Fire, then flood: Displaced Minnesota couple at odds with sub-contractor

A Minnesota couple nearly lost their Coon Rapids home after a recent fire, but the family’s months-long ordeal with a sub-contractor is what’s left them really fuming.

At this point, Skip and Leslie Olson have been displaced for five months, and they're fed up.

“Every day, every week, every hour keeps us out of our home,” Skip Olson said. “It’s beyond maddening.”

Forced to spend the holidays in a hotel, their cabin fever is all too real. It all started after their home caught fire back in November, when their insurance company recommended ServiceMaster for content removal.

From there, a series of issues ensued, including serious damage to their property.

“They came out and they removed our dishwasher, our stove, our refrigerator,” Skip Olson said. “The Service Master rep took the hose out of my water softener, out of the drain, and sat it on the ground.”

This meant that on top of having to cope with a fire, the Olsons also had to deal with a flood.

ServiceMaster subsequently accepted fault and a settlement has been worked out, but the Olsons say they were left to clean up the mess themselves after they were promised for a month and a half that Service Master would take care of the problem.

“They’ve done nothing to accommodate the needs we have as a family to get back into our house,” Olsoin said.

The only thing keeping the Olsons out of their home now are their furnishings, which they say ServiceMaster has withheld.

“I was supposed to have them back last week, and then again today--this is it, welcome to our home,” Olson said.

Until Fox 9 got involved, ServiceMaster told the Olsons they wouldn't return the property before receiving a $35,000 check from the family's insurance company.

It’s only added more insult to injury after the trauma of nearly losing a home.

“It’s frustrating. It’s like it never ever stopped happening to us,” Olson said.

Statement from ServiceMaster Restore:

"First and foremost, ServiceMaster Restore franchises are committed to providing the highest quality restoration work to every customer in every situation. Dealing with any type of disaster is likely one of the most difficult experiences a homeowner will go through, and our franchisees work hard to help the homeowners through every step of the process. 

We deeply regret the basement water damage that occurred to the homeowner’s basement, and the frustration that this added to Mr. Olson’s experience. As soon as our franchisee was informed about the situation, they worked to take care of the necessary repairs and contacted their insurance company, which provided a settlement to the Olson’s. This work is complete, and payment was made to the Olson’s.  

Our franchise owner has unsuccessfully attempted to contact the homeowner multiple times today by phone and email to offer a resolution. 

The work to restore contents damaged by fire is a very labor intensive. As small business owners, and in accordance with industry standards, our franchisees require that payment be received prior to the delivery of contents – for any customer.

This requirement is clearly stated in the contract which Mr. Olson signed on November 28, 2017. (“Owner agrees that it must pay ServiceMaster for all personal property cleaning prior to the return of Owner’s personal property.”) This was also communicated to him on March 20, 2018. His delivery was scheduled pending the receipt of this payment.

Mr. Olson’s homeowner’s insurance company is responsible for payment related to fire damages. Unfortunately, we did not receive the agreed-upon payment prior to the scheduled delivery. This payment is in excess of $35,000.

Again, the delayed payment is not related to ServiceMaster Restore owner’s insurance company. As stated above, it has issued payment for the water damage, and this claim is closed.

Again, our franchisee is eager to help Mr. Olson and his wife move back into their home as quickly as possible. However, when trying discuss the situation with Mr. Olson, and discuss the situation, the call was disconnected. Unfortunately, he has not returned several calls and emails to discuss resolution."