Recently I was talking with a reader from the site who was considering Alside windows. They asked me why they were finding Alside window complaints online and that is a question I’ve heard before. That makes it perfect for a new post on the site!
There are a couple of important factors to consider when reading about windows online. We’ll get into one of them right here.
People writing window reviews usually don’t know what they’re talking about
This definitely applies to the “experts” as well as the customers. Many years ago I worked in window manufacturing for Alside and after that I did window warranty inspections for a little bit. Basically when there was enough of a problem that nobody could figure out they’d send me out to go to the house, meet with the homeowner and check out the windows.
I was the representative from the manufacturer who was there to figure out the problem. The customer was mad, the window wasn’t working right and I was there to save the day. It didn’t always go well. Here’s a great example.
The customer was in Virginia and she had a picture window that was leaking. The contractor who had installed it was telling her that he couldn’t figure it out and it must be a defective window.
The homeowner loved the contractor. He was a nice guy, he showed up on time and lived in the neighborhood. In the customer’s eyes it was defininltey not the contractor’s fault. She was sure it was a defective window and I was the jerk from the manufacturer. She definitely had Alside window complaints.
When I pulled up at the house I could see the problem from the driveway. The picture window was installed sideways and the weep holes were on the side rather than the bottom.
Now, if you’re not a window guru, the weep holes go on the bottom of a window to let any water that gets inside the frame drain to the outside. If you see weep holes on the side of a window, the window is sideways in the opening. It’s not able to drain water and it would be very likely to leak.
So, at this point I haven’t even gotten out of my car and I can see why the window is leaking. The homeowner, who had yelled at me earlier in the day when I called to confirm the appointment, was standing in the doorway with a very unhappy look on her face.
Problem solved right? Not quite.
At this point I know what’s wrong with the window but I can’t necessarily tell the customer. The problem now was that the contractor who had installed the window, and who the customer loved, was a long time wholesale account for us.
He had bought windows from us for years and he bought lots of them. I didn’t want to throw him under the bus in front of this customer. Besides that she already loved him and hated me, as a representative of the manufacturer. Trying to blame him likely wouldn’t have worked anyway.
Instead, I looked over the window inside and out, took some measurements and told her I’d send a service rep out to take care of it.
I told the service technician to go install new weep holes in the bottom and I never heard back from the customer.
Why was the window sideways?
The window was sideways because contractors don’t always see the big picture. I talked with him about it afterwards. He told me the opening was over the max height for that style of window but not over the max width. Since it was just a picture window that didn’t open he figured he could order it with the dimensions reversed and it would still fit right into the opening.
That’s why the weep holes were on the side, the contractor had ordered the window sideways on purpose. He installed it sideways and then acted like he didn’t know why it was leaking.
There was never anything wrong with the window, the manufacturing had not caused any problem at all. The contractor made a dumb decision but the homeowner didn’t understand what was going on.
I’m sure if you tracked down that lady today she’d still tell you how horrible Alside windows are. That was 15 years ago. The problem she experienced had absolutely nothing to do with the window and she had no idea. Basically she had Alside window complaints when she should have had contractor complaints.
What’s the lesson here?
I think the moral of this story is that sometimes people don’t have a great experience with windows. That’s true. They also are typically very bad at understanding what the problem actually is. People aren’t window experts. They know they have a problem and they know they’re mad about their problem They just don’t necessarily know what is causing their problem.
There are all sorts of questionable window installers out there. Some who seem questionable and some who seem great. Alside windows are very widely distributed. They sell over a million windows per year through all sorts of contractors.
If you see Alside window complaints I do think it’s important to keep in mind that the customer may be complaining about Alside windows but more often than not the problem is the installer.
This is why my company uses a different process than most for installing windows but that’s a story for another day.
Is it always the window installer’s fault?
Nope. It’s certainly possible for a product to have a manufacturing defect. If that were to happen the contractor who you purchased the window from would be the best person to help get the issue resolved. They can get any new parts ordered up and installed. In my experience that’s pretty easy with Alside or any other manufacturer.
Why do I hear about a lot of window warranty complaints?
Good question. We’ll have a new post on that topic coming soon. For now, the short answer is that people don’t understand warrants, salesman misrepresent warranties and a bad installation is often not covered by a warranty.
For now you can find information on the best local window companies in your area right here. That’s the best place to start when you’re thinking about new windows for your house.