general question about working with a remodeling company

Hi Everyone,
I live in southern California and I'm about to have an aluminum patio cover installed by a remodeling company. This is the second bid I've entertained and I went with this company because everything about it looked good on paper. Does the following sound like business as usual in the SoCal remodeling industry? Here's the whole story:
A couple of months ago, the floodgates opened and I started getting phone calls from a lot of remodeling companies. Their pitch invariably consists of this pitch: "I represent ______ Remodeling and our staff will be in your neighborhood this coming Saturday, would you like a free estimate?" I happened to be already considering a new patio cover so I took the bait and made an appointment with this Company A.
This first representative didn't even seem to know what she was talking about. She showed us copies of glowing BBB reports, flattering CSLB licensing info, and fancy certificates. We were more interested in seeing designs (which she had very few examples of), but she was more interested in getting us to commit to a single price. Her quote was $200 more than the bid we ultimately settled on but since it was our first bid I told her we'd have to think about it. Her demeanor changed practically instantly and she couldn't get out of our house soon enough. She didn't even let us keep the copies of the BBB information. I don't really care, she was kind of a b***h to begin with. =D
I received calls from many more companies, each making the same pitch. I declined most of them (mostly because I was too busy), but one day Company B called and I set up an appointment with them. This company's representative was very friendly and insightful but I noticed that he worked the same way as the lady who made the first bid. They seemed eager to nail down a price, promising us that his designer would be very accomodating. We knew we had 3 days to cancel, the price was lower, this guy knew what he talked about, and so we signed.
He said that he would like to start the project ASAP because he was travelling overseas soon and for a good couple of weeks. My wife and I don't have a specific timetable for this project so we really don't care when it gets done. Then I remembered that a remodeler we worked with a long time ago also claimed that he was travelling overseas a few weeks later). Is this coincidence or a ploy that salespeople use to make it more unlikely that we change our minds before work starts?
Also, this second representative wanted to know how we found out about his company. That struck me as kind of odd because it was his company that called me in the first place! I'm starting to suspect (and you call tell me if I'm overanalyzing this), but is it possible that these remodeling companies hire a telemarketing firm of some sort to get appointments for them? Are they really "in my neighborhood" by dumb luck?
Anyway, I just wanted to get a better idea of what to expect. Tomorrow I have the fun job of telling Company B that I can't get association approval in time for Monday's project start. =)
Thanks, Jeff
ps: if you think it would serve me better to pose this question in a different group, can you please direct me there?
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It sounds as though you are about to become a victim of predatory sales people. Fortunately for the consumer California regulates just about every type of contractor known to mankind. I think that you can look up their name and license number on the internet. I think that sales people for contractors need a license as well, but I am not positive. From what you described above I wouldn't use any of those people. The sales people are only interested in getting a signature. Once that happens you will never see them again which is probably why they told they will be traveling shortly. Assuming that they are legitimate companies, the likely scenario is that after you sign and the sales person leaves you will be dealing with an actual installer whom you have never met and have no idea as to his abilities or character. If there are any problems or warranty issues you will have a difficult time getting in contact with the original sales person (He'll be "Traveling for a few weeks") and the installer will be busy on other jobs.
Find your own installer instead of them finding you. A patio awning is not rocket science and you don't want to do business with someone who is about to leave town. Just for fun, tell the guy that you will be ready to sign on the date when he is on vacation and it's too bad he won't be around at that time. Maybe his story will change.
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I would ask to see an installation recently done by either company and talk to the clients to see how they like their awning and the work that was done.
You are probably not talking about a hugh amount of expense either if the bid difference was 200.00 (not much room there)
did you look at any pictures of recent work?
Remember with these large companies, you are seeing the salesman, and not the installer............you will be surprised to see who comes.......
I would talk to an independant contractor.......ask his advice. jloomis

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On Jul 17, 4:11am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I wonder if she's telling people you were kind of an a**hole...

You can ask in alt.home.repair, but I'd expect you to get a lot more flack. You appear to be a walking target - check for signs on your back that read, "Kick me."
You do not appear to have any skills whatsoever in separating the wheat from the chaff. Good contractors, even in slow times, rarely resort to cold calling. They usually have a line of people waiting and the odds of them starting "tomorrow" are essentially zero.
It's another indication that you need protection from yourself that you are asking this question after you already signed a contract. It's obvious you are not a lawyer, and I doubt you would be asking this question if you had a lawyer review the contract. The lawyer would have pointed out the red flags waving in your face.
BTW, the fact that you are telling the contractor that your HOA is holding up the deal might not mean anything to them. Depending on how your contract is written you could be liable for _any_ delays in the schedule whether they are within your control or not.
Not much else to say, except, "Good luck."
R
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On Jul 17, 3:11am, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

You do know the bbb is worthless. Pull a permit and get it inspected before you pay. You could even go to the courthouse and see if lawsuits are on file.
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