I canceled my window order, but where’s my refund?

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By Christopher Elliott

Barbara Jamison cancels her window order on time, but her company wants to charge her anyway. Is she out of luck?

Question

I am at my wits’ end and need your help. I purchased and moved into a “not so new home” this summer. As a senior I am on Social Security disability and on a limited income. I had a little money left over from the sale of my small home in another city, so I decided to put it into more energy efficient windows that would help conserve energy.

I contacted Window World in Dallas for a free estimate. The impressed me I and ordered the windows I could afford. I gave the salesman $1,301 for the deposit, and was to pay the additional half of $1,301 upon installation in about six weeks. The window contract indicated that I could cancel the contract anytime until midnight of the following third day. The contract was signed on August 6, which gave me until midnight on August 9.

At about 8 p.m. on Aug. 9, I received a call that there was a death in the family and was asked to help with funeral expenses. Of course, I agreed. I immediately called my sales person to cancel my order and left a voicemail for him. I was within my allowed cancellation time frame. The office location was also closed.

Struggling with communication and financial consequences

I got a call back from my salesman the following day and was told that since the cancellation was not received until the 10th that I was not able to cancel the contract. I reminded him that the contract stated I could cancel up until midnight of the third day.

He argued that the cancellation had to “be received” by midnight the third day. I argued that it was received by his cell phone in time or he wouldn’t be responding to my call and it was not my fault that he did not answer his phone or check his email at 8 p.m.

Since I can’t afford the payment of the additional $1,301, Window World is sitting on my deposit. Window World offered to let me make payments and then have the windows put in. I don’t need it anymore because I have to sell the house for financial reasons.

I have tried and tried to be patient and communicate with them. Emails have bounced back as undeliverable, I have sent postal mail and left messages. Can you help? — Barbara Jamison, Garland, Texas.

Answer

My condolences on your loss and I’m sorry to hear about your recent financial hardships. If Window World gave you until midnight on Aug. 9 to cancel your order, and you made every effort to let it know you didn’t want to go through with your order for new windows, then this should have been an open-and-shut case.

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It wasn’t. A simple email to the Window World location should have been enough to persuade the company to refund your check, but your messages were bounced back to you. It’s possible that you typed in the wrong address (that happens, even to me), but it’s also possible that the company just didn’t want to hear from you. When you combine that with the fact that many of your calls and messages were met with silence, I have to assume that the company just wanted to keep your money. (Related: When will they finally install my windows.)

I always marvel at how friendly a company can be when it’s taking your money during the sales process, but how it will stop talking to you when you ask for a refund that’s rightfully yours. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problems.)

Order cancellations

Your case raises an interesting question: When is an order actually canceled? Is a phone message left a few hours before the deadline enough, or should it be done during business hours? I tend to lean toward your definition: If they’re giving you until midnight, then they should make themselves available until midnight. (At the very least, they should allow you to send an email that has a timestamp from yesterday, to verify you made the request.)

If the Window World location wasn’t willing to help you, I would have escalated this to the corporate office. Finding the right executive is pretty easy. All email addresses at Window World are first initial + lastname@windowworld.com. Dana Deem, the company’s president, can be reached at ddeem@windowworld.com or 336-667-2100.

I contacted the Window World location in your area on your behalf, and it refunded your deposit.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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