Volume 13, Issue 9 - November/December 2012

Dear DWM

Dealing with the “Monster”

Dear DWM:
I really enjoyed your editorial on warranties in the recent issue of DWM (see September DWM, From the Publisher, page 4). You bring up some great points. Unfortunately, the window industry has created a monster because of the way windows and warranties are sold to a consumer.

Take new construction. In a large percentage of cases, the builder selects the windows. In general, the homeowner has very little input into the selection process. They are buying a house already made up of doors and windows. A good builder may supply the homeowner with a warranty package that contains the warranties for all of the covered components, but most homeowners don’t know what is or isn’t in it (or what’s covered or not covered) until there is a problem. At this point it is too late. Generally, the consumer gets less than what they thought. In essence the warranties are an afterthought, if any thought at all.

In replacement window sales, warranties are used in just the opposite way. A large percentage of replacement window sales organizations use warranties to create a misconception with the homeowner. In replacement applications, the homeowner generally is focused on one thing, the doors or windows in which they are investing. Most window manufacturers’ warranties say “Lifetime” in big bold letters on the top.

Because most sales organization feel that no homeowner will read the small print, they tend to leave the homeowner with the impression that everything in the window is covered for a lifetime, including installation and service. Because, in most cases, window manufacturers can’t control who is going to be installing their products, the fine print excludes improperly installed windows. While certain parts of the window may be covered, the cost to come out and service the defective part is not covered in most cases. Unfortunately, most homeowners are guided to make the assumption that someone will be there, no matter what the problem is, and to resolve it free of charge. The misled homeowner takes the salesperson at his word and does not read or clarify the small print. When there is a problem, the homeowner is bounced from one of the three companies (sales, manufacturing subcontractor installer) involved in the job. The homeowner gets frustrated because he is being told what the letter of the warranty says when they were led to believe otherwise—“Lifetime covers everything for a Lifetime” which is totally wrong. The problem is that the homeowner never realizes he was misled until he has a problem. Warranties are used as sales tools in many industries. I feel the window industry needs to better job of making the homeowner aware of they can expect for their investment in new doors and windows.

Steve Rennekamp, president
Energy Swing Windows, Murrysville, Pa.


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