3M's defective bumpons saga

vsmith

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About a month ago I wrote in about my experience with 3M & their melting bumpons. I had a customer call me last year about the bumpons melting down her walls. I went & looked at the walls and contacted 3M for her. She wanted her house repainted, so I sent 3M photos of her walls,the melted bumpons, and 3 estimates from painters. 3M settles with this customer,& then she turns around & takes me to small claims court for $3000.00 to have all the backings redone on her frames. She won the case.
I spoke to Steve Hurlburt (nice guy)@3m, about the case & he said they settled with the customer,so his hands are tied. I now have to deal with their legal dept, who blew me off when I called them.
Is 3M just going to let the small framer absorb the costs to correct the problems their defective product caused?
I would love to hear your responses.
 

Ron Eggers

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This customer has $3,000 worth of bumper replacement work to do? Even with new paper dust covers, that's a lot of art.
 

JFeig

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My question is why didn't the judge just order you to replace the bumpers and dust covers. You did nothing wrong other than have defective raw materials in your product.

And

How was a $3,000 figure arrived at as a loss.
 

Bill Henry-

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I don't get it.

If 3M settled with her, how could she have sued for the same thing twice?

Didn't you have an opportunity to present your defense at small claims?

And, wow!, around here the maximum you can sue in small claims is $1500.
 

Framerguy

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That whole situation smells of dead fish to me!!

You should be able to prove how many framings were done in your shop by going over old records or viewing the customer's history on your computer.

(Another very good point in favor of using a POS program for your business!!)

My average fitting charge for a 16x20 is less than $10. That would cover almost 300 framings (some larger, some smaller) by a single customer!! Even if it were only 200 framings, that would be an unheard of number of framings from a single residentual framing customer!

Who is going to do the refitting? I would imagine that, since the damage to the walls was through no fault of yours, that the customer would let you refit the remaining framings. That would surely cost waaaay less than $3000! It sounds like another situation where somebody has found a way to squeeze some freebie money out of some other poor soul caught in the middle of a no-win situation.

Regarding the 3M person being a "nice guy", how much help is this "nice guy" willing to give you in talking to their legal dept.?? If he handled the claim, he would have firsthand knowledge of how the claim was settled and what was paid out for which part of the claim.

There are way too many unanswered questions in this situation to give you any positive advice. I would talk to your own legal counsel about the entire problem from start to finish and get some good advice on how to continue. $3000 isn't a sum that would come easy to any framer.

I just see red flags popping up all over the place on this one. You would do well to check out all aspects of this claim, the judgement rendered, and why you weren't called to state your side of the case.

(I am assuming that you didn't have any input into this small claims case or else the judge was suffering from acute narcolepsy!)

Framerguy
 

Cyndi Ryder

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On the subject of bumpons - has anyone had any problems with the black ones? I'm just noticing that the black ones seem to feel much different from the clear ones. Are the black ones destined to melt down too?

Just curious since it appears that we may all be liable for something that we really had no control over.

Cyndi
 

Jim Miller

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Originally posted by vsmith:
...she turns around & takes me to small claims court for $3000.00 to have all the backings redone on her frames. She won the case...
You need to get a new lawyer. Whoever represented you in that case failed you miserably.

3M settled with the consumer, which was reasonably the limit of their obligation.
 

Terry Scidmore CPF

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If you read vsmiths first post, he or she explains that the customer told the judge that she did not want vsmith to redo the work, but wanted another framer to do it. I believe that vsmith was ordered to pay the cost of someone else doing the work. Is this correct, vsmith?

This post brings up a point I have always wondered about. Most products we use limit the manufacturers liability to simply replacing the product for like product. FACTS states in their standards that it is up to the user of the product to determine if the product meets the manufacturers claims and FACTS standards. I know that I do not have the knowledge, experience, or equipment to determine this.

So where does that leave the framer when a product fails, or is carefully misrepresented. There are some products we use where the promotional literature is often carefully worded to persuade without being strictly wrong. There are some products that time has proven were not good, although at first pass, they seemed acceptable.

Is the framer always liable for what products do, or don't do?

Will insurance cover some claims from problems arising due to a product?

Capax told me that their framers insurance rider would cover damage to artwork while the framer is working on it, and the regular business insurance would cover damage to the artwork if the framing products themselves failed or caused the damage. I understood that the insurance company would go after the manufacturer for failed or misleading products. Does this sound true?

