Let me first say, I have been lurking for some time on this board and today I posed my first question and recieved a prompt reply...thank you.
Now to my rant....over the last month or so I have been screening contractors in attempt to get a entire heat pump system installed in my home in southeast Pennsylvania. I need ductwork and all in a 1700 sf bilevel home.....no big deal. No unreasonable requests. System to be installed in the attic. I want metal duct runs with limited flex ductwork, R-8 insulation, a 14 SEER/8.40 HSPF or better unit with variable speed airhandler, programmable thermostat, an Aprilaire 2200 media filter and 2 returns..one upstairs, one downstairs witht the downstairs return having to be run through a closet with a false floor (which I will install). Thats it. Nothing strange.
I have literally contacted 15 contractors for bids. Out of those 15, 6 decided not to provide a quote (they either didnt show up for the scheduled "project look see", or simply did not submit a proposal after seeing the project....they got work? they didnt like the job? I dont know.....mind you, they didnt tell me they would not submit a proposal, I had to call and ask why they didnt submit anything after two or three weeks went by). Other results of the contractor selection process.....one proposal came through without company name, address, phone or contact so you couldnt tell who it was from (absolutely amazing), one was compelted onsite and obviously incomplete because the sales guy just didnt want to spend more than 15 minutes in my house (Home Depot), 2 had errors in their pricing, and several never even specified specific equipment or insulation levels which were gonna be used. Calls placed to several contractor to ask questions or emails sent out were not returned by in 2 out of 2 cases. In all honesty, I got one, 1, uno written proposal which I would have considered to be responsive, professional, addressed my concerns, etc. but when I called to speak about it and left a message, they never called back.
Just to make sure you folks dont flame me, I contacted some of what are considered the more reputable firms in my area as well as some independent contractors. And just so you dont think I am a complete idiot, I actually provided the contractors with a spec sheet of what I was looking for and what they should "explain/address" in their written proposal. For example, I told them to include permits at a cost of $125.00. Do you think any of them included the fees for the permits? Only one did!
I am sorry, but there is something seriously wrong with the HVAC trade. Sales people that came to look at my project did nothing to sell me anything! They couldnt explain squat. Written proposals for a $8000 to $9500 project consist of about 50 words which apparently are written purposely vague on many issues. When you start questioning the contractor for details, he doenst wish to take the time to explain and he gives me the distinct impression that I am a pain in his ass. Holy crap, you want me to drop $9000 and you wont take 15 minutes to talk to me! I ask for revised written proposals to address specific concerns and suddenly the air handler changes in capacity by 9000 btus, the SEER rating drops .075 units but the price remains the same. Payment terms include 50% down (ok, I can do that) and then 50% on SUBSTAINTIAL completion. WTF is substaintial completion? I never heard of such. Its either complete or its not!
All I can say is this trade has some serious problems. The standard of care which seems to be employed, at least in my area and in my opinion, is pretty darn low. I am business owner myself and all I can say is that a contractor who is truly professional in his sales, follow up, customer service and is reasonable in his pricing would make a killing in the HVAC trade in this area. I cannot believe what I have gone through in attemp to select a HVAC contractor, and in all honesty, at this point, I think I have just wasted 1 months efforts and burned up most of the contractors in my immediate area. But then again, if the contractors I contacted are representative of the trade, maybe I will just install a campfire ring in my basement for heat, and employ a small asian girl with a waving palm leaf for cooling purposes.
I am simply amazing at how crappy sales, proposals, and customer service are for this trade! This is just my experience and my opinion for my area.
take a chill pill and relax... everyone works for money.... you have to much time on you hands..
You need to be a customer before you expect customer service. Were you a tad bit anal? 15 contractors? I see a flag here. Sorry no sympathy here, I wasted 1/2 a day yesterday with 50 questions and it all came down to the $.
And I found out some poor bastard had closed a deal with the lady and brought a heat pump over and she told him she did not want it because a guy showed up and offered to do it $35 cheaper.
[Edited by JAMES 3528 on 09-27-2005 at 11:09 PM]
This happens in many trades, not just HVAC.
I needed to get my house painted, I ran into
about the same responses, no shows, poor detailed
estimates, so on. And my house is 90% brick.
