Rant on Window Buying Saga - Buying cheaper than DIY?

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Old 03-08-06, 08:20 PM
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Rant on Window Buying Saga - Buying cheaper than DIY?

I just posted a shorter form of this message in another post, but decided to start it as a new discussion because it's been bugging me. In short, the replacement window business seems so amazingly corrupt. I have been collecting names of local window companies from those weekly coupon mailers, and find they are a real mixed bag.

I have an 80 year old house with original wood windows that are leaky and rattly. We live near an airport and all the windows rattle when a plane flies overhead. My gas bills are insane for heating and I need new windows.

When my wife was expecting, I decided the baby's room needed new windows first, and perhaps the whole house. I filled out a Window companies postcard for some contest they were running. Their salesman showed up in his little expensive sportscar, and came in with a whole kit of windows to show me. He had a PowerPoint slideshow he INSISTED on showing me that showed their windows at Hershey Park and all the charity they give to. Took an hour to measure my windows. After 1.5 hours, I asked him to leave, but he said that he would only be a minute and could give me a quote on the spot. Sat at my dining room table for 20 minutes writing. Finally quoted about $40k for 30 double hung vinyl windows! I thanked him and asked for a copy of the quote. He would not leave me the written copy. He said he could only guarantee the prices if I signed tonight. I told him that in no uncertain terms would I ever sign a contract the same night it was quoted, no matter how good the deal. He then offered to setup financing if I signed tonight. I said, "Actually, I'd pay cash for this, but NOT TONIGHT. Now please leave." He then told me he had to call his manager from MY PHONE to prove he had done the estimate. It was over 2 hours at this point. I work hard and wanted to spend time with my wife, and was getting very frustrated. Once he had his manager on the phone, the act began.

"Hello, Mr. Smith? I showed the customer the windows. Can you believe it? He's not interested in signing tonight! *pause* I know... I TOLD him about the energy savings. *pause* I told him about INTEREST FREE FINANCING. *pause* Sir, I really explained it to him. Please, speak to him yourself." Now I'm on the phone with this guy's "boss" being given the same pitch over the phone.

Finally, I walked the guy out, with him still talking. I told him I wanted a written quote. He refused, but said he'd type it up and send it to me.

Next day, the phone rings. It's the window company, wondering how I liked my quote. I told them the salesman was rude and monopolized my time, taking 2 hours to leave. The operator said, "Wow! Normally it takes 3 hours or more to fully explain how great these windows are". I am not joking--this is what he said. I fully explained that I had serious questions on their business ethics. Then, after pressuring me to sign the $40k contract, they told me they were suddenly hearing of a 25% off sale for the next week, bringing my price to only $30k. To qualify, I just needed an official "measurement" done by a manager. I blew up and yelled, "What the heck was this guy at my house doing measurements for over 2 hours if you just need to measure it again?" I argued with the guy for 10 minutes (why didn't I hang up? because I was really annoyed at them). I finally said, "Just give me the first quote in writing, and you can come back and give me a new quote". They refused again and again. I received a call each day for the next week from them. All I said was, "Give me my first quote in writing, and then we can talk. Until I get that, I cannot speak to you". They finally stopped calling. I think this is classic anchoring. They gave a price that was insanely high. If I took it, they made tens of thousands in pure profit. If I didn't, they could drop the price $10k (still too expensive), and I'd jump thinking it was a great deal as I was anchored on the higher price.

After this ordeal, both my pregnant wife and I decided no more salesman.

I decided to just get 2 vinyl replacement windows at Home Depot and do it myself in the baby's room. I bought 2 American Craftsman 8500 windows with the whole low-e package and internal grills. Easy enough--took about 2-3 hours per window to get all the trim and finish looking nice. I imagine future windows will be faster.

Well, the windows cost about $180 each. Figure about $10-$20 for expanding foam and other materials used, and each window was about $200 in raw materials. I had plans this month to do the rest myself. Then, I saw an ad for a local wholesaler that appears to sell Accu-Weld windows (they call themselves a wholesaler for a window company in Bensalem, PA, and their literature uses the same photos as Accu-Weld). Same as the Depot windows (low-e, etc), but also with polyurethane fill. They want $199 each installed! I need to add $20 for grills, and for another $40 they'll cap the outside of the window, something I can't do. Despite being handy, I just can't justify my time for this. Buying 25 windows will also require renting a truck or paying for delivery (more cost), and taking all 25 old windows to the dump (more time and cost).

I decided to make sure this wasn't some weird fluke, as my only other window experience was the other window company, so I called around. Would you believe that half of the vinyl replacement window companies I called wouldn't even give me a rough price over the phone? I told the Accu-Weld installers my measurements and they gave me an exact price. Half of them told me they had to evaluate my home and show me the windows and blah blah blah. Window Wizards, Anderson, and Pela all gave me rough prices over the phone. Most of the vinyl only companies would not. I couldn't even be told if my windows would be $200 a piece or $1000 a piece.