Could vsmith turn this claim over to his/her insurance company, since the product failure appears to have created the situation, not the framer?
 

Baer Charlton

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qb][/QUOTE]You need to get a new lawyer. Whoever represented you in that case failed you miserably.
[/QB][/QUOTE]

Small claims Jim, no lawyer.

Counter sue in civil court for defimation of character, loss of compensium (oops no, you can't, your busy getting s*****d by both her and 3M :eek: ) . . . hmmmm
help.gif


heck. NOW you need a lawyer.

At a Guild dinner, Don Pierce and others were harrassing the Keynote speaker, who was a lawyer talking about verbage that needs to be in the contract we enter into with our customers... such as liability of damage not to exceed the scope of the art.....
Their contention was "no framer has ever gotten sued". . . . .
shrug.gif
hmmm.

baer
 

vsmith

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The customer who sued me stated that she did not trust me because I probably knew about the defective bumpons and did nothing about it. She got quotes from 3 different framers in the area to repaper and cleaning up 180 frames. Most were not bigger than 16 x 20. The judge had no clue about framing. I even had an estimate from one framer for 4 hours work at $50.00 per hour. Also a witness framer at court with me, but the judge went with the customers estimates.
I intend to follow through with 3M's legal dept
 

wcox

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Getting the facts that there are 180 frames I don't think that $3,000 is necessarily alot. Thats only $16.67 each to probably pick up and then bring back to the shop, clean up and re back. And probably have to deliver and rehang 180 frames.

However, a far as who should pay for this I don't you should vsmith, but 3m should.

Just don't kow how this went wrong but get a lawyer.
 

wcox

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Getting the facts that there are 180 frames I don't think that $3,000 is necessarily alot. Thats only $16.67 each to probably pick up and then bring back to the shop, clean up and re back. And probably have to deliver and rehang 180 frames.

However, a far as who should pay for this I don't you should vsmith, but 3m should.

Just don't kow how this went wrong but get a lawyer.
 

Ron Eggers

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Aside from the obvious corrugated and masking tape, is anyone aware of any OTHER framing products that might come back and bite us in our collective asses?

Who would have imagined that bumpers could cause so much grief?
 

Framerguy

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vsmith,

I just can't imagine that this customer had trusted you for the last 180 framings that they had you do and all of a sudden their trust is lost because of an isolated incident that could have happened to anyone! Is this a customer that is super picky or have they been dependable through the years that you have framed for them?

It still appears to me that the customer saw a chance to get their walls repainted from the results of an accidental "meltdown" and make a few bucks in the bargain.

Man, I sure hope that none of my "good" customers ever turn like that on ME! That takes a real toll on your faith in your fellow man, in my opinion.

I wish you the very best in this situation and hope that all works out in your favor in the end.

Framerguy
 

Framerguy

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Originally posted by Ron Eggers:
Aside from the obvious corrugated and masking tape, is anyone aware of any OTHER framing products that might come back and bite us in our collective asses?

Who would have imagined that bumpers could cause so much grief?
Ron, that is a question that I have been thinking about since vsmith posted this bizarre incident.

What if an approved piece of Artcare foamboard somehow reacted with something exotic/sensitive that one of us framed and the customer was of the mind to hang the framer out to dry??

You and I both use coroplast for filler board. What if that board did something unpredictable to some artwork that we had framed??

What if a customer has a piece of artwork fade from the use of Premium Clear even though he/she was advised about the benefits of using CC glass? The far reaches of the mind can conjure up all sorts of "what if's" that could come back to cause trouble for a well meaning framer.

I have to take the issue to task and side with vsmith no matter what the outcome may be. I can't imagine that he/she purposely used a product from a reputable company with the idea in mind to finish the job in any way other than the correct way using the approved materials. With vsmith doing that number of framings for this customer over the years and then having this same customer turn on them in such a manner after being compensated for the faulty materials from 3M is, to me, a show of pure greed on that customer's part.

Do we know all the facts? Maybe not. But from what vsmith HAS posted, I would say that legal counteraction is in order to save the reputation of the frame shop and a large chunk of the shop's profit if insurance doesn't cover the claim. Just my personal feelings on the issue.

