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 Post subject: My experience with window shopping so far....
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 2:47 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:53 pm
Posts: 10
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When I first started looking for windows, I made the mistake of meeting with places like Home Depot and Andersen Renewal first. Quickly, I went to the internet to figure out what I needed and other companies to offer windows in my area.

Some companies are not even represented on the internet!! So, I thought it might be helpful to others to post some of my experiences and some helpful websites to find information, as I had to figure out.

of course, if you've made it to this website, perhaps you already know the information you need. ;)

In any case, first off, I am in Philadelphia. Some contractors and companies in my area will have different installers and therefore different reviews than in your area. Keep that in mind.

I have discovered that a lot of local companies relabel windows, making finding information on individual windows very difficult.

For instance, in case the Home Depot guy doesn't admit it, they will try to sell you the Simonton 6500, which is the same as the 5500. But there are lesser known companies, such as Homefix. They sell the Ultramaxx window, which is actually the Allside Ultramaxx. They may also have a "lower end" window, DH 900. Turns out that is from a company NorthEast Windows. And Castle Windows (in case they do not admit it) are Soft-Lite windows.

There was another company that had a window that I never identified. The company is ALCO windows.

Aside from this board, there are two important websites:
http://www.nfrc.org/participantlist.aspx or http://cpd.nfrc.org/pubsearch/psMain.asp
and
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fus ... t=default&

These two sites are to verify, at least partially, what any window salesperson tells you. For the U-value, it can be difficult to figure out which window is which, since one cannot easily figure out the codes, but both of these websites are good at verifying the manufacturer of the windows. For instance, ALCO indicates that they manufacture their own windows, but they are not on either website. I did not spend more time trying to verify their claims, due to my impatience with their high pressure sales techniques. Nevertheless, if someone tells you so-and-so made the window, but that company is not on the list, I would definitely ask the seller a lot more questions about the windows!
I also started verifying their participation in EnergyStar, since technically one needs a certification that a window is EnergyStar efficient to get the tax benefit. These alternate labels are not listed on the EnergyStar website.

In philadelphia, civil court listings are public record. http://fjd.phila.gov/
There are two different search mechanisms: one at the bottom of the page at the right. The second, scroll over "Online Services" and click on "Municipal Civil Court Docket Search". The rest is pretty straight forward. I'd recommend checking if there are any ongoing suits, and, if so, how serious they are.
I am not sure if there are public records like this in other cities, but I'd bet there are.

Please note, though, that most lawsuits are in the district of the defendant; so you may need to look up records in the city where the contractor/company is located. But also keep in mind that some unjustified lawsuits exist. Just use it to keep in mind the contractor/company you are dealing with.

Lastly, if you haven't met with any of these companies yet, be aware of their high-pressure sales techniques. These are salespeople, more than contractors. They will give you one-day only pricing. They will try to push you into a decision before they leave your house. They will insist that THEY have the best window, and that any other window will need to be replaced in two years. They insist that they have the best service, warranties, etc. But often they can only sell you one window and one package.

I liken high-pressure sales to the kids on the playground who insist on making fun of someone else to increase their own personal self-esteem. These techniques are based in insecurity that they will not get the sale. If they have to resort to these techniques, they are not worth your time.

Also, if they are not aware of the qualities of their competitor's windows, then they do not even know their own market. This is a HUGE warning sign. For a salesperson to tell me that the Simonton windows are crap and that I would be a mistake with a window without LowE and Argon, means they never heard of Simonton (which the 5300 and up comes standard with LowE and Argon)!! RUN!!! FAR AWAY!!!

The most difficult thing I have had to do is tease away truth from lie while shopping for new windows. I feel bad for you honest sales people. It's like the 1 in a million honest lawyer who needs to live with the reputation of the whole bunch.....

I hope someone finds this helpful.


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 Post subject: Re: My experience with window shopping so far....
PostPosted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:36 pm 

Joined: Mon Dec 10, 2007 3:50 pm
Posts: 38
Location: Lehigh Valley, PA
Offline
elisaw wrote:
When I first started looking for windows, I made the mistake of meeting with places like Home Depot and Andersen Renewal first. Quickly, I went to the internet to figure out what I needed and other companies to offer windows in my area.

