I recently bought an older, (built in 1976) victorian style home in Charlotte, NC. It is a very nice home, but I bought it knowing it would need some repair. The home currently has hardboard Masonite siding and original windows, and I wanted to get some quotes to see what the market was like for new Vinyl windows and Vinyl siding, as well as Hardiplank and Fiber Cement siding.
I spent a week setting up 6 to 8 estimates, Dixie HomeCrafters being the last because their scheduling was 2 weeks out. I will break down my experience with Dixie HomeCrafters into two segments.
My first encounter with Dixie HomeCrafters was with a salesman named Barry, who came out around 6pm. I had already had 7 previous estimates, for Vinyl siding and windows, including soffits and fascia, totaling around $6,000 to $14,000 being the highest.
Needless to say, after seven estimtes, I felt like I had been through every presentation possible, and weary of another high pressure sales pitch, I tried to keep the salesman from wasting his time letting him know that he did not have to go through the entire presentation, just measure my home and show me some samples and give me an estimate. He insisted on going through the entire sales pitch--so I figured what the hell, this could only take an hour and a half at most?
I was wrong. The salesman first, was at my home for nearly four hours. He unpacked five suitcases and showed me various products, including their Vinyl siding, Vinyl windows, gutters, soffits and ventilation system, and details about each. I was mildly impressed with the product, and let him know I was ready for an estimate.
Finally, he walked around my home, crudely measured it (using a tape measurer rather than a roller) and sat in his car for about fifteen minutes with his calculator. Before doing so he gave me a book and asked me to call a list of names of previous customers and ask them how satisfied they had been--this seemed a little odd so I did not do this, I wouldnt want someone calling my home out of the blue asking me about my siding.
He then returned from his vehicle--after I had endured the three hour presentation and fifteen minutes of him number crunching in his Nissan Altima, and I figured the worst was over. I was wrong again. He presented me with an estimate--for my 1600 square foot one story home, which is 70% windows, for $37,900.
I was at first, amazed, then shocked, then offended that I had been presented with an estimate so rediculous. I then began asking questions. He explained to me that the reason for such a high estimate was due to their insured, professional labor, and the quality of their materials. The only difference I had seen with the siding was the fact that they put styrofoam padding behind what is obviously a virgin vinyl CertainTeed or Alcoa siding panel, and the Windows to me resembled an Anderson vinyl window much like I had seen previously qouted for a 1/4 of the price.
I then begin digging further, and he offered no explanation of the price per unit for the siding, each window, or any details about the pricing and just began pressuring me to sign a contract saying that 120,000 satisfied customers was enough to convince me. I refused, and then he began pressuring even more, offering a 10% discount, and an additional 10% discount, ONLY if I signed right then and there on the first visit. That reduced the price to $29,000.
I asked him how he was able to throw nearly $10,000 out the window like that, without any explanation, and he had no response, just that 80% of their customers buy on the first visit. I was astonished, and aggitated at this point. I told him no, and asked him to leave. He refused to leave--asking me what price I'd be willing to pay.
By now, I was upset and began throwing out figures I knew he wouldnt bite--I told him for $18,000 I'd do the entire job. He then picked up the phone and "supposedly" called someone speaking to them, letting them know I was so impressed with the product but that I coudlnt afford the price, which also offended me.
We haggled back and forth, and finally he reduced the entire job to a price of $22,500, if I let them put a sign in my yard for two months. I asked him to leave a qoute and a business card and I would think about it, and he refused saying I must sign a contract now, or that was it, I would be punished with the 6 month price of nearly $33,000. I told him in that case, I was not interested, and asked him to leave. He angrily left, slamming my door on the way out.
While eating lunch the next week I received a call from Dixie's call center, asking me why I had not signed a contract on the first visit. I explained to them my experience, and that I was uncomfortable purchasing something so expensive after knowing someone for three hours, and they then said that they thought the estimate was high and would send someone out to remeasure my home and that I would not need to be home, they would do so and call me back with a better price. I said that was fine, since I wouldnt need to be home, and hung up.
