When will they finally install my windows?

Robert Manari orders new windows, but after weeks of waiting, his patience has run out. Can these windows be saved?

Question: I’m having some trouble with my window installation, and am hoping you can help.

Last fall, we contracted with a company called Florida Window and Door to have them replace our windows. The project was specifically tied to a completion date of November 30th. They were by far the most expensive, but we made the mistake of trusting a very sweet talking salesman.

The deadline came and passed and they were not even close to having the windows ready, let alone installing them. Meanwhile, they have been trying to blame the delay on my condo association for not complying with one of their requests. However, this only delayed the process by a few days, a week at the very most.

A new deadline was promised by the same salesperson of Dec. 16 and 17th. Again, that one passed and there is no way to have the job completed before the end of the year. Meanwhile, since we moved into our new home on Dec. 1st — which is why the deadline of Nov. 30th was so important to us — all our belongings are still in boxes and the furniture all wrapped up waiting for the window people to start working.

I have respectfully asked for the cancellation of the project and a refund of my deposit. But Florida Window and Door will not cancel the job. What should I do? — Robert Manari, Miami Beach, Fla.

Answer: Your rights to cancel a contract are limited. Under Florida statutes, if the sale was made at your place of residence, you have three days to call the whole thing off.

Things have a way of slowing down to a crawl between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, which might have explained the slower response times. That happens in almost every industry, including, ahem, mine. (This might be a good time to apologize to anyone who contacted me on Thanksgiving and didn’t get an immediate response — I’m sorry!)

A little research before you placed your order might have shown that Florida Window and Door has an interesting track record, which is to say some customers are happy, while others are vocally unhappy and not afraid to express their opinions online. The company is also highly protective of its public image, as this lawsuit filed against the Better Business Bureau illustrates.

But a review of your correspondence suggests you might have taken a gentler approach to solving this. Too quickly, the discussion devolved into threats of lawyers and calling newspapers. That’s unnecessary.

Of course the company should have met its contractual obligations to you. I figured this was just a small misunderstanding, and that a quick, polite email to the company on your behalf might help. I was encouraged to receive an almost immediate reply from the company’s president, promising he would personally contact you.

Over the course of two weeks, which happened during the holidays, I received emails from you asking about your windows and then followed up with Florida Window and Door, which claimed it was trying to reach you. In messages sent directly to you, the company continued to insist that it was not the cause of the delay.

Finally, in early January, you sent me a note saying you had reached the end of your patience. I contacted the company one last time for you, and again received an email directly from the president.

“I apologize for the delay in response,” he wrote. “I was out of the country and just returned. As promised after we spoke, I left [a] message with no response. Product is ready and we are waiting on customer.”

All fixed? Not quite.

I forwarded the email to you, hoping to close the door on this case. Instead, you decided to dispute the charges on your credit card, and received a full refund from your credit card.

Did Robert Manari have to wait too long?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Mikael Mik

    Op should have disputed the charges ages ago. I doubt Florida Window and Door has a leg to stand on if it tries to collect. A judge will clearly see a paper trail between the OP, You & Company President, and then a final dispute resulting in a chargeback. All the while demonstrating inaction to complete the contract, missing deadlines, but “keeping the deposit”.

    Future reference, insist on adding a cancellation clause for failure to perform or unsatisfactory workmanship. =). I bet Carver chimes in here, and wonder if he’ll agree.

    Word to Wise: Talk is cheap while they secure your money. So think smart before handing it over!

  • Cybrsk8r

    I’m guessing a “failure to perform” clause would separate good contractors from bad. A good contractor would have no problem with adding in that clause, because they know it will not be invoked. But any contractor that balks at it, I would steer clear of.

  • backprop

    There is something clearly going on with the OP here. I’m not nearly understanding enough to vote on this one. Is (was) the company really leaving messages with the customer and not getting a response back? Over the course of two weeks, as the OP was emailing you, was the company really trying to get in touch with him? When the president said he left a message, did you ask the OP if he got it?

    As I read the article, I nearly 100% switched sides from the OP to the company. I have a feeling that there was a few weeks delays (including one week for OP’s own HOA!), that the completion date was not part of the contract (i.e. there was no breach of contract), and the OP went with another window company, and then ducked and dodged the original company’s communications so he could claim a chargeback.