Some companies are not even represented on the internet!! So, I thought it might be helpful to others to post some of my experiences and some helpful websites to find information, as I had to figure out.

of course, if you've made it to this website, perhaps you already know the information you need. ;)

In any case, first off, I am in Philadelphia. Some contractors and companies in my area will have different installers and therefore different reviews than in your area. Keep that in mind.

I have discovered that a lot of local companies relabel windows, making finding information on individual windows very difficult.

For instance, in case the Home Depot guy doesn't admit it, they will try to sell you the Simonton 6500, which is the same as the 5500. But there are lesser known companies, such as Homefix. They sell the Ultramaxx window, which is actually the Allside Ultramaxx. They may also have a "lower end" window, DH 900. Turns out that is from a company NorthEast Windows. And Castle Windows (in case they do not admit it) are Soft-Lite windows.

There was another company that had a window that I never identified. The company is ALCO windows.

Aside from this board, there are two important websites:
http://www.nfrc.org/participantlist.aspx or http://cpd.nfrc.org/pubsearch/psMain.asp
and
http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fus ... t=default&

These two sites are to verify, at least partially, what any window salesperson tells you. For the U-value, it can be difficult to figure out which window is which, since one cannot easily figure out the codes, but both of these websites are good at verifying the manufacturer of the windows. For instance, ALCO indicates that they manufacture their own windows, but they are not on either website. I did not spend more time trying to verify their claims, due to my impatience with their high pressure sales techniques. Nevertheless, if someone tells you so-and-so made the window, but that company is not on the list, I would definitely ask the seller a lot more questions about the windows!
I also started verifying their participation in EnergyStar, since technically one needs a certification that a window is EnergyStar efficient to get the tax benefit. These alternate labels are not listed on the EnergyStar website.

In philadelphia, civil court listings are public record. http://fjd.phila.gov/
There are two different search mechanisms: one at the bottom of the page at the right. The second, scroll over "Online Services" and click on "Municipal Civil Court Docket Search". The rest is pretty straight forward. I'd recommend checking if there are any ongoing suits, and, if so, how serious they are.
I am not sure if there are public records like this in other cities, but I'd bet there are.

Please note, though, that most lawsuits are in the district of the defendant; so you may need to look up records in the city where the contractor/company is located. But also keep in mind that some unjustified lawsuits exist. Just use it to keep in mind the contractor/company you are dealing with.

Lastly, if you haven't met with any of these companies yet, be aware of their high-pressure sales techniques. These are salespeople, more than contractors. They will give you one-day only pricing. They will try to push you into a decision before they leave your house. They will insist that THEY have the best window, and that any other window will need to be replaced in two years. They insist that they have the best service, warranties, etc. But often they can only sell you one window and one package.

I liken high-pressure sales to the kids on the playground who insist on making fun of someone else to increase their own personal self-esteem. These techniques are based in insecurity that they will not get the sale. If they have to resort to these techniques, they are not worth your time.

Also, if they are not aware of the qualities of their competitor's windows, then they do not even know their own market. This is a HUGE warning sign. For a salesperson to tell me that the Simonton windows are crap and that I would be a mistake with a window without LowE and Argon, means they never heard of Simonton (which the 5300 and up comes standard with LowE and Argon)!! RUN!!! FAR AWAY!!!

The most difficult thing I have had to do is tease away truth from lie while shopping for new windows. I feel bad for you honest sales people. It's like the 1 in a million honest lawyer who needs to live with the reputation of the whole bunch.....

I hope someone finds this helpful.


Good Discourse on the darker side of the replacement window business. I believe that having proper home insulation, proper home heating/cooling as to the sq ft of the house are more important than what the Flavor of the month spacer/window is. You can have the top of the line window but without proper insulation, proper ventilation and proper fresh air exchange, your house will most likely be a mold, mildew and spider haven. Except for the extreme dry/hot places of the US.


