Christian Brothers Roofing: Expensive, Inflated Bids and Poor, Disrespectful Customer Service


Christian Brothers Roofing (CBR), once I could get them to do an estimate and at $16,238, came in $3000 to $6000 higher than the next two bids, but I decided to give them a chance to tell me why their estimate was so high and what I would get for the very substantial excess costs. As you will see in her own words, it seems as though Melody, the CBR estimator, continuously apologized for the delays in getting back to me, making me feel undervalued as a customer, particularly one spending tens of thousands of dollars on a new roof …

From: Melody McCullem <melody@453roof.com>

Date: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 9:46 PM

To: CombatCritic
Subject: Roof Estimate from Melody with Christian Brothers Roofing
 Hello, Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to help you.  I apologize for the delay in getting this information to you.  Per your request, I have attached the estimate for a new roof. I would love to meet with you to show you the pictures that I took of the storm damage and to also review your insurance documents.  I know that I found more than $2500 in repairs that are needed for this property.  Additionally, you mentioned that you were retired military and I am not sure if other contractors have mentioned to you that GAF (manufacturer of Timberline) has a special rebate that they offer to you. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to move forward. Thank you, Melody McCullem816-214-7402


I contacted her on Thursday, August 28, 2014, asking to meet the following Tuesday to discuss the CBR bid. After hearing nothing for two days, I sent the following email:

From: CombatCritic
Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2014 11:36 AM

To: Melody McCullem

Subject: Re: Roof Estimate from Melody with Christian Brothers Roofing
 Melody, I called and left a message 2 days ago [8/28/2014]. I’ll be at the house in KC on Tuesday and can meet you at 1pm to discuss your bid. I will then be making a decision. Please let me know if you or another rep can meet me at that time.
 Thanks

Four (4) days after my request to meet the following week, I finally received a response (with more apologies for being delayed) …

On Sep 1, 2014, at 4:31 PM, Melody McCullem <melody@453roof.com> wrote: Hello, I received your voicemail and your email. I am pleased that you would like to go over the estimate that I put together.  I have been out of town and apologize for the delayed response I understand that you are in town tomorrow/Tuesday for a few hours and hope that we will be able to connect.  Unfortunately, my schedule is very full for tomorrow…I might have some time around noon, but know that I would have more availability after 5pm.   As for the references, at this point I would encourage you to look on Angies List.  We have 100+ positive reviews and are the highest ranking roofing company.  It is not a common practice for us to give out other customer contact information. If you would like additional references after we meet, then I will contact a few of our customers for you and ask them if I may share their information with you.
 Again, I apologize for the delayed response and look forward to hearing back from you regarding your availability for tomorrow.
 Thank you, Melody McCullem816-214-7402

I guess customers are supposed to be more flexible than business owners when it comes to spending $16K, but I know that is not the case and told Melody my schedule could not meet her unreasonable demands. After all, I had given her 5 days to work me into her schedule, but she ignored me for four of the five and expected me to submit to her schedule …

From: CombatCriticSent: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 8:42 AM
To: Melody McCullem
Subject: Re: Roof Estimate from Melody with Christian Brothers Roofing I’m not available after 2pm. Sent from my iPhone

Melody then arrived unannounced at the house on the following Tuesday while I was meeting with the other contractors, putting me in an uncomfortable position. However, after the other contractor left, I gave her the opportunity to discuss her bid, but it seemed all she could do was talk badly about the other bids (which she never saw) rather than trying to deflate her bid (full of unnecessary upsell/upgrade charges) to meet our rather hefty budget.
Melody insisted that she could get my insurance company to pay for most, if not all, of the roof replacement, so I agreed to give her a chance to contact them in an effort to have them pay for the necessary damage repairs:

From: Melody McCullem <melody@453roof.com>

Date: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 8:00 PM

To: CombatCritic
Subject: RE: Roof Estimate from Melody with Christian Brothers Roofing
 Hello Chris, Attached is the Insurance Contingent Contract.  As you can see, it basically says that all three parties must agree on the “scope and price” of the storm damage.  My goal is also to get 50%+ of your roof paid for.  I know that I can prove storm damage all over the place, but I could not possible tell you exactly how much I will be able to get your insurance to move because there are things/people that are out of my control.  I would love to see your insurance documents to know what they are already looking at. Please let me know if you would like to move forward. Thank You, Melody McCullem816-214-7402

I sent her the contingency contract back immediately, telling her that our tenants had reported more leaks and interior damage after large storms that very morning and that it was urgent that we get to roof replaced ASAP if not take temporary precautions to avoid unneeded damage to the interior of our house:

From: CombatCritic
Date: Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at 11:17 AM

