Know Your Manufacturer
When receiving fence installation estimates, it is common to see vague job descriptions such as “100 feet of vinyl privacy fence.” Seems pretty straight-forward, but the lack of information provided can be dangerous to the consumer. It is extremely important for you as a customer to know the manufacturer's information on the material you are having installed. Not knowing can put you in a financial pinch down the road.
Without the manufacturer's information being provided, you can’t research the material on your own. It’s common for salespeople to upsell their products. This is a very common practice in the fence industry, as many consumers aren’t aware of the different grades and materials available on the market. Often, installers buy the cheapest material available, make big claims for it, and sell it at a large markup. Without the manufacturer's information, your only choice is to trust the installer's claims, although you will probably be purchasing fence panels from Home Depot at a higher price.
The false claims made by salespeople is a very sticky area. Right now, “Made in USA” products are very hot, as they are higher quality and support our economy. It’s common for claims to be made that your aluminum fence is American aluminum, but chances are, it came from China. Without manufacturer information, there is no way to know what you are paying for. Even when information is provided, it’s a good idea to verify that the materials are American made before paying for American products. Again, it’s common for installers to purchase cheaper Chinese made products and sell them at a large markup.
Not receiving the manufacturer's information also means that you are missing out on the manufacturer's warranty. Installers may provide a short craftsmanship warranty, but a manufacturer will often provide a 10-20 year warranty on their products. However, if the installer is using poor-quality cheap materials, they may not want to provide the manufacturer information because there is not one.
Regardless of the company or installer you choose, be sure to get your proposal in writing before committing to an install. Be sure that it is written as a contract, and that you maintain a copy. Check that the contract specifies the manufacturer of the material. That way, if you need to reach out to the manufacturer and find out that they in fact did not produce your fence, you will have legal leverage against the installer of your fence.