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Windows Pittsburgh: Replacement Windows 101

What you need to know and understand before buying replacement windows.

The Q & A here is to help consumers who have never bought vinyl replacement windows avoid the gimmicks and rip-offs associated with the home improvement business. Since 1995, consumers have been lied to with the introduction of the $189 installed vinyl window. The bait and switch advertising of installed vinyl windows for $189 spread from North Carolina to most of the U.S. like wildfire. The old saying “a lie will make it half way around the world before the truth can get its pants on” is the best way to explain the $189 bait and switch window. In 2009, Pennsylvania passed the HIC law making deceptive advertising by contractors ILLEGAL! As of 2017, consumers are still being misled with false advertising. The following information exposes many of the deceptive marketing methods used nationwide in the sale of goods and services to homeowners. Fortunately, for you, we will explain what the law is and why deceptive advertising is not illegal!

Q. How can it be legal for any company to use false advertising when promoting a product or service?

A. There was a lawsuit between Pizza Hut and Papa John’s Pizza in the 1990’s. Pizza Hut filed a federal lawsuit against Papa John’s “Better Ingredients Better Pizza” advertising and won the case. The verdict was overturned on appeal. The appeals court ruled that Papa John’s advertising amounted to “Puffing”! In other words, the exaggerated claims made by Papa John’s were immaterial. Pizza Hut appealed to the US Supreme Court who refused to hear the case. So now all advertising is considered “Puffing” under federal law. This court decision has opened the door to all the ridiculous Bait and Switch advertising used today in the home improvement business.

Q. What is the legal definition of “Puffing” and how does it affect advertising.

A. Puffing generally is defined as “exaggerated, vague, or loosely optimistic statements about a company that are deemed so immaterial and unworthy of reliance that they cannot serve as the basis for liability. The difference between a statement of fact and mere puffery rests in the specificity or generality of the claim." Advertisers can make any claim, for example: Buy 5 windows and get 5 windows free. The 10 windows in the offer will cost $15,000.00 but you are not obligated to buy them. Since the court considers this advertising as puffing, you cannot take legal action against the company.

Q. Please provide other examples of false advertising considered to be puffing under the law?

A. Here are the current ones we know about. 60% off all roofing, siding and windows, *$208 Installed Windows, $99 Sewer Cleaning, 10 installed electrical outlets $99, Buy one room of flooring get two rooms free, Buy 2 windows and get the 3rd window free, Buy (any service) take 50% off installation and Buy Leaf Guard and get installation for .99 cents. Remember companies advertising in this manor are all “puffing” in the eyes of the law. Your written estimate will look nothing like the advertised sale price or offer. Custom windows and doors are not made until ordered. Specialty building materials bought by contractors never go on sale. Do you know anyone who will install all new gutters with leaf covers for .99 ? We don’t!

Q. Our home phone number is on the “Do Not Call List” so why do we continue to get sales calls?

A. Consumers give their name, address, phone number and e-mail address out all the time. One of the largest collectors of consumer data is Publishers Clearing House. People go online and enter the PCH sweepstakes without reading the fine print. Publishers Clearing House compiles lists of consumer information and sells the information. This is how mailing lists are kept up to date and current. Another gimmick used to get your name and address is a “free contest” to win anything from a house full of windows to a gas card! This is used by larger dealers at home shows to get names and addresses of potential customers. Those names and addresses are turned over to the dealers marketing department that will contact you and attempt to set up a free in-home estimate. If you do not want telemarketing calls, don’t give your number out.

Q. Give some examples of false advertising gimmicks used today in selling large ticket home improvements.

A. The $189.00 installed window now *208, buy 5 windows and get 5 free, 60% off all roofing, siding and windows, buy one room of flooring get two rooms free and the $99 sewer cleaning are all classic examples of False Advertising. Avoid any and all companies who advertise in this manner. No large ticket item is ever free, especially home improvements.

