Replacing My Roof – Part 2 – Getting Estimates

As I said in the previous post, I reached out to friends and social media to see who they recommended as a roofer. I also looked around online a bit, but after my experiences with Angie’s List being ridiculously spammy when I was a member a few years ago I decided not to bother with them at all. All of the contractors that were recommended were listed as Master Elite™ contractors on the GAF website.There’s a form where you put in your zip code and get a listing of factory-certified contractors in your area.

From what I was able to learn through my research on the Internet and from talking with the contractors who came out, only three percent of GAF’s factory-certified contractors qualify as Master Elite™, and with GAF being one of the top roofing companies in North America, I figured their top people would be a good place to source from. What I wasn’t prepared for was how drastically different my experiences would be from one company to the next.

I contacted five different contractors via their websites on the morning of July 26 saying that I wanted an estimate. I’ll be keeping them anonymized in this post and will refer to them in the order they came out to give me an estimate. This was a huge learning experience for me and if this helps anyone else in the future, that’s a good thing. No need to throw anyone under the bus during the process. Just because one company was the right fit for me may not make them the right fit for you.

Company A

Company A was recommended by a friend who is also looking to get her roof replaced and she said that she had heard good things about them. Things started off with a phone call from the owner within an hour of me submitting my form on the website on July 26. He was very personable and gave me a bit of his background, the background of the company and told me the name of the person who would be coming out to give the estimate. He explained what would happen and scheduled my quote for that very same afternoon.

The estimator called me to say he was in the area a bit earlier than expected and would it be all right to stop by earlier than my scheduled time. I said that was fine and a few minutes later a gorgeous new F-350 pulled up in front of my house with the contractor’s name on the side.

Even though it was the end of a warm day the estimator was very neat in appearance, polite, and after exchanging pleasantries and me giving him the information I knew about the roof (around 20 years old, leaking from the box vents, rot under the back porch) he asked if he could go inside the attic to see where I had noticed water coming in. He looked around a while and explained that they would recommend removing all of the box vents and power fan that are currently in place and use a ridge vent the entire length of the roof to have better ventilation. He also recommended that I close off the side venting in my attic to allow air to escape out the ridge vent. We then went outside where I showed him some water damage I noticed under the back porch roof and he noted that the wood would definitely be replaced there as well as anywhere the crew thought it was damaged on the main house roof.

After going up on the roof and measuring everything he went into his truck and came back with four different quotes depending on the types of materials I wanted to use. He explained all of the different types of underlayments, ice and water shields, different grades of shingles and ridge vents, and even the different kinds of pipe boots they offered. He even showed me examples of what different colored shingles would look like on my roof using an app on his tablet. While going over the proposals he also said that they would include installing a cricket at my chimney to promote drainage away from the chimney, something no other estimator would mention.

Seeing the final numbers ($7650 – 11,100 + $55/sheet of plywood that would need to be replaced) gave me some sticker shock, but by the time he left I felt smarter, more comfortable with what was involved and overall very confident in the contractor. In addition to the 50-year warranty on materials, they offered a 5-year warranty on workmanship. This is what a sales experience is supposed to be like.

After a visit of around an hour and a half, Company A left me with four printed out estimates, a folder full of literature about the different kinds of materials used and some background on the company’s processes, a list of nearby homes they have done work on, a copy of their state registration license, samples of the various types of underlayment, and the estimator’s business card.

Company B

Company B was referred to me by a friend who had them do the roof on his house and he was very happy with the work they did. Company B also called me on Tuesday, July 26th but I was on the phone at work so I had to call them back and after a bit of phone tag we scheduled an appointment for the following morning (July 27) to have one of their estimators come out.

Company B’s estimator was about 17 minutes late. He didn’t call to say he was running late, but he finally arrived in a late model Ford Transit Connect van and seemed flustered. Even though it was only a little after nine in the morning on a moderately warm day he was already drenched in sweat and really came off as in a hurry. I gave him the same information that I did the first estimator about the roof, figuring that it was only fair to give everyone the same playing field.

We walked around the house and I showed him the area where the back porch roof had wood rot. He then proceeded to get a ladder from his truck, get it snagged on the utility lines in front of my house, and then went up on the roof to measure, but the whole time it felt like he was in a hurry. He didn’t ask to go in the attic at all.

