UPDATE 10/30/2011: Found out today that Penguin has gone out of business. While it’s sad for a company to lay off workers, it’s also not something I’m going to cry about given their sales practices. They may have had a great product, but they were doing it a disservice by “selling” it the way they did.
Also, here is a huge thread of people having various things to say about the whole process they experienced. Some had a good time, others were like me. No idea the breakdown.
Tara and I had the highest pressure sales situation we’ve probably experienced. I’ll wait until the end to tell you what company…
So, last week, a guy came by during the day and and Tara if we’d like a free quote on vinyl windows, and if we did it, we’d get a free $25 gas card (should have been clue 1). Said it would take 60-90 minutes (should have been clue 2). She said sure, and they set up an appointment for Dec. 1, at 7pm. She double and triple checks that there’s no obligation, that we’ve thought about Vinyl windows, but we are short on money right now, so we can’t really buy anything. Guy says cool, and continues his walk, knock, and talk. For the record, our neighborhood is about 60/40 Vinyl to Aluminum windows… you’ll hear why later.
So, we leave town and go to Walla Walla for Turkey day, and Saturday morning at about 10am, I get a call on my cell to confirm the appointment. Though, I’m really confused because it sounded like he was talking about 7am, not 7pm. But, anywho, I confirm, hang up, and try to go back to sleep.
So, we’re back at home Monday, and at about 6:45pm, we hear a car pull up and someone rings the bell. Okay, so he’s 15min early (clue 3). We let him in, and he seems very introverted or something… just kinda stands there and doesn’t say much. Says he’s driven from Vancouver, that the Eugene office isn’t open yet, etc. So, after probably 10-15 minutes of chatting, he goes around and measures the windows (and makes all kinds of comments about the windows sweating, there being some mold on the kitchen one, etc), takes temperature readings (with an IR thermometer… which I wouldn’t think would be very good at telling the temperature of a pane of glass since clear glass is pretty IR transparent (to my recollection)… which, comes into play later. Anywho, all the windows are about 4F cooler than the surrounding walls (which is kinda good, means none of them are really worse than the others). And, we have 10 windows, plus a sliding glass door that would be replaced (we have a window in the garage too, but we’re not really thinking of replacing it anytime soon).
Okay, so, he then sits down and shows us all this marketing material about their company, the windows, etc. Then he does some basic numbers, and shows us the price range for various windows. So, by this time, we see about $23000-$27000 for how many windows we have. We play it cool, and keep going. Then he breaks out the samples of windows (builders grade, superior, etc). Has us boil some water (which took 10 minutes (couldn’t he have mentioned this a while ago?)) and then drops in succession each of the competitor window frame samples in the water. About 7 seconds later, pulls them out, and smooches them. Wow, go figure, Vinyl gets flexible when hot… who didn’t know that that’s ever sat on a school bus on a hot day (PVC seats) or tried to bend PVC tubing and reached for a heat gun/blow dryer). *sigh* didn’t have the heart to tell him I was a Chem major. anywho… then makes a big deal out of the fact that their windows have a fiberglass skeleton and has us try to bend that after about 5 minutes in the water. wow, it doesn’t bend! *head desk*
Okay, so now, he takes this IR lamp (like a bathroom heat lamp), which he had earlier put on one side of the sliding glass door, and had us feel the heat coming through, and turns it on with a BTU meter pointing at it. Then gets it to top out at 450BTU. Okay, so then he takes a single pane glass sheet, and sticks it infront. Great, 350BTU. The he takes a a two pane sheet (air between the panes), and does that. About 250BTUs. Then one with some low-e coating, about 150BTUs. Then wall insulation pressed between two sheets, 20BTUs, then their window sample… wow, 30BTUs! Okay, so they’re good… though again, glass is pretty IR transparent I thought… so maybe there are multiple low-e coatings?!?!