Q. Are there any online resources to check out a business?

A. – Rip-off – Pissed – Angie’s (Free Membership) – Google reviews are some places to look online. Note we intestinally omitted the Better Business Bureau because we do not trust their rating system. There are many businesses that routinely lie to new customers, have all negative customer reviews / complaints and still have an A+ rating with the BBB. Look up: EGumball Inc Irvine, CA. – 77customer complaints - A+ BBB rating.

Q. How expensive is advertising today?

A. Here is a list of various advertising media used in home improvement sales with a cost attached for each. Direct Mail: Clipper and Valpak – Cost $4,000.00 to 8,000.00 each per month. FM Radio – Cost $45 per 15 second spot. Television - Cost $300 to $400 per 30 second commercial. Billboards (large) Cost $4,000 to $6,000 per billboard monthly.

Q. How much money do large remodeling dealers spend on advertising each month?

A. Larger dealers spend anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 per month on advertising. Dealers who consistently advertise on television, radio and billboards typically sell home improvement like roofing, siding, windows and doors at ridiculously high mark-ups. Companies advertising with sports logos like the Pirates or Steelers pay a steep price for using the logo.

Q. What do windows sold by larger dealers typically sell for?

A. Larger dealers like Andersen Renewal, Metropolitan, Pella, West Shore and Window Nation typically sell windows for $1,00.00 to 2,000.00 per opening. The higher price is to cover the dealer’s overhead, commissions, wages, and advertising expenses. It is totally unrelated to the quality, durability, energy efficiency, or the windows’ cost.

Q. Are fiberglass and composite windows sold by larger dealers really that much better than vinyl windows?

A. No they are not! Fiberglass windows are actually weaker at the corners than vinyl windows are. What they fail to mention in the advertising is fiberglass/composite windows are less energy efficient than high quality vinyl windows and have a weak warranty when compared to high quality vinyl windows sold by Windows Pittsburgh. Composite windows sold by Renewal by Andersen and fiberglass windows by Marvin and Pella simply cannot hold triple-pane glass. Due to the high price, there is absolutely no advantage whatsoever for consumers to buy fiberglass or composite replacement windows.

Q. Why is advertising an installed vinyl replacement window for the low price of $189 bait and switch?

A. The advertised price is $189 installed. The final contract price is $415 or $226 dollars more than what was advertised! This is classic “bait and switch” advertising used to sell replacement windows and other large ticket home improvements. Since 1995, not one window was ever sold for $189.00. Note: In 2017 window dealers pay about $160.00 plus tax for a basic white vinyl double hung window with low-e Argon glass. Normal installation costs the dealer $80 to $100 per window making it impossible for anyone to install a vinyl replacement window for $189.00, turn a profit and remain in business.

Q. Please explain how Window World’s pricing system works?

A. The $189 window is a buy-up window only. There never was a $189 installed vinyl window. The actual price paid by the consumer is $415 per unit with Low-E Argon glass and aluminum trim wrap. These two required items are listed as options on Window World’s price list. Window World charges *$98 per window for Low-E glass and *$92 for aluminum trim, there is also a onetime charge of *$175. FYI: Low-e glass is typically included free on most windows bought by larger dealers.

Q. Can the Better Business Bureau protect consumers from companies that use false or misleading advertising?

A. NO! In 2007 the Better Business Bureau of Pittsburgh investigated False Advertising claims made against Window World, the company who sells the $189 window. The BBB found Window World had violated BBB guidelines and moved to revoke Window World’s membership but backed off when Window World attorneys got involved. Window World reached an agreement with the BBB and made some advertising changes. A small * asterisk was added to the *189 price. The company still operates today using the same 1995 business model with prices adjusted for inflation and is still a member of the Better Business Bureau. As of March 2017, Window World Pittsburgh has 64 complaints with the BBB and still has an A+ rating. The BBB revokes the membership of smaller companies who violate their rules while larger companies, with a long history of poor customer service and numerous customer complaints, are given an A+ rating if the company answers the customer complaints. We dropped out of the BBB at the end of 2015. We saw no real benefit in the BBB membership.

