huge failure that, in this case, directly impacted several people.

When I wrote about TSDC spying on their employees both articles I linked to state plainly 
"the employer needs consent from its workers to monitor their behavior in the workplace." 
That means the employee has to sign something giving consent to be spied on.  Lacking a document showing consent, spying on an employee would be illegal.  

TSDC's terms of spying are laid out in their Employee Handbook.  And sure enough, TSDC's human resources department has a document that employees must sign to acknowledge receipt of the Employee Handbook.  Again, lacking a signed document from an employee stating they have received the notice of the company's policy on spying, the company is NOT allowed to spy on the employee.  From the law:

California's Privacy Act is in the Penal Code. [54] Under section 631, the anti-wiretapping law, anyone who
. . . willfully and without the consent of all parties . . . reads or attempts . . . to learn the contents or meaning of any . . . communication . . . in transit . . . over any wire, line, or cable or is being sent from, or received at any place within this state . . . is punishable by . . . imprisonment . . . [55]Under section 632, the broader anti-eavesdropping/anti-recording law,
Every person who, intentionally and without the consent of all parties . . ., by means of any . . . recording device eavesdrops upon or records [a] confidential communication . . . [including ones] carried on . . . by means of a telegraph, telephone, or other device . . . shall be punished by . . . imprisonment . . . . [56]  

Here's the document that employees are supposed to sign that indicates they have received the Employee Handbook.

Oh dear... it appears in my case the Human Resources Manager neglected to notice I hadn't signed the document.  This means TSDC did NOT have permission to spy on me.  
And yet... they DID.

So, did The Sliding Door Company's human resources manager put other employees in jeopardy by not securing my signature on this document?  

According to California law, it could mean "imprisonment" for someone who unlawfully spies on someone else.  

There is a lot more to the California Privacy Act and associated laws... but the bottom line is...

Human Resources has a very big responsibility when it comes to paperwork and collecting all the signatures required to keep a company and the employees within that company safe.  

When Human Resources fails, companies fail.  But hey... there will always be employees to blame for the shortcomings of employers.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Patent Infringement Lawsuit

The Sliding Door Company's Patent Infringement Lawsuit 

I find this fascinating, personally.  I have already described that there is a flaw in this product - and yet the patent infringement lawsuit was filed against a product that, in my view, may have CORRECTED the flaw.  
Let's see what I'm talking about.  Here are two images from the lawsuit that was filed (linked above):

It's difficult to tell from the quality of the "Defendant's Product" images, but it appears to me the Defendant in this case may have corrected the high-heel-catching design problem that users of TSDC's patented product have experienced and reported.

Remember this image, again from my previous blog post?

Notice in the Patent illustration above, how unnecessarily wide the gap is - in order to accommodate a relatively narrow hook?  The gap is literally big enough to trap a high heel.

That The Sliding Door Company's design can trap a high-heeled shoe becomes more obvious when one considers that the rounded top of the hook works as a funnel to jamb the heel into the track.  
When the heel is pulled out, the sharp edge of the hook traps the heel.  Again, this was reported by TSDC's own employees AND customers.

Now, let's look at Defendant's track.  Does it look like a high-heel can get jammed in there?  It's hard to know for sure, but the gap in the defendant's product doesn't look nearly as wide to me.  Indeed, it appears that a high heel would be prevented from falling into the gap by the rounded knob that the roller will ride on.  It's a very different design... other than the hooking element.  And seriously, the "hooking" element is nothing new.  Anybody who has been around a roller coaster knows this is how roller-coaster wheels are made to stay on the track... they ALL hook underneath.
Lowes carries a line of glass
sliding closet doors that look almost
identical to products at
The Sliding Door Company.

I'm guessing The Sliding Door Company won this case.  I took a peek at the Defendant's website to see if they have abandoned their bottom track design, and it appears they have.  

Oddly, the company has a subsidiary called Chaparral which is a name I remember from my very first week working at The Sliding Door Company.  I essentially found their EXACT same extrusion being used by another company and selling their product at Lowes.  I wondered at the time who this Chaparral company was and why our product was being sold by them.  Now, after seeing TSDC in action, I'm not so sure who ripped who off.

Remember this blog post?  To save 15 cents per bracket, TSDC decided to forego engineering and product testing and simply copy an engineered and tested bracket by Simpson Strong-Tie.  Building inspectors accustomed to seeing the Simpson tie can easily mistake TSDC's bracket for an engineered and tested product by Simpson.

Untested knock-off STRUCTURAL tie by TSDC

Engineered and tested STRUCTURAL 
tie by Simpson

Patent Infringement?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Email Scandal!