To: Melody McCullem <melody@453roof.com>

Subject: Re: Roof Estimate from Melody with Christian Brothers Roofing
 Melody, Documents attached.  As you can see from the photos I received this morning from the tenant, we need to move quickly on this before more damage to our home is incurred as a result leaks in the roof. Is there something we can do to minimize damage until the claim is settled and work can be performed? Thanks,

But I received no response indicating that Melody had received my message much less any indication that she had started working with our insurance company. In most states there are provisions for a three (3) day cooling off period after signing a service contract to cancel, so with $16,000+ on the line and an unresponsive contactor, I had to make a decision to protect myself and our home. I sent her the following message:

From: CombatCritic
Sent: Thursday, September 4, 2014 2:31 PM

To: Melody McCullem
Subject: Re: Roof Estimate from Melody with Christian Brothers Roofing
 Melody, After 24 hours without a reply, unless I see some rapid progress, I’m going to have to go a different route.  If you haven’t contacted USAA and provided me with a firm timeframe for resolution by tomorrow (Friday, Sep 4 2014), I’m going to have to cancel the contract IAW Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 407, Section 407.937 (Right to cancel contract—notice of cancellation, effective when—form of cancellation).  For $16K+, I need someone who is responsive and action oriented, particularly because WE HAVE A LEAKING ROOF CAUSING DAMAGE TO OUR HOUSE. I have until midnight Monday to cancel the contract under Missouri Law, but will be making a decision NLT 2pm tomorrow in order to get someone to secure our roof and prevent further damage. Thank you, 

I guess I should not be surprised because customer service is a thing of the past and CBR apparently has more customers and money than they need (not surprising considering the cost of their inflated bids), but this is the unprofessional response I received:

From: Melody McCullem <melody@453roof.com>
Date: Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 8:32 PM
To: CombatCritic
Subject: RE: Roof Estimate from Melody with Christian Brothers Roofing
 I received your email and immediately reached out to Property Claims Team to request a re-inspection.  They are not able to set appointments for adjusters and told me that they would be in contact with me asap. I attempted to contact them again, but unfortunately, I was still unable to schedule something.  I was told that someone should be in contact with me before noon CST tomorrow.  I did take action after receiving your agreement yesterday afternoon and apologize that I have not been able to make rapid progress. From your previous email, I understand that you are unhappy with the lack of action takin by your insurance company. Unfortunately, I am not able to control your insurance company. Subsequently,  I do not wish to work with someone who will begin making threats and quoting Missouri cancellation laws to me within 24 hours of sending in an email asking for CBR to help re-open an insurance claim and help collect on unpaid damages. From this point forward, I will consider our contract void and will direct all future correspondence from your insurance company back to you. Thank you, Melody McCullem816-214-7402

I remember the days when businesses believed that “the customer is always right” and we were treated with dignity and respect, but these days it is THE NORM, NOT THE EXCEPTION that businesses seem to care less about customer service. In many more cases, including this one, businesses apparently believe that they can do whatever they like, treating paying customers like we OWE IT TO THEM to dole out our hard earned money while being treated with indignity and disrespect. BUT, I HAVE A CHOICE WHERE I SPEND MY MONEY AND CHRISTIAN BROTHERS ROOFING WILL NOT BE RECEIVING A PENNY OF MINE!

UPDATE: September 18, 2014 After eliminating the lowest bid, we replaced our roof with premium shingles, materials, and labor, nearly identical to those quoted by Christian Brothers ($16,238), for just $11,900. The materials were professionally installed in less than 5 days, SAVING US OVER $4,000 WHEN COMPARED TO THE CHRISTIAN BROTHER’S BID.
CombatCritic Gives Christian Brothers Roofing (Kansas City, MO) A Paltry 1 Bomb Out of 10 for VALUE and CUSTOMER SERVICE

Key Words: Christian Brothers Roofing, Christian, Brothers, roofing, roof, contractor, business, Kansas City, Missouri, house, shingles, asphalt, cedar, shake, pitch, CombatCritic, TravelValue
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Drifter’s Is No IN AND OUT … And That’s OK!


When compared to California’s In and Out Burger, a staple since my childhood growing up in L.A., you are bound to come-up short. My son, an In and Out novice, insisted on getting dinner from Drifter’s on Super Bowl Eve, saying “they have the best burgers in The Springs, similar to In and Out” and boy I was glad he did!

With such a basic menu it is easy to see how they excel with simple, fresh ingredients, quality ground beef, and reasonable prices. Where they diverge from In and Out is in their consistency and presentation. Every In and Out hamburger looks identical to the last with fresh lettuce and thick, red tomato on a fresh, toasted bun wrapped in their classic white, red, and yellow sandwich paper. Each of the three burgers we ordered at Drifter’s looked completely different than the others even though the ingredients were roughly the same. The makings were fresh and the food tasty, but they just do not have the process down as their California cousin has done so well for over 50 years.

