By Rich Figel
I wanted to write something positive to promote the new Career Changers TV episode that premiers Thurs., 8:30 PM on OC16, but I feel like I have to get this off my chest: Are local companies purposely trying to lose business? Over the past few weeks, my wife and I have been getting price quotes for new windows, carpeting, air conditioning and bathroom remodeling projects. Here's some of the things we've encountered...
• Companies that take days to get back to us with price estimates or other information we requested. Some didn't respond until we followed up a week later. And this was for things that would cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000. Those were lost sales that went to competitors who were eager to provide answers.
• Inaccurate information. In one case, we were told windows we ordered would arrive in 4-6 weeks. We made it clear that timing was important because of other work that was scheduled to be done. After 6 weeks had passed, I had to call and ask what the status was. The sales guy was defensive and made excuses before he even checked. "It normally takes 6 to 8 weeks," he said, contradicting what he told us earlier. Then he looked it up and said the windows wouldn't be arriving for another 3 weeks. I'll never do business with them again.
• Confusing price quotes. Instead of breaking out costs by items and labor, some contractors just lump everything together. When we asked for specifics, it became apparent they were including high end products or marking up certain items. We told them we were on a budget, and yet they didn't offer different options that were more affordable.
• Stores that closed at 5 pm on weekdays or weren't open on weekends. Um, if you're selling tile, carpet, or home furnishings, why would you limit your hours to times when most people are working? We even took a weekday off to go to some of those places... guess what? They were pretty empty because potential customers were at work. Sheesh.
• Speaking of empty, have you been to the Gentry Pacific Design Center lately? Lots of vacant space. That was supposed to be a place where you could get remodeling help from concept to completion. But it seemed like they were all competing for the upscale, luxury projects... and there's only so many of those to go around. Did any of them consider going after the middle class market, and offering more affordable designs for budget-minded home owners?
• Companies with name or image problems. This may sound trivial, but when you're trying to Google a company or find their website, it helps to have a name that's easy to remember. Not so good: having a name with "Sewer" in it, when they're advertising upscale bathroom remodeling services. That may be fine for plumbing work, but no one wants to tell friends or family that Joe's Sewer Cleaners did their bathroom redesign.
The one bright spot: found a good handyman in Kailua who offers very reasonable hourly rates, and always does his best to try and save us money. If you want his name and phone number, drop me an email.
Program Alert - The April CCTV episode that starts running 4/7 will feature a first for us: we're taking the leap into selling products through our show. The first items are unique life-saving devices developed by local inventor Dr. Rob Yonover, which we believe every boater and fisherman in Hawaii should have on board when they go out to sea. To find out more, please visit our website for daily viewing times or check out our CCTV YouTube Channel to watch video segments.