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Failed attempt to buy a patio door…

The sliding patio door leading to our deck out back needs to be replaced, so I’ve been shopping around trying to figure out what to get. The first thing I discovered is that the price range for these things is huge, with installed prices ranging from just over $1,000 to several thousand bucks. The second thing I discovered is that nobody wants to simply tell me the price. They all want to send a guy over to measure, even though I know our door is a standard size. There are options. There is an opportunity to up-sell the job. One outfit (Lowes) told me they would like me to pay to have a guy come and measure, with the fee refunded if I buy from then.

Finally I arranged for a guy from Casa Bella Windows to come by and measure and confirm the price. Their patio door seemed pretty well-built (I drove up to their showroom for a look) and there price was acceptable. It wasn’t the cheapest, but it seemed a fair price for a well-built unit. I emailed the rep. Go ahead with the job, I said.

The Casa Bella rep then mailed me a 9 page paperwork package. That was about the last thing I expected. I read it through. They wanted me to pay them half up front, but the contract failed to spell out any timeline. They insisted I sign a contract, but it looked like the contract was set up for their benefit and not at all for ours.

The way I figured it, the door I wanted was standard size. They must sell quite a few of them. I wouldn’t doubt it if they kept a few in stock. The total cost of the job included installation and disposal of the old door. A reasonable deposit in my mind was $500. It says I’m serious but it is low enough that it encourages the company to get to the job in order to get payed.

I pushed back. I’ve bought vehicles with less paperwork. This job isn’t that big a deal.  In my mind there was no need for a contract at all and certainly no need for such a huge deposit. I figured we would not be able to do business with them but I suggested to Casa Bella guy in an email that a 1/2 deposit seemed excessive and that $500 was more reasonable. I told him that for 1/2 deposit I wanted either a deadline in the contract, after which we could cancel the order and get our deposit back at our discretion (I suggested October 7) or a penalty in the contract, such that for every week or partial week the job was late, it would be discounted by 5%. I figured if he wanted my business, he would come back with: sure $500 is fine, we’ll schedule the installation.

This is what I got back instead:

I do agree, the agreement forms are a lot of paperwork but we like to make sure we explain everything and the customer are aware of everything that will undertake when we come to install the windows/doors, that way there are no surprises. In terms of the 50% deposit, it mostly due to the fact that everything is custom made for the customer’s home and their current opening. Unfortunately because we are in the construction industry, we are not able to agree to the late penalty as we have to account for circumstances that may be out of our control such as the weather, where it may rain for three weeks and there is nothing that we can do about it. On the other hand we have been in business for over 60 years and most of our business is based of referrals, so we do try our best to accommodate our customers to ensure they are happy with the overall experience. That being said the first week of October (before October 7th) should not be a problem and as soon as I have the forms signed and the order processed I can definitely try to get you a date well in advance in order to avoid any confusions and any issues.

And so it’s back to the drawing board. I’m not going to do business with these folks. Am I being unreasonable?


  1. Hold out — it sounds like BS to me. I contracted with the Home Depot chain for my doors and windows in two increments as I was able to save the cash, and was never asked for a 50% deposit — it was all billed on completion, and I was given a work schedule up front.

  2. Deb

    You aren’t being unreasonable at all. My husband is in the construction industry and we hear so many stories. If you see “red flags” go with your gut feeling. By the way, if you have a standard size, have you thought of doing it yourself? We ended up doing that with a few windows we had…Youtube is a wonderful thing for building and repairing and such!

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