Photo by James Hammond
Originally Posted On: https://www.windowsofharrisonburg.com/untruths.html
Yes, Windows of Harrisonburg sells window repair and window installation services in our area (Northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia). If we didn’t do a good job of this and make money, we wouldn’t be able to provide free informational products such as this one in an effort to better educate our neighbors about our industry and services.
We believe relationships come first, business second. We know, from our experience, that the more we can do to ensure our potential clients and neighbors are well informed, the better off we are in the long run.
This information product provides you valuable insights into what we know is practiced within some circles of our industry so that you are more prepared when you begin your window education journey. We hope you enjoy learning a little about what you might encounter when getting quotes, and we stand ready to answer any questions you may have about this report or about your own specific window situation.
This report is not designed to disparage any particular company or brand—it’s a fabulous and needed industry and we’re glad to be a trusted local part of this larger whole—but, rather, it’s intended to inform you of what some window shoppers all over the country have experienced in the past so that you are better prepared to seek out window options and make an informed decision.
Before making any buying decision, we also highly encourage you to read Consumer Reports’ “What to look for when buying replacement windows” and “How to choose the right replacement windows for your home” as well as any other reputable sources you may discover during your own research
So, you’re thinking about possibly replacing older windows in your home with newer, maybe more energy efficient windows? You’re starting to see that the process of choosing the right window company (and right window) is a bit more complex than you initially thought, and maybe you’re starting to hear different things from different sources.
There’s a lot of information out there online and from your friends and neighbors who’ve already installed new windows, and now maybe you’re not sure how to proceed. You may have already assessed your home, thought about how much energy you might save over time, carried out thorough research, considered the aesthetic value of a window upgrade, and finally picked an initial window design and/or window company. However, your job is not done yet.
Most of us get new windows in our home only once in our lifetimes, so you are faced with all of the above considerations. You want to get it right, without a lot of hassle, and you want to be happy with your decision for many years to come. Buyer’s remorse is not what you’re looking for.
But right now, you’re worried, just like all of those people before you, that the product you’re about to choose will in fact be the right choice for you in the long run. But before you get to that point of satisfaction, you know you are going to be facing someone sitting in your house telling you things that may or may not be true. And you don’t know who to trust!
We feel your pain. We know what you’re going through, or about to go through. You’re gonna hear things that sound good, but are they true?
Instead of thinking about the discounts you will get and the money you will save from one particular company, you want to make sure that you are getting a good deal and not falling prey to some outrageous window sales tactics.
Almost all window companies are represented by project consultants/sales people (and sometimes the business owner if they’re a local firm), and they all want to earn your business. Nothing wrong with that, right? All businesses rely on sales, even yours, whatever it is you do for a living. There’s sales involved in the process somewhere.
And there is nothing wrong, necessarily, with time tested proven sales procedures in general, because everything relies on sales. But what does get our goat, as they say, is outright lies and unethical manipulation used by some folks in some industries and this report is taking a good look at our own chose industry.
The fact of the matter is that most window companies around here and around the country are, in fact, highly reputable, trustworthy, and provide great value to you and your home. But, there are a few unscrupulous people saying things that are just untrue!
When you buy a home, there are consumer protections in place to protect the buyer. There are home inspections and appraisals conducted by 3rd party independent experts who provide their informed opinion to make sure you make an educated buying decision.
When you buy a car there’s Carfax reports and Kelley Blue Book, third party trusted sources to bounce the information you are being given, or find on your own, with outside expertise so that you are comfortable with your purchase.
Unfortunately, with replacement windows or new windows for your home, there just aren’t these outside sources of information, so we thought, why not create one? Granted this report does not have the same level of authority as one from licensed third party sources, but we hope that you will take this information in the spirit in which it was created—which is as a free resource to help you understand what may or may not be true when you begin your new window journey
We’re providing this guide to be consumed very quickly in order to help you understand that some of what you may hear when getting window estimates just isn’t right, and to help you discern fact from fiction.
Replacement windows for $229
You’ll see variations of this promotion, and the offered price will seem incredibly low compared to other average prices in your area. This type of offer usually comes with specific restrictions that once you uncover them, make the offer unappealing. It’s usually for a very low quality of window, with several fine print details that just make the offer not worth considering for most people. You’ve probably heard the term “bait and switch” before, right?
The main goal for this kind of promotion is to catch your attention and get an appointment in your home knowing you’ll not be interested in this offer once the details are known and offer you a much higher priced, higher profit margin window. Remembering that proper installation is key to any new window you get, windows offered at such low prices might also come with low-bid sub-contractors.
