The Consumer Complaints Blog

Fighting the trained monkey in modern society.

February 5, 2010

How we got cheated by HDB Interiors Flooring Brokers (Tony Hellman)

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Editor @ 3:07 pm

We found this company through and after meeting with the president Tony Hellman, decided that based on what we had seen we would use him to replace the flooring in our condo. In July 2008 we signed a contract for 1100sqft of Jatoba milled in Quebec for
approximately $7.25/sqft. A day or two before our floor was supposed to be installed Tony Hellman informed us that the wood we put a $7,350 deposit on in July (it was now the end of September) was sold to another customer, but not to worry he secured a much better product
for us. Hesitantly we agreed to this new wood.

Tony Hellman installed Continental Designs Cumaru, which according to many other flooring experts (and Tony’s installer) is a Chinese product. He purchased this wood from his “supplier” Brampton Hardwood, for less than half of what he charged us and has confirmed that he provided us with 25 boxes (there are 32.7sqft per box – you do the math – we paid for 1,100 sqft of wood). We have recently had our condo remeasured and confirmed that with waste there should have been about 864sqft (so slightly more that what Tony delivered but we have
also decided to add hardwood to our powder room).

Neither Tony Hellman nor his supplier, Brampton Hardwood will provide information on the milling location of this wood. The wood is milky and has cracked in over 25% of the areas. Recently Tony arranged for an “independent flooring inspector” to inspect the wood. Rick the inspector from St. Lawrence did humidity tests and found our humidity to be perfect. He informed my husband during the visit that the floor should not be cracking and that the finish should not be milky as it is. We have never received a formal copy of the inspection but Joe Reis from Brampton Hardwood informed me over the phone that the inspection reported nothing out of the ordinary.

We have started a blog to document our troubles with HDB Interiors and Brampton Hardwood and the issues of using to find a reliable contractor.

This article was submitted by one of our readers. Penciltrick cannot make any claims as to its authenticity but the article was accepted on a good faith belief that it is an accurate and truthful account of the events listed.

12 Responses to “How we got cheated by HDB Interiors Flooring Brokers (Tony Hellman)”

  1. LGag Says:

    Since Tony Hellman was refusing to deal with us directly we have decided to make our voices heard through other means. Please feel free to visit our blog at as we venture through this journey of trying to get a resolution from this shady small business owner.

  2. TonyH Says:

    We have contacted the Globe and Mail and have found one posting for this site. The Globe and Mail has informed me that they are not affilaited with this site. I sent the creator of this site an email asking to verify the facts. I am still awaiting and answer.

    The following is my truth you can come to your own conclusions.

    “I regret reading the vindictive comments written against me by the Gagnon family. I have been in this business for over 21 years and have hundreds of clients that have been satisfied with my work and service”.

    • HDB Interiors Inc. installed Cumaru deep brown at the Gagnon family residence approximately one year and three months ago.
    • HDB was informed of a flood and their dissatisfaction with the choice in floor a year and two months after the installation.
    • HDB assisted the Gagnon family to the best of our abilities.

    The following quotes have been taken from emails sent to HDB by the Gagnon’s I have the originals but decided not to post them to protect the Gagnon’s privacy.


    Hi Tony,

    What is the manufactures recommended floor cleaner for our cumaru floors? I know I cannot use anything with oil and read somewhere that water and vinegar is not good for Brazilian cherry so I want to make sure I use the right thing when I clean them.


    Lucie Gagnon

    1/06/2009 reply to referral request

    Hi Tony,

    I had written a review for you on home stars shortly after the work was completed. Unfortunately everyone is feeling the crunch of the economy and I do not know of a single person who is willing to put money into renovations at this time. I’m sure the market will change soon and will definitely recommend you to anyone who has any flooring needs. As you know, we are very happy with the work done.


    Result of the meeting after they mentioned the small cracks and they used a humidifier.
    3/10/2009 this was the first I heard about “the problem.”
    Hi Tony,

    I have had a humidifier running since you visited our place a few weeks ago. It hasn’t made a huge difference.

    Lucie Gagnon
    Corporate Manager

    8/26/2009 the follow up complaint call and the flood.

    As you know its cracking and the gaps between some of the boards are large enough to stick a quarter in.

    Unfortunately we’ve just experienced a small water leak in our laundry room and the floor has terrible water damage to it. The leak has been sourced and stopped but the damage seems to continue to spread. I think we need to remove it and let the floor dry out completely.

    Having said that we will need to purchase another box of wood from you – can you please call me to discuss.

    I love the look of the floor but I would never touch this wood again, it has been nothing but a headache ever since we’ve had it (I know that’s not your fault, just letting you know for future clients!)

    Thanks Tony!
    Lucie Gagnon
    Corporate Manager

    Hello Tony.