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Last edited by mattison; 09-03-06 at 05:03 AM. Reason: Brand bashing removed.
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Old 03-09-06, 04:47 AM
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Think I would have signed the contract (probably giving the saleman an instant orgasm) and then rescinded my purchase agreement within three days as allowed by law. Hearing them scream would have been sweeeet.

"There is a Federal law, actually, that gives you three days to cancel purchases of $25 or more made in your home or at a location that is not the seller's regular place of business. The three day right to cancel does NOT apply to sales that are under $25 that are made entirely by mail or phone that are needed to meet an emergency, such as the sudden appearance of insects in your home that involve real estate, insurance or securities that are of automobiles sold at temporary locations, provided the seller has at least one permanent place of business that involve arts and crafts sold at fairs or other locations To cancel a sale, sign and date one copy of the cancellation form that the salesman should have given you. Then mail it to the address given for cancellation so that the envelope is post-marked before midnight of the third business day after the contract date. Remember, Saturday IS considered a business day, but Sunday is not. If you are not given cancellation forms, you can write your own cancellation letter, but it must still be post-marked before midnight of the third business day after the contract date. And for proof of mailing in both cases, send your letter CERTIFIED."
Old 04-10-06, 04:06 PM
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Did you find anything out about that dealer? I live in Allentown and was thinking of using them if they proved to be ok.

Old 04-10-06, 04:40 PM
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Chief - After the first hour I probably would have told the salesman to get the #@$* out of my house or I'm calling the police.

My experience was similar to yours. I got a 14K quote for 17 replacement vinyl windows after a hard sell. I told the guy no deal and ended up buying the same windows from a local dealer. I spent 6K and installed them myself in 3 days. I probably did a better job.

Last edited by mattison; 09-03-06 at 05:06 AM. Reason: Offensive trade bashing removed.
Old 04-10-06, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Stavs
Did you find anything out about that dealer? I live in Allentown and was thinking of using them if they proved to be ok.


I'll let you know. I've got them coming to install the windows on May 10th an d 11th. I met the installers when they came out to do real measurements. Price has stayed the same. Double hungs are $199, and I think capping is $54. The grills are $12.50.

In addition to the double hungs, I am buying a HUGE 3-lite slider to replace a triple double-hung in my dining room. This is something I could definitely not do myself as it will be a gigantic window. The dining room windows are 3 double hungs next to each other, with thin mullions between them for the sash weights. I think I'm paying something like $600 for the 3-lite slider with grills on 2 the 2 side windows and a large open picture window in the middle.

The installer was an older looking fellow and a younger guy. I think they both install a lot of windows, and I chatted them up a bit. They seemed to know what they were talking about, so I can only hope it comes out okay.
Old 04-10-06, 05:35 PM
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I'm having a deck installed right now and my deck guy is putting in my slider. I paid $850 for an Anderson Permashield slider (not including hardware-$180) and my deck guy is charging me $300 to put in the slider. For $300 he's taking care of everything (including cutting in the doorway and all finishing.) I could have went with a cheaper door, but I think its worth it to go with the Anderson. I was a little worried about the deck guy doing it, but after learning his history, I felt very comfortable. He used to work with a custom home builder until he went out on his own to build decks. He does really nice work. He's finishing the slider tomorrow-cant wait! I might have to get him to quote me window installs during his off season.

Old 05-17-06, 01:44 PM
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I just had my windows installed by Window Wholesalers in Havertown. I must say they did a tremendous job and I am quite happy recommending them. We've had nothing but trouble with contractors (bad A/C installation, bad floor sanders, bad alarm installation, etc), and we were worried. The only thing I found sketchy about Window Wholesalers is that they required cash/cashiers check on delivery of the windows (no credit card or payment at the end of the job). Mitch at Window Wholesalers (the owner and the one doing the esimate) explained that their margin was so thin that to stay competitive they couldn't deal with non-payers or filing lawsuits, so they had to make sure they were paid upfront. They were selling Accu-Weld 2500 windows with the full energy package. I called Window Wizards and got a price for cash-and-carry, and was quoted about $350 over the phone for the top-of-the-line AccuWelds (the 2500), so $199 installed seemed like a good deal. They did a nice job capping and installing the windows, and cleaned up well. The windows I got feel more solid than the American Craftsman windows I bought at Home Depot, and the Window Wholesalers installers were quick (2 days for 24 double hungs, 1 120" 3-lite slider, 2 small picture windows, and a double-slider). The whole job was $9000. I calculated I couldn't have done it for much less than $7500, and I wouldn't have been able to cap the windows well, so I'm happy with the results.

