May 19, 2008

Albert Camarena
Bonelli Enterprises
330 Corey Way
South San Francisco, CA 94080

Dear Mr. Camarena,

On 6/21/2007 we received shipment of invoices #63027 and #63034. The combined invoices totaled over $22,000. Our Bonelli windows were cleaned for the first time on June 8th, 2008, along with all the other windows in our home. Afterward we found significant scratching on some of our window panes. The scratching is exclusive to the 16 Bonelli tempered glass window panes. The remaining Bonelli window panes, as well as the older windows that came with our house, are fine.

We would like these 16 window panes replaced, as we are within our one year warranty and fully believe this to be a manufacturer’s defect. Nothing our window washer did was counter to the guidelines outlined in the care and maintenance instructions that you provided with our windows. We do not care to speculate as to why so much damage occurred only to the tempered glass, but feel that this level of quality would be as unacceptable to Bonelli Enterprises as it is to your customers.

Sincerely,
Brian and Lisa Meckler

 

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Almost immediately we sought help from Bonelli asking them to stand behind their product. As homeowners, having spent quite a sum for their upper end windows, we thought for sure they’d be of assistance.

Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Here is the very first communication we sent to Bonelli about the problem:
From:   B Meckler <meckler@gmail.com>
to Alexis Shaughnessy or Albert Camarena <asac@bonelli.com>
cc Lisa Meckler <lisameckler@gmail.com>
date Sat, May 17, 2008 at 5:09 PM
subject window problem re:invoice #63027
mailed-by gmail.com
Hi, I'd like to inquire about how to handle a situation that took place last week and how the warranty on our windows might apply. We purchased and installed Bonelli Series 700 windows throughout our house a little less than one year ago.  Everything has been perfect up until last week when we hired a professional window cleaner to clean all the windows in our house both the inside and outside. This weekend while relaxing and looking out our windows (and doors) we noticed that there we many small scratches on some but not all of the windows. Closer examination revealed that any window that had a glass pane with the "western states glass" logo facing out (so it couldn't be read looking straight on) had scratches. Any window with the logo facing in did not have scratches. Roughly half of or window panes our severely scratched. What could be going on here that some windows were damaged while others were not? We followed very closely the maintenance and care instructions that came with the windows and the washer assured us that nothing abrasive or alkaline would be used. We only recently completed our remodel and now this has come up and we're quite upset our beautiful windows are now blemished so badly. Can you please tell us what can be done?
thank you,

Brian and Lisa Meckler
Here was their response:
From Alexis Shaughnessy or Albert Camarena <asac@bonelli.com>
to B Meckler <meckler@gmail.com>
cc kay@bonelli.com
date Mon, May 19, 2008 at 10:44 AM
subject RE: window problem re:invoice #630
Dear Brian and Lisa,
I am sorry to hear about your unfortunate situation.   

In regard to your question about why some glass was damaged while some glass
was not can be myriad of things. The logo facing in or out has no affect on the glass.
Furthermore, the glass goes through several cleaning stages prior to shipment by
the glass manufacturer and then by Bonelli.  

Also due to the tremendous innovation in dual glass manufacturing technology,
defects in glass are rare and certainly not to the degree you are describing.
This being said, I regret that you are not the first people to call about scratched
glass after using a “professional” window cleaner.  It has also been my experience
that in all of these situations, the cleaner has been at fault.
The glass warranty does not cover scratches and outside of replacing all the glass,
there is nothing that can be done.
Regards,
 
Albert Camarena

And so our saga began….

<PHOTO FORTHCOMING>

We bought new windows and glass doors for our house remodel in mid-2007.  After careful consideration of aesthetic design, cost and reputation we decided to go with Bonelli Windows.  Everything went smothly and Bonelli’s support (we mostly worked with Albert Camarena) was excellent before and during the initial installation phase.

Our house remodel finished by the end of 2007 but as we ended the rainy season and we hit spring 2008 we realized that our shiny new windows needed to be cleaned.  We never had cleaned them before and they were filthy.
We hired a professional window washer to do the work and we initially were pleased with their work.  That weekend however, we noticed a problem – a big problem. Many, but not all, of our new windows were massively scratched. You couldn’t directly see it unless you were looking for it but in the sunlight it was glaring.
Obviously we at first blamed the window washer and after considerable back and forth and lots of research we came to a different conclusion:
The tempered glass windows from Bonelli contained a manufacturing defect.
 
When we realized that only the tempered panes were damaged we knew it couldn’t just be the tools or technique of the window washer.  Something on just those specific windows was different.
We’ll get more into the details in a more technical post later but suffice to say our research suggests and our belief is that modern developments in glass manufacturing require higher quality glass to be used in windows otherwise they are more susceptible to the scratching damage that we experienced.
We believe that Bonelli’s glass supplier, Western States Glass, produces a dirtier, lower quality tempered glass that is the root cause of our problem.

And we’re back!

August 13, 2009

After a year of back and forth communication with Bonelli via our lawyer, we have finally reached an impasse.  David Bonelli, the son of the founder of the company and its current CEO, offered to pay us half of our damages ($2500) but we felt Bonelli should stand behind their product 100% and so we declined that settlement.

