A tale of two companies

Not too long ago, we conducted business with a nationally known company. As a matter of fact, it was the second time we had done so. The first time was at our previous house and we had them install a set of top of the line french doors. Great experience. This last time we had them install a back door and a double window, arched, at our new home. Those two items were also their top of the line models just for the simple fact the door faced east and the window faced west over a concrete driveway. No shade. South Texas summers turned those two locations into broiling points, hence we went with the highest insulating factors possible in the products. The product selection and install went great. The only thing that left a bad impression was when we did the final walk-through with the agent handling our install. We told him we needed to eventually replace all the other windows in the house and since we were repeat customers we wondered if there was any kind of loyalty discount, especially given the amount of money we had already spent. He was totally flippant and said if we replaced ALL the windows at one time then maybe they might consider some sort of discount. Well, if we won the lottery we might have been able to do that considering we had 27 more windows to go.

Fast forward three years. We have three windows that definitely need replacing. I’ve put solar screens on them but that does nothing for the leakage issue. Yes, leakage. They’re the cheapest builder-grade aluminum crap you can possibly get and even when closed and locked many of them have some sort of gap. Weatherstripping and caulking helped to a certain degree but still didn’t completely solve the issue. After doing some research we scheduled an in-home appointment with a local company, and I went online and scheduled an appointment with the national company we had used before.

The local company sent an email with the date and time of our appointment along with a pic and personal bio of the gentleman who would be the consultant. I liked that because it gave me an idea of who we were dealing with. The company has been around for decades and has a stellar reputation.

When I scheduled the national company I received an email verifying the appointment date and time with a confirmation number. Two days before the appointment I received another email reminding me of the appointment along with a bio of the salesman. The layout of the email was kind of strange, though, and since the bio was tucked down the side it wasn’t something that you noticed right away. Let’s just say the description was…interesting. It’s not often I have to look up a definition to figure out what a particular hobby is.

The day before the appointment I receive an Express UPS package with a “formal” (i.e. invitation type fold out) announcement of our appointment the next day telling me to “relax” along with two green tea bags. Now I’ll flat out say that was weird. I’d expect something like that placed on the table or on the bed of a hotel room, not for a window replacement consultation, and sending it Express UPS was an unnecessary expense. And trust me, if I’m spending $$$$, green tea is NOT going to relax me.

Since hubby and I both wanted to be present for the appointments, we scheduled them on the same day with the local company coming out in the morning and the national company in the afternoon. The local company called an hour prior confirming we’d be here, and the gentleman showed up five minutes early. The presentation was excellent, very thorough, very knowledgeable with extensive documentation of their product line. He brought with him a working “mini” window so one could examine all the features. The warranty is outstanding and they have a very good reputation. Since we are planning to eventually do all of our windows, in stages of course, he gave us a very nice discount. So nice of a discount that we added in the double window in the front room to the estimate to be done along with the original three. We told him we would discuss the bids we received that evening and make a decision what company we’d go with by the next day.

He leaves, we do some chores around the house, then the time draws near for the national company to come out. Hubby has been checking his phone but has not received a phone call from said company, even though all the emails and express package said they would call before they came, have proper ID, etc, etc. We go sit in the front room about five minutes before the appointment and talk while watching out the window for the salesman. We watch. We wait. We talk. Appointment time comes and goes, five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen, etc. After almost an hour of waiting hubby calls the office to let them know the guy hasn’t shown up yet and to see how much longer it will be. The woman checks, verifies our name and says yeah, you’re on the calender. Almost as an afterthought she asked if we wanted her to send someone else out another time. Let’s just say hubby was not happy, and he declined the offer.

The next day we called the local company to let them know we were going with them. A few hours later the gentleman came back out to the house with the contract, and once everything was signed and sealed we let him know about our experience with the national company. To say the least he was shocked, especially considering we were repeat customers with that company. Then he recalled the day before he had an appointment with another couple in the area. They ended up signing a contract with him at the end of the presentation. They also told him the same national company had sent a salesman out earlier that day and they were totally NOT impressed with the way he had conducted himself, described him as being ‘all over the place’ in his presentation and really unprofessional. We joked that at least he showed up for that couple, but ended up being a no show for us.

At the very least I expected a phone call or an email from the San Antonio branch manager of the national company apologizing for the situation or offering an explanation for the no show. Nope. Nothing at all. I was a bit ticked so I sent an email to their corporate site along with a description of what had happened, the confirmation number for the appointment so they could verify the information, etc. Did I get any reply to that email? No. In fact, a few days later a survey company they contract out to sent an email wanting to know how my appointment had gone! Unbelievable. Needless to say I took the survey and I let them know exactly how I felt. Almost a week later I received an email from the survey feedback saying they were “sorry they were not able to assist me in a timely manner and sorry to learn they had fallen short of their goal of exceptional customer service.” They were also going to forward my feedback to the South Texas sales manager. Okie dokie.

The vice president (at least that’s what they told hubby) called to say “sorry, the salesman was not aware of the appointment.” Sorry buddy, not buying that excuse, not after two emails and an Express UPS package regarding said appointment. Maybe the salesman was too busy with recreational things to make it over here, given the description from the other couple of him being ‘all over the place’.

It turns out that fiasco was a blessing in disguise. I started doing some looking around on review websites regarding that national company. Talk about dodging a bullet! Complaint after complaint after complaint recently about lousy service, lousy install, defective products, rude employees and in short a total runaround. Many had included pictures of the problems and it was not a pretty sight. Some problems had gotten so bad it resulted in a class action lawsuit, and it looks like more lawsuits are to follow. Really sad to see how far a once stellar company has slid into the gutter.

Keeping our fingers crossed that the local company we’ve signed with is as good as they seem. They’ve already pleasantly surprised us—less than a week after signing the contract we received a nice card in the mail from them along with a gift card to a popular steakhouse that more than covered a dinner for two. So far, so good.


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