If you are considering Dixie HomeCrafters for any work on your home, please do yourself a favor and take the time to read this post. If you know any family or friends who are considering them, pass this along.
The following post conveys the experience and opinions of the author alone. What follows should not be construed to represent the experience and opinions of any person, business, or organization that the author may or may not be affiliated with.
It began with a box at Goody's. The box had a big sign on it enticing us to fill out a card and enter it into a drawing for new gutters on our house. This caught our eye because we own a house in the south where builders do not seem to understand the need for gutters on a house. We filled out the card, and soon thereafter, got a call from an appointment setter.
Last evening (Wednesday, January 30th, 2008) the representative showed up at our house. I was expecting a construction professional. He was a salesman. Within moments of shaking his hand I could feel the "salesman slime" creeping up my arm on it's way to attempt a takeover of my brain. The tone of his voice, the phony smile, all betrayed that this guy would say whatever was necessary to get my money.
He handed us a list of references and told us that if we would call the references he could give us a discount. We thought that was great, until he said that the calls would have to be made right that minute while he was measuring the house. Although reluctant to call a stranger right at dinner time, I succumbed and made a couple of calls. The first was a wrong number. The second reference stated that the gutter work they did was fine, but they royall screwed up subsequent window work, resulting in the customer having to purchase a whole new security system for the house.
Within a few moments he finished measuring the house and was ready to make his pitch. He pulled out a binder with what looked to contain 15 or 20 presentation pages. After taking 15 minutes to get through the first one, I asked if he was going to go through the whole binder. He said, "Would that bother you?" I looked him sternly in the eye and let my facial expression and body language convey that his time was running out quick. He packed up the binder and pulled out of his big salesman case several different samples of guttering.
For the next 15 minutes or so demonstrated all of the weaknesses of other guttering compared to his superior product. And I will say, that their product did look superior to the other samples he brought. Kind of the same way that a Lexus would look sitting next to a 1972 Chevy Chevelle.
We finally got to the estimate. He went over all of the details of the work and gave us the figure of $3,103.00. Remember that number. He then said he could give me a coupon for $350.00. He then said he could give me a 10% credit for calling the reference. So finally, we ended up with an estimate for $2,443.00 and he asked if we would be using a check, credit card, or financing. I said, "Well, first we'll decide if we're going to give you our business and THEN we'll talk about how to pay. We'll do some comparison, take a look at our budget, and get back with you."
Here is where the coup against our brains began to crescendo.
He said that the $2,443.00 quote was only good if we signed a contract right that minute. If he left the house, and we called him later, the price would back to $3,103. Somehow, our coupon discount and discount for calling a reference mysteriously disappeared. I said something like, "Well, we're smart enough consumers to know not to commit to a purchase of that size without doing comparison and deciding what would work best for us."
He then began talking about the necessity of taking care of our house. I was insulted by his preaching to me for the sake of getting my business.
Finally, he said, "Okay, give me a call when you're ready. I just need to call my boss and let him know that I'm finished here." Here is where the "salesman slime" kicked into overdrive and the attempted takeover of our brain climaxed. He didn't call his boss from his vehicle while pulling out of our driveway, he stayed seated at our dining room table while making the call, with the phone speaker up loud enough for us to hear his boss on the other end. The scripted conversation began.
Salesman: "Hey Boss, I'm finishing up here. Just met with Bill and Lynn and they love the product, but they're just not ready to make the decision tonight."
Boss: "What zip code are they in?"
Salesman: "What zip code are you in?"
Boss: "Would they be willing to put a sign in their yard while we do the work?"
Salesman: "Would you be willing to put a sign in your yard?"
Salesman: "Yes, they woud."
Boss: "Would they be willing to go on the reference list?"
Salesman: "Would you be willing to go on the reference list?"
Salesman: "Yes, they would."
Boss: "Okay, I think we could do $1,800."
Me: "Okay, sounds good. Let us take a few days to make sure this is the best deal for us and we'll get back to you."
Salesman: "This price is only good if you sign the contract right now."
Me: "Then I guess we're finished."
Salesman: "Boss, they want to think about it for a few days."
Boss: "What's going to change in a few days?"
By this time I'm getting pissed.
Boss: "Can they keep this offer confidential?"
Salesman: "Can you keep this offer confidential? We can't offer it to anyone else"
Boss: "Tell them I'll give them 0% financing, no payment for a year."
Me: "Sounds great, let us take a couple of days to think about it."
Salesman: "Boss, I guess we're done here."
Boss: "Have they ever owned a home before?"
Salesman: "Have you...
Salesman: "Do you understand what 0% financing with no payment for a year means?"