After measuring the roof he went out to his truck for a few minutes and came back with some brochures with pictures of different kinds of shingles. As we sat at my kitchen table he told me that it was a good company, the best in the area and that I should look up online to see. He told me how the owner of the company was very religious, that even name of the company was a reference to the owner’s religion and that their logo has subtle religious symbolism that he pointed out to me on his business card. He really made a point to drive home the religious nature of the owner. I’m not sure if this is supposed to make me feel better, but it didn’t. It was bizarre to the point of unsettling. If the owner is religious, that’s fine, but what does that have to do with the kind of work they’ll do on my house?

The estimator then told me that the job would be $9500. Nothing written down, not even an explanation of materials they would use. Just $9500. I asked him if I could get a written quote as I was having multiple companies come out and I’d like to have something to compare against. He said he’d email me a quote. That didn’t seem unreasonable, so I said ok and after around half an hour, the second estimator left me with two brochures of pictures of shingles and his business card.

What the heck had I gotten myself into? Was this a sign of how other companies were going to be?

The estimator from Company B sent me a text message two days later (Friday, July 29) apologizing for how long it took to get a quote and said that his price would be $9000, but if I needed financing it would be $9500. He then emailed me a picture of a handwritten quote on a form from his company for the $9000 + $70/sheet of decking for areas that would need replaing. In addition to the 50-year warranty on materials they offered a five year warranty on labor.

His pricing may have been in line with the first company to come out, but after that bizarre, unprofessional experience, there’s no way I would go with his company.

Company C

Company C was referred to me by my parents who chose to use them for getting their roof replaced. They’d already had multiple contractors come out and they felt this was the best fit for them. Company C emailed me the morning of July 26 to confirm that I actually did want a quote after filling in the form on the website and asked that I email or call them back to set up an appointment. I called the person who emailed me and during that conversation I told them that I was told about them by my parents who had chosen to use them. He told me that he’d like me to work with the same estimator my parents used, but that he was on vacation and would Monday, August 1 be a good time for him to come out. That was fine and we scheduled the appointment.

My parents had said good things about getting an estimate from Company C, but I had a few days to stew in the bad experience of Company B, so I was really ready for just about anything. The estimator for Company C came in a late model Toyota Tundra that while not new, was kept clean and seemed to be maintained well. I took this as a good sign, as after the sticker shock of my first quote, my neighbor said I should “get a quote from a guy with a shittier truck.” A well maintained, clean vehicle that isn’t brand new strikes me as professional and practical for someone in construction. Vehicles are overhead and the money to pay for them doesn’t come from nowhere.

It was the middle of the day and the estimator was neat in appearance, friendly and listened when I explained what I knew about the roof. We walked around the house, I showed him the rot on the back porch, and then he asked if it would be ok to go in the attic to look at where I saw water coming in. While in the attic he pointed out something that neither of the first two contractors did, that the back of my house has no soffit. He said that part of the ventilation problem was that without a soffit in the back there was no way for air to get into the attic to vent out. He also pointed out that even though the front of the house had a soffit, the insulation in my attic was blocking airfow and that he would recommend soffit baffles so air could travel properly. He also pointed out that the insulation in my attic should be at least 18″ deep to be up to code, and that if I wanted, that they could add some while they were doing the roofing work. After he explained that they would take out the box vents and replace it with a ridge vent, he then explained that for the back of the house he would recommend installing a SmartVent so I would have proper air flow.

He then went up on the roof and measured everything with a tape measure, and took quite a few pictures. Afterward he went into his truck for a little while and came back to the house to discuss the quote. He had a slide show on an iPad that discussed his company, what they did that made them great, how they installed things, and I really think it was so he didn’t forget to cover anything. It was professionally done and kept the conversation on track.

He showed me an example of a SmartVent, and how it would work, that it wouldn’t let water in, and that it would lift the edge of my roof around 3/4″. I told him that it didn’t bother me to have that, but he said that it was a concern for some people. He also told me that they use copper pipe boots that are custom soldered and crimped over my vent pipes. He said that while they are $75 each, that with the new 50-year warranties on roofing materials they felt this was a more durable solution than rubber pipe vents. Next he told me that for my back porch I should have ice and water shield over the entire porch since the slope of the roof wasn’t enough to have good runoff, and it would be an extra water barrier. He told me that by having all of the water from the house roof draining on to the back porch roof and then to the gutter that was causing some of the rot problems I had. He also said that they could extend the downspout from the top roof all the way down to the gutters for the back porch. That was quoted separately at $125. Since I had just purchased some new downspout for $10 for 10 feet at Home Depot a few weeks ago I told him I could handle that myself, that I didn’t need his crew to do it.