Q. Window World shows grown men standing on top of vinyl replacement windows. How is this gimmick done?

A. This is fraudulent advertising, because the windows the men stand on have Tempered Glass in the sashes .Tempered glass easily supports the weight of an adult man without breaking. Tempered glass adds about 100.00 to a window’s cost.

Q. What are some of the other gimmicks used in home improvement sales?

A. Beware of companies that use a price list that shows both regular and sale prices. This is an inflated price list. The so-called sale price is the actual price the product costs all the time. Budget window dealers that leave the written contract showing the total number of windows with the final price may intentionally leave one window off the contract. This gives the customer the illusion that company has the lowest prices. The missing window is still made and held at the warehouse until the day of installation when the crew magically discovers the missing window. The company then offers to make the missing window for the customer the same day of install for an additional charge. If the customer agrees to the inflated price, the window arrives in time to be installed before the crew finishes for the day. Note, vinyl windows take two weeks to make once they are ordered. It is not possible to rush a vinyl window through production, deliver it to the job, and ready to install in just a few hours. We will not name the company just that they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Q. Why do home improvement sales people take hours demonstrating replacement windows?

A. Larger companies selling overpriced replacement windows invest lots of time and money in training sales staff. Their sales presentations are heavily scripted and take time to perform. If done properly, the presentation leaves the homeowner with two choices, the product just demonstrated or nothing at all. Dealers selling at higher prices will typically do a heat lamp demo to show the customer the efficiency of the glass in their windows and somehow justify the ridiculous price. Windows with Low-E Argon glass all perform well in the heat lamp demo, especially windows with triple-pane glass.

Q. Are the higher priced replacement windows sold by Andersen, Marvin, and Pella dealers worth the high price?

A. The short answer is no. All three manufacturers make quality windows but so do other companies. Remember you are replacing your windows to save money on heating your home not help the sales guy make his next BMW payment. Higher priced windows do not save you more money and take a longer period of time to recover your investment.

Q. What is the difference between windows that are Energy Star certified and non-Energy Star certified windows?

A. Energy Star is a US Environmental Protection Agency voluntary program. In 2016, the EPA changed the Energy Star U-factor requirements on windows from .30 to .27. This small change requires windows to have upgraded Low-E glass packages to meet the new standard. Our Mezzo double hung vinyl window with insulation enhanced frames has a U-factor rating of .28 with standard Climatech Low-E glass. Energy Star windows require upgraded Low-E glass that adds about $40.00 to the windows cost just to get the U-factor down to .27. This is a total waste of money in our opinion.

Q. Is Low-E glass worth the cost? What is the difference between windows with and without Low-E glass?

A. Low-E glass is a special coating applied directly to the glass surface. Its sole purpose is to reflect heat away from itself. Heat is drawn to cold like a magnet. Low-E Argon glass works in two ways. It reflects heat back into the room while the Argon gas slows the rate of heat transfer through the glass. Most replacement windows come with basic Low-E Argon glass included. Window technology has lowered the cost to the point where most distributors include basic Low-E glass on all double hung and double slider windows. High volume window dealers like Window World get basic vinyl windows with Low-E Argon glass at wholesale and then charge their customers $98.00 per window for the upgrade. Mezzo double hung windows without Low-E Argon glass have a U-factor rating of .46, while the exact same window with Low-E Argon glass has a rating of .28. Climatech Low-E glass is included in the base price on all Mezzo double hung and slider windows.

