My story follows serveral other stories that I have read about the Garage Door Services company.
On December 7, 2002 I needed to get my garage door torsion spring replaced after it broke. I checked the Yellow pages and picked the company with the largest ad. They appeared to have experience with lots of garage doors and listed the BBB in their ad.
Even though I consider myself a cautious consumer, I was caught off guard by what I consider a consumer rip off. Heres the scenario:
I called the company and the operator said that she would send out a technician within the hour. The charge was $55 per hour and $5.50 per inch for the spring. It seem strange that they were charging by the foot (this should have been the first tip off), but I knew that my springs were about 2 feet long ( quick calcuation $ 330) which was little high but seemed in the ball park.
The technician was a 30 minutes late but did call to let me know which I thought was courteous. Bill, the technician, pulls up on time in an unmark, white GMC truck. He was very friendly. We went to the garage and showed the problem. He filled out an Estimate/Invoice. The first line showed
Qty:1 Service Charge $50.00
and the last line had an X _________________.
Bill said they he could start if I would sign on the last line.
He then started to take apart the spring mechanism. After a while he calls me to show the main bearing which he suggests that I replace along with the cable drums and cables. He does say that we "dont have to replace them" but he said that the parts do show sign of wear.
Ive had my garage door replaced before and know that these parts shouldnt be that expensive so I tell him to go ahead and replace them.
He worked on replacing the parts for a little over an hour. He has the springs in place and the new drums/cables put on. He shows me the door is working. He then pulls out on of the door rollers and points out where there is wear and suggests that these be replaced. This time I asked for the cost. He says that these are $5 per roller for a cost of $50. This seems reasonable so I give the go ahead.
This last part takes a while. After another hour, Bill announced that the job is complete. He said that he will go to the truck and calculate the bill.
What a surprise when he returns with a bill for $997.65 !! I was shocked and realized that Ive just been taken!!! At that price, I could have replace the entire garage door.
I was in shock and could only say that the bill was a lot more than I expected, and took some time to review the bill.
The cost for each item seemed small but added up quickly:
torsion spring - $374 (they had a 39 and 29 spring)
cables - $89
drums - $192
bearing - $135
rollers - $65 (at least close to the $50 estimate)
Lubricant - $10
Disposal - $5
Service Charges = $110 (2 hours)
Bill said that I needed to sign the receipt if I wanted the warranty. The statement at the bottom of the invoice read:
I approve of all work to be done immediately and waive my cooling off period. Insufficient funds or stop payments will void warranty. Upon completion and satisfaction of service provided and product purchased, I agree to no refunds and to settle disputes with litigation.
Bill asked if I wanted to pay by Credit card or check. I felt that I was scammed at this point, and felt that I didn't have many alternatives.
At this point, I felt embarrassed and betrayed. I missed the first rule of always get an estimate.
I did pay by check and checked the web for information on garage door installations and costs.
I called their office on Monday and did talk to the owner, Jon Sprung. He said that he didn't have the invoices back yet and that I should call on Wednesday.
I called back on Wednesday. He was very friendly, but said that they would have been "very willing" to give an estimate if I had only asked. I explained that the "professional companies that I have dealt with" offer estimates and don't try to take advantage and overcharge customer if they don't ask for them.
I also explained that they had used an unusual installation procedure since they had installed springs of different sizes. This caused a problem in my installation since the larger spring was jammed up against a 4x4 beam and was rubbing everytime I opened the garage door.
I threatened to get a reputable garage repair company to do a proper job of installation, replace all their parts, and ship the parts back to him in a box.
As this point, Jon asked if there was anything that he could do "to save the order". He offered to do a N/C the cables and a reduction in prices for several other items.
I was able to get a $223 refund. This still left with a $763.83 bill which still seemed high, but less than the orginal $997 invoice.
I did check with the Better Business Bureau of Silicon Valley. The report on the company stated:
"Based on BBB files, this company has an unsatisfactory record with the Bureau. Our records show that the company has a pattern of complaints concerning Selling Practices And Credit or Billing Disputes"
This has been a bad (learning) experience. I would like to have others learn about the unprofessional business practices of this company so they can avoid the same fate.
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on various garage door companies