A new window installation, like most home improvement projects, requires the work of a team of professionals. Resorting to DIY, after all, can leave you open to mistakes that can lead to water damage and other issues that are too costly to deal with. With the assistance of a contractor, you can rest easy knowing that your investment will last long and withstand the local weather.
Unfortunately, there’s a small percentage of window installers who commit deceitful acts just to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners. They may use subpar materials, charge for unnecessary services, or become aggressive in an effort to generate a sale. As a homeowner, it is imperative that you are wary of a few window replacement scams. STL Windows Direct highlights some of the most common below.
1. Demand for a Large Down Payment
A potential window contractor asking for a large down payment or even a full price before they start installing your chosen windows should be avoided at all costs. If you find a prospect who does this, proceed to the next one, preferably one who can get the job done quickly and efficiently. While modest down payments aren’t uncommon in home improvement projects, a large down payment is a tactic often used by such contractors to take your money and run, leaving you with poorly-installed windows.
A reputable contractor usually asks for a down payment that doesn’t exceed 20% of the projected total project cost. It is considered a red flag, however, if another contractor asks for a down payment that is 50% or higher.
2. High-Pressure Sales Tactics
Another approach that scamming window contractors employ involves the use of different high-pressure sales tactics in an attempt to force you into a decision you aren’t ready for. They may knock on your door unannounced and try to pressure you into an agreement. These unsolicited salespeople may make grand promises, like offering highest-quality products at a fraction of the cost. They’ll also likely pressure you into making a deal quickly. Scammers will ask you to sign a contract on the spot or mislead you into thinking that the offer won’t be available if you don’t agree right away.
Scammers may also use “Buy X, Get X Free” offers as bait. They promise additional products or services, often related to window treatments or extended warranties, at no extra cost. Then they add the fee onto your bill at the end. A similar technique involves “special discounts”. For example, the contractor might offer a steep discount for ordering their products before the end of the month. Typically the “discount” price is really their standard price.
The contractor or company representative may also try to pressure both partners into the same room under the guise of having a discussion about their preferred products. In reality, this is an attempt to pressure you into making a quick decision. It’s rare for someone to make an expensive decision without consulting their partner, so by insisting that both of you are present, the scammer has a better shot at pressuring you into a purchase.
As a homeowner, you have to be wary of high-pressure sales tactics, as this will put you in a position where you won’t have time thinking everything through or doing the necessary research. With that in mind, don’t be intimidated by salespeople or feel like you have to make an immediate decision. If you feel like something is too good to be true, it probably is. Be on guard and try not to rush everything, especially when it comes to signing a contract with a window installer who employs such tactics discussed above.
Ideally, you’ll want to get multiple quotes from prospective local contractors in your area. In doing so, you can make thorough assessments, which allows you to scope your budget and encourage the prospects to be competitive with their pricing.
3. Hidden Costs
Scammers may also use hidden costs, such as labor or delivery fees, that are added to the bill after you’ve already signed a contract. This shady practice is designed to squeeze more money out of unsuspecting homeowners who often aren’t aware they’re being taken advantage of until it’s too late.
Before signing a contract, make sure you get all of the details in writing. This includes the cost of materials and installation, the type of window being installed, warranties and completion date. It’s essential to read through everything carefully before signing any agreement to ensure that both parties are aware of what they’re responsible for in case something goes wrong down the line. Check for any extra fees or unexplained items that weren’t discussed before signing, as well as hidden provisions such as a clause stating that you can’t hire competitors of the contractor if something goes wrong. It pays to comb through these documents thoroughly and make sure you understand what you agree to.
4. Low-Quality Materials
Replacement windows are a sound investment if they remain intact and require less need for maintenance and repairs over their life span. That said, be sure to watch out for contractors who use low-quality materials or cut corners during installation, resulting in shoddy workmanship. Such installers leave you with a mess, a hefty repair bill, and, worse, a less appealing set of windows.
One sign a company may be using low-quality materials is when a salesperson claims that a shorter warranty is a better option than a long one. The standard duration of the warranty should match or exceed the industry average. The shorter warranty could be an indication that the contractor plans to cut corners and use subpar materials and installation techniques, leading to costly damage. Worse, the damage may appear after the shorter warranty has expired. Contractors that require full payment upfront may also be using poor materials, lack experience with installation or do an awful job with it.
To avoid window companies who provide less-than-stellar workmanship, make sure you check the licenses, credentials and insurance status of your prospects. Contractors who are unlicensed and uninsured may also be operating illegally. Asking for references is also a great way to get an honest opinion of the contractor you’re looking to work with. Contact past customers to find out their experience, such as if they were satisfied with the work and if it was finished on time and within budget.
Turn to STL Windows Direct for Your Window Replacement Needs
At STL Windows Direct, transparency and honesty are an integral part of our business. When you choose us for your door and window installation project, you’ll be working with an experienced team who provides a high level of quality and service that you won’t see in any other window company. It all starts with the exceptional window product that we offer — Smart 365 Innovations. It is a window system designed specifically for the St. Louis weather and can help you save up to 35% on your energy bills.