    I read the entries you sent to us. I am sending this to the Hamilton BBB so they can review and hopefully add some comments. The consumers did decline Arbitration through our BBB, as the file notes show. You were the one who requested it and they said no – it was in the hands of their lawyers. I did make note of their views on the BBB involvement. Perhaps the Hamilton BBB can offer Arbitration?

    I will request that Hamilton contact the consumer as they state they have not done so at this time.

    If I can assist you further, please let me know.

    Anne Hart | Complaint & Information Services Manager
    Better Business Bureau of Mid-Western and Central Ontario

    I recieved an email from the Gagnon’s after they posted their complaint with the BBB and decided to respond to the BBB directly.

    “In conclusion, I regret that we could not come to a satisfactory resolution with the Gagnon family, however, given the vindictive nature of their comments, and, the damage it has caused to my reputation, much to my regret, it does not appear that a positive resolution can be reached.”

  3. Editor Says:


    The banner at the top says “Featured in the Globe and Mail”. Which it was. It does not say that the site is affiliated with the Globe. Also, there was no e-mail that came to us from you. What address did you send it to? I don’t appreciate you lying about sending something to us because we take all matters and contacts very seriously where it applies to this site. Absolutely no e-mail came through from you or anyone else at your company.

    My recommendation to you is to try and work things out with your client. I really don’t think that they would as upset as to start their own site about your company if nothing bad had happened when dealing with you. Please contact them directly to resolve your dispute.

    Thank you.

  4. Lucie Says:


    You have not addressed my concerns. My concerns are not with the leak (or as you call it flood?!), as you know the water leak I had is an insurance issue and has been dealt with. Before we realized how you deceived us, yes we would have recommended you to friends – we’re glad we didn’t.

    My concern is the following which you seem to ignore and have not addressed once.
    -the floor is and has been milky since 1 month after installation (you told us this was to be expected – we now know better – it is not normal)
    -the floor showed pressure cracks 1 week after living on it, you claimed this was due to lack of humidity (again we now know this was not due to lack of humidity)
    -you sold us wood “milled in Quebec” for 7.25/sqft – you installed a much lower quality of product than you promised us – you are not even able to tell us where it is milled – neither is your supplier
    -you told us you had a “supplier” but really you bought our wood from a RETAILER called Brampton
    Hardwood for a huge markup
    -you told us we needed 1,100sq feet but really we needed and you supplied much less than that but charged us for 1,100sq feet

    Tony we will not go away, we have always said you may contact us directly to address these issues but for some reason you do not want to address this directly with us. That is your choice. You do not want to deal with us, so we will voice our concerns to help others avoid being cheated with your deceptive sales tactics.

  5. TonyH Says:

    The email was sent to the creator of not to you Lucie.

    If you really wanted to resolve this with me directly why then did you post your complaints and then sent me a letter after your complaints were posted?

    I agreed to arbitration and you said no to the BBB.

    Anyway I find it really amazing how the stories and postings on you site HDB interiors

    one minute your heading reads and I quote from the records I kept of this blog “we’re in the globe and mail consumer complaints blog!” and now it reads We’re in the consumers complaints blog featured in the globe and mail!!!” Was it I typo?…I did call the globe to get the full scope as to penciltrick’s association with the paper.

    And why can I not post on your site or at least tell my side of the story????

    And why the attack on my name, and my spiritual site
    Tony Hellman heart of the poet? That site had nothing to do with this problem it was a site that was dedicated to helping other’s through words and poetry to become a little more empowered.


    I have replied to the Hamilton BBB awaiting your response.

    I wish everyone a super weekend and a happy and loving life.


    Tony Hellman

  6. Lucie Says:

    Tony, posting stories on websites won’t repair your reputation, however you have figured out how to post on every other website I’m sure you can figure ours out too since to date we have not blocked any comments from you. Maybe you could address our below issues though instead of making up more stories?

    Issue 1
    You installed a much lower quality of wood than you promised us. A much lower quality than what was in our contract. A wood, which you purchased from Brampton Hardwood, and sold to us for a huge mark-up.

    Issue 2
    You promised us wood that was milled in Quebec (according to our written contract that was why you were charging us $7.23/sqft). We called Brampton Hardwood and their answer was “we’re not sure where it’s milled, maybe Germany”. Last I checked Germany isn’t in Quebec. I also highly doubt it is milled in Germany because when I asked for this in writing they refused to provide this information in writing.

    Issue 3
    You measured our condo to be 1,100 sq feet. You charged us for 1,100 sqt of hardwood, 1,100 sqft of cork underlay, 1,100 sqft of removal and 1,100 sqft of installation. Our square footage with waste(including powder room which you did not install) was 864sqft as measured by other independent installers.

    Issue 4
    We continue to get pressure cracks despite our close to perfect humidity levels. The floor has an extremely milky finish.

    Every company will get complaints but what makes one company stand out over another is how they deal with those complaints. Your actions are what will give you a good or bad reputation so you have only yourself to blame.