He then told me that my chimney was cracking at the top and really should have some attention in the near future. He said that his company did do chimney work, and that while it wasn’t required, it was something I should think about. I asked him if he could get me a separate quote for that after we were done talking about the roof.

When it came to the pricing on the roof itself his estimate came in at $7259 + $70/sheet of decking for anything that would need replacing. Considering that this included the SmartVent, copper pipe boots, soffit baffles, and ice and water shield over the entire back porch, the pricing sounded good, perhaps a bit too good to be true.

After we wrapped up discussion about the roof I asked the estimator to get me a quote on fixing my chimney and he made a call to their mason for pricing. Unfortunately the mason was busy so the estimator said he would email me pricing on the chimney. I got an email the next day with a quote of $1680 to re-crowning and re-pointing of my chimney. In addition to the 50-year warranty on materials, Company C also offered a 20-year warranty on workmanship.

After around a two hour visit, Company C left me with a printed out quote, a folder full of literature about the possible shingles I could pick from and information on the warranty on the materials.

Company D

Company D was referred to me via few people on social media saying they did good work and while they weren’t the cheapest quote, they were comparable and had done an excellent job. Company D called me on July 28, a few days after I’d reached out via their website and scheduled August 3 to come out to give me an estimate.

Company D’s estimator was a few minutes late, and arrived in a late model Ford Transit Connect van. One thing that struck me was that unlike the other companies, his van didn’t have a ladder on the roof. The estimator was very polite, and I explained to him what I knew about the roof situation, as I had with the other companies. He explained a little bit about his company and asked how I had heard about them, and how many other contractors I had coming out for quotes. The best word I can come up with for his demeanor was intimidated.

We walked around the house and I showed him the back porch area where he took some photos of the rot. He then asked to see the attic. As he came into the house he put slip covers over his boots. It wasn’t necessary as his shoes were clean, but he said it was their policy and the right thing to do. When we were in the attic he said that the attic was too hot compared to the outside air, and that some of the areas where he could see issues were likely partly caused by things not venting properly. He said that since the house had no soffits he recommended a SmartVent. I told him that the back doesn’t have a soffit, but the front does. He brushed that off the few times I said it, but explained that the SmartVent would allow air in to flow out through the new ridge vent they would install.

As we were getting down from the attic the estimator was very unsure of his footing on the ladder getting down and seemed to get a bit upset. After an awkward 30 seconds that I’m sure to him felt like hours, he came down from the attic and we sat at my kitchen table where he went through a booklet that explained his company and what made them good to work with, including how their processes ensured a long life for the roof. He asked if I had any questions and I said that I would let him get up on the roof to measure and he told me that roofers are now using “Eagle View” to get the roofing dimensions and he showed me a printout with the area of my roof already on it. To me this wasn’t a great sign because he wasn’t going to actually go on the roof to see what was going on with it, but I was going to let him do it how he does it. He then left me with a brochure with actual shingle samples in it, not just pictures, and went out to his truck to work on the estimate. As he was walking out the front door he said “Oh, I see your house does have a soffit on the front,” (like I told him more than once when we were in the attic) and that he’d only include the SmartVent on the back of the house since the front wouldn’t need it.

After around half an hour he came back with two printed estimates ($9369 – 10,463 + $100/sheet for decking that would need to be replaced) and a folder full of literature and samples of roofing underlayments. The quotes also included adding a coat of DryLok to the chimney. He seemed to feel that this was a big deal. The lower quote offered a 2-year premium craftsmen guarantee, and the higher quote offered a 10-year premium craftsmen guarantee. This seemed to be in line with the other contractors, but why only a two year guarantee on labor if I use cheaper materials? Another thing that was unique with this contractor was the the quote included installing a small metal version of their company seal on the roof. I asked why they did that and he said that they didn’t have to do that but it generally made homeowners feel good.

After the hour and a half visit, Company D left me with the shingle samples, a folder full of literature and underlayment samples, and two printed quotes.

