Tips from the attorney general on shopping for new windows

Tips from the attorney general on shopping for new windows »Play Video
It's the time of year when people think about doing those big home remodeling projects -- everything from new roofs to new windows.

Let's talk about windows. State Attorney General Rob McKenna has some tips on how you can be a smart consumer when you shop for new windows.

• Get at least three bids for your project.

"Be careful to avoid same-day discounts, these pressure tactics to buy today. Get the bids and get them in writing," said McKenna.

The attorney general says reputable companies will not attempt to force you to decide then and there to purchase windows; they'll let you have the chance to shop around before you decide.

• Get itemized bids that set out the cost of each window separate from the cost of installation of each window.

Otherwise, you will be unable to effectively compare bids. If a company refuses to itemize or says it cannot, move on to another company. There's no good reason for a company refusing to itemize.

• Consumers have a three-business day right to cancel in-home sales.

Companies are required by law to notify you of your cancellation rights and give you two copies of a notice of cancellation form at the time of any in-home sale. If a company doesn't tell you about your cancellation rights or asks you to give up that right, it's violating the law.

"You can't waive that right, and they shouldn't try to force you to waive it by having you sign a statement," McKenna said. "It's your right under state law. Don't waive it, and if they claim you've waived it, contact our office."

• Do not believe claims that new windows will create significant savings of heating and cooling costs each month so that the new windows "will pay for themselves."

Each home's energy use is based on dozens of factors - insulation, appliances, heating systems, etc. - and windows are only one of them.

"They haven't substantiated that energy savings are that significant, and therefore will result in a payback period on a window purchase. They just don't have the evidence that that's happening," said McKenna. "They just claim that there's 30 or 40 percent savings without actually documenting."

The attorney general has an upcoming consumer protection forum for the Chinese-American community. It will be held on Saturday, May 29, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Attorney General's Office at 800 5th Ave., Suite #2000.