Other window and siding companies would not give me a price estimate over the phone. I had PWS come out and do a quote for reference, but I told the other companies that if they can't tell me how much a 34x54 window would cost over the phone, then I didn't want them to do an estimate. I mean--they know exactly how much it will cost and what their markup is.

One justified their price by saying their windows were so much better. But comparing 2 vinyl windows is so hard. For instance, Republic windows have metal frames inside the vinyl. They say that makes them stronger. But other vinyl window companies say that the metal frames expand and contract, causing the vinyl to crack. Also, they say the metal is a poor insulator, and that companies just use metal to compensate for cheap vinyl. I don't know which is true, but from a U-factor and appearance standpoint, all these windows looked and felt the same.

Last edited by mattison; 09-03-06 at 05:13 AM. Reason: Brand bashing and argumentive comments removed.
Old 05-17-06, 09:34 PM
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All companies have a right not to give price quotes over the phone, just as you have the right to refuse to purchase from them.

However, there may be good reasons for it -- how do they know the person's calling from their house, and not from a competitor's store down the street? What happens when someone calls them and then later says they want a different color, or different options, or a top of the line window for that same price? Or that they want a window that is 34 inches high and 54 inches wide? Or that they have bars welded over the windows and expect the installer to remove and replace them? Or that the entire wall is rotted and needs structural repair?

Then again, it may be that they don't want the business if the caller is shopping price. Why waste time giving a quote when they know he's trying to justify a trip to Home Depot to the wife? ("Look honey, I saved us $400/window over those crooks, now can I buy that boat?"). Maybe they know that people who have Cadillac taste and Kia budgets are often very nit-picky and end up being way more trouble than they're worth.

Maybe they want a chance to show a customer some higher quality products that they might be happy with, in case they decide they want that wood interior in the fancy living room, or maybe a bay window that will make their home stand out on the block.

Maybe they feel better running a business with installers who are legal workers, who have workmen's comp insurance. Maybe they want to make a fair profit to ensure that they're around in 5 years in case the customer needs service after the fact (and have enough cash flow so they don't ask for cash up front!) And maybe they want to be honest reputable businessmen that people develop a relationship with, so when the time comes to replace the siding in a few years, there is someone the customer trusts.

I'm not saying there isn't plenty of slime in the home improvement industry, and windows & siding for sure. I've dealt with dozens of similar businesses. But before you besmirch the entire industry it's worth looking at things from both sides. There's good and bad eggs everywhere.

Last edited by mattison; 09-03-06 at 05:15 AM.
Old 05-18-06, 03:50 AM
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JPM--You make a good point. If it was just the price quote over the phone thing, I don't think I'd complain. One DID come out to my house. They did monopolize my whole evening. And to this day, I still don't have a quote in my hands from them. I even told their callback guy that I was more than willing to meet with another salesman, on the condtion that I receive the quote I spent a whole evening obtaining. They categorically refused to let me receive the quote. Even another who tried some of their tactics didn't do that. They left me a quote, and called me the next morning (not even 12 hours later) to tell me that they were running a new sale and would send out another salesman to explain it. In their case, I said I had already had a salesman over, seen their product (only 12 hours ago) and had my windows measured, and would love to hear about the new sale over the phone. 10 minutes of arguing later, I never heard back about the sale.

However, I think that asking for a confirmed price quote over the phone and asking for a rough idea of cost are 2 different things. I even told these companies that their rough price quote would be followed with an appointment for a real quote. WindowWizards told me the retail cost of a window I request and told me that for a large order, they would "work with me" if they came out to do an estimate. I thought that was a fair response. I asked for prices over the phone after one wanted $1200/window. If he had told me they were selling vinyl for $1200/window, I would have said "goodbye". No amount of salesmanship will sell me on that. Enough windows companies gave me a response closer to that of WindowWizards. Even a basement custom glass-brick window dealer who had to measure my window wells and see how bad they were could ballpark over the phone.

Also, I didn't even mention the 30% energy savings promise. Kyle--how could my salesman promise me 30% energy savings without seeing my gas bill for the past year and doing a full energy audit of my house, including infrared photography? Easy--because even if I didn't see savings, and even if you agreed to pay the difference, you'd still make out like bandits. The less expensive companies didn't promise energy savings because they knew they couldn't make a guarantee like that.

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Old 09-02-06, 09:14 AM
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Please read the rules.

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Old 09-03-06, 05:20 AM
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This thread will be deleted if companiy names continue to get bashed. It is not allowed in the forums and will not be tolerated.
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Please read the rules as bashing is not allowed!

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