When will they finally install my windows?

Robert Manari orders new windows, but after weeks of waiting, his patience has run out. Can these windows be saved?

Question: I’m having some trouble with my window installation, and am hoping you can help.

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Last fall, we contracted with a company called Florida Window and Door to have them replace our windows. The project was specifically tied to a completion date of November 30th. They were by far the most expensive, but we made the mistake of trusting a very sweet talking salesman.

The deadline came and passed and they were not even close to having the windows ready, let alone installing them. Meanwhile, they have been trying to blame the delay on my condo association for not complying with one of their requests. However, this only delayed the process by a few days, a week at the very most.

A new deadline was promised by the same salesperson of Dec. 16 and 17th. Again, that one passed and there is no way to have the job completed before the end of the year. Meanwhile, since we moved into our new home on Dec. 1st — which is why the deadline of Nov. 30th was so important to us — all our belongings are still in boxes and the furniture all wrapped up waiting for the window people to start working.

I have respectfully asked for the cancellation of the project and a refund of my deposit. But Florida Window and Door will not cancel the job. What should I do? — Robert Manari, Miami Beach, Fla.

Answer: Your rights to cancel a contract are limited. Under Florida statutes, if the sale was made at your place of residence, you have three days to call the whole thing off.

Things have a way of slowing down to a crawl between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, which might have explained the slower response times. That happens in almost every industry, including, ahem, mine. (This might be a good time to apologize to anyone who contacted me on Thanksgiving and didn’t get an immediate response — I’m sorry!)

A little research before you placed your order might have shown that Florida Window and Door has an interesting track record, which is to say some customers are happy, while others are vocally unhappy and not afraid to express their opinions online. The company is also highly protective of its public image, as this lawsuit filed against the Better Business Bureau illustrates.

But a review of your correspondence suggests you might have taken a gentler approach to solving this. Too quickly, the discussion devolved into threats of lawyers and calling newspapers. That’s unnecessary.

Of course the company should have met its contractual obligations to you. I figured this was just a small misunderstanding, and that a quick, polite email to the company on your behalf might help. I was encouraged to receive an almost immediate reply from the company’s president, promising he would personally contact you.

Over the course of two weeks, which happened during the holidays, I received emails from you asking about your windows and then followed up with Florida Window and Door, which claimed it was trying to reach you. In messages sent directly to you, the company continued to insist that it was not the cause of the delay.

Finally, in early January, you sent me a note saying you had reached the end of your patience. I contacted the company one last time for you, and again received an email directly from the president.

“I apologize for the delay in response,” he wrote. “I was out of the country and just returned. As promised after we spoke, I left [a] message with no response. Product is ready and we are waiting on customer.”

All fixed? Not quite.

I forwarded the email to you, hoping to close the door on this case. Instead, you decided to dispute the charges on your credit card, and received a full refund from your credit card.

Did Robert Manari have to wait too long?

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