The Sliding Door Company has its very own email scandal.  Leaked emails show former President of TSDC's commercial division not only avoided complying with ADA regulations, but blamed her CUSTOMER for it.  It turns out they didn't want to scrap pre-cut door jambs, so they preferred to violate ADA - for quite some time apparently.  

Here's the email chain.  I have redacted the names of the employees who need not be involved in this for their own personal privacy (and because I'm not Wikileaks).

It started out with a drawing request:

Sent: Friday, April 10, 2015 10:36 AM
To: 'Sheryl Hai-Ami'Subject: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Hi Sheryl,
Attached is a drawing request for Regus 0564 (Indianapolis).Please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you,
Senior Estimator

Sheryl passes it up the line to my co-worker instead of me (she knew I wouldn't permit a non-ADA-compliant product to be sold in the US). 

From: Sheryl Hai-Ami []
Sent: Friday, April 10, 2015 10:52 AM
To: 'A_REDACTED; <This email was to my department and allowed me to see this email chain even though I wasn't directly copied on it.
Cc: P_REDACTEDSubject:
FW: Drawing Request - Regus 0564
Importance: High


Please see drawing request for Regus.Please let me know if you have any questions.Thank you.
President, Space Plus div of TSDC

By now, of course, I was out of the loop (for being a whistleblower) but still wanted to keep them from violating ADA.  I notified my former team who were now filling the drawing requests (engineering) and let them know they were violating ADA - in case they didn't already know.
From: Pete Karaiskos []
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 7:39 AM
Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Pssst.. 32" is below ADA
Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager

Seasoned employees know better than to rock the boat.  You could lose your job, like I did.  Employees learned a lesson when I was retaliated against.
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 9:56 AMTo: 'Pete Karaiskos'Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

I don't give a shit.

Technical Integration Manager

From: Pete Karaiskos []
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 9:58 AMTo: 'A_REDACTEDSubject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Great! Leave it to me to give a shit! &^&*$#%^#

Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager

Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 10:30 AM
To: 'Pete Karaiskos'Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Lol. I mean, this is how Regus always does it, so I don't care. If that's what Sheryl's team wants, I am not going to argue.

Technical Integration Manager

From: Pete Karaiskos []
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 10:30 AMTo: 'A_REDACTEDSubject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Ah. You learned my lesson. ;)

Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager 

Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 10:36 AMTo: 'Pete Karaiskos'Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

I already argued that one with them before that that's How they want it.

Technical Integration Manager

I tried to explain the severity of what they are doing:

From: Pete Karaiskos []
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 10:40 AMTo: 'A_REDACTEDSubject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564
Do they get that it is NOT their call? They can't make their own ADA guidelines - or alter existing ADA requirements for aesthetics. All it takes is one disabled person to notice and turn Regus in, and they will have to replace everything that was put in since the requirement changed. Older stuff is grandfathered in - but there is absolutely no excuse to put a handle in a commercial building that is out of ADA range. <shaking head> I guess everybody needs to learn the hard way these days. 
Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager 

Coming from a "sales" standpoint is sometimes at odds with safety and regulations.  In this case, people at TSDC have convinced themselves that "the customer is always right".
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 11:02 AMTo: 'Pete Karaiskos'Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

But Regus is the client. Plus these are private offices, so they don't need to be ADA compliant. Right?

Technical Integration Manager

From: Pete Karaiskos []
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 11:05 AMTo: 'A_REDACTEDSubject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564
Wait. are you suggesting "private" offices in a commercial building are"residential"?
NOOOOOooooo. they absolutely have to be ADA compliant. Is Regus planning to discriminate against employees with disabilities? It isn't like a hotel where they can have one ADA room per floor. This is a commercial office space. no way do they get to do that.
Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager 

Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 11:22 AMTo: 'Pete Karaiskos'Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Huh. News to me. I will have N_REDACTED add a note to the drawing that they are not compliant at that height. But anyway the Slider Hook Latch is not an ADA compliant feature, so what difference does that make?

Technical Integration Manager
From: Pete Karaiskos []
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 11:25 AM
Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Just because a feature isn't ADA compliant (a pull for example) - doesn't mean we get to put it out of ADA range. Our pulls aren't ADA compliant - but because someone is in a wheelchair doesn't mean they have no hands or fingers. they could certainly use a pull if it was at the correct height.
We can't make assumptions like this.

Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager

Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 11:42 AM
To: 'Pete Karaiskos'Subject:
RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564
I understand, finally.
Technical Integration Manager

Meanwhile, the CAD designer sent me the details of the installation to confirm whether it was indeed in violation of ADA.

Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 9:17 AM
To: 'Pete Karaiskos'Subject:
RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Hi Pete,
There was a sliding hook latch at 32" and an ADA 9" handle at 40.5" on this one.
Is that ok for ADA?

CAD Designer

I tried to give a solution... moving the hardware to within ADA range.  Simple, right?
From: Pete Karaiskos []
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 9:19 AM
Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Can the sliding hook latch come up to 34"? That would put it within ADA requirements.

Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager

Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 11:42 AM
To: 'Pete Karaiskos'
Subject: RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564
Hi Pete,
Just letting you know for future, I checked with A_REDACTED, she said REGUS is special and we even stock special extrusions with cutouts at 32" for the accessories they use just for them. She says that is how Regus always has their heights. So we are leaving it at 32" - perhaps they are not getting inspected.

CAD Designer

But, by this time, A_REDACTED had understood the ADA requirement.  I let N_REDACTED know.
From: Pete Karaiskos [] 
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 11:46 AM
RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564
A_REDACTED (and Regus) is wrong in this case.  We've been discussing it and I think she finally understood why in my last email.
Having said this. I'm happy to let Regus learn their lesson the hard way. ;)
Pete Karaiskos
R&D Manager
This prompted N_REDACTED to email Sheryl to ask if it would be OK to comply with ADA.

From: Drawings []
Sent: Monday, April 13, 2015 9:26 AM
To: 'Sheryl Hai-Ami'Subject:
RE: Drawing Request - Regus 0564

Hi Sheryl,

Pete was taking a look at this project and raised a good question. The sliding hook latch was requested to be at 32"which is currently not within the ADA range - but if we moved it up to 34" it would be in the range. Do you think this might be a possibility?

Sincere thanks,

CAD Designer 

Sheryl's very predictable response (remember, this was the PRESIDENT of their commercial division making up rules for ADA):
From: Sheryl Hai-Ami []
Sent: Friday, April 13, 2015 1:08 PM
Not in this case.
The Regus program nationwide is very specific and they have asked for it to be centered at 32" from the bottom of our bottom frame from day 1.
They are taking ownership for anything related to ADA.

Thank you very much for asking.
President, Space Plus div of TSDC

And there you have it.  The Sliding Door Company's former commercial division President (now an administrator but still wife of their CEO) was directing employees to violate ADA in commercial products and placing the blame on their own customer.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Sliding Door Company's 5-Star Reviews?

I'll admit it - I've been guilty of ignoring The Sliding Door Company's glowing 5-Star reviews on this blog for the most part. There is some real comedy going on - sprinkled in with the fraud of course.  We saw on our Complaints page how Sheryl Hai-Ami gave 5 STARS to the company - her husband is CEO and she is PRESIDENT!  But hey - 5 Stars is 5 Stars right?  

It makes me wonder if all the 5-Star reviews are what they appear to be.  Let's have a look at a few shall we?

The first thing we can do when looking at the 5-Star reviews is eliminate any that were placed before the installation of the product.  These people have no idea what they are in for during the 12 weeks between the time they placed their order and the installation of their order, which may or may not arrive in the correct size and color and may or may not be complete.  Let's have a look at a couple of these:

There are many to choose from - but picking one page at random... from Costa Mesa  

  • Lynn O.
  • Corona, CA
  • 5.0 star rating4/6/2015
    I have not received my barn door yet, but the process so far has been fantastic. Mari  has provided excellent customer services.  She has gone above and beyond to answer my questions and help with designing my door. I look forward to my door arriving, I know it is going to be beautiful!
    The reviews below don't even mention actually buying anything.  The 5-Star reviews are helping The Sliding Door Company's rating on Yelp, however.  Notice how many of them sound like they are actually ADVERTISING for The Sliding Door Company?  What's going on here?  Are these actual customers or shills?

  • Grant K.
  • Los Angeles, CA
    5.0 star rating
    1 check-in
    The team at the sliding door company were very helpful and friendly! Definitely recommend checking this place out if you are looking to remodel or just add in sliding doors to your home and want to keep your door game strong.

  • K B.
  • Fullerton, CA
    5.0 star rating
    Visited the show room for the first time today.  The displays are awesome and Kym and Maria and very helpful and knowledgeable of the products!  Highly recommend The Sliding Door Company if you are looking for unique, good quality and fashionable sliding doors!!