    The only reason I didn’t side with the company for certain is its somewhat spotty track record.

    And this is based on the spotty details in the post, taking all of what the OP said at face value. Is there another reasonable explanation for the his very bizarre behavior?

  • Raven_Altosk

    I wonder if Florida Window and Door is also part of the “Pacesetter” company who once quoted me 4 times more than the job was actually worth to do windows and siding on a house on the east coast. I laughed as I told the crooked sales guys to GTFO.

  • John Baker

    I couldn’t vote today. I’m not sure what it is but something just doesn’t ring true in the OP’s narrative to me. There’s a delay that he (or his HOA) is responsible for but he leaves out what the delay was for and the length. The company then insists that the OP isn’t returning messages and the product is ready to install. At the same time, the OP insists nothing is ready…. UGH!

    As a former Industrial engineer, I do know that small delays can reek (wreak for @nakinaAce) havoc on production schedules so even a single day delay could have pushed the OP’s production date back weeks (assuming that these are custom windows) and that might explain missing the original install date (and also be on the OP’s not the company’s shoulders). On the other side, you have a company with a potentially iffy reputation.

    I don’t know who to vote for today. The stories are just too far apart. They don’t even seem to be from the same narrative!

  • NakinaAce

    Next time try ‘wreak’ instead of ‘reek’.

  • backprop

    And on top of that, he didn’t even wait for Christopher to reply to him about the president’s response; instead he initiated a chargeback. It is pretty obvious to me that he was going out of his way to avoid communication.

    I bet he got another window company to do the work and was trying to find a way – any way – to blame the original company and get out of the contract which, in his words, was “by far the most expensive.” He effectively admitted he fell for a good sales pitch, and then didn’t want to take responsibility for signing on the line.

  • emanon256

    Someone is lying here, either to OP or the company. I can’t tell which one it is. I wnated to believe the OP, and sided with him at first. But after the company contracted Chris right away, and kept in touch while saying they were also contacting the OP, it now sounds like the OP is lying. Good Grief!

  • emanon256

    I had Florida Window and Door come to my house when we lived in Indiana. They were far more expensive than anyone else, and then started a shady practice of writing mystery prices on paper and not reveal them until I would agree to put a sign in my yard or other conditions, and I had to swear to secrecy on the price. The only reason I invited them in was becuase I needed new windows, and their add said they would give me a $50 gas card if I got a free estimate. I kicked them out too because their price was a joke, and so was their “Sales” approach. They refused to give me a the $50 gas card.

  • emanon256

    I think you hit the nail on the head. Why on earth would anyone go with the most expensive?

  • John Baker

    When I look at contracts, I very rarely make the decision solely based on price. Value, quality & reputation mean something. Also, if these are custom windows, its not a commodity so build quality matters…

  • emanon256

    I guess its the statement that seems odd to me. Why woudl someone say they bought the most expensive? Saying they bought the highest quality would appear more appropriate in my mind. When we went window shopping, no pun intended, I found a substantial number of high quality custom window vendors, they all seemed to have the same product, double pained, triple pained, argon filled, many other features, etc. They high end ones all seemed equivalent, but the prices varied wildly. I started wondering if they all purchased their windows from the same manufacturer, and branded them as their own.

  • Mark Cuban

    ” They were by far the most expensive, but we made the mistake of trusting a very sweet talking salesman.”

    Why would you even read beyond that….

  • Jayne Bailey Holland

    I don’t know who is right in this discussion, but I hate companies who take a 2 week job in October, and then use the excuse “the holidays” held them up. Thats why they are still unfinished in January. Most construction workers would love to get more work that time of year, but it is the owner who wants to take a vacation. I do know that replacement windows have to be ordered to fit, and it sometimes takes 6 weeks or longer to get them. Holiday season takes longer. I had my windows replaced in s Florida a few years ago,and they were promised and completed in 2 weeks. (in a condo) and Chris, Being in the hospitality industry, we don’t slow down, the holidays is our busy season.

