Quick Note: You could easily remove the words “Garage Door” from this article and these key points would apply to any type of service company including plumbers, electricians, A/C and Heating, Pest Control, etc.
Blowout specials? Same day service? Lube and tune specials? Lifetime warranties? 24/7 service? Does this sound familiar? Most of these marketing terms were created to lure you in, similar to the way a car dealership tells you they have one car left at an outstanding price. You arrive at the dealership only to be told they can’t find the vehicle, or it just sold. In this article, we are going to discuss the ins and outs of coupons, discounts, and extended warranties offered by service companies.
Today, consumers are seeking a deal or bargain on their purchase, especially when it comes to repairing their home. A Google search gives us a first page listing of home service companies that may or may not be able to help you with your issue. Once we arrive at the website, there is a whole host of coupons, special deals and offers you can’t resist. Your mind is bombarded with mathematical problems trying to figure out which company will offer you the best deal and the highest percentage of savings. However, it may not be in your best interest to grab the deal.
Unrealistic Coupons & Discounts
Coupon must be presented before estimate is written
Many times, questionable service companies send their technicians (subcontractors) out to repair your garage door, intending to sell you something more. Fine print lurks at the bottom of their coupon, and your repair ends up costing you way more than what was advertised. Or, your job doesn’t fall within the “conditions” of the coupon.
A true coupon would take the amount or percentage advertised off the true everyday price. Instead, coupons must be presented before the estimate is written for the repair. This allows the company to inflate the price or pressure you into unnecessary upgrades to cover the discount given.
Companies rely heavily on business coming in because of coupons or deals. These offers promise everything under the sun, from free service calls to hundreds of dollars off a new service or installation. Homeowners are excited to receive these specials, but once these companies arrive at the customer’s home, that’s when the “technician” becomes the salesman of the year.
Service Company Salesman or Technician?
They are salesmen disguised as service technicians helping a distressed homeowner and saving the day
These companies have flooded the market and the internet with their name and high ranking on the Google ladder. They have local numbers, but are actually a call center in another city or state. They operate under various names like “Garage Door Ninjas” or “Garage Door Doctors”. Not only that, but they don’t have a local office. Work is subcontracted out within particular cities across the United States. There is no real intention of keeping you as a future customer or honestly resolving your problem.
They are salesmen disguised as service technicians helping a distressed homeowner and saving the day. You desperately gave them your credit card to charge whatever it takes to get your car out of the garage and on the road. There are many stories that suggest what should be a $300 repair for a particular service ended up costing $1,000 or more for the same service by these garage door scammers. In one case, they scammed an elderly man by charging him $1,700 for services that should have cost $100.
It is in the best interest of desperate consumers and deal grabbers to research exactly what you are getting and if this company will be around to honor warranty work or issues in the future. If a business relies on good customer service, honest work and not trying to deceive, customers will beat a path down to your door.
We all want a good deal, but the best deal may not be the lowest price. I once watched the first pieces of wood go up on a wooden roller coaster and wondered if the contractor building it was the low bidder. Hmmm, …makes you wonder about the cost of saving money.
Selling the Monthly Payment
Many service companies have taken their marketing to a whole new level by offering their installation services in monthly payments. Instead of speaking with you about how much your new garage door or AC unit will be, they go over standard and upgrade options laid out in monthly installments. Monthly payments always look much more approachable than the full amount.
This tactic was taken from car dealerships and credit card companies. They lay out their paperwork and proposals so the first thing you see is the monthly payment. The total lump sum is in smaller font or on a different page. Car dealerships use this method most when trying to sell extended warranties for vehicles. The only thing they present you with is your monthly payment, and if that falls inside someone’s budget, they bite. What they didn’t realize is they just paid $8,800 for an extended warranty and service plan that they will be paying on for 72 to 84 months.
Contractor Review Websites
Many contractor websites that “grade” companies and place them as “top ranking” according to customer reviews don’t offer their members real service. They aggressively target the service companies to advertise and offer the customer “deals”. The once “consumer driven” review sites have now turned into “highest bidder” review sites.
Their business model was once driven by consumer memberships, and now their revenue stream is largely dependent on collecting advertising dues from small businesses. The service company has to make money. They can’t offer something for nothing. Therefore, they create unrealistic package deals with prices that are too good to pass up. Who is actually winning… The member of the site or the site selling advertising?
Free membership sites that allow you to find local service companies will end up costing you more because local companies have to pay thousands of dollars a month for their listing to show when you do a search. The best companies used to rise to the top based on how long they had been on the platform and number of good reviews. Once again, there is nothing free in life.
