When it comes to buying products and services, a better price doesn’t always mean you got a great deal. A while back, I shared quote from Benjamin Franklin on my Facebook page: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” Keep this in mind as you read the following story.
Sometimes I feel foolish for working hard to find the “best deal” on something when I know I could simply visit a local retailer, pick it up and be home in less than an hour. Perhaps it’s a bad habit, perhaps it’s being responsible with my money, or perhaps it’s simply being cheap? Read on to find out about one of my recent failures that was caused by trying to save a few bucks on window tint for my car.
New-Car Buying Process
In the summer of 2017, when the lease was up on my Subaru WRX STI, I decided that my next car was going to be more spacious and much quieter. I searched around for different options and pretty much had my mind set on a 2017 Nissan Maxima. The styling was funky, and the 300 horsepower V6 driving the front wheels was more than enough to keep me satisfied. It wasn’t as fast as the Subaru, but it was still fun.
In the midst of perusing a new front splitter and rear diffuser from Stillen, new wheels from Konig and planning my audio upgrade, I stumbled across a deal on a 2015 Hyundai Genesis sedan that was simply too good to pass up. A local dealership had a basically brand-new Ultimate 5.0 in white for about $16,000 off the sticker price. I didn’t need it, but, well, you know how these things go.
I picked up the Genesis a few days after my birthday in early August and quickly set to work searching for someone to install premium window tint on the vehicle. As the head writer for 1sixty8 media, I’ve written dozens of articles about window tint film options and the importance of quality installation. I called shops all over Southern Ontario to ask which ceramic films they offered and find out what they would charge to tint the side and rear windows and add a sun strip across the top of the windshield. I had quotes that ranged between $800 and $1,100 Canadian. There was even one shop that didn’t seem interested in taking on the project. Perhaps they thought I’d be too picky? Maybe I scared them away by using the same industry terminology they use when requesting my quote.
Oh, Look, a Better Price!
I stewed over the options and did a little more research into the available ceramic films to better understand which solution would be best for me. I asked a friend at a local car stereo shop who they use for tint, and he got me a great price on an installation from a mobile guy who would come right to the store. Sweet! I booked the appointment and took my car in.
The tint guy had all the pieces of tint pre-cut (using a CNC film plotter, one would assume). He cleaned the windows and went about applying the ceramic film and working out any bubbles and creases that formed in the corners of the rear window. I was surprised at how quickly he had the task completed, but chalked it up to experience and not having to hand-cut the film for each window. I walked away having paid $600 in cash for the installation, and the car looked great!
Did I Get a Good Deal?
A day later, I noticed that the two-piece sun strip across the windshield didn’t extend far enough into the dots around the rain sensor and lane keep assist camera cover. I could clearly see the edge of the film once the plastic trim was in place. I contacted the tinter and he said he’d be happy to fix it the next time he was in town, or I could come to his place on the other side of Hamilton – about 30 minutes away.
A few weeks later, I noticed that there was a new rattle in the front of the cabin when driving on bumpy roads. The trim cover around the mirror mount and sensors had been cracked when the tinter removed it to install the tint.
I was told that any ripples in the tint would even themselves out as the water under the tint evaporated over the next few weeks or months. I waited patiently for this to happen. Nearly two years later, it hasn’t happened yet. When you look through the film at an angle, you can see a slight waviness to the film.
The icing on the cake showed up about a year later. There is debris caught between the tint and the glass at the top of the driver’s door glass and more at the top of the rear window. The tint is bubbling on the rear window around some of the defroster lines and around the black dots beside the frit (black band) on the outer edge of the window.
Win the Battle and Lose the War
Here’s what happened: I didn’t do my research and I didn’t stick to my guns in terms of letting only experts work on my vehicle. Many of our clients at 1sixty8 media specialize in window tint. They have dedicated, dust-free work areas that are used exclusively for tinting. Their technicians use premium quality products and have developed a process that ensures the tint will look just as good in a year as it does the day your car rolls out of the bay. I let the appeal of getting a better price make me forget about making sure I chose the right person to do the job and use the right materials.
I could certainly call the person who installed my tint and ask him to fix his work. Honestly, I don’t want him touching my car anymore. I’ll suck it up and pay for the tint to be removed and reinstalled properly at some point.
The next time you need to buy something, think about the entire value proposition. Are you sacrificing some amount of quality or customer service in order to save a few dollars? If something, or everything, goes wrong, did you deal with a company that will stand behind their work and their products?
I’ll close this embarrassing tale with the words of my college friend, John: Dave, don’t be cheap.