This week has been one visit after another by window and HVAC estimators. Some have been pure salesmen, and others have been owners or actual installers. Let me tell you one thing..... DON'T trust the salesmen. Sure, some of them did know their stuff, but most of them are working on commission and do not take "we are not ready to sign today" or "we need to think about it", very well.
As I wrote in a previous post, we had the lovely experience of a very tired, cranky and BAD window salesman last week. When I told my friend J that I was considering still using him for some of the windows she said, "He's way too rude, and you would have to deal with him again, and you would be encouraging his horrid behavior." She's right, why should he get commission after he screwed up like that and made me angry enough to write about the experience. Plus, once we received estimates from other dealers, we were pleasantly surprised that they were all coming in around 1/3 of his price. Of course, it was a very different product, but the less expensive stuff is just fine for what we need. We haven't figured how who we are going to use for the windows, but we know who it isn't going to be!
And then comes our HVAC experience.
We live in Northern California, and not only is it lovely and sunny, where we live it gets down right HOT. Luckily it is mostly a dry heat, with the occasional humid day. The dead heat of summer will stay in the upper 80's to low 100's, and it doesn't always cool off much at night. Since we live in a 2 story townhome, and no western protection from the afternoon sun and very old windows, it gets very hot upstairs. Each day it never really cools off and as we get deeper and deeper into summer, it easily stays 80+ degrees upstairs. We do have central AC, but the unit is original which makes it 36 years old and inefficient as all hell. Plus, this place was built with very cheap materials, so you know they put in the bare minimum. Sure the new windows will help with the heat, but a new AC unit will certainly help keep the summer heat outside.
We have converted our upstairs 2nd bedroom into a very nice office for E and I. The office is clearly the hottest room in the house, and we spend a lot of time in there with our work. E wants to wait until we see what a difference the windows make, but I know it'll take 4-6 weeks to get a new AC unit installed in the middle of the summer heat, so I want to get it ordered now. He doesn't seem to remember last year, when he slept at least 3 nights a week downstairs where it was slightly cooler(and we that was a reasonably cool summer).
We've had 4 HVAC guys out here so far this week. We had 5 appointments, but one company didn't show up and claims they didn't have record of my call, even though I VERY distinctly remember their receptionist telling me I should ask a MAN, a neighbor, friend or my father, to be here with me because sometimes the technicians use industry terms that I may not understand. GASP! I admit I researched windows a whole lot more then AC units, but come ON! I am often more technical in the way of the home then E is, and he's a man of tools. Oh and I counted how many times she said AWESOME during my last conversation with her ... 6 times! Can't wait to see who they send out.
The first guy that came out was purely a salesman. He said that our furnace was at least 30 years old and we needed to replace the whole system. GULP! And, if we went with a lesser efficiency furnace, then we were required by the state to have our ducts tested and and sealed, which would be an additional $400. I noted that our ducting is all trapped in the ceilings and not accessible and that I understood this situation waived us from the testing. He said that wasn't true and the testing company knew how to deal with the trapped ducts. I asked how they would seal them without tearing into the ceilings? and he didn't know, but assured me that the $400 would cover that. Call me crazy, but drywall work to fix ripping into the ceilings would cost more then the testing fee. CLEARLY not a man that knows what he is talking about. He then proceeded to say we needed a 3 ton AC unit, to replace the 1.5 unit we have.... something not computing to you? YEAH, me too. Anyway, he wrote up his nice estimate, was SHOCKED that we were not ready to sign, got visibly irritated, and then scooted on his way. Now I ask you, how many people sign up for a $5k purchase right there on the spot, after CLEARLY stating that they were expecting something around $1-2k. Oh sure, we trust you Mr fake tan man (because no white man should every be that brown) with severely bleached teeth which do not hide the fact that they are totally crooked (just think of Ross' teeth bleaching episode). At the point of discussing the duct testing, I think I paid more attention to his teeth, and pondering how they could be so white with all of that shit passing through them.
The next 3 guys all came the next day, ALL of them were installers or owners of their company (and one was highly tan but obviously not fake shown by the non-tan wrinkles and the Pebble Beach shirt). Each one looked at the furnace and said something along the lines of, 'Oh, you have a really new furnace! That's great because then you just need to replace the AC' and 'You have a 1.5 ton AC unit now, so I'd recommend the same or maybe a little stronger. 2 tons would be plenty to keep you cool, even upstairs' and the kicker 'Take your time on your decision, that price is good until the end of the year'. PLUS their estimates were even cheaper for the exact same equipment the first guy was pushing. OH, and they each recommended getting at least 3 estimates, and to take our time. One guy said to stay away from the companies that took out the full page ads because they tended to upsell you stuff you don't need, and another said to look at the estimator's hands to see if they have every done the work they are selling.
So sum it up.... I'm gonna be broke soon, but I'll be coooool and comfy, and wiser to the in-home salesman.