Monday, April 24, 2006

Window Shopping, Literally

**And quite possibly the worst customer service I've had all year.
Avoid this place like the plague!**

Our 70-year-old house seriously needs some windows. I'd say about 12
of the however-many-we-have need to be replaced. This is a pretty
pricey undertaking, and surely one of the ways that we were able to
get a bargain (okay, if a half-million dollar house is really a
bargain) on our beloved abode. We fully plan to do these a few at a
time, because we just don't have that kind of cash to lay out all at
once. And we're psyched about the paltry but still valuable tax break
that new windows can bring us.

I'm pretty nervous about the window-replacing endeavor, because they
1. have to be done full-on, you know, not the glass but the whole
frame and everything and 2. this is just one of those things that we
don't fool ourselves that we could do. It just isn't. Gaping holes in
the house, removing siding, doing this on the second story…no thanks.
And then it's all about reconciling in your head whether $$$$X sounds
like a lot for a window and installation, knowing that it's just not
one of those things you'd ever fool around with yourself. I mean,
there's a premium on getting something done right, but how much of a

So I headed over to this place called Tri State Window Factory
(, which is, as you might guess, in the NY
tri-state area. They send flyers out in the paper. I am typically
suspicious of folks who do that, depending on which little local
papers they're sent out with, but I figured that this is an easy way
to get a ballpark estimate of what windows, installed, might cost. And
they advertise that they can come out to the house to do estimates,
which was great because I'm worried about whether we measured the
windows properly and all. But I started at the showroom.

So here's how it went: The showroom is tiny, in an office park. No
bells and whistles. The first person to approach me, a young woman,
asked whether she could help me and I said yes, I'm here because I
need to buy some windows and would like to learn about your products.
She then insisted that she get some "personal information" from me
before helping me one step further. I expressed confusion as to why
I'd need to supply a page worth of info (I could see the form on her
clipboard) if I didn't even know whether I'd be doing business with
them. She said, "Oh, it's our policy, we need this info." I still
resisted. She said she'd find someone to help me.

A fellow called Bob came out and asked what I needed. I said, of
course, windows. He said, I understand you wouldn't give us any of
your personal information. I said, why would I, if I don't know
anything about your product yet? I want to see what you have, what
your prices are, etc. He looked very stern. I felt very uncomfortable
and said, what? Should I leave or something? He said YES! I said,
you're making a mistake--don't you want to do business with someone
who needs 12 windows? You'd be losing a big sale. He said, I'm not
worried, I can afford it. I left saying, good luck getting any
customers with this attitude. I was literally there for about 90

I don't look like a scrub who was just going to waste their time. I
look like I could really be shopping for windows for a home that I
own. And this isn't a contractor-only place, either. But for the life
of me I can't figure out why they were such jerks. Also I'm quite
concerned that the prices that they would have quoted me would have
depended on the personal info that I supplied. Perhaps they thought
they could get more money out of me, if I had the "right" address or
last name? In any case, until a sale is made, they don't need any
personal information from me, apart from my first name, which I gladly

I gave this information to the Better Business Bureau, though I don't
know whether there's much they can do considering I didn't actually
have a chance to buy anything!

The morals of this story? 1. Don't bother doing business with people
who don't want your business. There are plenty of good people out
there who will treat their customers well. 2. Don't shop at places
that advertise in cheesy-looking, glossy circulars. They advertiser
there for a reason—no one else wants them! 3. When salespeople give
"It's just our policy" for a reason for anything they do and can't
really justify their actions, run for the hills. 4. Just when you
thought you've had really crummy customer service, someone else comes
along to take the cake. It always amazes me that people can behave
like that, and still have a business.

Any tri-staters have any reliable window places they can recommend? ☺


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