The French fries were good and hot with just a little too much salt and just a bit too thin for my taste. The hamburgers were good and greasy as they should be with sautéed onions, melted American cheese, lettuce, and tomato. The only thing missing was pickle and bacon, which I understand is not an option at Drifter’s (bacon that is) … TOO BAD!

My recommendation is to FORGET IN AND OUT and focus on what Drifter’s does well and that is producing a quality burger and fries at a reasonable price. You are not In and Out, you never will be, so create and embrace your own identity … DRIFTER”S HAMBURGERS!

CombatCritic Gives Drifter’s Hamburgers 8 Bombs Out of 10 for BURGER VALUE … Bombs Are Good!

Drifter's Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Drifter’s Hamburgers, Drifter’s, hamburger, burger, fries, cheese, lettuce, tomato, milk, shake, eat, food, 80907, Colorado Springs, CO, Colorado, CombatCritic, TravelValue, value, travel, combat

Come with me to the Casbah, we’ll make beautiful music together!


Come with me to the Casbah, we’ll make beautiful music together!

The Burger Stand at The Casbah
803 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, Kansas 66044

Phone: (785) 856-0543
Web: http://thecasbahburgerstand.com/THE_BURGER_STAND.html

Hours: Mon-Sat 11AM to 10PM; Sun 11AM to 9PM

We walked into the Casbah during FINAL FRIDAYS in October because I had heard good things about their food, but there was a line a mile long and a strange smell in the air, not food-borne and not in a good way. We were again in the area the other night, a Thursday, and decided to drop-in and give them a smell and a try. The aroma this time was more conducive to our appetite, so we continued in to place our order.

Orders are taken at the end of the bar furthest from the door, a location backed by a large chalkboard with menu items packed in so tightly it is a bit difficult to read. The bar is a bit of a dive, but that is a good thing because I am NOT a metro-sexual, feeling homey and full of locals with long hair, jeans, and t-shirts. The decor is eclectic to say the least, a smattering of nondescript accouterments, booths, tables, and bar stools in a semi-dark room.

Being our first visit I decided to go with the CLASSIC BURGER ($7.50), a 1/2 pound of beef on a brioche bun with Vermont white cheddar cheese and assorted locally grown greens. Thinking it strange that a so-called “classic” burger did not come with tomato, onion, or pickle, I chose to add bacon ($1.50 extra) and tomato (no charge). Ordered medium-well, when I picked-up our order at the kitchen window in the rear of the building (not an intuitive location, it took me a few seconds to figure out where to go), my burger was almost perfectly cooked. For a 1/2 pound ground beef patty, it seemed small to me (more like 1/3 of a pound) and the cheese appeared almost non-existent. The “greens” consisted of 7-8 small pieces of arugula, not nearly enough, and the tomato, although fresh and tasty, was cut too small and was difficult to keep from falling out and onto my plate. Even still, the burger was very tasty!

Offering a variety of “fries”, you have a choice of “regular” (side – $1.50/basket – $4), fried in “duck fat” ($2.50/$6), “truffle” ($3/$7), “sweet potato” ($3/$6), “Cajun” ($3/$5), and “bourbon-bacon cheddar” ($4/$8). Again, being my first visit I wanted to keep things as simple and traditional as possible to see if they get the basics right, so we ordered a basket of regular fries. They came out of the kitchen piping-hot, crispy, not burnt, and salted to perfection. I have heard good things about the truffle and duck fat fries, so I will give them a try on future visits … and there will be future visits!

My wife, who prefers vegetarian options when available, went with the “Romesco”, a lentil patty with feta cheese, toasted almonds, green beans, and roasted red pepper sauce on a brioche bun (made in-house I believe). The lentil burger was delicious and flavorful, but a bit too dry and falling apart as teeth were sunk. Green beans on a burger you ask? I asked myself the same thing and thought it a bit strange with little value added from my standpoint. I like feta, but such a dry cheese on such a dry burger probably is not the best combination and the burger could have been enhanced by a softer, more flavorful variety, gouda perhaps.

The Burger Stand at The Casbah was an enjoyable experience and a reasonable value, coming in at a bit over $25 for two of us, including two draft beers ($3 each on special). The menu could have a few more options with only 6 burger options along with a Catfish Po Boy and 4 vegetarian options. They also offer onion rings ($4/$7), root beer floats ($4), malts ($5), and shakes ($5). Not a daily staple, a good burger and fries are always a welcome combination and The Burger Stand does an excellent job on both!

CombatCritic Gives The Burger Stand at The Casbah 7 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Key Words: burger, stand, Casbah, hamburger, French, fries, shake, malt, root beer, food, eat, bar, saloon, dive, Massachusetts, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue, eZine