We went so far as to prepare a formal complaint to have our day in court, however after careful consideration with our lawyer, it’s clear that the expenses we will incur to see this through will be considerably more than it will cost us to replace the damaged glass ourselves.
Consequently we have decided to not proceed with legal action against Bonelli and instead make clear on our blog exactly the situation, our position and the responses of all parties involved.
We will be posting all documents that were written between us an all parties involved in the incident (Bonelli Windows and Door, Western States Glass, our general contractor, and the window washer). It is our hope that in making public this information that  other homeowners can avoid the situation we found ourselves in.
All our posts on the blog, including the original ones are now no longer password protected and we’ll update this blog fairly regularly starting now until we get most of the content up here.
If you have any questions please get in contact with us at meckler at gmail dot com.

We’ve been advised by our attorney in regards to our legal actions that we should halt publishing our blog temporarily. All posts about Bonelli Windows and Doors and Western States Glass will halt until we are told otherwise from counsel.

Stay tuned, we’ll be back, promise!

Brian and Lisa

UPDATE: 06/14

We recently learned that one of the representatives that came to our house, Jon Witkin, was actually the owner of WSG but her never admitted to being that. In fact, the card that he gave me has no title on it and when I asked what he did he gave an ambiguous response.

Two representatives from Western States Glass came to look at the damaged glass last Tuesday. Western States is the company that provided Bonelli with the glass that got scratched, so we were not expecting much in the way of sympathy. They walked around our house in dark sunglasses, and examined the glass with much whispering among themselves. A few days later we received the following copy of their fax, along with a letter from Bonelli stating that they would not replace any of the glass.

To whom it may concern:

Met with <the owner> Tuesday morning 10:30. The glass has definitely been scratched during the construction. The glass would not have left Western States or Bonelli in that condition. Too many inspectors in a manufacturing environment for glass to pass through to the job in that condition. I am not positive of the exact scenario but it seems to me that during construction <the owners> or the contractor tried to clean the glass. They either used a dirty cloth or a metallic scraper. The doors exhibited the deepest gouges. I believe it is not a coincidence that the easiest window to get to was the most scratched. Those units are the tempered glass units. They do not need a ladder to gain access. I think then a professional glass washer (Reliable Window Washing) was called in. This is now at the end of the job. It is almost a year. Brian stated that the window washer used razor blades to remove the glass labels. Our labels contain removable adhesive and should come off easily in a realistic time period. The door scratches were consistent with a cleaning motion. A right to left squeegee stroke. Brian was worried about future glass care. I will enclose cleaning recommendations for our nation association. It is really common sense as washing your automobile and protecting the paint job. Don’t use hard metal objects and or dirty clothes. Brian was interested in understanding scratch polishing. These scratches are too deep. Polishing them out would create optical depressions and viewing through the glass would create a distortion. The residence does have a great design upgrade and replacement units could be changed out on the jobsite.

Yours truly,
Jon Witkin

They still won’t explain why only their glass got scratched. We have two brand new sliding glass doors and only their glass exhibited the deep gouges he described. Our window washer used a squeegee on the Western States glass, as he did with all the other glass panels in the house. Only the glass with a Western States logo got scratched, and the scratches are equally deep on all the Western States panes – the doors are not worse than any of the other Western States panes. We are disappointed in Western States, but not surprised.

Last year, in preparation for our son’s third birthday, we had our windows professionally cleaned. We had just finished renovating our house and this was the first time that our Bonelli windows were cleaned. In fact, all the windows got cleaned in the house – old and new – and the whole house seemed to sparkle with light. We were thrilled.

A couple days later, I noticed extensive scratching on the glass doors that lead to our deck. Walking around the house, we found long, thin scratches covering the surface of many new windows, as if they had been scrubbed all over with sandpaper. There are curled, thin chards hanging off some of the gouges. We blamed the window cleaner at first, but more sleuthing determined that the scratches only occurred on glass that had a Western States logo – 16 out of 38 window panes.

There aren’t any scratches on the tempered glass doors that lead to our patio, which had been installed at the same time as the Bonelli doors and which had also been cleaned for the first time on that same day. Those patio glass doors are tempered, but were manufactured by a different company. The Bonelli window panes that are NOT tempered are unscratched. Also, our older windows, the ones that came with the house, aren’t scratched. The only damaged panes are from Western States, the company that provides Bonelli with it’s tempered glass.

We had paid over $25,000 for these windows less than a year before and we searched for an explanation.

Brian emailed both the window cleaner and Bonelli, who both blamed each other. It didn’t take much googling to find out that extensive scratching on a first window cleaning is a common problem with low quality tempered glass. This is an excerpt from stopscratchedglass.com:

The sizing and edging work done in the previous steps generates fabricating debris which is deposited over the entire surface of the glass. For this reason, all glass should be washed prior to entering the tempering furnace. If this debris is not completely washed off prior to the glass entering the tempering furnace, the remaining debris will be fused to the glass, resulting in a surface defect. This is by far the major cause of scratching on defective tempered glass.

Brian spoke to the website owner, a third generation commercial window cleaner. He explained that in an effort to save time and money, low quality glass manufacturers don’t always clean their equipment properly and this results in glass with a fine grit fused onto the glass surface. A first cleaning will drag these particles across the surface, resulting in exactly the type of scratches we found on our new windows. This is a picture taken from stopscratchedglass.com:

We’ll be chronicling our attempts to get Bonelli windows to replace the tempered glass on this blog. Bonelli doggedly insists that scratched windows are not covered under their warranty. We consider fabrication debris to be a manufacturing defect in tempered glass windows, rendering them impossible to clean without damaging them. We’re interested in the experiences of other homeowners who have dealt with defective glass, and would especially like to hear about the outcome of their endeavors.

– Lisa