Various Other Pacesetter Corporation Experiences
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Thanks to Pacesetter Corp. and their attempted legal action to shut down this site, we have now started asking each author to swear, under penalty of perjury, that everything stated in their story is true. The author of this story has confirmed that everything stated in it is true. Also, someone seems to have posted this story on the misc.consumers.house newsgroup, so it can be read there as well.
Last Thursday (April 17) a sales rep from Pacesetter came out to our home. My wife and I were thinking of getting siding or perhaps new windows on the home we bought last summer, and so when the Pacesetter phone call came a couple weeks ago I was glad to invite a sales rep by to give us some estimates and tell us about their products. In the past years in our previous house we had investigated top-quality windows, and had some installed, so I knew about sales pitches, what to look for in windows, and typical prices.
Steve, our sales rep., came to our house and the sales process worked pretty well. A couple strange things about it. First, we were clearly interested in exploring many options with windows and siding, and possibly doors. With windows we also wanted to examine a range of options, and I think we made this pretty clear to Steve. Yet, Steve only showed us the 7000 series, which I take it is the top-of-the-line model. He said something to the effect that Pacesetter only wanted to sell products that would offer a permanent solution, and give customers satisfaction, so this window was the only product he wanted to show us as far as windows go.
We have sixteen windows in our home, and knowing the typical costs for installing high quality windows, I was imagining a reasonable expense would be around $9,000 to $11,000. Steve showed us a list price something like twice that, but gave us a volume discount and a cut of his commission, so that in the end we had a price somewhere over $14,000. That was, in my opinion, slightly over the range of reasonable, but the windows did look very good, so we got down to replacing six windows for about $6,300. That's still about $1,500 to $2,000 more than I expected, but I guessed these windows would be significantly better than any other products, and figured the price might be worth it.
Steve was a great salesperson in the sense of working through the process. I admired his skill and talent. He told us he had been in the home improvement business all his life, and his father had been a contractor as well. Steve said he was pleased to be working for Pacesetter, partly because they had the best products, and partly because it was a good company.
But, after he was gone, I had to do some research on Pacesetter to decide if we could trust everything Steve had told us. I found plenty of information about Pacesetter on the Web. All of the information that praised Pacesetter was available from Pacesetter sources, and seemed mainly interested in hyping their products. All the independent information was on your site, so it looked highly critical. This worried me, because part of the sale was Steve getting us to believe him about Pacesetter being a great company, and your site undermines that, and undermines trust he had established.
There are several industries where prices are inflated to pay sales representatives high commissions: certain types of life insurance, vacuum cleaners, home improvement, large book sets. I figure the inflated cost is just part of business if you want those products, and the producers have to offer something significatly better than what you could get elsewhere to justify the higher costs.
By the way, I checked with the Better Business Bureau in St. Louis, and the Hazelwood office has had only five complaints in the past three years, and all have been resolved satisfactorily. That's a great record, so perhaps the Hazelwood office is much better than these on the coasts and in the South where you seem to be getting most of your letters from former employees.
But as I read more about Pacesetter in your Web pages, particular the testimony of former employees, I decided to wait on Pacesetter. We've paid $19 to overnight our contract cancellation to the Hazelwood office in Missouri. I'll be shutting Pacesetter out until I've had more time to research other products. Here are my reasons for cancelling the order:
1) Steve gave us the impression that customer service from Pacesetter was wonderful, but your Web page undermines this.
2) I think Steve gave us the impression that Pacesetter was the only company that offered high-quality fiberglass windows, but this is false. Other companies make such windows.
3) I think I made it clear to Steve that I was willing to pay top-dollar for top-quality product, and I also was willing to pay more to support living wages and unionized labor, but Steve would not help us understand how much more we would be paying for Pacesetter products. There was no honest and detailed comparison to other comparable products. Instead, he relied on emphasizing Pacesetter's record and history. There was also no careful explanation of energy ratings and what they mean, a part of the sales pitch I usually enjoy when learning about windows.
4) Steve presented the vertical integration of Pacesetter (owning factories, trucks, and having every person involved with the product as an employee) as an advantage that would bring us lower costs, higher quality, and higher craftsmanship in all stages from fabrication, installation, and customer service. Yet from this Web Site I think his presentation was false.
5) I expressed to Steve my belief that the Pacesetter windows might be the best product, but I reckoned they were perhaps about 20% more expensive than the second-best product, and I thought maybe they were only 5% better, so the value was not adequate to justify the higher cost. His first response to this was, "you get what you pay for." On reflection, I'm not sure I want to pay for the very best product when a nearly equally good product might be available for a much lower price. His second response was to ask if the (imagined by me) 20% greater expense of Pacesetter was the only barrier to a sale. I said that was pretty much so, and he offered to split the difference, lowing the price an additional 10%, but then as we continued negotiating this offer was forgotten and never came back.
6) I can find no independent sources that extoll the virtues of Pacesetter products. Where are the neutral third-party evaluations that confirm what Steve told us?
7) On reflection, I'm offended that Steve followed the Pacesetter rules and stayed with us for about 3.5 hours or more, extending his time by ignoring points we brought up and not directly answering some of our questions. Our children needed attention and care during this long evening (he was in our home from 6 to 9:30), and I think he could have made us much happier if he had been out by 8:00, or even earlier.
8) I'm particularily concerned about Pacesetter's practice of seeking out customers that can not really afford their products. I am a social worker, and I'm well aware of the evil done by companies that make expensive repairs to cheap homes owned by persons with low incomes. Ask any urban social worker, and they'll tell you of elderly home-owners who are making payments with high interest rates to companies for expensive repairs that were not justified, and if the payments are missed, these customers may lose their homes. I had no idea Pacesetter was one of these companies, and if they are, I'll want nothing more to do with them.
9) I tried to get Steve to tell me more about his work as a salesperson with Pacesetter. I asked about quotas and comissions, to see how he would respond. He was evasive. I think he was too honest to say a flat-out lie, so maybe that's why he didn't answer with a clear statement claiming it was great working for Pacesetter. He evaded my question about pressures on him to make sales, except to answer with the standard, "this is how I feed my family," answer that Pacesetter evidently tells him to make to such inquiries.
10) After reading posts from former employees on this Web Site, I'm concerned about our sales rep's health. My wife and I both thought we smelled alcohol coming off Steve, although I hoped it was just a perfume he might be using to try to disguise the cigarette smell on his clothing. Yet there were aspects of his delivery that suggested to me that he was not well. I've read your posts from former employees about being brought to tears by Pacesetter management, or of turning to alcohol to cope with the pressure. This repels me from participating in any system that destroys employees, if indeed Pacesetter is destroying Steve.
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