Step #3 – You Know What Type of Window You Want, But Who Do You Get it From?
There are literally thousands of choices when it comes to windows and the options that are available, however the tough decision is who to buy the windows from. Everyone offers low-e glass and welded corners on their vinyl windows, so how do you decide who to buy from? This step will show you how to make a good decision when it comes to who to work with after you’ve decided what you want.
TOPICS – There are five topics you need to be aware of to make an informed decision when purchasing windows. Only awareness of all 5 topics will ensure that you are comparing apples to apples when reviewing all available window choices.
The five topics are
- Customer Service
We will discuss each topics separately. They are not listed here in order of importance, because hopefully after reading this step, you can rank them yourself in order of importance, to help you make a decision that works best for you.
Location may be more important to you because of your personal preferences and perceptions. However, warranty may be more important to another, so rank them based on whats most important to you. That way if you get to a point where you are having a hard time deciding between window manufacturers, you can go back to what’s most important to you, to help you make a decision.
TOPIC 1 – WARRANTY
If you are going to be in your house for only a few years then the warranty really won’t be that important to you. If you’re there for the long haul then this will be extremely important to you. I had a customer who was 76 years old. He was purchasing wood windows for the library in his house.
I was offering a window that had a 25 year warranty. He actually said well product B has a 30 year warranty if you can give me a 30 year warranty I’ll do the deal. I didn’t tell him this but I was thinking man, you are going to be 101 years old when my warranty runs out. Is it really that important to have a warranty from 102 to 106?
The thing to remember with warranty is what does it mean for you? Is it just a piece of paper that says we have good windows because we have a 50 year warranty or is it a document that says, if something goes wrong in 15 years, I can get it taken care of at no charge.
I wouldn’t get caught up in how long the warranty is, but what the warranty is. Most Vinyl windows have a lifetime warranty nowadays. So does it mean a vinyl window with a 25 year warranty is a lesser window? Not necessarily. Here are the points that are important to remember with warranties.
First - Does the warranty include labor? If you have a failed glass unit in 8 years, are they going to send a technician out to replace the glass or are they going to send you a piece of glass via UPS? Many times they will send you a piece of glass and a list of local companies that you can pay to install the glass for you.
The best warranties will include labor to fix all parts, pieces and glass components. If the entire window needs to come out then the warranty should cover the window, freight, taxes, delivery and the labor to install it. I know one window company whose warranty states that if they so choose they can opt to send you a check for the fair market value of the window at the time of the warranty failure. Great 10 years later you have a defective window and a check for 42 dollars.
Second – Is the warranty pro-rated? Many window companies have warranties that say lifetime but they are only a full warranty for 10 years then 75% after 15 years, 50% after 20 years and so on and so forth. Make sure it’s a full warranty for as long as you are going to be in the home.
Third – What part and pieces does the warranty cover. Many will cover the glass from failure and the frame from bowing, peeling, cracking and fading but wont cover moving parts like rollers and locks for more than one or two years.
BONUS TIP – when comparing warranties, don’t simply ask what it covers. If there is something that is important to you ask if it covers that component, then ask them to show you where it says that in the wording of the warranty. Also remember the warranty is only as good as the company but now we’re getting into reputation and we will discuss that in the appropriate topic.
TOPIC 2 – CUSTOMER SERVICE
When I talk about customer service, I am talking about things that need to be done in the first few weeks after your windows are installed. A warranty issue, would be something down the road that occurs a few years later, after your windows have been installed and everything was initially ok.
A customer service issue is something that occurs the day you begin to install your windows. Say for example you are unwrapping your replacement windows las vegas and find that one window is missing the lock. How are these problems taken care of? Do you call a 1-800 number and sit on hold for hours just to leave a message and have no one call you back for two weeks?
You need to ask how customer service items are taken care of. If they say you call 1-800-WEFIXIT and we come out and fix it. Call the number before you purchase and see what type of response you get. A good company will send you what’s called a “care package” with your window order. It will be a box full of some extra parts and pieces, just in case one is missing or functioning incorrectly.
