Week 18 – The Ordeal Continues

So we’ve just finished week 18 of what, Thermotech Fiberglass salesman Derek Peasley told us would be an 8-10 week lead time.  By the way, Peasley reaffirmed that lead time about six weeks into the project even hinting they could come in a bit early if everything fell right (what he didn’t tell us is they hadn’t even ordered most of the glass yet and wouldn’t for months!).  Anyway, week 18 is over.  Stephen Thwaites, managing director of Thermotech Fiberglass (TF), told me on October 6 my order would be completed by November 4.  The tempered glass was the hold up but they would certainly have it by then.  By October 31, though, Thwaites was no longer taking my calls and David Sargent (production manager?) was saying they’d have the tempered glass by November 10 and could deliver all of the remaining windows by November 15 (except for one custom window with Net Gain glass that had been mis-cut by the vendor.  Nothing is TF’s fault — just ask them).  Of course, November 10 has come and gone and TF has backed off the November 15 ship date.  They don’t have all the glass, they say.  Their vendor made a mistake. Nothing is TF’s fault — just ask them.  Currently, we don’t know when we’ll get the rest of our windows.  Week 19 will come and go no doubt.  Week 20 anyone?

“Thwaiting for Thermotech” – a testament to poor customer service.

I know I am late getting to all the gory details of our ordeal with Thermotech, but I thought I would pass this along since it is fresh (and disturbing).

Last night I added a comment to a blog entry on the Green Building Advisors website:

My wife and I are building a passive solar home in upstate NY and have selected Thermotech Fiberglass as the window vendor… a huge mistake as it turns out. They may have a good window but they are extremely difficult to deal with. We are now in week 17 of an alleged 8-10 week lead time (we wired $15K on 6 Jul 11 as a deposit) with no end in site. When we haven’t been ignored, we’ve been misled, misdirected, and lied to. The order processing and quoting is a joke. Customer service is non-existent and their shop floor systems and procedures are farcical. Stephen Thwaites, putative managing director, has no control over the company, has no idea what is happening on his shop floor and may have the worst customer service “skills” of anyone I have had the misfortune to deal with. When asked a specific question about why my order wasn’t getting the attention it deserved, Thwaites said, “You’re assuming there is a logical rationale in our [shop floor] procedures.” He blames his employees for his company’s problems, won’t return phone calls, and won’t stand behind what he says. The company culture is excuse-making and equivocating. Everyone I’ve spoken to at Thermotech makes excuses first, before any commitment (which then aren’t kept). It sickens me to think that, eventually, I will have put ~$52K in the coffers of this poor excuse for a company. Don’t buy from ThermoTech. You’ll regret it. (Mr. Thwaites, I challenge you to point out where I’m wrong or where I’ve exaggerated).

Here’s the response I got from Green Building Advisor’s Martin Holladay:

In a comment posted on this GBA page,[comment 1] builder Dan Kolbert wrote, “while we think the ThermoTech windows have clearly added to the house’s performance, we have had ongoing warranty issues over some relatively minor problems that have soured our relationship with the company. As I’ve told them directly, they desperately need a service and warranty division or they will just add to their list of former fans.”

I responded with my own comment: “Thermotech Fiberglass makes great windows, but reports of slow customer service from Stephen Thwaites, the technical director of Thermotech Fiberglass, are legion.

“Such reports are so common, in fact, that builders of superinsulated houses have a shorthand expression they use to refer to the customer service situation one experiences after contacting the company about a problem — it’s called “Thwaiting for Thermotech.” (I can’t take credit for coining this jewel, unfortunately.)

“After I requested a price quote for some windows for my own house, I had to thwait for Thermotech for almost a year before I got a response.

“Another customer who got tired of thwaiting for Thermotech was David Pill, who posted a report of his unhappy experiences on this GBA page.”

[David Pill’s comments are in Comment 15.]

You can read Mr. Pill’s full comments at the GBA link above, but he leads with “I am extremely disappointed with Thermotech’s windows.”   Which is precisely how I am feeling.

How bad must your customer service be if your name enters builder’s vernacular as synonymous with poor service?  It’s a rhetorical question, but I’ll answer it.  “Off-the-charts poor!”

Stay tuned…

Caveat Emptor might be Latin for “Beware of Canadian window companies”

Thermotech Fiberglass is the most poorly run, poorly organized, and poorly managed company that I have had the misfortune of dealing with.  It is so bad that I cannot, in good conscience, remain silent.  I want other, potential customers to have this information before making the decision to purchase from this collection of ne’er-do-wells and incompetents.  I know this will sound like a rant but I will detail what has happened in these pages and attempt to be fair, to give credit where credit is due.  If you don’t think I am being fair, feel free to comment.

Stay tuned.

Maury Bouchard

The West end of our new home. Notice the conspicuous lack of Windows