What many people do not know is there are numerous service companies online with fake reviews. You can hire marketing companies in other countries to post fake reviews online for your company on various social platforms including Google, Angie’s List, and Yelp to name a few. These companies will get away with this for a while, and then one day they will lose hundreds of reviews.
What ends up happening is the algorithm at these review websites red flags an account because the local company located in North Carolina is showing hundreds of reviews from an IP address in India. This happens all too often and many consumers have no idea. They are left holding an invoice in their hand from a company that over charged them, who had hundreds of five-star reviews online.
Hire a Local Service Company
When looking for a garage door company or any service company for that matter, talk to your neighbors or call a local realtor that sells homes in your area. Realtors are some of the hardest-working people on the planet. They work tirelessly selling and showing homes in your area. With every home sale, there is a home inspection. When there are issues with a home that is being sold, realtors need service companies to address the problem.
These references will be much more reliable than picking a number out of the phone book or on the internet. They will send expert technicians to your home to fix only what is broken. Try to build a list of trusted contractors to service your home before you actually require their service. This way, you are not scrambling to find a contractor at the worst possible time. Routine maintenance can also go a long way to prevent future issues.
The best advice is to stay away from companies that are a national chain and answer the phone in a different state than you reside. All national service company chains or franchises are not bad, but most do not have the consumer’s best interest in mind. Here’s why.
The owner’s of these national companies most likely live in another city or state. They do not see what goes on in your community daily. They make decisions for their company based on a macro viewpoint (looking at the company on a national level). The corporate office or parent company is interested in moving products and the local franchises have to meet a quota. These products and services need to be sold, even if it’s not in the best interest of the consumer.
Local service companies (including some franchises) have owners that live and participate in your community. They shop at your grocery store, go to your church, their kids go to your child’s school, etc. They have a vested interest in the local community and their reputation depends on it. It is important to them to do right by their neighbor.
All Service Companies Mislead and Misinform Consumers
All types of service companies can mislead consumers. Many service companies run ads and coupons to lure you in. The Sunday paper started training us to look for specials on tires, appliances, electronics, and garden equipment. You would grab a cup of coffee and start going through the thick bundle of ads to see what interested you. Then you would jump in the car and head to the store to make your new purchase.
Today, we now have Groupon, Home Advisor, and Angie’s List running “specials” and “deals” to make the consumer feel as if they are saving money. Many companies use special tactics and marketing to get you to make a purchase that you don’t necessarily need or ever really wanted – “The deal was too good to pass up” say’s the consumer.
It’s important to note that deceptive practices take place in all types of service companies. This is not an issue only related to the garage door industry. You could easily remove the term “Garage Door” from this article, and these key points would be valid for any type of service company. There are misleading coupons and specials from plumbing, electrical, A/C, and carpet cleaning service companies as well.
Fortunately for us today, there is a vast number of resources available online to find a company that is honest and reliable. The internet has given a voice to the common man. You can read reviews on countless websites to determine if a certain company is right for you. Keep in mind, even good companies might have a few negative reviews online.
2022… Garage Door Scammers Are Still Active
We recently sent a bid over to one of our property managers to replace a garage door opener. Our price was to install a new chain drive LiftMaster garage door opener for $449 with one remote. That price included installation and tax. Soon after I sent the quote, the property manager responded saying the owner of the home found a better price for a new garage door opener with two remotes for $389 installed. I responded with a cordial reply and went on my way.
A couple of days later the property manager reached out to me about the same property with questions about how we missed the additional repairs that were needed. I asked her what she was referring to. She responded that the other company that went out to install the $389 garage door opener said the door needed an additional $400-$500 worth of work replacing springs, cables, and rollers. My immediate response was, “Your dealing with a scammer”.
In the end, we were the company who ended up installing a new garage door opener at the residence. The garage door DID NOT need new springs, cables, and rollers. The owner was happy to pay our reasonable price for a brand of garage door opener that was far superior to what the scammers were installing. Unfortunately, the owner had to pay them a $89 service call fee for coming out to make the assessment. Moral of the story, if you own a rental home, trust the contractors the property managers have relationships with as they will most likely lead you in the right direction.
- Service company coupons might not be your best option
- Hire local – try to find a company (or ownership) that is based in or around your city
- Call a realtor to find good references for reliable service companies
- Some review or list-based websites have strayed away from their original “consumer driven” business model
- All types of service companies mislead consumers, not just garage door companies
- Try to stay away from only looking at monthly payments. Make sure you know the full cost of your installation.