Company E

Company E was recommended highly by quite a few people on social media. They had a secretary contact me via email on July 26 to confirm that I waned an estimate. I was told that my information would be passed on to an estimator to set an appointment. As of August 5, I did not hear back from Company E.

Choosing Which Company

Company E was out. I wasn’t even worth setting an appointment with. Either that or they forgot about me. I’m not going to hound someone to give them my business.

Company B was also out. Between being late, the estimator being rushed, that weird pushing of religiosity, and then taking days to get me a photograph of a hand written quote in an email, there’s no way I would choose them.

Company D was thorough, even if the estimator didn’t want to go on the roof. He was a bit nervous, but overall he was friendly and explained things well. That said, his lower end quote offered bare bones materials for what others were charging much less for, and the whole “we put our logo on your roof” thing was weird.

Company A set the bar high. Their estimator was professional, drove a sweet pickup, and explained everything extremely well in a non-condescending way. He didn’t say anything about the lack of a soffit, or about plumbing the water all the way down to the first set of gutters, or about my chimney needing repair, but based on the experience I had with him giving me an estimate, I would definitely feel comfortable using his company for work on my house.

Company C offered more in the way of services than any other contractor that came out, but their price was low. Really low. I compared their materials to what competitors had and the only thing that was different was that they quoted me for 30-pound felt underlayment instead of TigerPaw synthetic. When the estimator was here he mentioned that they sell the synthetic, but it was a bit more expensive and he wasn’t trying to sell me something I didn’t need. (When you’re offering $75 copper pipe boots because of durability, if you don’t feel better underlayment is a necessity, I’m going to take you seriously.) I’ve never been someone to make a purchasing decision based on price alone, but cheaper usually means “cheaper” not “less expensive”, I figured there had to be a reason. I thought back to the very reasonable truck the estimator used and if that is the kind of practical way the company was run, they likely had less overhead and could pass those savings on to customers.

I was 90% in the Company C camp, but I wasn’t certain, and with something that’s thousands of dollars, I don’t want to make a bad choice. Luckily for me, my parents, who chose Company C, and were originally scheduled to have the work done on August 11 were contacted by Company C and asked if they wouldn’t mind having the work done on August 4, since there was an opening in the schedule. To me, this was perfect timing. I could see how Company C did on my parents’ house before I made my choice. Was the low price too good to be true?

It turned out, I don’t think the low price was out of line at all. My parents said that the crew did a great job, was done in one day (and my parents’ house is bigger than mine), cleaned up after themselves and that my parents were really pleased with the work. After hearing that, it sealed the deal.

I called the estimator from Company C and told him I wanted to work with them to get my roof replaced, but since every other company recommended the synthetic underlayment, and that it was water resistant, and since my motivation for replacing the roof was water damage, what would the price difference be? $111. For $111, I told him I’d like the better underlayment, and I’d like them to do the chimney repair. We have an appointment set for Friday, August 12 to sign the paperwork.

Now that I’d chosen the roofer I wanted to work with, I felt it was only right to let the other companies know I wouldn’t be working with them. I knew I would have to choose someone, but I still felt ill as I sent them all an email saying I chose to work with another company. I also contacted Company E to let them know that no one ever got in touch with me for an appointment and that I was working with someone else.

Afterhoughts

Was I biased in my decision to go with Company C? I’m sure there was some, considering that it was who my parents chose, but I reached out to five different highly rated companies, (all GAF Master Elite™), got quotes from four, and in the end, Company C just offered more, for a much better price.

 

 

Replacing My Roof – Part 1 – Facing The Inevitable

My house as of July 27, 2016

My house as of July 27, 2016

This past winter I went up in my attic to put some things away and noticed that water had been dripping from the wood near my roof vents. There was still a foot of snow on the roof, so I put down some plastic sheeting and bins in the attic to catch the small leaks. Once the snow melted I went up on the roof to assess the situation and nothing looked “wrong” so, considering I didn’t really have a load of money set aside to fix what seemed like minor drips, I bought a few tubes of roofing caulk and slathered it around the vents. It seemed to fix the problem, but I knew that a new roof would be in my not-too-distant future. I asked on social media if anyone had any suggested roofers and noted them so I could contact them when I was ready.

I started saving money toward replacing a roof, not really knowing what it would cost. Friends of mine said they had theirs replaced about eight years ago for around $6000, new plywood and all. Another friend, with a much more complex roof had theirs redone for around $7500, and that was just replacing the shingles, etc. (Their plywood was fine.) I knew that my plywood had some areas of concern, so my goal was to save $10,000 before calling for estimates.

