Defunct window company in N.S. and what’s happening with customers who made deposits

Click to play video: 'Company offers credit to former Alweather customers'
Company offers credit to former Alweather customers
An Ontario-based company says they're stepping in to assist Nova Scotia customers after a windows-and-doors store closed earlier this year, leaving many customers in the dark. As Zack Power reports, the new company is offering thousands in credits to those affected – but some customers aren't completely sold. – Jun 17, 2024

When Peter van Westen decided he wanted to replace one of the windows in his Truro, N.S., house, he didn’t expect it would become such an ordeal.

But now he and many other would-be customers of Alweather Windows and Doors are fighting to get their money back.

“We feel totally cheated now,” he said.

He says he contacted the company in June 2023 to replace one of the windows in his house. Employees came to the house to take measurements, gave him an estimate and requested a deposit of $1,350 if he accepted the quote.

He made the deposit and installation was scheduled for November 2023.

“The installation didn’t happen. And, by February, we weren’t getting any feedback from them, so I demanded a refund, at which point in time we got an email back saying that the company was basically folding — going to be taken over by somebody else,” he said.

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An outgoing message on the company’s phone number said that operations would be “temporarily suspended” as of April 2 until May 15.

“The complexity of the restructuring combined with ramp-up requirements to effectively restart operations have been challenging,” the message said in part.

When van Westen asked for a refund on his deposit, he says the company told him to ask his credit card company for the money. His credit card company denied that request.

“They (Alweather) weren’t answering the phones, and finally we gave up on them. So we’ve contracted with another company to put a window and it’s going, in fact, in a couple of days,” he said.

“Meanwhile, $1,350 deposit, which they basically are telling me that’s our problem, not theirs.”

Click to play video: 'Complaints mount against N.S. window company'
Complaints mount against N.S. window company

Leases taken over by new company

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Van Westen isn’t alone in his fight.

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Global News heard from several other clients who had lost deposits with the company.

Cynthia Kent of Shubenacadie, N.S., previously told Global News she was out more than $10,000.

Soon after paying that deposit about nine months ago, she discovered the company was in financial trouble and the windows were never installed.

“We tried phoning them and asking if we could get our money back. And they sent us with some legal stuff basically stating no,” she said.

Now the customers are feeling a bit of hope.

Just this week, Canadian Choice Windows & Doors, which operates stores in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, announced it has decided to expand to the Maritimes. It is not purchasing Alweather, however, and is not involved in the restructuring legal proceedings.

In a news release, Canadian Choice said it had “approached the landlords of the six storefronts in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island and offered to take over those leases.”

“Demonstrating a commitment to continuity and community, they also hired employees who had been facing imminent layoffs due to the closure,” it added.

Canadian Choice Windows & Doors has taken over the leases of six former Alweather Windows & Doors locations, including this one in Truro, N.S. They plan to re-open by June 19. Zack Power/Global News

The company acknowledged Alweather’s “abrupt shutdown” had “left numerous customers in financial turmoil.”

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“As part of coming into the new communities, we’re offering that we’ll requote the work and if you can show us that you put down a deposit, we’ll put that towards an order with Canadian Choice as a credit,” Canadian Choice’s eastern manager, Charles Mamye, told Global News.

Mamye says the idea to do so came from the former Alweather employees themselves.

“Most of these stores are in small communities. So a lot of these customers were neighbours, friends, family members that they had taken deposits from,” he said.

“So as we were speaking to these managers about potentially coming to work for us, one of their big concerns was, ‘Hey, look, we have to take care of these past customers, even though they’re not your customers.'”

Mayme says Canadian Choice felt it was “the right thing to do.”

For van Westen, that’s small consolation, and he would like a refund rather than a credit.

“I’ve committed to another company, and I’m not backing out on that. I just think it’s wrong that a company just could one day say, ‘Sorry, we got your deposit, but you’re out of luck,” he said.

“So where does that money go? You know, it’s gone to somebody, but it certainly hasn’t come back to us.”

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Customers have the option of filing small claims cases.

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