New replacement windows can help save you money as they improve your home’s energy efficiency. They are worth the investment if you get a quality product and installation. Unfortunately, the window replacement industry has its fair share of individuals who try to take advantage of homeowners.
These companies are known as scam artists. Don’t fall for these scams and remember, the key factors you should be considering are the window performance, installation process, and the warranty. There are a few red flags that you should be aware of to avoid falling for some of the more common scams.
7 Common Window Replacement Scams
These master manipulators at window replacement companies take advantage of homeowners. Here are some common scams experienced by customers.
- Advertising: Price Seems Too Good to be True
Pay attention to the fine print in advertisements for replacement windows. Everyone wants a good deal, but that does not mean you will necessarily get quality. If a contractor is offering an unusually low price, that often represents the price of the most basic option available in a size that doesn’t fit most window frames. The actual price, after disregarding all the gimmicks, may be much more than the original offer.
- The Neighborhood Discount
Another common sales tactic is when a window salesman knocks on your door to inform you that they are working on projects in your neighborhood and offer you a discount. Never fall for this sales trick. Simply thank them for letting you know.
- Buy 1 Get 1 Half Off
Don’t fall for the “buy at full price get the second half off” pricing scheme. Some contractors will even throw in other perks such as free labor or extra discounts. This is a cover-up for the mark-ups on the windows and fees they will charge. After everything is added, the homeowner will end up paying more.
- Buy Right Now
If a window replacement contractor pressures you into buying right this minute, it means they don’t want to give you any time to think about the purchase. Window scammers may say that the price is only available for a limited time, making it appear as if you are getting a really good deal. This is not the case, so don’t fall for it.
- Husband and Wife Must Be Present
Ever wonder why a window company would say that a husband and wife must be present to receive their quote? They want to talk both of you into buying replacement windows on the spot. These companies have been in business for a while and know the type of answers they will get if the husband or wife is alone at home, like, “I’ll have to talk it over with my spouse.”
They can’t close the deal when confronted with this answer. The next best option is to wait for both of you to be at home at the same time. If they tell you that their offer will only be valid for a few days, then it was never a good deal to begin with.
- Model Home Windows Program
This is when a company offers to sell you their replacement windows for a low price so they can use your house as an example of the great work they do. The expectation is that if all your neighbors see how good the windows look on your home, others will want the same thing. Although it sounds like a great deal, it is not.
You know they’re probably going to do a great job because they want to show off their work at your home. The catch is you have to hurry and sign up to get it done because it is only being offered to one home in the neighborhood. Don’t be pressured. You should do your research before signing to avoid buyer’s remorse.
- All Warranties Are the Same
This is completely false. Each window manufacturer has different warranties. They vary from two years to limited lifetime warranties. A short warranty on replacement windows is generally not a good thing. Replacement windows should last for decades. If the warranty is only for a few years, that doesn’t speak well for the quality of the product.
The warranty on any window or door product is a direct indication of how long the manufacturer expects the product to hold up. If they offer a long and comprehensive warranty, that indicates that they are confident that the windows will last. If they offer a shorter or more limited warranty, they don’t expect the product to last after that period.
Carefully read the warranties because they are all different. Some window companies will only cover hardware, while others won’t honor their warranty if you live near water. It’s important to know what’s in a warranty before you sign anything. Differences in window manufacturers warranties include:
- Labor Coverage. Labor is usually covered for a limited time. It includes installation and service.
- Glass Break Coverage. Some window companies offer this option at an additional cost while others don’t offer glass break coverage at all.
- Hardware & Moving Parts. Can you use your warranty if you find yourself needing to replace the hardware on some of your windows after ten years of living in your home? It depends on the window company. Some companies cover the hardware, valances and all moving parts for as long as you own the home and some limit that coverage to just a few years.
- Screen Coverage. Replacing a screen in a window is an easy and inexpensive fix. However, some window companies still do not cover them in their warranties.
- Coastal Coverage. Some window companies define coastal as being within 1 to 5 miles of any tidal body of water. The warranty is very limited because of the location of your home.
Pay Attention to the Signs
Buyers need to be aware and check out the company before they do business. Shady contractors tend to have the following traits.
- Overly aggressive sales pitch and the urgency to start immediately
- Demand for an immediate down payment, often cash only
- No written bid or contract
- Inability or reluctance to offer references
- No physical address or only a PO Box
- Out of state license plates or out of state phone numbers
- Salesperson spends too much time bashing a competitor
- They avoid showing the warranty
- Change the name of their business to avoid honoring the warranty
- The product and installation are not good
- They promise to lower your energy bill
- Local phone only goes to voicemail or answering service
- They charge extra for necessary install steps: sealing the windows or finishing the exterior
What to Ask a Contractor
By asking a few simple questions, you can weed out the window replacement contractors that don't meet your expectations.
- Do you charge for an estimate?
- How long have you been in the construction business?
- Do you subcontract your work?
- Is someone from your company on-site during the installation process?
- Is there a specific window type or brand you use or recommend?
- How would I handle service issues after the installation is complete?
- What are your payment terms?
- How much time will it take, from ordering to installation?
- How do you finish out the interior of the windows after installation?
- What type of warranty do you offer on your installation, including the warranty on the windows?
- Do you have any recent projects where I can see how the windows look?
- Do you have any customer referrals?
- Ask to see the company’s state license and verify it online.
How to Protect Yourself
Homeowners can avoid scams and advertising schemes by doing their due diligence. Here are some helpful tips.
- Check the company’s Reliability Report with the Better Business Bureau.
- Make sure you have valid contact information.
- Never pay with cash. When paying by check or credit card you have at least some way to safeguard your money.
- Get multiple bids before buying replacement windows.
- Obtain recommendations from family, friends, and neighbors.
- Work with reputable local window replacement businesses.
- Read online reviews. Check sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, or Google.
- If you decide to make a purchase, ask for a dated cancellation form and a dated receipt. Note the Federal Trade Commission Cooling-off Rule.
- Report the scammers. File a complaint with your Better Business Bureau if you are unfortunate enough to be a scam victim.
A reputable window replacement company will inform you of all the available options. They will discuss with you the different designs, styles, and colors available. Knowledgeable and experienced window contractors will always consider your needs and offer solutions to meet those needs.
Honest contractors will proceed to take measurements of your window openings and give you a competitive price without all of the exaggerated discounts and sales tactics. A good window company will not pressure you into buying a product that you’re not ready to spend money on.
Hire the Local Good Guys
At Banner Construction, we’re dedicated to helping homeowners find the best solutions for any window replacement project. Our experience and commitment to service set us apart from the competition. We carry only premier replacement window brands: Pella and Simonton, so you know you’re getting high quality windows with solid warranties.
If you’re in the market for new windows, we’d love to talk. Contact us today to get started.