This spring I decided to look around in the attic after a rain and noticed that one of my vent pipes had drips on it. I went up on the roof and saw that the pipe boot had deteriorated, so I went to Home Depot. For around $10 I bought a new boot and some more roofing caulk, and I replaced the old pipe boot. The leak seemed to be fixed, but now the writing was clearly on the wall.

Just this past Monday we had some really heavy rain, and I decided to check how my roof was doing while it was pouring outside. I went up in the attic and there was dripping from not only where I’d repaired the leaks this past winter, but also in three new places. Saving to replace my roof was as a part of my budget since the winter and now that I’d met my savings goal, there was no point in putting this off any longer. It was time.

Monday night I made a list of contractors based on recommendations from friends and family. I contacted five roofers through their websites and asked for an estimate to replace my roof. (Note: If you’re a roofer and you don’t have even a basic web presence, I’m not going to consider you for work. A fancy website is great, but even something basic shows you’re a “real” company.  If there’s NOTHING, no website, no Facebook, no anything I can find within a few minutes on Google, I can’t take you seriously with thousands of dollars and my house’s well being.) All five roofers responded to my inquiries within a day and I’ll be writing up my impressions of getting estimates in the next post. I’ve already had two people out for quotes and it’s been eye opening.

Cutting Cable and Switching Internet Providers

A few weeks ago I realized that I hadn’t watched “real TV” in weeks. All of the video I’d been watching was coming from the Internet or DVDs. If I wasn’t watching television, then why was I paying for it? I looked at my cable bill and when I included all of the fees associated with my subscription I was paying $87.81 for something I wasn’t actually using. If I was going to “cut the cord” as it’s become known, I wanted to see if I would incur any fees for just having Internet service. Sure enough, according to Service Electric’s website there was a $10/month fee if you didn’t have television service. That combined with their recently-implemented bandwidth cap made me decide to see if there was a better option.

I knew that Verizon FiOS wasn’t available in my area, but neighbors of mine had recently switched to RCN and were happy with the service, so I checked out RCN’s website to see what Internet options were available. RCN’s slowest Internet package was faster than Service Electric’s fastest, and they didn’t have an extra fee if you didn’t have television service or a bandwidth cap. If I didn’t have television service Service Electric was offering 25 Mbit download/1 Mbit upload for $54.95/month. RCN was offering 25 Mbit download/4 Mbit upload for $39.99/month, 50 Mbit download/10 Mbit upload for $49.99/month and 75 Mbit download/15 Mbit upload for $59.99/month. So, for $5 more per month I could triple my download speed and have fifteen times the upload speed? Why wouldn’t I choose that option? Even when the rates go up in years two and three ($69.99 and $79.99/month, respectively) it’s still faster than anything Service Electric offers, even to commercial customers and it’ll be much less than I was spending on combined TV and Internet service.

I was still apprehensive about switching, so I decided to send a tweet to ask what people thought about the two competitors. No one had anything good to say about Service Electric, and while there were a few people who didn’t like RCN, most people had good things to say. A friend of mine summed up the situation:

Service Electric suffers from being better than Twin County was 20 years ago. RCN is leaps and bounds ahead of them in terms of Internet speed and even channel lineups. But because Twin County was terrible in the 90s there are diehard sectv subscribers who settle for inferior service.

In addition to regular people sending their comments about RCN and Service Electric I got a response via Twitter from RCN within ten minutes. We had a conversation via direct message where their rep Jackie answered my litany of questions. She confirmed that I could get 75 Mbit service at my address, that there wasn’t a bandwidth cap, that there wasn’t an extra charge for Internet if I didn’t have television service, but despite what some of my friends are seeing on their bill, RCN is longer offering a credit if you provide your own cable modem.

Thanks to Jackie answering my questions, my mind was made up to switch, so I attempted to sign up on RCN’s website where I saw that there was a promotion to save 50% off the installation charge if I signed up online. Unfortunately as I was checking out I didn’t see that savings reflected in my cart. I chose the option to save my cart and entered my email address as I was asked. I then sent another direct message to RCN via Twitter asking about the installation discount that the website mentioned. Within a few minutes Jackie responded with a code I could use to get the discount, but luckily I checked my email before I finished signing up.