Very low-quality windows installed at the cheapest price possible does not combine to make a highly satisfied homeowner.
When shopping for windows you might come across ads stating something like “trade-in the old windows you have and SAVE $$$$”. This idea of trading in your old belongings might have come from the car industry and might make some sense in that instance. Dealers can take your old car, do a thorough inspection and refurbish it, and resell it as a used vehicle.
But do old windows really have any trade in value?
Usually, no, especially with windows installed from the last 50 years or so. In most cases, old windows traded in by homeowners go straight to the dump. Most windows installed since the 60’s, though, have to be disposed of because they can’t be recycled and have no value.
But there is value in having the company installing the new windows take away the old ones so you don’t have to deal with that hassle, and many companies do offer that as a valuable service to their customers.
Sometimes, though, older windows that might be valued as antiques will have resale value because of the construction and aesthetics. Be sure to factor this into the equation. (As a quick aside, Forbes had a good article in 2018 about not replacing windows in homes built before 1960 with modern replacement windows and is definitely worth a read if you’re in that situation).
This leaves us with the question, then, of why do companies spend money running ads informing people about trade-in programs? They do so primarily to attract the attention of potential customers and beat their competition by being first in the door and trying to win your business today.
A lot of times, when a company is working on a home, they’ll put up yard signs or distribute flyers to nearby homes. It draws attention to their work and lets other neighbors know that the window company is in the area. Often, they’ll offer an incentive of some sort to nearby residents while they’re in the area. This just makes good business sense.
Where the companies wander into the untruth forest is when they say the discount is only available now, while they’re in the area. They might knock on your door and inform you that they are already working in your neighborhood and suggest that if you sign a contract with them right away you will get windows installed in your place for an extremely affordable rate that is only available while they’re in the neighborhood.
Usually, any offer today will be available in the near future, too. Usually.
We would also like to add, though, that material prices do change, transportation prices do change, business volume fluctuates, etc. so just please take into consideration no one can predict what the future might hold so be prepared for potentially higher prices in the future. But, just as easily because of these factors, they might offer the same or better deal. We just don’t know. But we can say the chances of your windows changing price dramatically in the near future is not that large.
So don’t feel pressured you have to act now just because they are in your area today. But also, don’t automatically discount them as scammers if they make you an offer and your in the market for their services.
Also, don’t forget, some localities do require a solicitation permit, so don’t be afraid to ask to see it if your area requires one, and factor in if they have one or not into your decision-making process.
Special window warranty
Reputable windows should come with warranties that last decades, not days or years.
Sometimes, the project consultant handling your quote may tell that while rival groups offer a maximum warranty of X years, his or her company offers a lifetime warranty. Sounds good so far.
Here, you must remember that when it comes to windows or any other item installed during a renovation project, what exactly does the term “lifetime” mean? Your lifetime? Your spouse’s? The two combined? The “lifetime” of the home? What about if you sell? If you see the word “limited,” what does that include or exclude? It can get confusing fast.
What you definitely must be more interested in, though, is the labor warranty offered by the company. It has been found that people face issues mostly with the installation of windows and not with their manufacturing. So, never forget to check the duration for which installers would come back to your place to fix anything that might go wrong with your replacement windows for free. Get granular clarify on what will be covered. Will damage caused by the homeowner (or homeowner’s guest, or neighborhood fly ball) be included? Or is it just manufacturing defects?
Sometimes the window installation company and the window manufacturer are the same, and sometimes they are two separate parties, with the window company you are signing a contract with being the authorized installer of the manufacturer, so be certain to get clarity and ensure which entity covers which part of your guarantees.
On the other end of the spectrum, be careful of companies that downplay warranties.
If the window company you are looking to sign a contract with tells you that warranties are not important, or that the manufacturer’s warranty is good enough, or that they can’t offer a reliable warranty because the price you’re getting is just soooooo good, it might be a good idea to show them the door and thank them for their time.
Having labor and manufacturer warranties by reputable companies are essential for keeping you covered in case something goes wrong.
Replacement Window Sale: Buy X get Y free
This in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing or a warning sign not to do business with the company making the offer. We offer promotions like this ourselves from time to time. But like most things, the devil is in the details, right?
In fact, this promotion is pretty common, all over the country (and in virtually every industry), and they come in all kinds of variations: buy-two-get-one free, buy five-get-one-free offers, but X number of windows and get a complimentary service for free.
