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Thread: I've been insulted

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member jimjomac's Avatar
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    Default I've been insulted

    Is there an HVAC distributor out there who will talk to the homeowner?

    Since two contractors have given me grossly over-priced bids on a new HVAC system, and are slow in working up scaled-down versions, I started reseaching what's out there myself. I now have a fair idea of what I want. I plan to farm out the ductwork design and installation to one of these guys simply because I lack the time. All I need is some pricing, perhaps a little advice on which model is best.

    Neither the mfrs or distribs will talk to me! Today I called a local outfit, Thos Somerville, and explained what I wanted. First thing out of the salesman's mouth was an extremely condescending, "Well, who are you WITH???".

    Doggone it, I have a degree in mechanical engineering, plus a master's in engineering science. I doubt if he has any degree, except maybe snobbery. He had no right to be rude to me or any caller.

    Is the entire HVAC industry against homeowners????? How can I tell the installer is giving me a fair deal? I'm not allowed to specify my own system??

    Oh no, I'm not mad or anything...

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimjomac View Post
    Is there an HVAC distributor out there who will talk to the homeowner?

    >> NO

    Since two contractors have given me grossly over-priced bids on a new HVAC system, and are slow in working up scaled-down versions, I started reseaching what's out there myself. I now have a fair idea of what I want. I plan to farm out the ductwork design and installation to one of these guys simply because I lack the time. All I need is some pricing, perhaps a little advice on which model is best.

    Neither the mfrs or distribs will talk to me! Today I called a local outfit, Thos Somerville, and explained what I wanted. First thing out of the salesman's mouth was an extremely condescending, "Well, who are you WITH???".

    Doggone it, I have a degree in mechanical engineering, plus a master's in engineering science. I doubt if he has any degree, except maybe snobbery. He had no right to be rude to me or any caller.

    >> Dont take offense, but tradesmen have a somewhat jaded attiture about engineers. Not saying its right, just a comment.

    Is the entire HVAC industry against homeowners????? How can I tell the installer is giving me a fair deal? I'm not allowed to specify my own system??

    >> CORRECT


    Oh no, I'm not mad or anything...

    One reason has strictly to do with marketing. The manufacturers have to protect their network of installers and factory service contractors. Therefore, they do not like to allow the SALES of equipment to be taken away from them. A small contractor cannot stay in business doing an occasional "ductwork" job for folks like you. They need to be able to make a profit on the markup of equipment sales.

    A second reason is technical. The proper sizing of HVAC is not something that can be pulled out of the hat. Nobody wants to end up responsible selling you a system which ends up over/under and doesn't work.

    Finally, the installation of HVAC requires a skilled technician ( a hands on guy, not an engineer. ) AND if air conditioning is involved, the technician must also have an EPA license.

    I am not making excuses for anybody. I am telling you the way it is.

  3. #3
    DIY Senior Member CHH's Avatar
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    Well jimbo gave one view of the world. Some other folks have other views.

    The folks at Alpine Home Air (google it) will sell to DIY's. They aren't the cheapest but they are a starting place.

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    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    I didn't say it was good or bad. He already knows what it is, because he experienced it. I am aware of companies like the Alpine who will sell stuff over the internet. Not sure how they dodge EPA, but I guess it is don't ask/don't tell.

    Now, a homeowner can buy the equipment, and try to contract someone to put it in. Some contractors are not happy about that situation, but probably you can find someone who will do it.

    You need to be aware on the warranty that there is NO LABOR. Alpine, or any wholesale vendor like that, provides warranty PARTS only. That is made clear on their website. And a contractor who did not provide the equipment to you will not come out for free to install a new compressor or condensor fan motor. SO, in essence, you self-insure on that score. And that is a perfectly fine approach, as long as you know the score going in.

    I don't have any ax to grind. I do not have a dog in this fight. I just wanted to explain the industry situation he has experienced.

  5. #5
    DIY Senior Member CHH's Avatar
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    Aww, come on now Jimbo. You slammed the guy twice. First you said that he couldn't be skilled since he was an engineer. Next you said he couldn't figure out what size furnace to buy.

    I'll state it directly:

    1) He may or may not be skilled but that is for him to assess. In many cases an MS engineering degree will include construction or modification of sophisticated lab equipment.

    2) Figuring out what equipment to buy is a common engineering task. In general, engineers write the procedures that techs use. (Ok, some the the procedures stink and everyone blames the engineer - that's life)

    In short, you presented a point of view. I know it is appropriate to point out other options.

  6. #6
    Architect Spaceman Spiff's Avatar
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    The HVAC supply house will sell to me as a homeowner w/o the attitude... I walk in knowing what I want and walk out with a furnace or whatever... Maybe it's the smaller city (24,000 people) or maybe it's that his wife teaches my son in elementary school... Either way they're very friendly and helpful and I recommend them to anyone who asks.
    Spaceman Spiff aka Mike

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    Doggone it, I have a degree in mechanical engineering, plus a master's in engineering science. I doubt if he has any degree, except maybe snobbery. He had no right to be rude to me or any caller.
    I have no dog in this fight either, but it sure galls me the attitude that "most" Engineers have as being far superior in intelligence than Tradesmen of all sorts.

    I have dealt with Engineers many times in the past, and most of those experiences were terrible to say the least. After all is said and done, they are always right even though it was the Tradesman that had to make it so.

    bob...
    Last edited by speedbump; 10-25-2007 at 07:36 AM.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Maybe the difference is that the engineer looks at the specifications, assumes they are valid, and makes a decision, where the tradesman after working with it on a day-to-day basis knows what works.