After I saved my cart on RCN’s website I was sent an email with a link to resume my signup. There was also a discount code for FREE installation if I completed my order within 48 hours. I used the provided code and scheduled an installation. They could have been out the following day, but I was busy so I chose to have my service connected on the next day, which was Sunday morning. RCN’s contracted technician, Mike, did a very neat job with the installation.

Once he was done with the installation I called Service Electric to cancel my service and I was a bit shocked by how their phone rep didn’t sound even remotely disappointed that I was leaving. That said, she was very helpful. She stopped my billing that day so I wouldn’t be billed for another month of service. I confirmed that the only thing left for me to do was to turn in my cable box and cable modem. She said that once I turned those in my account would be closed. I also asked her if I could have someone come out to my house to remove their wire from my house. She said someone would be out on May 5 to remove the line.

I turned in my cable box and modem at Service Electric’s office the following day and got a receipt confirming everything was turned in. In the mean time Service Electric’s line and junction box were just hanging on the side of my house doing nothing. This morning, May 5, I saw a service truck appear in front of my house. I heard the service tech make a bit of a noise with the ladder on his truck, but when I looked out my window a few minutes later he was gone. I went outside to confirm that the line was gone and I saw that he didn’t do anything. At all.

I took to twitter to express my confusion, and a friend chimed in. Later Service Electric responded to him, not me, asking that he contact them to confirm what happened.  Aside from that weirdness I was glad to see them respond so I called to find out what happened. Apparently when I asked to have the wire removed from my house a work order was put in to have Service Electric disconnect the wire from the pole to the line going into my house. Since that was already done when RCN connected my service, the Service Electric technician left. The woman I spoke with on the phone at Service Electric apologized for the confusion and said that someone would be out on Saturday to remove the drop from my house. I guess I should have known that jargon when I asked them to remove their wire from my house the first time? Hopefully this coming Saturday Service Electric’s wire will be gone and they won’t leave it coiled up and ugly on the lines between the houses on my street like Verizon did. (Yes, that’s still there.)

tl;dr

  • Cable TV is expensive
  • Shop around for your Internet service
  • If you want the wire from your old cable company physically removed from the side of your house ask them to “remove the drop”

 

Update 5/10/2014 3:00 PM:

Photo May 10, 2 35 39 PM (1)Service Electric came out and removed the line that was hanging down the side of my house as well as their junction box, but from what I can tell they left the wire running from the pole out to the house. From what I can see (I posted a photo on the right), they just cut off the wire at my house. Why did they do that?

I tried calling Service Electric, but operator assistance wasn’t available at 2:45 PM. I contacted Service Electric through their website with the following message at 2:53 PM:

Today I had an appointment to have one of your technicians remove the cable line from my house. The customer service person I spoke with on the phone earlier this week used the term “remove the drop” which I understood to mean that your line would be completely removed from my house. While the junction box and wire that came down the side of my house were removed, instead of removing your line from my house, the technician just cut it near the roof. Here is a photo of what was done. http://todddietrich.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Photo-May-10-2-35-39-PM-1.jpg

Unfortunately I wasn’t home when the technician came out or I would have asked them to remove it completely when they were here. How can I get someone to finish removal of your line from my house instead of just cutting it? I tried calling your customer service phone number at 2:45 PM, but it said that no operator assistance was available.

Thank you for your help,

Todd Dietrich

Update 5/10/2014 3:30 PM:

I received a prompt reply from Will at Service Electric at 3:05 PM via email:

Sorry to hear that the line wasn’t removed the way you wanted. It’s unclear from the photo what is left as I am not an installer, but I’d like to schedule an installer out when you can be there to get this done properly. Do you have any days that work better?

thanks,
Will

To which I replied at 3:21 PM:

Will,

Thanks for the quick reply. I can be home to meet the installer any day this coming week. When I made the initial appointment the person I spoke with said that since it was all outside my house I didn’t need to be home, so we didn’t set a time, just that someone would be out today. It’s not urgent, so an emergency visit isn’t necessary, but I would prefer that this not get forgotten. If it’s easier to discuss via a phone call I would be happy to call you, or you can call me, but when I tried earlier the automated message said that no one was available.

I’ve also adjusted the contrast in the photo that I referenced in my original message to make it a little clearer, in case anyone else needs to see what was going on.