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 Post subject: Universal Windows Direct. Don't be fooled like I was!!
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 10:17 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2008 9:50 am
Posts: 3
Offline
Beware of the company that comes in and offers you windows for $6000 and when you tell them that they are to high offers you a price that is $1300 cheaper because you will let them use your name as a reference.
Always check to see that they are a member of the BBB. They told us that they were backed by the BBB, but when you go to the BBB web site and look them up they are listed as not a member. Be sure to check the warranty from the manufacturer as the window company you are dealing with tells you that their warranty is lifetime only to find out from the manufacture of the window that they warranty is only for two years and does not include any breakage or screen replacement period. We made the mistake of giving a company a deposit on a window job and then did some more research and found some very negative things. When we contacted the company to put our project on hold so we could do some more comparisons they flipped! I was told that they would not return my deposit and whether I liked it or not they were putting windows in my home. They also threatend us by telling us they would put a lien on my home and ruin my credit if we did not let them do the job. Now, I don't care what I have to do I would not let them touch my house ever!!
Please beware of scammers like this and avoid the headaches like we are going through.


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 Post subject: Re: Universal Windows Direct. Don't be fooled like I was!!
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 10:46 am 

Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:53 pm
Posts: 10
Offline
mystictaxi@mystictaxi.com wrote:
Beware of the company that comes in and offers you windows for $6000 and when you tell them that they are to high offers you a price that is $1300 cheaper because you will let them use your name as a reference.
Always check to see that they are a member of the BBB. They told us that they were backed by the BBB, but when you go to the BBB web site and look them up they are listed as not a member. Be sure to check the warranty from the manufacturer as the window company you are dealing with tells you that their warranty is lifetime only to find out from the manufacture of the window that they warranty is only for two years and does not include any breakage or screen replacement period. We made the mistake of giving a company a deposit on a window job and then did some more research and found some very negative things. When we contacted the company to put our project on hold so we could do some more comparisons they flipped! I was told that they would not return my deposit and whether I liked it or not they were putting windows in my home. They also threatend us by telling us they would put a lien on my home and ruin my credit if we did not let them do the job. Now, I don't care what I have to do I would not let them touch my house ever!!
Please beware of scammers like this and avoid the headaches like we are going through.


Wow, your story sounds like a scary one!! But, just so you know, I would not consider the BBB a source. In reality, anyone could pay money to the BBB to become a "member", and they will hold off on posting issues if one is a member. All it takes is a corporation name (even if it is another scam artist) and a little money to be listed with the BBB.

I held out on signing with anyone until I was SURE I had checked out the window manufacturer website, and verified independently that people were satisfied with the installation company. I probably drove myself a little crazy with it, but I feel confident in my choice.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 11:00 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2008 9:50 am
Posts: 3
Offline
Yes it is!

What is really scary is that they had the nerve to tell me that they have done this to a 100 people as if it was no big deal!

Just be careful everyone!

By the way we are getting new windows and got a much better product with an awesome warranty.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 11:33 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 11, 2005 3:58 pm
Posts: 1329
Location: Northern & Central Illinois, Chicago suburbs
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Normally, once the 3 day right of rescission is over, you are legally bound to pay for the windows, as companies order these windows in custom built sizes and options especially for your home.
In your case, I would think you would have a strong defense in court against paying for the windows and for getting your money back. It sounds like fraud was committed since if the true information would have been disclosed instead of lies during the sales call, you definitely would not have made the purchase.
Your State's Attorney General would be my first call. You may be amazed how fast you get a refund once they get involved.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 3:13 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 22, 2008 9:50 am
Posts: 3
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Thanks for the advice!
A good thing is that none of the windows were ordered due to the fact that they dragged there feet coming to the house to do a final measurement.

We learned a big lesson here!

Thanks again for your comments!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2008 10:29 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2007 11:51 pm
Posts: 1579
Location: Northern,Virginia
Offline
Quote:
I would not consider the BBB a source. In reality, anyone could pay money to the BBB to become a "member", and they will hold off on posting issues if one is a member. All it takes is a corporation name (even if it is another scam artist) and a little money to be listed with the BBB.



This is just simply not true. If anything, the BBB often makes a bigger issue than is necessary over "complaints". A consumer can even file a ridiculously false and libelous complaint and the BBB will still list it. Additionally, BBB members agree to arbitration. This is a great benefit for the consumer because it helps avoid costly attorney fees.