Me (resisting the urge to jump the table and throttle him): "I'm smart enough to know exactly what that means and I'm also smart enough not to give in to high pressure tactics to commit to that amount of money without comparison and thinking it through.
Boss: "Tell him that someone just today agreed to a $20,000.00 contract during our first visit."
Salesman: "Someone just tod....
Me: "I don't give a rip...I'm smart enough to know to never do that."
Salesman: "Boss, looks like we're done here."
Boss: "Yep, sounds like we are."
After this nonsense, the salesman sank to another level:
Salesman: "So, why can you not make a decision tonight?"
Me: "Because I'm intelligent enough to know that you never commit to that amount of money because someone is pressuring you to do it right that minute. If the price can be $1,800 right now, in can be $1,800 in 24-hours. I know the game you're playing and I'm not that gullible."
Salesman: "So you've never bought anything without taking time to think about it first?"
Me: "Yes, when we were young and stupid."
Salesman: "Oh, come on now. Surely you make purchases on the same day."
Salesman: "So you don't go to the grocery store and buy groceries on the same visit?"
Me (restraining fury): "Oh come on!"
slimy salesman laugh
Salesman: "Okay, what if I can get the price down to $1,400?"
Me: "Sounds good, we'll do some comparison and let you know."
Saleman: "Okay, I'm outta here."
Okay boys and girls, remember where we began? The quote began at $3,103.00. By the end of the conversation we were down to $1,400. What does this tell you? It tells me that the job can be done for $1,400 and his first pitch is designed to take advantage of and screw over those who aren't savvy enough to sniff out salesman slime. How about the fact that the "discount" price is only good if you sign that minute? What does that tell you? It tells me that they don't want you to compare their pricing to anyone else, afraid that you may discover the snow job that they're trying to pull on you.
If you are considering Dixie HomeCrafters for any work on your home, consider these things. Never take the first price. Never give in to the pressure to "sign now." And let the salesman know up front that you read this post, know his tricks, and won't be taken advantage of. If you would like the name of my particular salesman, drop me an e-mail and I'll let you know.
Aw, heck. I'll just tell you now. His name is Chad Fisher and he was working out of the office at 4454 Warm Springs Road in Columbus, GA.
UPDATE: I just came across this link to the "Rip-off Report." Be sure to visit here and read this guy's experiences.
UPDATE 2: August 19, 2008
Okay, so I got my economic stimulus check from President Bush and decided it was time to take care of this gutter thing once and for all. Here's the story:
I called a local home improvement company just down the road from me and asked them to come give me an estimate. The time was set for 5:30 PM on Tuesday afternoon. At precisely 5:30 PM the owner of the business pulled into the driveway (Dixie Homecrafters was over 30 minutes late). We all shook hands and the process began.
He was very polite as he asked what we wanted and then spent a few minutes takig all of the measurements. Within about 15 minutes we were sitting at the same dining room table where I nearly throttled the Dixie Homecrafters Guy in January. He did some quick math and told me that his price, for the same job Dixie Homecrafters had quoted me, would be $749.00. Remember, Dixie Homecrafters gave me an initial quote of $3,103 and progressively dropped it to $1,400 in an attempt to get me to sign the contract. The quote for the job that will now be done next week by a very polite, very professional company who's been in business locally for over 20 years is almost half the lowest quote from Dixie Homecrafters. Here's the part that made my wife and me chuckle. After he showed us the price he said, "Is this in the ballpark? Or do you want to take some time to think about it and call me back later?" Remember, Dixie Homecrafters pressured us to sign the contract right then and there and told us that all discounts would be void and the price would be back up to $3,103 if we didn't sign the contract before the salesman left.
I asked the guy about his product. He told me all about the gutters that they would be installing and (without me mentioning Dixie Homecrafters) told me how they use the same materials that Dixie Homecrafters tries to get people to pay thousands of dollars for. He told me about various things that he could do that would cost us more but then very honestly told us that he didn't think we really needed those things.
I asked him about guarantees and warranties on his work. He told me the length of their guarantee, but then said, "Listen, we're just down the road. You know where to find us if you ever have problems. We'll make it right. We've been in business over 20 years and reputation is everything. We haven't had a complaint against us yet and I won't let you be the first."
As the conversation came to a close, I asked if he needed any money up front. Nope, not a dime. No contract to sign. He'll see us next week.
Learn the lesson here boys and girls. Shop around. Do your homework. Use a well-respected locally owned company when possible. And don't ever, ever let a salesman talk you into kissing on the first date!
If you're in the Columbus, GA/Phenix City, AL area, drop me an e-mail and I'll tell you who will be doing my work. I'd post their name publicly here, but something tells me that the Dixie Homecrafters people who monitor this thread would begin a negative campaign against them if they knew who it is.