This is a time-tested marketing practice, and you’ve seen it (and probably taken advantage of it it) many, many times. Why do companies do it? Maybe they need to get rid of excess inventory, maybe they understand the lifetime value of a customer and want to bring new customers into the fold, maybe their offer only applies to one inexpensive make and model and they just want to get their foot in the door and upsell to a more expensive one. It could be a lot of things. Psychology Today offers a good explanation of various price promotions.
What you and I need to consider here, in this case though, is final price. It could be they are way overcharging so they can afford to seemingly give away something for “free.”
There are numerous online guides when you search “average replacement window cost” and we suggest you start there to determine what is a fair price for your region at this time. Be sure to check when the online guide you find was originally published and if it has been updated with the latest numbers.
Remember, window and installation prices do vary by region, seasonality, product quality, brand, inflation, etc. so be sure to factor apples-to-apples prices in your area when looking up “average replacement window cost.” The numbers you find online shouldn’t be a “set in stone, deal or no deal price,” but rather a guide to help better inform you so that you can make an educated decision once you’ve gathered the offers from multiple providers.
Getting multiple quotes is one of the best all-around suggestions we can make. We’ll probably say that again. Many times.
Couples must both be present for the quote
It’s common business practice with in-home sales to request both parties of a couple be present when the company representative arrives to analyze your issue and provide their quote, but have you ever wondered why?
The answer is pretty simple—the reason companies do this is because they know that the chance of closing a deal (today, which is always a salesperson’s goal) is far better when both parties can hear the presentation, ask their own questions, and (hopefully for the sales person) can make a decision then and there.
Again, there is nothing necessarily wrong with this in and of itself, but as an absolute requirement it isn’t really “required.”
Sure, you may run across a company that refuses to offer a quote without both parties present, but that isn’t a red flag on its own. It could be your home is quite a distance from them and they are very busy and wish to avoid making multiple trips to your location at this time. Or it could be you dodged a bullet and avoided dealing with a company that you might’ve regretted in the long run. Trust your gut, but be sure to factor in all legitimate possibilities when scheduling with your prospective providers.
Highly unreasonable offers and unrealistic discounts
“Caveat Emptor” is Latin for “Let the buyer beware”.Speaking of trusting your gut, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If you’ve been doing your own online research, and then received a few quotes, you’ll know what sounds reasonable and what sounds unbelievable.
When you are investing in new windows, you are doing so to ensure that no replacement will be required for at least for the next 25+ years. If you take action on a highly unreasonable offer with unrealistic sounding discounts, it will usually be executed with:
- low-quality materials,
- unprofessional service,
- imperfect installation,
- poor after-sales service,
- and so on.
So, instead of looking for those sugar-coated-OMG offers, prepare yourself to invest in quality windows from reputable manufacturers and installers and not make this a home project done as cheaply as possible. We generally do, in fact, get what we pay for, but we do hope you don’t become discouraged.
It is possible to find quality windows, professionally installed, at reasonable and affordable rates. Your research and multiple quotes will help you realize what is fact and what is fiction.
OK, everybody. We’re about halfway there. Just wanted to check in make sure you’re dong alright.
And thanks for being here.
Free window installation
“Buy X number of Y brand, and we’ll install them for free.”
We sort of already covered this, but it’s a slightly different variation you might hear so we wanted to give this some extra attention.
Most of us don’t work for free, we have to make money somehow, so even if their invoice doesn’t show an installation charge, they’re trying to make up for it somewhere else.
Remember, final total price is what to look at when deciding on multiple price quotes, but company reputation, after the sale service, warranties, and product quality and guarantees are all part of the final, final equation.
New windows are purely an energy-efficient investment
Highly rated energy efficient windows, properly installed, will definitely save energy expenses over time, but we need to be sure to factor in how long it will take to recoup the upfront expense via long-term energy savings as part of our overall equation when selecting new windows for our home.
According to Energy.gov, “review ratings on the energy performance label from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) to find the most efficient windows for your needs. NFRC ratings are included on all ENERGY STAR certified windows and provide a reliable way to determine a window’s energy properties and compare products.”
You can find a lot of other good information to help you with your window learning curve on their site, and this is a sample of what one of the labels will look like.
And EnergyStar.gov offers this annual heating and cooling savings estimate graphic, based on geographic regions.
Installing energy efficient windows will save energy costs over time, but it’s probably going to take awhile (maybe even up 10 years or more) before you recoup their cost in energy savings alone, so be sure energy efficiency is just one of the criteria you use and not the sole reason for making your purchase.