Q. Who manufacturers the Low-E Argon glass? What is the difference between Argon and Krypton gas?

A. The two major producers of Low-E glass are PPG Industries and Cardinal Glass. Both do the exact same thing and one is not better than the other. Both Argon and Krypton are odorless, colorless, non-toxic inert gases that are used to increase the insulation and energy efficiency in glass. Argon is cheaper and more plentiful, while Krypton costs more and is the better insulator. Krypton gas is used almost exclusively inside triple-pane glass windows.

Q. What is the difference between the PPG Intercept spacer and the Super Spacer system?

A. Both systems use “Warm Edge Technology” the main difference is Super Spacer is a soft flexible silicone foam material while the PPG Intercept spacer is a metal system. Both systems allow the glass to deflect with temperature changes. Most vinyl window manufacturers give a lifetime warranty against seal failure regardless of the spacer system in the window.

Q. Does the Super Spacer system prevent condensation from forming on the glass?

A. No! Condensation is caused by too much moisture inside the home and is not related at all to the window spacer system. Super Spacer has claimed that their non-metallic system prevents condensation better than the metal spacer. Super Spacer does improve window efficiency some but also costs more than the PPG Intercept metal spacer.

Q. Are wood windows better than vinyl windows?

A. No! Wood windows are just as expensive as fiberglass and offer a 10-year frame/20 year glass warranty. Wood windows frames can warp and rot out. Our Mezzo and Endure windows are maintenance free vinyl and guaranteed not to warp, chip or peel. They cost less and are covered by a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty that includes glass breakage. If you want a real wood window, check out our Aeris line of vinyl windows with real Oak, Cheery or Maple wood interiors.

Q. How is Windows Pittsburgh different from other remodeling companies?

A. Windows Pittsburgh products are sold in a professional manner without any false advertising gimmicks or high pressure sales tactics utilized by large remodeling contractors. We offer our customers the full line of vinyl siding, windows and patio doors from Alside, Timberline roofing from GAF, and the complete line of windows and doors from Provia.. We take the time to educate our customers about the features and benefits our products have to offer. All work is performed in a professional manner by factory trained workmen that are fully insured for your protection. All of our windows, doors, roofing and premium vinyl siding are covered by a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty. Our customer service, craftsmanship and pricing are superior to large and so-called budget window dealers! Read our reviews on Yelp and Angie’s List and judge for yourself. Since 2004 there has not been a single complaint filed against Windows Pittsburgh with the Better Business Bureau.

Q. How does Windows Pittsburgh’s price and service compare to other replacement window companies?

A. Windows Pittsburgh’s customer service is superior and our price is up to 50% lower than major competitors pricing. We will match a competitor’s written price quote if lower than ours.

Q. How does Windows Pittsburgh’s price compare to Window World’s $189.00 installed window?

A. Glad you asked. Our basic white double hung costs 399.00 installed. Our price includes Low-E glass and aluminum trim around the frame. Window World’s basic white double hung window with the same options costs about 415.00 per window. Our Mezzo white double slider windows are 450.00 each compared to 506.00 for the same double slider sold by Window World. Our price comparison is based on a 10 window purchase and includes basic Low-E Argon glass and aluminum wrap.

Q. How does Windows Pittsburgh’s quality compare to Window World’s quality?

A. Since, 2004 Windows Pittsburgh has had zero complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau. Windows Pittsburgh employs highly skilled professional window installers with a minimum of 20 years experience. Since 1995, Window World pays $30.00 (lowest wage in replacement window industry) for basic window installation and leads nationwide in customer complaints. Our professional window installers are paid three times more than what budget window dealers pay for installation. Please read our reviews and compare us to any other company. Windows Pittsburgh is the clear winner.

Q. How do replacement windows sold with clear glass compare to windows with Low-E Argon glass?

A. Plain glass vinyl windows (no low-e) sold by Window World and other budget window dealers have a U-factor rating of .46 or higher. These windows do not meet the required .35 U-factor in the IECC building codes for windows. Our Endure vinyl window have a U-factor rating of .27 making it 58% more energy efficient than plain glass windows. Buying a new window without Low-E Argon glass makes as much sense as buying a new car with no heater ors air conditioning.