Our dish washer broke after 17 months, bought
a fancy german brand, the manufacturer is helping
us because, the local folks will not call us back.
I kind of feel in America many have their hand out
demanding assistance, and very little work ethic.
When contractor after contractor cant provide a timely proposal (does it really take 2 weeks or more to get a written proposal out?), cant submit an accurate proposal without errors (gee, the 16 SEER unit was cheaper than the 14 SEER unit on the same brand), and doesnt provide the model numbers of the main pieces of equipment to be installed, its not my fault 15 contractors were asked.
Did you mention to the other contractors you were getting 14 more bids? Maybe they felt like you were wasting their time?
It's hard to believe there are 15 contractors/Co's that would act that way without reason.
I agree with edwards. This is a problem in many areas of business. I'ma CPA and just picked up an account where the client had been paying $40,000 per year for about $9,000 of service and wasn't even getting that on a timely basis according to professional standards. I also know of a widow lady who paid Home Depot over $30,000 for a $8,000 roofing job and can't get leaks repaired. I guess you could characterize both situations as either successful business practice or unethical behavior bordering on fraud.
Ultimately the consumer will define the standard of customer service, but it is frustrating to see so many providers of many kinds of services who do not care about quality or ethical behavior. This, my friends, is reflective of a society in decline.
HVAC is no different. CSJ just was disappointed and needed to vent.
I wouldnt ever just not show up like that, but I will say this. Sometimes (like right now) we are so far behind that I just cringe when somebody wants a system with ductwork. I'm hoping they can wait a few weeks. Another thing, I hate being told to include a permit fee. We have all done hundreds of estimates. We dont need to be told to include $125 for a permit. Being told that would automatically make me jack up my bid by probly a grand. Not trying to be a jerk but if I gotta deal with someone like that I'm gonna get paid for the aggravation. lol
Life is like a jar of jalapenos. What you do today might burn your ass tomorrow.
Hey Chris ,e-mail and I will get you a guy who is in your area.We serve Philly burbs,and I can get you someone who can help you out and I sure hope my company was not one of the ones you called.
It's NOT the BRAND,it's the company that installs it!!!!!
After careful research I have found many contractors will act differently depending on their venue and region of the US.
This information coupled with a time factor or should I say seasonal salting would cause the effect you received.
Please specify your regional area and the month you requested 15 contractors. If you would, please give the average temperature during the month you made your requests.
If you are in business for yourself like you said and it has to do with a service company that does work at homes and a potential customer called you and told you that you were #16 and you had fielded 6 calls before that, would you
A.Considering that time is money, see this as a red flag and focus on the other 6 calls.
B. Go to the call where the other 15 contractors have been because by golly you have something to prove. .
I don't know how hot it is in attic right now in Penn, but where I am, doing this in a home already built right now is a big deal. Lusker is making this point.
Not respectfully telling you they are not going to reply is not right. But you may be turning these people off.
The way of approach
I am a homeowner also. I tend to think too, that there must be something wrong with contacting 15 contractors at a time. How could you not be wasting the time of 12 of them? There *is* plenty of problem with professionalism but I imagine you would do better by talking with one at a time. Believe it or not, I have found our Home Depot connected company to be apparently one of the best in my area (people love to slam Home Depot and probably they are right most of the time).
I do try to figure out what extra things the better companies will do, and look for that. My recent criteria has been to look for a company which can address my concerns about Manual J and Manual D, that seems to be a filter that makes many techs uncomfortable. Of course I care about craftsmanship and pride in their work, but that's easier to find (not that anybody will be perfect). I do emphatically tell them that I don't *want* the cheapest job, I think that has to encourage the good ones somewhat.
Best of luck -- P.Student
What is the aggravation that you feel you have to get paid for? A permit to install an HVAC system is required in this area. I simply did the contractor's research for him and told him the exact fee amount for my area as well as the phone number of the borough office to apply for the permit fee.
[i]We dont need to be told to include $125 for a permit. Being told that would automatically make me jack up my bid by probly a grand. Not trying to be a jerk but if I gotta deal with someone like that I'm gonna get paid for the aggravation. lol [/B]
Yeah, your right, I should have kept my mouth shut, made the contractor look up the phone number, and ask about the permit itself. Yup, my fault for being helpful.