When is a Window Warranty Not a Window Warranty?

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Santa Monica, CALeaky windows may sound like a minor household issue with an easy fix, but they can be a nightmare. Holding window manufacturers to their warranties can be an even bigger nightmare. Attorney Paul Stevens from the firm Milstein, Adelman & Kreger has handled four class actions against window manufacturers—the most recent of which involves Weather Shield and its defective Vision 2000 vinyl slider windows.

"These warranties just aren't very good," says Stevens. "It's a marketing tool to say the windows have a 20-year or a lifetime warranty. The warranties are at the manufacturer's discretion and they are limited."

So homeowners like Cynthia Pagano, the lead plaintiff in the Weather Shield class action, are left to fight for their rights under California warranty law. "Water is leaking around the sill track, damaging and staining the drywall. She wants windows that work like they are supposed to work. That's all anyone wants."

Steven recently had the windows tested and found that they failed to meet industry standards. When Stevens approached Weather Shield asked it to make on the warranty, the response was unsatisfactory.

"The response we got when we made a warranty demand on behalf of the homeowner was, 'So what, just ahead sue us,'" says Stevens, who is doing exactly that in a recently certified class action suit in California.

The devil, as they say, is usually in the fine print.

"The fine print says that warranty only applied to the original home owner," says Stevens. "They go into this knowing the average length of time a homeowner is likely to remain in a home in California. They know they are not really insuring the windows for 20 years or a lifetime.

"Furthermore, the warranty is for materials and workmanship. So when the problem is a defective design it doesn't fall within the terms of the warranty. Many window companies do this too. It's an industry-wide problem."

Although window manufacturers regularly try to weasel out warranties, Stevens says there are ways to make manufacturers accountable. As they say, this isn't Steven's first rodeo.

The plan is to go to take Weather Shield to court and provide the design of the windows made them essentially unfit for sale.

Weather Shield is based in Wisconsin and sells windows across the US.

The slow drip, drip, drip of a leaky window can be insidious and slowly destroy a home. And the cost of replacing bad windows can really add up. "You'd be amazed," says Stevens.

Paul Stevens is a senior attorney with Milstein, Adelman & Kreger's complex litigation group. He has extensive experience in consumer expectation and warranty law. He is a graduate of the Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles.


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Reader Comments

Posted by

We have the Vision 2000 installed in our new house 6 years ago, and everyone of them is leaking into the wall cavity and causing rot. The bad thing is it's not just our home. The builder used these windows on aprox 30-40 homes in our development-and they all have the same problem. People started fixing rot 3 years after they moved in.

Posted by

We have Weathershield Visions 2000 windows in our home built by Bielinski Brother Builders in 2007 in southeastern Wisconsin. The windows are terrible and we have moisture and mold in both bottom corners of all of our upstairs windows. I most-recently contacted Weathershield last week about this and they responded by sending me several pdfs of how to keep moisture out of our house. I am convinced there is something wrong with our windows. VERY disappointed with Weathershield Visions 200 windows!

Posted by

We had Vision 2000 installed in 2005. We have had issues with the latches. They get stuck and you have to remove the screen to push it open. Not good when you have children and there is a fire and the window won't open if they need to get out. One of the widow seals is broke. I called Weathershield, their warranty is to replace the part which is the seal but we will be responsible for the labor that is involved. I wouldn't recommend these windows based on my experience. I have already had a service tech out in the past with the windows.

Posted by

We had Vison 2000 windows (18) installed in 1994 and have had nothing but problems. Everytime we get a heavy rain we have problems. The last severe storn ruined the basement ceiling and carpet. We have had two contractors and two insurance adjusters out and they all tell us it is defective windows. Can't seem to get anywhere with the seller or the window mfg. What advise do you have? We are about to have 13 replaced.

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