Once again the customer service will only be as good as the company but once again we will discuss this under the reputation topic.
TOPIC 3 – FEATURES/QUALITY
Say both window companies have an auto-lock, are they therefore equal choices? No auto-locks vary wildly in quality. You have to look at the quality of the features, not just that features are available.
Some companies use 100% virgin vinyl. However, if there are no UV inhibitors in the vinyl the whole window will turn yellow in a few years. Make sure when you are comparing features that you aren’t simply comparing availability, but rather the quality of the features. To assume that two windows that both have Low-E glass are equal simply because they both have Low-E would be a grave mistake.
As I said in the last report, decide what features are important to you, then when comparing two or more choices, compare the quality of the features in question, to make sure you are comparing apples to apples. For example. . .
Consumer A is concerned about security, so both window sales people say, we have an autolock, so you never have to worry about your windows being locked. When you close your window, they are locked. So the homeowner moves on to item number 2 assuming all autolocks are the same. However, if she would’ve compared the auto-locks she would’ve noticed that one has an identifier to let you know the window is locked for sure. The inferior lock doesn’t have this indicator so the window could be shut almost the whole way and wont be locked. Her home could be wide open to burglars because she didn’t compare the quality of the two auto-locks.
Consumer B may be concerned more with energy efficiency so he opts for a cam lock, because they create a tighter seal. However, once again all cam locks are not equal and some will create a tighter seal than others.
REMEMBER – Choose the features that are important to you, then compare the quality of the features themselves, not simply the availability of the feature.
TOPIC 4 – LOCATION
This should be a short topic. All other things being equal, choose a window where the fulfillment center is closer to you. If you live in San Diego and buy your replacement windows las vegas, you may not want to expect the best customer service and warranty response.
It is more environmentally friendly to order your windows locally if possible. Sure they all ship in parts from around the country to build the windows, but once they are assembled it has a lower impact on the environment if they aren’t trucked in from 200 miles away after they were assembled. If you can buy local, it’s the Green way to buy windows. If there isn’t a local manufacturer, buy from as close as possible, if you are concerned about the environment.
Even if you buy them from your local home center, they still come from Wisconsin or wherever. If you ever need parts, pieces, replacements, or a service tech, they will have to come a long way.
PS – No home centers do not carry, parts, pieces, warranty items and do not employ service techs to handle your customer service needs. They are simply a middle man, to get in the way and mess everything up. (in my experience) Try to get your windows directly from the factory if possible. Some people want to go to the local home center because they get a certain piece of mind knowing they are dealing with a large chain. However, if the company you buy the windows from goes out of business, the home center will not honor the warranty for you. They will tell you sorry, they went out of business, you have no warranty. So once again, it boils down to reputation.
TOPIC 5 – REPUTATION
Well we’ve talked about this topic in just about every other topic, so we don’t have to discuss very much here. Just remember, your warranty, customer service and quality is only as good as the company you buy from. Make sure you feel comfortable with the company you are dealing with.
You may want to ask, how long have you been in business? Who are some of your customers? How can I be assured you will be around in 5, 10 or 20 years? Are the windows built in someone’s garage around the corner or are they built in a state of the art factory, owned by a Fortune 500 company?
I actually heard an eventual customer of mine tell me of a company simply refusing to warranty some fading windows that had turned yellow. They told the homeowner flat out, not we are not sending replacements for your faded windows. The customer said, you had better warranty them or you will be hearing from our lawyer. They actually responded saying, we lots of lawyers, go ahead and try.
This company is out of business now, for obvious reasons, but you really need to make sure you feel comfortable with the window company you are dealing with. Like they say, money saved on a cheap product lasts a few weeks but the agony of purchasing a cheap product lasts a lifetime.
So that’s it, I hope you learned what you need to know to make sure you are comparing apples to apples when deciding between competing window products, now for what you’ve been waiting for. . .