Then he shows us a small version of their windows, and does this thing where he stands on the window… wow, it doesn’t break! Tara then gets to pick colors, and after deciding…
He sits down and crunches the numbers. By this time, it’s around 9:15. So, 2.5 hours later. Takes him like 8 minutes to crunch the numbers, and what do you know… $38k. *head explodes* I tell him that’s about 1/6th of what we paid for the house, and he admits that’s high. So then there’s a 5% discount for winter… which is about $1900. Then there’s thing thing that’s called a success discount (don’t get me started… it’s smart, but still very sales-y), which is 11%. So, we say, he should apply them the other way around… he then says “well, they’re actually applied at the same time”, so he does it again)… note: 38000 – .05(38000) = 36100 – .11(36100) != 38000 – .16(38000) = 31920. *head desk*.
So, when he’s all done with the discounts, he’s got it down to about $32k. *head still explodes*. And does the math for financing, and it’s like, $500/month for 10 years, or $400 for 12 years. We tell him our energy bills, averaged for the year, are about $50/month (that’s with the cost of me running servers, though I don’t run nearly as much computer equipment as I used to). With the 40% savings they guarantee ($20/month), that means it’d take 150years for the windows to pay for themselves. I also tell him our energy rates (4.63 cents/KWH) haven’t increased in 10 years, and that putting in forced air already decreased our energy bills by about 50% from last winter (SUB in Springfield is about 2/3 the average cost of someone in Eugene… which I think is why 40% of the people in our area have not changed to Vinyl windows… it just isn’t cost effective). Just FYI, PGE is 5.13cents per KWH. The average in California, 12 cents/KWH!!! This guy was from San Fran… no wonder he didn’t understand why we didn’t jump on it!
He sees that we’re still freaked by $32k, and then goes into his next schtick. He calls the office, which still has someone there (that sounds extremely sales-y) and says that we’re obviously freaked, and the guy says “okay, cut it to $29k”. So, at this point, it’s like 22% or something off the original quote. Which is cool, but it’s still as much as I paid for my car… which, I tell him, we really can’t afford anything like this until the car is paid off. He asks when that’ll be, I say like “3 years” at which point he says something like “which reminds me, never buy a Prius”. STRIKE 3, you’re OUTTA HERE!!! “We basically tell him that’s what we have” and you can see his heart just sink completely out his shoes. He tries to argue the batteries only last 10 years, that the resale isn’t worth it, etc etc. He’s done. He calls the guy at the office back, guy tells him he should sell us on a partial (where they do like, 4 windows and defer payments, etc. We tell him no, and he calls back and says we’re escorting him out the door… at about 10pm. *sigh*
So, 3 hours later, we have a quote for a LOT of money… and after he leaves we realize “wait, we paid about $30k for our car, and put about 6k down. So, 24k, 60 month loan, we pay $400 a month”… why the hell is a $32k, 120 month loan, $500/month? Figures, I didn’t ask about interest rates…
All and all, the experience was good, yet tiring, and extremely frustrating since it was apparent that the company is very sales driven, and the guy much have been under pretty strict orders not to accept “no” without a fight. *shrugs* I really did feel sorry for him because the guy that came door to door didn’t relay the “we really can’t afford it now” bit… or the fact we had a lot of windows. About 250 sq ft of glass.
So, the moral of the story… if you have a guy from Penguin windows ask to do a free quote, either tell them no, or clear your schedule for the evening. Because he probably would have been there longer if we didn’t shoo him out around 10pm. God knows how long he would have been there if he just came during the day when Tara was home… stories online talk about 4.5-5 hour visits… and they all say that the door to door guy tells them 60-90 minutes. I guess that the actual measurement and quote time did take that long… it was all the rest of the crap that took hours. It’s like a whole infomercial in your house… and you can’t change the channel.
Guess we’ll see if we actually receive our $25 gas card… at this point, that’s 1.5 tanks of gas for our “worthless” Prius. =P