  • L. E.
  • Laguna Beach, CA
    5.0 star rating
    The 5 Stars I have given are for Kym George, the account executive at The Sliding Door Company! Her customer service skills and knowledge of the product TOPS! If you want to understand the product, ask for Kym. She is the best!!!!!
  • Below, David B admits he's reviewing the product from the showroom.  He seems very concerned about the negative reviews.  Seriously?  He dropped into the showroom and can now cast all the negative reviews in a bad light, while giving the Sliding Door Company a 5-Star rating?  Yes, seriously!

    • Costa Mesa, CA
    5.0 star rating2/15/2013
    Nice clean lines, and the hardware seems to be of high quality.  This place is worth a look if you are going contemporary in your remodel or office.  I'm a little surprised by the few bad reviews here, as everything was well built in the showroom, and the Yelp reviews in other cities have them consistently at 4-5 stars.
    Another thing I notice when reading 5-Star reviews is the mention of the sales person by name.  Customers of TSDC products rely on their sales person heavily during the sale, but still... for many of these shady 5-Star reviews, I think it wouldn't be out of the question to suggest sales people are getting friends in to post positive reviews in order to boost their own sales and to direct customers to them.  

    The One-Star reviews are about the product, the installation and the service, not about the sales experience (with a few exceptions).  There's no "incentive" to post a negative review but there are certainly incentives to have shills post positive hollow reviews of a great sales experience or how much product knowledge a particular salesperson might have.

    UPDATE:  A reliable source has reported that TSDC has been offering some type of "coupon" to people who will post a positive review.

    Here's a fresh review describing how The Sliding Door Company works to remove negative reviews.

    Hanna Y.
    Midland Beach, Staten Island, United States
    1.0 star rating 6/9/2016
    Super shady company. Run for the hills!!! After a horrible experience with Joe the sleazy salesperson, Dahlia the "customer service manager" stepped in to assist. What a joke! She promised to assist; however, that never happened.  She was more concerned about me removing my negative Yelp review and offered assistance in exchange for the removal of the review. That was her main objective. Save yourself the headache. This company hires fly by night scammers whose only goal is to scam you out of money & it is evident that Ethics and integrity means nothing to this business. AVOID AVOID AVOID!

    I stumbled upon an article about "The Yelp Bill" - something in California that is intended to protect consumers from companies who have tried to intimidate their own customers over product reviews.

    "From time to time we hear about businesses that are so afraid of what their customers might say about them that they sneak clauses into consumer contracts designed to forbid their customers from saying anything bad about them on sites like Yelp. Some of these contracts even threaten fines or legal action. These types of non-disparagement contracts not only seek to intimidate potential reviewers away from sharing their honest experiences online, but also threaten to deprive the public of useful consumer information." 
    "A five-star rating for a business who had used one of these clauses to simply scare all negative reviewers into removing their comments wouldn’t really represent the experience a consumer could expect to have at that business in our opinion."   
    "AB 2365 makes it explicitly clear that non-disparagement clauses in consumer contracts for goods or services in the state of California are void and unenforceable. What this means is that individuals writing online reviews in California are now further protected from those bad actors who hide jargon in consumer contracts in attempts to prohibit you from posting reviews — positive or negative — online."
    Notice that this only applies to California at the time of the article (September, 2014). 

    Wednesday, April 6, 2016

    Adding A New Digit!

    Our blog visit counter is getting full... We are going to have to add another digit today!
    The Sliding Door Complaint Blog's New Digit
    10,000 views.  Who would have guessed when we started this blog less than seven months ago, that so many people would be interested in The Sliding Door Company's failures?  

    It doesn't hurt that this particular company is representative of companies that behave at their worst!  Today, people are outraged at businesses when they put profit above safety.  And let's be clear here, that's EXACTLY what The Sliding Door Company does every single day.

    This blog has demonstrated their dishonest sales tactics, their mistreatment of customers AND employees - and their failures in almost every aspect of business ethics.

    So having achieved this milestone, where will we go moving forward?  

    Well, of course we will continue to expose The Sliding Door Company's fraudulent business practices - and we have a lot more to expose so please stay tuned.  But I think it's also time to get more federal and state agencies involved in this case and to reflect to readers how this involvement transpires in the real world.  In my case, the evidence points to a conspiracy to hide safety defects in The Sliding Door Company's products - involving family members.  

    Additionally, the evidence suggests that Human Resources department manager was completely inept and acted against me to save her own job.  Evidence also suggests she involved an unwitting independent investigator in a crime.  But we will get to all that soon.  And while it is important to me, people aren't interested in my case as much as the overall product safety issues I have been exposing.  So with that in mind, we move forward exposing product safety issues, product fraud, contract fraud, engineering fraud and more.  

    Join us in SALUTING The Sliding Door Company (and companies like them) and the fine work they do.  We added a new digit - just for them!