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Question DetailsAsked on 3/16/2016

Hawaii home has cabinets special ordered. Termite infested. Customers out of luck?

Neither manufacturer on mainland nor big box store who we bought through own any responsibility.

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I am assuming these have not been installed for any period of time -

1) if they have been installed because termites not noted upon delivery, then becomes the problem of the person who bought them - contractor or homeowner as case may be. For instance, if they were bought by customer and stored in garage and picked them up there, while the contractor should have inspected for damage or issues before installing (so maybe some split liability there), the customer would be responsible ultimately for materials he/she provided. Whether they can go back against the store depends on proving they were infested from the store - which argument is hard to prove if installed that way.

Remaining below assumes termites noticed upon / immediately after delivery:

2) First - if these are being provided by a contractor - Remodeling or Cabinetry or whatever - NOT the customer's problem, it is up to the contractor to straighten it out because a material HE provided is defective.

3) Now - from contractor's standpoint (or customer's if they bought them directly, not through contractor) - if termites were seen on delivery shipment should have been rejected - and not paid for, and the driver notified they were infested (so anything else in load might have been too). Since bought from the box store, THEY have primary responsibility to replace them - if they can convince the manufacturer that the termites came from them, then if they can get the manufacturer to replace them that is their business and benefit, but not the customer's responsibility to prove WHERE the infestation occurred, just that they were received in unacceptable condition.

Unless foreign manufactured, my bet would be on the Hawaii box store being the termite source since they were custom ordered, not out of some warehouse or container they may have sat in for months.

Person who bought them should talk to store manager about replacement (or maybe refund unless replacement will be shipped direct to jobsite in case box store warehouse is infested) - if no luck there, I would file a fraud complaint with local consumer protection agency.

I don't know if getting Hawaii Department of Agriculture agency involved - they are the ones who would be involved in importation or spreading of insect vermin in Hawaii. Might get some attention from the box store/manufacturer, and might also identify species so determine where they came from. Certainly they might be concerned if foreign cabinets and bringing in a new species of termite.

IF can be shown they came in from mainland or imported (say cabinets are pretty infested but only sat a few days at store before pickup) then US Department of Agriculture might be interested too.

Of course, don't store these where the termites can spread - or get them treated ASAP, and rest of house inspected for spread if they have been stored in the house. And preserve evidence if you still have them.

You might have an insurance claim against the store or manufacturer if you have to get treatment for termites because they came in with the cabinets. Of course, might be tough to prove they did not come from house to the cabinets, especially if stored in area accessible to termites. Would have to get a lawyer involved to work that angle if desired.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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