I appreciate your assistance,

Todd Dietrich

Just to clarify, the reason I am documenting all of this is so people can see what it takes to remove a cable line, similar to what I did with removing my phone line last year. I also don’t want to make it look like Service Electric isn’t being responsive. They are, so it wouldn’t be fair for me to complain but not document what they’re doing to make things right.

For better or worse, one of the number one things that brings people to my blog are queries on “how to remove phone line from my house” or some derivative. Also, I can’t say that I’ve had a bad experience with Service Electric. They’re not a bad company, they just didn’t offer the speed that I wanted. That’s why I switched to RCN, not because of reliability or quality issues.

Update 5/10/2014 4:08 PM:

Will was quick to respond again at 3:43 PM:

I can get someone out next Friday or Saturday afternoon.

thanks,
Will

I responded at 3:46 PM:

Thanks for being so helpful Will.

Either day is fine. Can you give me a window of when the technician will be out so I can be sure to be home?

Thank you,

Todd Dietrich

He got back to me at 4:06 PM:

12: 30 – 5 pm on Thursday with a half hour call ahead.

thanks,
Will

My final reply at 4:07 PM was:

Perfect. Thank you so much for setting this up.

– Todd

While it’s frustrating that the technician who came out today only halfway removed the line from my house, kudos to Will at Service Electric for being quick to respond to my email and for scheduling someone to come out to finish the job.

Update 5/16/2014 2:33 PM:

Photo May 16, 2 27 30 PMService Electric’s technician came out this afternoon and he said that the reason the previous person didn’t completely remove the wire was because RCN used Service Electric’s hook that is connected to my house, but Service Electric isn’t allowed to touch RCN’s equipment. He asked what I wanted to do. I asked if I would be charged for the hook if he removed the cable and he said no. I said that it was up to him on how he wanted to remove the wire and that I’d be OK with him just cutting it at the hook, leaving a nub and removing the rest of the line back to the pole, I just didn’t want it connected to the building. He was very nice about the whole thing and within about ten minutes, even with the rain that we’re getting today, the job was done. Fortunately he didn’t just cut the wire and leave a stub, he removed the entire thing from the hook and unlike Verizon when they disconnected their line from my house he didn’t leave a coil of wire back at the pole, he removed the entire thing properly.

The Phone Line Is Gone!

Photo Jun 11, 4 44 34 PM

It took almost a month of back and forth with Verizon, but today they finally came and removed their phone line and box from the side of my house. They didn’t remove the line entirely, it’s coiled up and taped to the phone line stretching between poles in front of my house, but at least it’s out of the way and I don’t have their equipment connected anymore.

[Update 11/14/2014] (The year is not a typo)
Verizon sent someone out today to remove the rest of the wire that had been coiled up on the line between utility poles for almost a year and a half.

Removing The Phone Line From My House

phone-lineWhen I bought my house in 2011 I knew that I wouldn’t be signing up for land line phone service. I never called the local phone company (Verizon) to cancel the prior owner’s service (I am assuming their realtor did) and I never saw a bill, so I assume that everything was shut off before I bought the house. That said, even though I’m not a customer, there’s still a cable coming off the line in front of my house and a big gray “Network Interface Device” box mounted to the side of my house. Now, it’s not horrible, and it’s not really doing anything, but my cable and electricity come in to one side of the house, and this box is on the other side. It just looks out of place.

I asked a few homeowners that I know that also don’t have land line service what they did about their service and most said that they either never had it activated (the route I took) or they called the phone company and had the service cancelled. When I asked what they did about the physical wire and box, everyone that I spoke with said that they just left it there. I asked people how I could go about getting it removed and some said that it was illegal, that the phone company just wouldn’t do it, or “if you go to sell the house in the future it will reduce the value.”

I left it go for about a year and this past weekend while doing some yard work I once again noticed the inactive box on the side of my house and finally decided to act and contact Verizon and get a definitive answer. The worst thing they could tell me was that they weren’t going to do it, but until I asked them directly, I’d never know for sure.

Since it was Sunday I sent a support request through their website, figuring that they wouldn’t be taking non-urgent phone calls on a weekend. I got a reply regarding my request to remove the line saying “I apologize for any frustration or inconvenience this has caused.” (how polite) and they told me to call 1-800-VERIZON to schedule someone to come out. This was great news.

