Dead Fish in a Box

The chronicles of a suburban fishpimp trying to keep it rural.

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Location: United States

Friday, February 24, 2006

Beware The Free Estimate

We went to the Seattle Home Show this past weekend. The thing about the Home Show is that they’ve got everything, and I mean everything. So unless you enjoy being overwhelmed, you need to have a plan. This house needs a ton of things done to it before we sell, but this year we’re focusing on the outside. We’re working with a landscape designer and will be transforming this tired plot into a garden spot. With that in mind we went in looking for stone dealers and nurseries, and skipped the hot tub and vinyl siding booths. But we got suckered into signing a few info cards with the window dealers in return for a chance at $10,000 worth of free windows.

Big Mistake.

They’re all calling up asking for sales appointments. Since it’s what I do all day long I can see right through them – like Simon says: you can’t bullsh*t a bullsh*tter.

We had one company drop by last night for a “free quote”. They said it would be 60-90 minutes. It went two and a half hours. They were training a new sales guy, so we got the double team. At first it was fun because I got to play the buyer role and ask all the tough questions that I’ve been asked over the years; but when I asked him to skip certain sections (like the 15 pages of 10-year-old magazine articles), he didn’t know what to do and kept blathering. I warned him, salesman to salesman, not to talk himself out of the sale. He picked up on it and finished up and handed it over to the senior rep.

She, however, didn’t pick up on it. She proceeded to go through the entire infomercial about how great their windows are, when all we wanted was the cliff notes version and an estimate. We went through this whole process when we replaced the windows in our first home. We told her that the whiz-bang-super-duper-dope-fly-monkey windows were overkill and that we’re looking more into the mid-range stuff. So she asks to use the phone to call her manager for a price on the standard double-pane stuff. She repeats our position to the manager in a tone & wording that is designed to make us think we’re making the wrong decision. All it did was turn me off.

Turns out they only do double-pane for commercial construction, and only sell triple-pane for residential. I’m sure she knows exactly what they do and don’t do, and has pricing for it all in her little pink rollaway bag.

Then she gets into the pricing and discounting. Seriously Ron Popeil-esque, ‘but wait, there’s more…’. Another call to the manager for more discounts. I told her I wasn’t going to sign anything right there and that I wanted to look at multiple offers side-by-side, but that I’d be making the decision in the next 10 days. She just couldn’t digest that. She called the manager a third time (on our phone, not her cell phone, no less), and told him what was going on.

…He’s being, what people commonly say is ‘stubborn’…

She’s sitting in my kitchen, wasting my time, on my telephone, calling me names?!?!

When she hung up the phone it was all I could do to contain the outrage.

First of all I’m looking to buy windows, not a used car, so quit calling the manager; second, I don’t appreciate being called ‘stubborn’ when, as a responsible consumer, I’m just trying to see what’s going on in the window market.” I said as she tried to backpedal, looking to shoehorn her foot from her mouth, “And the longer you stay in my house, the less likely I am to buy windows from you!

The kid was very cool about it. She was totally rattled, and practically ran from the house. They sat in our driveway for about 20 minutes talking before they finally split. I’m sure she thinks she lost the sale. We priced it out this morning against what we paid at the old house, and she’s right, they’re more than double what we paid even when inflation is accounted for.

When you go looking for windows, beware the “free estimate”. Time is money; they are anything but free.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Home Improvement

We bought our current house back in November knowing that it was a fixer, so we expected to put in some work, but things are starting to get out of hand. The previous owner didn’t do anything even remotely resembling maintenance on the place. He was a complete slob. We think he was a carpet layer by trade; the entire house is carpeted with remnants. One would think, by extention, that he would have been reasonably handy, but some of the things we’ve encountered fixing the place up are real head-scratchers. For instance: it’s a 2,150 square foot house with only one working phone jack. None of the three faucets upstairs were plumbed the same – one had the hot water on the right, one on the left, and the third has the handles installed backwards. One of the bedroom doors was installed upside down. The basement sliding door is only locked when we block it with a 2x4.