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 Post subject: Re: My experience with window shopping so far....
PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 1:37 am 
User avatar

Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 11:21 pm
Posts: 3571
Location: DC Metropolitan Area-Maryland/Virginia/DC
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Very sorry to hear of your experience so far.

I wish customers did not learn the hard way.

I have said it time and time before. If someone lowers their price to entice a sale...be very wary people. Consider yourself warned.

Sorry you learned it the hard way.


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 Post subject: Re: My experience with window shopping so far....
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:17 am 

Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:40 am
Posts: 7
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i was just wondering who did you finally decide to go with i am going through the same things you have described


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 Post subject: Re: My experience with window shopping so far....
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 8:26 am 

Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 2:53 pm
Posts: 10
Offline
I wound up going with a smaller window company - someplace local to me in the Philly area.
I'm very happy with my windows, and it is good to find contractors that did such a good job. I hope you find someone local to you who can do as well for you!
Good luck!


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 Post subject: Re: My experience with window shopping so far....
PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 1:19 pm 

Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 12:36 pm
Posts: 3
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Elisaw - I'm in Philadelphia and would be interested in finding out who you decided to go with if you don't mind posting. Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: My experience with window shopping so far....
PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:32 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:48 pm
Posts: 1
Offline
I know just what you mean.

I am a member of Angie's list because I have already wasted too much money on inferior products and contractors who are learning their trade on the job. So far we have been lucky with finding contractors through them except for window replacement. Today I wasted another 2.5 hrs listening to another pitch and this was the 3rd one. Here is a summary of what offends me from the 3:

When a female calls to make an appt for an estimate, don't ask if "the decision maker will also be present." You can not assume that a female isn't a single homeowner and/or can't make decisions.

Don't resort to playing games like picking up your cell phone to "call the boss" to see if you can knock some $ off.

Don't write a proposal and then ask me to "try and guess" how much the windows are.

Don't tell me that if I sign today you are prepared to match the $1500 rebate. (So are you really saying your estimate is $1500 too high?)

Don't write an estimate that has a list of window sizes with a bottom line. I want to know how you arrived at it. For example 13 windows = $13,000 does not tell me if the basement window costs the same as a 35 x 45 window. I have no clue how much of this estimate is for labor or what I'm paying for windows.

Don't knock your competitors to prospective buyers. It's okay to tell me all the things that are right with your windows in comparison to others, but when you say that "everyone in the industry knows that xyz has had complaints about ..." I see it as a sales tactic.

I only want to know what makes your windows great. This expereince has been worse than buying a car.


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 Post subject: Re: My experience with window shopping so far....
PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:38 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:12 pm
Posts: 1
Offline
OMG...I just have to know kathyj...was this 3rd one Castle Windows? EVERY point you described is EXACTLY how my experience recently played out with them. When he pulled the 'calling the boss' bit I was confused for a moment thinking..."hmmm - I'm pretty sure I'm not buying a car so what is with the car salesman tricks?" lol. What I resent most though is the attempt to make me feel guilty (which I did not) about not making a decision to go with them that day (subsequently making their trip a wasted one). I told the company with my initial call that I was just in a 'price-shopping' phase and was assured there was no obligation - I also told the rep that came out right at the start that I was JUST interested in getting prices and would not be making a decision that day. Personally, if they (or any company) would just give an estimate over the phone with the measurements I have to provide for them NO ONE would be wasting their time. Why won't companies do that?? Heck, the reps that have come out have said themselves that they were only taking rough measurements (which they were basing their price offers on)....why should my measurements be any different ~ I'm not an idiot...I CAN handle a tape measure, lol. Oh well...if you or anyone knows of a fairly priced, reputable window company in eastern MA please let me know. I've only just begun looking and I'm already fed up.


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 Post subject: Re: My experience with window shopping so far....
PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:58 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2006 1:32 pm
Posts: 625
Location: Delaware, New Jersey, Philadephia Area
Offline
It cost these larger outfits between $150 to $300 in advertising every time a sales rep sits in front of homeowner. Very few of these types of home exterior companies will have a chance to earn your business once you start getting multiple estimates as their pricing is usually very high. That sales rep is working for free until he or she gets a sale and earns a commission. The successful sales reps have some of the most intense physiological sales training that they stick to verbatim. Everything is rehearsed. Every question that they ask has a predictable answer.


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