I called and since I wasn’t quite sure what department I needed I chose the “everything else” options on their automated menu and spoke with a very polite woman (her name escapes me) and I explained that I wanted the box removed from my house. She asked why, and after I explained that I didn’t want phone service and I can’t see me ever wanting it, she told me that they don’t normally remove those boxes in case I would ever sell the house in the future and the new owner would want phone service. I thanked her, but said that I didn’t like the box being there and really wanted it gone. She told me that she couldn’t transfer me to the repair department, but asked that I call back in and select that option so someone could set up an appointment.

I called back in, selecting the repair option and was ready for someone to try to talk me out of removing the box. The guy I spoke to didn’t even flinch when I said that I don’t want residential phone service and would like the box removed. He took down my address and a contact phone number and said someone will be out tomorrow to remove the line.

Once I stopped dancing around the issue and just called the phone company, I was on the phone for less than 10 minutes. I’ll post an update once the technician comes out to let everyone know if there were any complications.

[Update: 5/14/2013 12:55 pm]
A few people asked me how much Verizon was going to charge me to remove the equipment and I told them that the representative didn’t even mention it. A few said that I would likely just get a bill in the mail. To be sure I called back and spoke with a guy named Matt who said that any of the lines outside of the house are owned by Verizon and they are 100% responsible for them so there would be no charge. (That’s a relief.) They only charge if they have to do something to the wiring inside the house.

[Update: 5/16/2013 9:34 am]
No one came out on 5/15 to remove the line from my house so this morning I called Verizon to find out why. I spoke with Pam who was very polite and she said that my support request had been closed, even though nothing was done. She entered in a new support request of me and when I asked her when I could expect someone to come out she said that she has it in to be done today since someone closed the old ticket without doing the work.

[Update 5/17/2013 1:10 pm]
Since no one came out yesterday like they said they would, I called Verizon to check on the status of the repair ticket. I spoke with Ed and he told me that the ticket was still open and even though it was scheduled for yesterday, it was still pending for someone to come by and remove the line.

[Update 5/29/2013 4:35 pm]
There still hasn’t been any action on removing the line, so I called customer service at Verizon and once again, everyone was very nice, polite and profesional. I spoke to Michelle and she told me that my trouble ticket was referred to a local foreman to take a look at my house and that was all she could see. She said that I could talk with a supervisor to see if they could get more information about the status, and I said that would be a good idea. When she attempted to transfer me I was disconnected.

I called back and explained my situation again, this time to Jennifer who said that, yes, it was referred to a local foreman, and that a supervisor may be able to give me more information, but that in their system all they could see was that the ticket was referred to a local person. She then transferred me to the supervisor line and I spoke with Lou. Lou told me that he could see that the ticket was transferred to a local foreman and in situations like this, a foreman will be tasked with driving by and taking a look to evaluate what needs to be done before a work crew can be dispatched. He said that he would see what he could find about the status of my request and would call me back within 10 – 15 minutes.

[Update 5/29/2013 4:50 pm]
Lou called back and said that when it was referred to the local wire center it was closed improperly. He asked for a bit of clarification on what I want done (The box and wire removed) and he clarified my address. He said he’s going to call me back with a new ticket number. This has been a lot of back and forth on the phone, but everyone has been extremely helpful and nice about giving me all of the information that I’m requesting.

[Update 5/29/2013 4:55 pm]
Lou called back with a new ticket number and apologized profusely for the mixup that has been going on. He said that I should get a phone call within a few days from someone regarding having a foreman come out to look at what I want done. He said that if I don’t hear from someone by Friday to call back and ask for a supervisor so they can call over to dispatch to find out what is going on. I thanked him for being so helpful and he again apologized for the inconvenience and thanked me for my patience.

[Update 6/7/2013 11:20 am]
I called in and spoke with Janice, who was very helpful and told me that once again, my ticket had been closed with no action taken. She told me that she would create a new ticket with a red flag on it to get a supervisor’s attention. She told me that the appointment to have the line removed is for Tuesday, June 11. I told her that if I don’t hear or see anything by the middle of next week, I’ll call back in to get a status update.

[Update 6/11/2013]
When I got home from work today I noticed that The phone line had finally been removed.

[Update 11/14/2014] (The year is not a typo)
Verizon sent someone out today to remove the rest of the wire that had been coiled up on the line between utility poles for almost a year and a half.