    I will say that when I had my last two boilers installed, there were obvious workmanship problems with each (different companies) where as an engineer, were obvious to me, and should have been to them as well if they bothered to read the instructions. Both had to do with the venting, and both subjects were discussed at length in the installation instructions, and on each install, they tried to deviate from them which caused problems that had to be corrected.

    For what it's worth, there would be no boilers, furnaces, etc. to install if it wasn't for engineers - they (including myself) must be worth something.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  9. #9
    DIY Senior Member CHH's Avatar
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    What's the deal Bob? You have no dog in the fight but you want to get in it anyway?

    Maybe it's abuse engineers month? Just remember that there are at least two sides to every story...

  10. #10
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    "most"
    Ok, I'll change that to "some".

    I didn't mean for that to be a blanket statement, I should have said some in the first place.

    Sorry if I ruffled any feathers.

    Remember; without Tradesmen, the boilers would never get installed.

    Maybe it's abuse engineers month? Just remember that there are at least two sides to every story...
    I agree, there always is, but this guy started out being arrogant, and acting like all the suppliers and installers should bow down to him because he has two degrees. I think Jimbo explained quite well how that works. If the manufacturers and suppliers I bought my stock from dealt with home owners, the whole distribution system would fall apart.

    bob...

  11. #11

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    Nothing against you Jim, but, if you are just getting insulted now---you are doing well. You think you got it bad, try being a woman.
    Last edited by Cookie; 10-25-2007 at 08:30 AM.

  12. #12
    DIY Junior Member jimjomac's Avatar
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    Ok, I've cooled down now.

    Thanks all. I think you've been very realistic for the most part.

    I'll defend myself on the arrogance point: The snobbish salesman didn't know about my education. I don't believe I was being arrogant. I didn't expect to be "bowed down to". But I believe very firmly that, wherever you go, whichever store you visit, whichever salesman you talk to, and whatever your experience and education, you should be treated with courtesy and respect. Period. Well, maybe if you call twelve times and really pester the guy, you deserve to be put down, since you're not treating HIM properly!

    Cookie, I truely sympathize! Gender discrimination has been pretty bad in this country. On the bright side, it has gotten vastly better in recent years, I think. So many TV DIY shows are hosted by women, increasing general acceptance of women in the trades. Look who's commanding the shuttle Discovery and the Intl Space Station as we speak! My team leader at work is a great lady and highly competent engineer, and my cube-neighbor is a brilliant phD with a delightfully cynical attitude about nearly everything, that endears everyone to her (for real, no sarcasm).


    Today I have finally found some outfits that sell online. But I'm bleary-eyed from the hours of searching it took. They are Jupiter Heating, Desco Energy, and Radiant Max.

    Thanks again for listening to "mad dog's" ranting and not kicking me off the forum!

    Jim

  13. #13

    Default My 2 cents

    Being in management for the last 20 years before going into the remodeling business I have had exclusive contact with working with engineers. My last job was as an operations manager at an aero space company and working with most engineers is a game of egos on their part. I will be the first to admit that the need for engineers is great but many of them have egos that cause nothing but problems in the work place with the average worker. Sitting at a computer all day going over numbers, drawing to scale on auto cad, etc create a false sense of reality for many engineers. When I was managing I always insisted that engineers be present on the floor for first time runs on their designs. Not only does this allow the engineer to see first hand that everything on the computer does not relate to what may really happen in the real world of fabrication but it also educates both the engineer and allows input for the people putting the design in to fabrication. A classic example of how some engineers seem to place themselves in the heaven is;

    Some engineers would actually quit their jobs and move on to another company rather than spend time on the floor watching what they desined go into production. Many of them consider it an insult that there should be a need for them to roll up their sleeves and look at whether or not their design needs modification during the production process. Just because a person has a degree does not make them an expert. EXPERIENCE coupled with engineering is the key to success. I could go on and on about engineers but I think Ive made my point. The same point could be made for people in the field who think they know everything.

  14. #14
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default sales

    1. The contractors buy the units from wholesalers, mark them up with a profit margin and sell it to you, the consumer.
    2. If the wholesaler sells it to you at the contractor's price, the contractor has lost money, and the wholesaler is his competition.
    3. If the wholesaler is his competition, why would he want to buy from him?
    4. If contractors do not buy from the wholesaler, and he cannot do a lot of DIY business, he will go broke and close his business.
    5. He wants to stay in business which is why he will tell you to "take a hike" if you are not a contractor.
    6. I do not do business with wholesalers who sell DTU.

  15. #15
    DIY Senior Member CHH's Avatar
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    Wow, a whole buncha attitude. Maybe, just maybe there is equal error on both sides and the attitude is inappropriate? Maybe?

    Along the same lines, perhaps the distribution models are inefficient? Face it, anything that restricts competition leads to unnatural price supports. As an end buyer, I'm not interested in providing a profit to a middle man. I am interested in paying the lowest price for the most product. That precept says that I should deal with the manufacturer or as close as them as I can get.

    Installation skills are a minor consideration along with specification (frequently mislabeled as design). I know that folks will disagree with that but it is a fact. As a consumer I am not interested in supporting more people than I have to. I certainly don't buy the story that I have to support the number of people that tradesman think that I have to support. Where is the compromise? Well economic theory says that it is in competition.

    Argue whatever points you like but supporting limited distribution is pointless since it is inefficient and it ends up costing the consumer much more in the long run. In other words the current marketing model will fail and it is only a matter of time until it does so since ultimately the consumer does control the market.

    Now to make it simple for you hj: I don't care what wholesaler you deal with. I'll find one that will sell to me. If you don't like it, tough. If you think you're owed a profit, tough. You as a contractor are not owed a cent for a minor middleman transaction. Obviously you think otherwise and clearly I disagree. Time will tell who is correct. About all I can do is point out that all transactions are becoming more efficient and the current situation will likely change as folks become more realistic.

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