We started painting the master bedroom yesterday. The most befuddling part wasn’t that it took 3 buckets of TSP to clean all the candle smoke off the powder blue walls, nor was it cleaning up the phone & cable cords poking through the drywall all helter skelter. No, it was the storm window. We have these wonderful aluminum-frame, single-pane that do very little to keep the heat in, so the previous owner installed storm windows. They don’t work; he did such a crap job that they won’t even close. But when we went to open the bedroom window for ventilation this morning we found the idiot put the storm window on backwards! The window opens right to left, the storm window left to right. Holy Fire Hazard, Batman! How could you get that one screwed up and not fix it?!

I guess I shouldn’t feel guilty that I never got around to buying that escape ladder!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Gold Nuggets

A day after lamenting the lack of material I was handed two little nuggets today:

1) I had lunch with the Punkin, my fishhouse homie today. He affirmed my decision to leave today. A while back I wrote that they actually had to put a memo out telling the fishhouse staff not to look at porn on the company computers. Punky told me they just fired a 15+ year employee (who is a known pornography connoisseur) and cut off everyone’s internet access. As Simon says “it’s like the navy – every rule we got is because something got f*cked up.” Draw your own conclusions.

2) I do a lot of “In Person Prospecting” (formerly known as cold-calling). I spend a lot of time exploring the industrial parks of Snohomish county. Most places are I encounter are either automotive or aerospace related. Today, however, I wandered into this place.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

New Material

While I'm loving the new job, I can't help but notice there is much less blog-worthy material than there was at the Casa De Pescado. I mentioned this to a coworker and he pointed me here for inspiration. It's a solid entry; in the words of Kevin Calabro it's: Quality. Family. Entertainment.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Motorola obviously spared no expense when it came to the quality of it's onboard cameras. For those of you who can't make out the words, don't worry, it's in Korean. But the English subtitle below says "Italian Custom Tailor"

Monday, February 06, 2006

Superbowl Recap

I'm a bitter Seahawk fan and I've only got one thing to say about yesterday's game:

Aaron Neville's singing of the national anthem was the worst rendition since Rosanne Barr.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

My Idols

I got hauled into the boss’s office today. It seems that my Fishpimp fashion sense needs a little tweaking; it was brought to my attention that there is a difference between khakis and tan slacks, and today’s trouser selection was unacceptable. It was a little embarrassing but no big deal; we ended up having a nice chat about tie theory, office psychology, and upward mobility in the company. She told me that all the books say to dress ‘two positions above where you are now’. She also suggested that I model my behavior after those whose shoes I aspire to fill.

With that fresh in my mind I went back to my desk and walked into a transaction between a sales rep and the Assistant General Manager. The AGM had purchased a bass amp from the rep. After throwing the cash down on the desk he implied that he had been ripped off through the use of a sodomy metaphor, emphasizing his point by turning around and grabbing his ankles.

Seconds later the General Manager walked in with a rubber band on his finger, smirked, and without saying anything, yanked it back and shot the AGM in the crotch.

Somehow, I don’t think that’s what my manager had in mind.

Do Your Homework!

I’ve been paying more attention to the national sports media lately, since they’re talking a lot about a team I support. I feel led to join the mass of Seattle fans who feel slighted, feel there is a lack of respect. A local sports radio talk show host went off on a caller yesterday, asking him, what’s the big deal about respect? Who cares? And the caller summed it up perfectly – “It’s important because it makes me feel good!” He sounded like a dork, but we’re all a bunch of dorks our here and we’re tired of feeling awful about our teams.

My current wish is that the national guys would do their homework before spouting off. Joe Theisman was pontificating on Seattle’s offensive line, talking about “They’ve got two great tackles - Walter Jones on one side, and Gray on the other, these young guys, and they’re good!”

Walter Jones is in his 9th year. Chris gray is in his 13th year…and he’s not a tackle – he’s a guard! Bonehead.

However, all was forgiven when Captain Compound-Fracture picked the Feisty Blue Jackals to win on Sunday.