A recent column in the Detroit Free Press about a negative experience a staff writer had while shopping for new home windows made me wonder if any customers feel the same when an HVAC construction technician visits their home.
The columnist wrote that a window company, one of the largest in the region, had refused to schedule an appointment to give an estimate unless her husband would also be home.
This infuriated the writer, who told the door-to-door salesman canvassing her neighborhood that she was capable of making monetary decisions and signing checks — before she slammed the door.
The writer goes on to name the window company and contacted most of its competitors — the majority of which also prefer, if not require, both spouses be present for an estimate or sales presentation.
Anyone who has ever purchased windows knows that the experience is often unpleasant as well as expensive. Some of the highest pressure sales tactics I have ever experienced were when discussing casements, double-hung and low-E panes.
The window companies contacted by the writer defended their policies by pointing out that windows are a major home purchase and the rule is not sexist — they want all homeowners present to ensure everyone understands and agrees to it.
Even the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau told the writer that such a policy was good idea.
I bet having everyone present is also designed to cut down on the number of canceled contracts.
But it made me wonder if such a policy is common with residential HVAC sales. A new furnace or air conditioner is not inexpensive and I imagine a service company also doesn’t want to lose a sale because it was nixed by a spouse.
The writer’s point was that this wasn’t a “Mad Men” episode set in 1965; it’s 2015 and many women are the main breadwinners for the household or are empowered to make most financial decisions for it.
Part of the reason for the policy is probably because many window companies train salespeople to close the deal the same day they visit, dropping the price by thousands of dollars and pushing hard for an agreement. If a customer says they want to think about it, the odds that they will buy decline precipitously.
So what do SNIPS readers involved in residential HVAC market sales think of policies requiring all homeowners be present for sales presentations? Are they common? Do you have one at your company? Do you ever get any complaints?