Posted by: fireweaver | July 19, 2009

the nightmare of window shopping, in which i name names

a nice man from an independent window company, windows on washington, came out today to measure for my upcoming replacement windows.  i’m so utterly relieved the nightmare is over, yet i’m quite sure i’ll still be all kinds of antsy the installation is completely done, and i can detect a couple grand worth of positive difference this winter.  let me explain:  i got a lovely new living room set early this year, that includes a cooshy chaise lounge.  the set really is a bit too big for my living room, but i couldn’t resist the idea of a loooong low chair just for me to sit all quiet off by myself, curled up in the window like a cat, for me to loaf in while reading my book.  unfortunately, this is a decidedly crappy plan in the winter – the old-ass paper-thin metal-frame windows in this joint allow thick waves of shivering cold to roll down off of them.  i have to leave the shades down and bundle up in a couple of blankets to even think about it.

my heating/cooling bills skyrocket in the extremes of the year, to more than triple what they are in mild weather.  clearly, we have an energy efficiency issue, and since i’m in the well-insulated center unit of a bank of townhouses, i think we can safely blame the ancient gappy windows for much of that.  i got a nice tax refund this year, and i get plenty of replacement window fliers promising big rebates in my mail, so i figured this is a no-brainer, right?

sweet bebe jeebus, no.  this is hell.

i’ve been collecting fliers for a good while now, and was finally sparked to do something about it by a door-t0-door guy one friday afternoon a couple of weeks ago.  i’m sure he was super shocked that i actually did, in fact, want a free estimate on replacement windows, and he promised he could get someone out that night to give me a quote.  a sales guy from the company,homefix, showed up on time and proceeded to tell me all about how he “was going to put such a huge smile on your face.”  after a bit over a half hour of bla-bla (some of which was useful info, i was after all just starting out on this shopping trip), he busted out with some actual numbers.  it was at this point that the whole thing went straight to hell – sales guy was simultaneously authoritative, knowledgeable, demanding, and scary as all get out.  in truth, he played me not unlike my father, with a “do what i want now because it’s in your best interest little lady” thing going on.  looking back on it now, i’ll be ashamed for a good long while that i actually fell for the awful high-pressure sales tactics, but he informed me that as a VP of the company, he was the only person authorized to offer deals on that level, and that if i didn’t sign the contract that night i’d never get that offer of pricing again.  $675 per window was a good deal more than i wanted to pay, but for an hour there i convinced myself (or let him convince me) i was naive to think i could get quality stuff for less.

utterly put off by the high pressure sales tactics and the scare factor of only having 3 days to change my mind, i called a handful of other window companies to set up estimates and shopped my options in a huge way on the internet. here’s the nutshell info you need kids:  the “U factor” and solar heat gain coefficient need to both be below 0.3 if you’re going to get that new tax credit.  these numbers measure how efficient your windows are at keeping the elements outside your house, rather than letting the outside temperature impact the inside temperature (see discussion re: shivering in reading chair above).  let me assure you that EVERYONE i spoke to in this process promised me a lifetime transferable guarantee on these windows, they all were going to measure the windows and have the replacements crafted to within 1/8″ of the existing window space, they all swore to have the best warranty in the business, most all were quick to point out their awesomeness with the better business bureau.  seriously, everyone, you need to know the dollar amount per window, and get those u factor ratings.  everything else is bla-bla, and some of these sales guys wanted to bla-bla for an amazingly long time.  most amazingly useful spot:  replacement window cost calculator.

the next day, a salesman from long windows came out, and was infinitely more relaxed and friendly about it, but also wanted $1000 per.  more local companies got closer to reasonable, with a few quotes in the range of $600 each, but WOW won hands-down by both giving me the tiniest u factor for the cheapest ($530 each) and by being utterly willing to email me a quote based off my measurements.  let me assure you, i got extremely short with the salespeople on about round 2 or 3, wherein i started telling them to leave their damn demo windows in the car, and that no i did not want to see the f’ing dog & pony show with the heat lamp.  as in, yes, people wanted to set up a freakin’ heat lamp and shine it through their amazing window to prove to me that the heat doesn’t go through.  for the love of little green apples, people, i’m a scientist – the theatrics are all horsepoo, the number ratings are documented!  leave off the insanity!

in fairness to homefix, when i called promptly monday am to cancel that contract, the owner of the company was very friendly and apologetic about the situation, and gave me no grief about the cancellation (yes, i’ve checked my credit card statement online to ensure no fast ones on that front).

but the awful experience probably has a lot to do with why i haven’t started seeking quotes on having the lawn re-sodded.  sigh.

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