FGII
 

Bob Carter

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This is a great example when a professional should have been consulted.

I would have called, in this order, 3M, if that didn't work, my attorney and finally my insurance company (as this surely is a liability problem)

Any time spent beyond those calls was surely wasted with predictably uncertain outcomes.

Whatever the 1 hour fee to the attorney, it has to be less than the effort, grief and $3,000 judgement.

Sometimes, we just have to bite the bullet and pay to let those best suited to handle the problem handle the problem.
 

vsmith

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A little background on the customer who sued me. Very difficult. I started dealing with her about 10 years ago. Most of the framing that was done were pictures of herself and family. So we did a lot at a time. Not all the frames had the melting bumpons, because I stopped using them about 6 years ago and went to the felt ones. The judge ignored that comment too.
My first lesson in all of this was that I should have gotten rid of this customer years ago, because she became more and more difficult. From some things that I have found out, I am not the first person she has sued.
I had two more customers come in the last 2 weeks and mention the streaks on their walls. I guess I have a lot of phone calling to do.
 

vsmith

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I neglected to mention that 3M settled with my customer from ****, for the sum of $15,000.00 to repaint the walls in her house,prior to her case against me. By stating that in their agreement letter, she was able to sue me for the damage to the frames, not her walls. She also signed an agreement with 3M to not discuss the case, therefore she wouldn't talk about it in court.
 

framinzfun

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Boy, I feel sick to my stomach just thinking about that miserable customer. We had a few customers with the melting bumpons come in to our store a few years ago, but they were all very nice and said that the melted goop was not a problem. How absurd is this situation? 3M should really step up to the plate for you, and if they don't, please let us know, I'm sure there are other good adhesive companies out there.
 

Bill Henry-

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I just check a few frames on the wall of the store which have been there for 10 - 12 years or so, and I cannot find any evidence of “melting”. The walls under the white 3M Bumpons were not sticky.

I wonder if the problem vsmith was having was simply a bad batch of them, or if there was some weird environmental condition on this woman’s wall which causes this to happen – too much direct exposure to sunlight or humidity, or did she try to clean them with some solvent?

If 3M had to settle for $15 large, are they going to try to reformulate their product? Has any body heard anything directly from 3M?

This problem leaves a lot of unanswered questions.
 

HannaFate

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It was the old brown bumpons that melted. They don't make them any more.

I'm surprised the lady is suing. (I suspect her lawyer put her up to it) You could porbably get the case thrown out, and countersue for expenses. After all, if she had just asked you, I am sure you would have replaced the backs for nothing. (meaning she HAS no expense in this regard) Courts don't like being bogged down with frivolous suits.
 

Rick Granick

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Bill:
It is my understanding that the problems stem from a bad batch of brown Bumpons. They have since been reformulated and should no longer be a potential problem. (Nevertheless, I have long since switched to the clear ones, along with United's gray felt pads.)
When I first discovered the problem (See the old post entitled "Hershey Kisses on a Radiator"), I saved some of the old Bumpons (I happened to find some in my picture hanging toolkit) as well as some melted ones that I retrieved from a frame hanging in my workroom. You can tell the older Bumpons by their more sharply squared edges and slightly less springy texture.
After Mr. Hurlburt from 3M acknowledged that there had been a bad batch and that 3M would cooperate in settling any claims, I wrote a letter to my attorney explaining the situation, and keep a copy in my files.
Melty Bumpon calls seem to come in groups for some reason. We won't have any for months or years, then get two or three within a month period. Go figure. Fortunately, all feedback I have had from customers on this has been similar to that described above by Framinzfun. I would offer to make a house call to anyone who has not been able to clean their walls sufficiently and make my own attempt before getting into a legal situation.
Keep it simple- that's my approach.

fire.gif
Rick
 

Ron Eggers

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A lot of us here seem ready to condemn 3M over this issue, but it sounds to me like they've been settling claims and taking care of business.

It also sounds like vsmith had the extreme misfortune to encounter a particularly nasty customer, an opportunistic attorney and a misinformed judge - all at the same time.

I don't see how that makes 3M the bad guys here but, just in case, feel free to start a list of "other good adhesive companies out there."

It would be a very short list.
 