You will not need to pay anything for X months
This offer in and of itself isn’t an untruth, but it does contain a potential hidden trap that could cost you in the long run if you don’t use this tool effectively, so we included it here.
Can you arrange financing on your own or finance the purchase yourself? If so, congratulations.
If not, and you are willing to explore the financing options offered by your chosen company, there is sometime great value in deferred payments, but be sure to check for the total interest charges in such an arrangement.
When does the interest begin, and at what rate? Is the interest rate in line or exorbitant? Is all the interest waived if paid off within the X months?
Deferred payments aren’t necessarily a good or bad deal just because you’re not paying anything for a certain period of time, and they can be a really nice option to have if needed, but if the rate is high and you don’t pay it off before the interest is applied, it could wind up costing you a lot more in the long run.
It’s impossible to refinish or repair your old windows
Window companies and the project consultants representing them might hesitate to admit this, but they are indeed more interested in taking up replacement projects than handling repair or refurbishing jobs. As a general rule, there is more money in it for them.
Does that mean your old windows can’t be repaired? No, not at all. It just means it might be more expensive than you originally thought if done by a professional window company because of the labor involved, and they might not prioritize you as much as a new window sales opportunity, or steer you towards replacement windows.
People who are handy or want to contribute to the environment should look to refinish their old windows themselves and there are online sources to turn to for DIY projects like this.
Remember what we said earlier about older homes and windows and if you have valuable antique wood windows, repairing them instead of replacing should be a top option for your consideration.
Today only/limited time prices
This is another thing we’ve all seen in many different industries.
Can the price of a product change drastically in 30 days? The answer, generally, is no. In fact, prices of products don’t change drastically usually even in 60 or 120 days. However, some window companies want their prospective customers to believe that prices they are hoping to charge will be unavailable after the representative leaves your home.
As mentioned earlier, prices for anything can change over time due to a variety of legitimate factors, but we see limited pricing guarantees in all industries as an incentive to do business today.
Take advantage of a good offer after you have done your research, after you have multiple quotes, after you feel comfortable with the representative, with the company, with their products and their guarantees. Never feel pressured to do business today just because you’ve been made an offer.
Special discounts from managers
Again, this usually comes with initially overly priced window packages. If the prices offered are well above average in your area, then any negotiated “discount” seems appealing when you’re caught up in the sales choreography.
When a salesperson finds that a potential customer is not happy with the initial quote given by the company, they’ll dial the number of a manager to see if they can come down in the price. They’ll then plead your case with the manager in front of the customer. Upon ending the phone call, the salesperson would inform the customer that his manager was not very happy but has still approved a sizeable discount.
Knowing the average price in your area and getting multiple written quotes is a valuable method of know what prices are initially outrageously inflated and what is a fair price for professionally installed high quality windows.
Not breaking down the full cost of package to your satisfaction
The window company might tell you that they are charging you an all-inclusive price for window installation in your home. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, per se, especially if you’ve found a highly reputable manufacturer and installation company. Sometimes, it makes life much easier if you just have one price and don’t have to worry over all the little details.
However, you must still insist you get the full and final entire package cost in writing so that every aspect of the project is accounted for and there will be no surprise charges later.
The research you’ve done in advance will help you know what should be accounted for in the written quote.
Talking about shortage of supplies soon
To entice you to make a quick purchase decision, the salesperson you are dealing with might tell you that the kind of product you are looking for might not be available on the market after a certain period of time. Some may also say that due to high demand the company would soon run out of stock.
Such perceived shortages are a tried and tested sales technique in many industries, but you might want to ensure the window you’re about to choose is still in production now and planned to be in the near future. If so, then you don’t have to worry about them not being available soon and you can take your time to complete your home renovation project research and gather another quote or two.
Conclusion (for now)
Thank you so very much for your time with us today, and we know it can be complicated and confusing when you begin your search for new or replacement windows, especially since this isn’t something most of us do on a regular basis. The knowledge you gather on your own and in advance of getting any replacement windows quotes by reading articles like this will help decide for yourself what is the best option for you and your family. Be sure to check out the reputable third-party resources we’ve provided in this report.
This free report doesn’t cover every conceivable outrageous untruth you might hear, but it covers some of the most prominent ones and we hope this helps better prepare you. If you are presented another candidate for our outrageous untruths list, we’d love to hear from you (or use the contact form below) and add it to our next edition of this report.