Q. Does Windows Pittsburgh offer replacement windows with triple-pane glass?

A. Yes all of our replacement windows have triple-pane glass available as an option and our prices are much better than our competitors!

Q. Is triple-pane glass worth the extra money? How much money will it save me over double-pane glass?

A. There are two versions of triple-pane glass, triple pane with Argon gas and triple pane with Krypton gas. Triple pane with Krypton gas is the most efficient glass package available and costs more. Some dealers hype the hell out of triple-pane glass as the best thing since sliced bread. While it does save more money over time, dealers selling triple-pane glass have a tendency to overprice their windows. Triple-pane glass adds between $50.00 and $150.00 to the dealer’s actual cost. Paying $1,500.00 for a window that costs the dealer under $400.00 makes absolutely no sense to us. If you are interested in triple-pane glass windows, we have them at very attractive prices. Call us for a stress-free in-home estimate.

Q. Is there a minimum U-Factor requirement on windows and doors sold in Pennsylvania and the United States?

A. Yes there is. The IECC codes were adopted in all 50 states and are now law. Under the IECC codes all windows and doors are required to have a minimum U-Factor of .35. Simply put Low-E Argon glass is required on all windows and doors sold in the US. Non Low-E clear glass (.46 U-Factor) does not meet the IECC code. Low-E Argon glass is standard on all replacement windows and patio doors sold today except those windows and doors sold by Window World and other budget window dealers. Like we said before, basic Low-E Argon glass is included on double hung and double slider windows sold to all window dealers. It makes absolutely no sense to buy new replacement windows nowadays without Low-E glass!

Q. What do vinyl replacement windows cost the dealer?

A. White vinyl double hung windows with Low-E Argon glass cost anywhere from $150.00 to $250.00 plus tax. Professional installation adds another $80.00 to $100.00 to the dealers cost. Aluminum trim is included with the installation. Low-E Argon glass is included in the base price of the window. Budget window dealers all use cut-rate labor 30.00 to 35.00 per window. They also charge extra for the Low-E Argon glass and aluminum trim other dealers include with installation.

Q. Are private label vinyl windows sold by large companies better than other vinyl replacement windows?

A. No! Larger window dealers will have vinyl replacement windows made for them under their own brand name. This is done to hide the manufacturer and prevent price shopping by consumers. West Shore sells Provia windows and doors under their own private label name. Private label windows, doors and vinyl siding sold by large home improvement companies are typically more expensive than the exact same products sold by other dealers. We sell the exact same Provia windows and doors with professional installation for less.

Q. Should the J.D. Power Award and the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval be considered when shopping for windows and other home improvements?

A. Not at all! The J.D. Power Award is given to a company for its product or service only after the company desiring the award signs up with J.D. Power and pays them to complete a survey of its customers. The survey is bought and paid for by the company receiving the award. The award is given after the survey is finished. The J.D. Power Award is nothing more than a survey with a predetermined outcome. Before advertising in Good Housekeeping magazine, a company’s product must pass testing performed by Good Housekeeping Laboratories. Good Housekeeping only tests products from manufacturers that want to advertise in the magazine. Window manufacturers typically advertise in publications read by contractors and not in consumer magazines like Good Housekeeping. Windows, doors, roofing and siding sold by Windows Pittsburgh would also earn the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval if tested.

The sole purpose of this Q.& A. here is to give consumers accurate information so they can make an informed buying decision. The pricing information contained here is to help consumers make sense out of all the false and misleading information used in the sale of home improvements nowadays. We have found that the two biggest mistakes made by consumers today is paying too much for home improvements or not paying enough. We have mentioned most of the bait and switch gimmicks used in advertising as a warning to consumers to be careful. If you have any questions concerning anything discussed here or want to schedule a free in-home estimate, please call us at (412) 279-1112.

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