Rick Granick

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I agree, Ron. Even high-quality companies like 3M can have occasional production problems. From what I have read so far it seems as though they are doing all they can to help settle any problems arising out of this. (Hope I never need to find out for sure.)
To quote George C. Scott as General "Buck" Turgidson in Doctor Strangelove, "I don't think it's fair to condemn the whole program because of a single slip-up."

:cool: Rick
 

FramerDave

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Just a side note. Why are we always ready to dump a company like 3M who, as Ron pointed out, are taking care of things resulting from a rather isolated incident, but more than willing to put up with a long pattern of really bad service and constant outages like LaMarche?
 

Jim Miller

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Originally posted by Baer Charlton:
Small claims Jim, no lawyer.

Small Claims Court or not, I would seek legal counsel in any matter of law that could cost me. In this case, a $500 lawyer's fee might have saved vsmith $3,000. Or maybe not -- but I wouldn't take the risk of learning the hard way.

At a Guild dinner, Don Pierce and others were harrassing the Keynote speaker, who was a lawyer talking about verbage that needs to be in the contract we enter into with our customers... such as liability of damage not to exceed the scope of the art.....Their contention was "no framer has ever gotten sued". . . . .
shrug.gif
hmmm.


Could you be mistaken? It seems odd that anyone associated with FACTS would say "no framer has ever gotten sued." In fact, an often-discussed, primary benefit of framing standards is that they would help to defend a well-informed framer in the event of a lawsuit.

At the 2000 West Coast Art & Frame show I participated in a discussion panel meeting with attorneys, conservators, and framers. Mainly, we talked about the benefits of establishing & maintaining clear and concise "generally accepted practices" for our industry. The lawyer volunteered to speak to us because he had defended several art & framing-related suits.

FACTS organized the meeting.
 

Baer Charlton

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Jim,

Nope. Not mistaken. Don, Kris and Gary were all but heckeling and deriding Leonard DuBoff, who was there as the keynote to talk about his expertise of Litigation in the art & picture framing industry. Were not talking industrial accidents here. He was talking specifically about the need for Boiler Plate on the bottom of our contract that limits our $$ liability and abitration.
The event was the 2002 September trade show and annual meeting of The Columbia PF Guild.

If Don seems to not remember, email and ask Leonard DuBoff at lduboff@business-law.com or call him at 503-968-8111.

And you are right. Anyone from FACTS should have been supportive. Especially Don & Kris, with their backgrounds.

As for the small claims. I was refering that you are not allowed legal council to represent you. I would also be the first to seek and strongly urge one to retain legal council from someone like Leonard DuBoff.
baer
 

Jim Miller

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Originally posted by Baer Charlton:
...He was talking specifically about the need for Boiler Plate on the bottom of our contract that limits our $$ liability and abitration...As for the small claims. I was refering that you are not allowed legal council to represent you...
I would hasten to point out that no amount of "boiler plate" would protect a framer in the event of a lawsuit. Liability limits are worthless if the judge rules that the framer is wrong.

Again, I would never enter the courtroom snakepit without the benefit of legal counsel -- even if he weren't allowed to speak for me in the pit. And, by the way, lawyers are allowed in Small Claims Courts in Ohio.
 

Baer Charlton

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At a Guild dinner, Don Pierce and others were harrassing the Keynote speaker, who was a lawyer talking about verbage that needs to be in the contract we enter into with our customers... such as liability of damage not to exceed the scope of the art.....Their contention was "no framer has ever gotten sued". . . . . hmmm.

Could you be mistaken? It seems odd that anyone associated with FACTS would say "no framer has ever gotten sued." In fact, an often-discussed, primary benefit of framing standards is that they would help to defend a well-informed framer in the event of a lawsuit.
Jim,

Nope. Not mistaken. Don, Kris and Gary were all but heckeling and deriding Leonard DuBoff, who was there as the keynote to talk about his expertise of Litigation in the art & picture framing industry. Were not talking industrial accidents here. He was talking specifically about the need for Boiler Plate on the bottom of our contract that limits our $$ liability and abitration.
The event was the 2002 September trade show and annual meeting of The Columbia PF Guild.

If Don seems to not remember, email and ask Leonard DuBoff at lduboff@business-law.com or call him at 503-968-8111.

And you are right. Anyone from FACTS should have been supportive. Especially Don & Kris, with their backgrounds.
 
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