  • JH

    Too sketchy for me to vote. Some good explanations for what was missing have already been said here.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    That is one confusing industry. There are a handful of companies everybody’s heard of–mostly because they spend a ton on advertising–and those tend to be really expensive. (And some of those companies have entry-level lines they sell at the big home improvement stores, which may or may not be the same quality of their higher-end options; so even if you know the name you’re not sure what you’re getting.) Then there is a sea of lesser-known companies which run the gamut from total garbage to actually making windows for some of the higher end companies.

    Edit: Oh, and then throw in the fact that even a great window can turn out horrible if you get a lousy installer putting it in. (Learned that the hard way.) All windows look pretty much alike to me and I certainly can’t tell the difference ahead of time between a good and bad installer.

  • bodega3

    Our windows were ordered in mid September, installation started in mid November. 5 windows came in with the wrong size, so they had to be reorder by the company that we bought them from. I made the contractors stop after the first week in Dec due to not wanting the house torn up for the holidays. Installation started on 1/6, reordered windows arrived in mid January and they are still on the job and it won’t be done until after March 1….ugh! These are wooden windows, requiring painting, which ads to the finish time. Never would do this again!

  • Rebecca

    I just read through the lawsuit, and the company is suing the BBB for fixing ratings by extortion of “accreditation” and advertising fees. Good for them!

  • Joe Farrell

    I have put this in all my agreements with contractors:

    “Failure to complete the job within ten (10) calendar days of receipt of a Notice to Perform and Complete Contract subsequent to the date of completion herein shall automatically terminate the obligations of homeowner hereunder and shall entitle Homeowners to all relief at law or equity.”

    Its simple, it is self – explanatory and I have never been refused because everyone knows they intend to complete the job on time when they sign the contract. And they don’t get my money except a) by credit card and b) with a signed original signature.

    You have many many contractors who existed for years without credit cards – but now, with the onset of 2.25% swipe fees using tablets or phones with no monthly charges or fees . . . there is no longer any excuse to live with the homeowner writing you a check . . .

  • bodega3

    Our basic contractors don’t take credit cards; home, landscaping, painters, electricians, cement, roofer. Carpeting, fencing and furnace guys did take credit cards. Those are the only ones, so far.

  • Thetine

    Someone mentioned this company offering a gift card in the past to “sweeten” the deal. I wonder if the customer was blinded by the glow of some freebies, but then realized the company wasn’t timely.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Been there, done that. I feel your pain!

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Joe, thank you, thank you, thank you for a well-worded clause that I’m going to use next time I have to deal with a project of any size. This being Nebraska, it’s only a matter of time before my place gets hail damage . . . again. (We had 3 roofs replaced in a decade.)

  • Mikael Mik

    +1 I’m not a lawyer, but I mentioned that on the first post here. Assumed Carver’s input, but our second resident lawyer works too.

    “Future reference, insist on adding a cancellation clause for failure to perform or unsatisfactory workmanship. =). I bet Carver chimes in here, and wonder if he’ll agree.”

  • Mikael Mik

    Precisely. Honest people have no problems being kept honest. Shady characters run for the hills when their integrity are questioned They’ll refuse the contract or become defensive. Red flags to say thank, but NO THANKS

  • Joe Farrell

    Maybe you should put on a concrete tile roof like we do here SoCal – they last forever. Assuming your walls and trusses can take the load.

  • Joe Farrell

    Like I said – with the advent of 2% swipe fees . . . . and free hardware – everyone should take cards these days. It is perfctly legal to offer a cash discount – if your fee is $39.95 for a service call you raise to $41.95 and offer a $39.95 price – for big jobs – same thing – a cash and credit price. .. . the unscrupulous will refuse to take cards knowing they get charged back.

  • bodega3

    Around here, you just don’t find small contractors taking cards Joe. My cabinet guy also doesn’t take them, nor did the contractor that put in our new road. The asphalt guy did. The largest furniture store in our area doesn’t take credit cards. A few stores in the area have dropped all cards. I would like to drop AX from our family business, but it appears that AX has been giving good deals to businesses to use them…darn!

  • mythsayer

    Wait… You’re in CA, too??? I don’t post that much, but sometimes I chime in. Does anyone think it’s weird that all three attorneys who post are in CA? Does that say something about CA attorneys, lol? That we like to spend our free time opining on consumer issues? Are there ANY other attorneys around here… Maybe from a different state for some diversity?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    lol. There’s another attorney from California here as well. She posts occassionally.