  7. Editor Says:

    I just want to reiterate that we did not receive any e-mail or attempt at communication from Tony. The above comment is a total lie. We don’t take sides here but I am compelled to point out a lie when it is levelled against us personally.

    Tony, just do the right thing here and resolve this issue with your client. I really don’t see what the big deal is. By fighting this you are just making yourself look worse. If you want some professional advice from what we’ve seen on past complaints, the right way to handle it is to resolve the situation amicably and ask the client to post the resolution. People are very forgiving when a company fixes a mistake and it helps their reputation. What you’re doing is the textbook opposite of what should be done. Be a smart business man about this because at the moment you are not making the right decisions.

  8. Lucie Says:

    This is what dealing with HDB Interiors has been like, the most frustrating experience you can imagine. It’s like saying to someone “You sold me a rotten orange” and getting the reply “You were happy with the apple”. Then being accused of changing your mind about the apple and trying to get a free orange.

  9. Editor Says:

    Tony from HDB has contacted us by phone. Apparently he sent his e-mail to the wrong address. He will be sending in his side of the story shortly which we will post in the article above.

  10. Heather Says:

    Wow, I stepped into a landmine! Can I weigh in here? I am in the industry so I have a bit of insight. Without getting into the details-and LGag I know you love the details-the fact is this: The floor is a bad scene. I mean it’s milky and the boards are moving. By the way-hardwood in condos is a huge problem. You need to make sure it is the right spec. The boards need to have a “uniclick” type mechanism and must be installed properly. The right spec is a major deal. LGag did you do YOUR research? So spare me the details but I agree that something is very very wrong here.
    I had the exact same problem. I connected some friends/ clients with a contractor I know. They wanted a hardwood floor installed in their hi-rise condo. Oh God it was horrible! You say you can put a quarter between the boards? These looked like skis laying on the floor. Well they were so distraught. They kept calling me becasue “Mark” wasn’t doing anything about it. He kept avoinding them! This went on for months. Finally I said “Mark, I know you had the best intentions and don’t know why the floor is doing that but you’ve got to fix their floor!” It really sucked but that was the only solution. So he eventually did it. He had to make an insurance claim but that’s life-sometimes things go really badly.
    So, HDB, you’ve got to settle with these people. Make an offer so that they can put this to rest and get a new floor (from someone else). Consider their perspective: They have to look at it every day and that’s got to be really upsetting.
    By the way, Brampton Hardwood may be a retail type outlet but they DO supply to the trade. I did some very nice jobs with their product-so again not sure what happened there. And why aren’t they taking some of the blame?
    LGag, the truth is you may not ever get a settlement. I’ve tried the small claims court thing and can tell you that it will only bring you further frustration. I can see you are really at your witts end. Looks like you are a really nice person (according to the previous emails between you and HDB) and this stirred up a really ugly side in you. I mean setting up a website? That is so dark! It really scares me to think that someone could do this. If you think you are hurting his business you may be right but that is only temporary because businesses can open in another name. Know that it just reflects badly on you. When we send out bad vibes they only hurt us in the end. Trust me I know. This kind of stuff will make you very sick some day-do you really need this over a hardwood floor?
    By the way, that couple was so patient with Mark. They didn’t retalliate. I guess they had more improtant things to focus on-the husband had cancer.
    My closing advice to you is this, take the site down because no one is going to budge as long as that is up, chalk this up to experience and get yourself a beautful new floor. With a positive approach the lost money will find its way back to you. You will see. It always does.

  11. Lucie Says:

    Thanks Heather, I understand your point about our blog however what Tony did was deliberate not accidental as appears to be the case with your friends – and if my blog helps even one person avoid falling for his sales pitch then to me, it’s worth it. If he was an honest businessman he would have made things right with us rather than trying to discredit us.

    Yes, we did our research, however Tony switched the wood on us the day before our install (he showed up with this new wood and insisted it was so much better and told us we were actually lucky – we were getting a much better and harder wood)….yes we should have listened to our gut feelings and told him at that point to get lost but we didn’t want to hold up our renos (and had nowhere to stay if they were further delayed) so we went for his sales pitch and decided to trust the “expert”.

    I agree small claims court probably will be frustrating and as we have been advised, when someone has been doing this for so long and getting away with it they start to believe that they have done nothing wrong – appears to be the case with Tony. For me though, it’s more frustrating to know that we paid Tony 14K and he installed 850sqft of cheap, crappy wood. Yes you read that right, 14K to install 850sqft (we were told by him that it’s 1.100sqft) of wood he bought from Brampton Hardwood…..

    I’m glad Mark did the right thing and corrected the issue for your friend, I wish we had been dealing with someone half as decent.

  12. Yajaira Graves Says:

    The company brokerages network will provide you with access to some large pool of people who have the details about companies for sale and buyers or investors searching for a company venture. By making good use in the information you’ve, you may be cutting a offer and make a handsome profit out of the transactions.

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