Replacement Window Untruths

Sales Pitch Defense Against 16 Outrageous Untruths You May Hear When Getting Home Window Quotes


Yes, Windows of Harrisonburg sells window repair and installation services in our area (Northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia). If we weren't doing a good job and making money, we wouldn't be able to provide free information products like this in an effort to better inform our neighbors about our industry and services.

We believe that relationships come first, business comes second. We know from experience that the more we can do to ensure that our prospects and neighbors are well informed, the better off we are in the long run.

This information product gives you an overview of what we know is practiced in some circles in our industry, so that you will be better prepared when you begin your window education journey. We hope you enjoy learning a little more about what you might encounter when requesting quotes, and we are ready to answer any questions you may have about this report or your specific window situation.

This report is not meant to bash any particular company or brand - it's a fabulous and necessary industry, and we're happy to be a trusted local part of that larger whole - but rather it's meant to inform you of what some window buyers from around the country have experienced in the past so that you can be better prepared to research window options and make an informed decision.

Before making a buying decision, we strongly 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 come across during your research.

Replacement windows for $229

You will see variations of this promotion, and the price offered will seem incredibly low compared to other average prices in your area. This type of offer usually comes with specific restrictions that, when you discover them, make the offer unappealing. It is usually a very low quality window, with several small print details that make the offer unattractive to most people. You've probably heard the phrase "bait and switch" before, right?

The main purpose of this type of promotion is to get your attention and get an appointment at your home knowing that you won't be interested in the offer once the details are known and you are offered a much more expensive window with a higher profit margin. Remember that proper installation is essential for any new window you purchase. Windows offered at such low prices may also be supplied by low-cost subcontractors.

Very poor quality windows installed at the lowest possible price do not make a very satisfied homeowner.

Trade-in programs

When shopping for windows, you may come across ads like "trade in your old windows and save $$$$". This idea of trading in your old stuff may have come from the automotive industry and may make some sense in this case. Dealers can take your old car, inspect it thoroughly, refurbish it, and resell it as a used vehicle.

But do old windows really have a trade-in value?

Generally, no, especially for windows installed in 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 1960s must be disposed of because they cannot be recycled and have no value.

But it's worth asking the company installing the new windows to remove the old ones to save you the trouble, and many companies offer this service to their customers.

Sometimes, however, older windows that might be considered antiques have resale value because of their construction and aesthetics. Be sure to factor that 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 this situation.)

So that leaves us with the question of why companies are spending money to run ads telling people about trade-in programs? They do it primarily to get the attention of potential customers and beat out their competitors by being the first to enter the market and trying to gain your business today.

Neighborhood discount

Often, when a company is working on a home, they put up signs in the yard or hand out flyers to neighboring homes. This draws attention to their work and lets other neighbors know that the window company is in the area. Often, they offer some sort of incentive to neighborhood residents while they are in the area. It makes good business sense.

Where companies stray into the forest of lies is when they say the discount is only available now, while they are in the area. They may 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 immediately, you will get window installation in your home at an extremely affordable rate that is only available while they are in the area.

Usually, any offer made today will also be available in the near future. Usually.

We'd also like to add that material prices change, transportation prices change, business volume fluctuates, etc., so take into account that no one can predict what the future will bring... prepare for potentially higher prices in the future. So prepare for potentially higher prices in the future. But just as easily, because of these factors, they could offer the same or a better deal in the future. We don't know that. But we can say that the chances of your window price changing dramatically in the immediate future are not great.

So don't feel compelled to act now just because they are in your area today. But also, don't automatically think of them as a scammer if they make you an offer and you're in the market for their services.

Also, keep in mind that some localities require a solicitation license, so don't be afraid to ask to see it if your area requires one, and factor whether or not they have one into your decision-making process.

Special window warranty

Reputable windows should come with warranties that last for decades, not days or years.

Sometimes the consultant who handles your quote may tell you that while competing groups offer a maximum warranty of X years, his company offers a lifetime warranty. That sounds good so far.

But remember, when it comes to windows or anything else installed as part of a remodeling project, what exactly does "lifetime" mean? Your life? Your spouse's? Both combined? The "lifetime" of the house? What if you are selling? If you see the word "limited," what does that include or exclude? It can get confusing fast, and the legal fine print doesn't excite most of us...

What you should be most interested in, however, is the workmanship guarantee offered by the company. It has been found that people encounter problems mainly during the installation of the windows and not during their manufacture. So always remember to check the time frame that the installers will come back to your home to fix anything that might be wrong with your replacement windows for free. Get specifics on what will be covered. Will damage caused by the homeowner (or the homeowner's guest, or the neighborhood fly ball) be included? Or is it just manufacturing defects?

Sometimes the window installation company and the window manufacturer are the same thing, and sometimes they are two separate parties, with the company you contract with being the manufacturer's licensed installer, so make sure you are clear which entity covers which part of your warranties.

Downplaying warranties

On the other end of the spectrum, watch out for companies that downplay warranties.

If the window company you're considering signing a contract with tells you that warranties aren't important, that the manufacturer's warranty is sufficient, or that they can't offer a long, reliable warranty because the price you're getting is so good, you might want to show them the door and thank them for their time.

Having labor and manufacturer's warranties from reputable companies is essential to being covered if something goes wrong.

Replacement Window Sale: Buy this get that for free

This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing or a red flag for not doing business with the company offering the deal. We ourselves offer promotions like this from time to time. But like most things, the devil is in the details, right?

In fact, this promotion is quite common, all over the country (and in virtually every industry), and these offers come in all sorts of variations: buy two and get one free, buy five and get one free, buy X number of windows and get one free service.

It's a proven marketing practice that you've seen (and probably taken advantage of) 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 attract new customers, maybe their offer only applies to a cheap brand and model and they just want to get their foot in the door and sell a more expensive model. It could be a lot of things. Psychology Today has a good explanation of the different price promotions.

But what you and I need to consider, in this case, is the final price. They may be charging way too much to be able to afford to seemingly give away something "free."

There are many online guides where you can search for "average replacement window cost" and we suggest you start with this search to determine what is a fair price for the type of windows you are looking for in your area right now. Be sure to check when the online guide you find was originally published, and if it has been updated recently with the latest figures.

Keep in mind that window and installation prices vary by region, season, product quality, brand, inflation, etc. So be sure to consider comparable prices in your area when looking for the "average cost of a replacement window". The numbers you find online should not be a "take it or leave it price," but rather a guide to help you become better informed so that you can make an informed decision once you gather quotes from multiple vendors.

Getting multiple quotes is one of the best general suggestions we can make. We'll probably repeat it. Many, many times.

Couples must both be present for the quote

In home sales, it's common to ask both members of a couple to be present when the company representative arrives to analyze your problem and provide his or her quote, but have you ever wondered why?

The answer is quite simple: companies do this because they know that the chances of closing a deal (nowadays, which is always a salesperson's goal) are much better when both parties can hear the presentation, ask their own questions and (hopefully for the salesperson) make a decision on the spot.

Again, there's nothing wrong with this in and of itself, but as an absolute requirement, it's not really "necessary."

Sure, you may run into a company that refuses to give you an estimate without both parties present, but that's not a red flag in itself. It could be that your home is quite far from the company, that they are very busy, and that they want to avoid making multiple visits to your home at this time. It could also be that you have avoided doing business with a company that you might have regretted in the long run. Trust your instincts, but be sure to consider all legitimate possibilities when scheduling appointments with your potential suppliers.

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