The following weekend, at 8:30 in the freaking morning, someone began banging on my door like the police. I answered, to find none other than a Dixie HomeCrafters representative at my front door. I opened the door slightly to try and intercept the salesman and he barged his way in, introducing himself and beginning the usual small talk that most salesman begin their pitch with.
Finally, I asked him to cut to the chase and I let him know that I had already been throug the presentation, he looked surprised and said he had no idea someone had already been there. He then asked me to show him the outside of the house. I was tired, in my pajamas, and it was cold, but still for some stupid reason I allowed him to walk around my house. He went outside and started pointing out every single thing he could that was wrong wtih my house, to scare me into buying their product, and I let him know that since I had bought the house I already knew what was wrong with it.
He became visibly angry and asked me why I had a chip on my shoulder. I then explained to him that I had simply been through this, and didnt know I needed to be home for this. He walked over to the far side of my house, and yelled back "you see this!" apparently pointing at another flaw on my home. I walked back to my front door, annoyed at this point. He then came around, angrier, asking me why I walked away when he was looking at my house. I then explained to him that I doubted they could do the job for a price I would agree, and I simply could not buy on the first visit and needed time to do research and make an intelligent decision, and he then told me it was not my place to question their business practices. I told him that was fine, and that he could leave.
He then asked me to see my windows, and I told him no. After doing so, he picked up the phone and called apparently the same guy, and then said "I thoguht you wanted to fix up your house man?" And I said, "Sure I do, but I simply dont agree with your companies practices, I'm not given any information on how you are coming up with the price, and It is simply overpriced". He then said I must just want to slap some crap up on my house. I became offended and told him that he could leave.
Someone apparently answered his call, and he began ranting "Mr. Becker, this guy has holes in the side of his house with water coming in and he just wants to put some crap on it, I told him about our product he's seen it, but he has an old house with potential but he just wants to put some crap on it" Finally, I kicked him off my property. I told him he had less than a minute to get back in his car and get the hell out of my driveway, and I slammed the door in his face.
The home improvement business is an industry riddled with scams and gimmicks. You need to get several estimates, put together several options for your project. You need to make sure that any company you deal with is insured, bonded, and certified to do your job, but most of all, you need to make sure you are making an intelligent purchase based on real value.
If the sales representative cant give you a breakdown of your estimate, you need to ask questions. How much am I paying for material? How much for labor? How long will my job take? How did you prepare this estimate? What if more material is needed? Will I get a firm quote for my job? Etc.
Furthermore, no legtimate company will make you sign a contract on the first visit, or punish you. A local company, or family business--or family oriented business that understands how real peopel work and make decisions, would not try and pressure you into $40,000 worth of work after a three hour presentation, and then insult you by telling you that you would buy it if you could afford it. They will respect your need to review the estimate, research the product and prepare to make a legitimate decision about the most important purchase in your life--your home.
The only reason a company like Dixie HomeCrafters would operate like this, is to do one thing--sell. They are not interested in making customers, or providing a quality service, they are interested in selling--and selling as much as possible.
The other point is, understand what you are buying. The siding product I was shown, was simply a standard vinyl siding probably made by CertainTeed or Alcoa, or alike in a similar manufacturing process, backed by a styrofoam board.
Furthermore, I saw no difference in the window than you would find in a similar name brand Window at Home Depot or Lowes, for around half the price. I only had 11 Windows in my home, and the price just to do my Window job was over $11,000. $1,000 per Window. The average cost of a American Craftsmen or similar brand Vinyl window, tilt, LoE, Energy Star, Triple Pane, is around $200. That is nearly a $800 difference, made up by either labor, or profit margin on material. That is simply rediculous.
Somehow, between siding and windows on such a small home, Dixie came up with a nearly $40,000 estimate. How much is the salesman making off this deal? Dixie HomeCrafters is filed under the category "Obvious Ripoff"
Charlotte, North Carolina