Monday, February 15, 2010

3 cheers for the Better Business Bureau (and Angie's List)

I recently hired a contractor to do $5,000 worth of window work on my house. As is my practice, I got three bids. The first two were from local contractors who'd done some nice work on neighbors' homes. The third bid was from a window company that does its own installation.

The two contractors both planned to use Marvin double-hung windows, which they would order through a local window dealer with whom I'd had a horrific experience two years ago: repeated delays, mistakes in the order, and surly customer service, to boot.

After talking with the two contractors, I joined Angie's List and looked up their top-rated window contractor for North Seattle. I called this contractor, who came over and proposed using two Milgard casement windows along with three non-opening windows from a local company that does commercial buildings. As window specialists, they knew a huge amount about types of windows, insulation, wear, and weather.

With a small Angie's List discount, their bid came to about 15% under the contractors.

But, before hiring them, I went to the Better Business Bureau website to check on them. Their rating was: A+. Reassuring, but I've always figured that the BBB adhered to an "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" policy. On previous instances when I've checked a company through the BBB, the website has said things like "This business is not a BBB Accredited Business" and "This business is not currently rated. BBB does not have sufficient information to issue a rating for this business."

Just for the heck of it, I looked up the window dealer with whom I'd had such a miserable experience in the past. To my surprise, they have a BBB rating, and (not so much to my surprise) that rating is "F."

Very interesting. I wonder if the two contractors know about this! It certainly cost them my business.

By the way, the folks I hired, based on Angie's List and BBB ratings, are Reglaze Unlimited.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Where's the cat?

Last week I avoided writing about Garibaldi the feral cat. He disappeared for seven days, and I was worried. But he showed up Sunday, yawning, at the back door. And looking perfectly well fed. He ate with us Sunday and Monday, and now is apparently on the road again.

So, the missing cat I'm writing about is not one of ours. He belongs to our friends Gayle and Jerry. The cat is a black Maine Coon, and he's been extremely sick with a puzzling intestinal illness for some months now. Occasionally, when he's in exceptionally bad shape, we go over during the day to check on him and report to Jerry, who works on the Eastside.

The cat's been near death several times, and this weekend he took a turn for the worse. Yesterday we were part of a team of folks checking on him during the day. When we arrived, he was laying on the floor on a towel, eyes glazed, and barely moving. I was pretty sure it was the end.

I was surprised when Jerry called this morning and asked if we'd check on the cat at noon. I was even more surprised when we went over there at noon, and the cat was gone.

We looked under beds, behind bookcases, in closets, and under furniture. We called Jerry, and he told us about a couple of other hiding places. No cat. We went home, got a flash light, and did a second search. We even went outdoors and asked the workmen on the house next door. No cat.

Jerry came home a few hours later, and called to report that he'd found the cat, laying on a desk in the guest room amidst piles of books at papers. Jerry had walked right past the cat, twice, before he spotted him.

We were relieved. If the cat was able to hop up on a desk, perhaps he's once again on the road to recovery.

And I can hardly wait until GPS pet technology is affordable for cats.