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BEFORE YOU BUY A WOOD PELLET STOVE  READ THIS...



BUYER BEWARE... I WILL BE EXPOSING WRONGDOINGS IN THE PELLET STOVE INDUSTRY FOR YOUR BENEFIT AND PROTECTION and GIVE YOU SOME GOOD ADVICE TOO.  Print out this article and read it at your leisure.

Before you buy a wood burning pellet stove there are a few things you need to know about or you will be buying a whole lot of trouble, a ton of grief; and, too much misery you wish you never had.  But first a local warning: 

If you live near and planning to buy in the Reno, Carson City, Nevada area, I recommend that you don't buy from the entrenched Reno or Carson City wood stove dealers.  I personally have had trouble on many levels and their pricing is ridiculously inflated, unreasonable, non-competitive and the installation workmanship unprofessional and shoddy.  There also appears to be an entrenched monopoly in the pellet stove market to keep prices artificially high.  You can verify this when the dealers all have the same prices and the same installation fee prices and few to none give discounts.  Buyer beware.

WHERE TO BUY?

I recommend you first and lastly visit; Woodstove Distributors, 881 Tahoe Blvd. (Hwy 28)  in Incline Village, Nevada. Contact:  Randal P. Kesler/manager Phone: 775-831-2327  E-mail: rpkesler@sbcglobal.net  They give discount pricing on stove, stove parts,  installation, etc.  You will save money and obtain professional advice and guidance.  Don't buy a gas, wood or pellet stove until you contact them! 

#1.  Be aware that pellet stoves are expensive to purchase and to install, so get as many good quotes as you can.  Make sure the quote is "solid" not "flexible" like seeing wording such as "estimated installation fee" then don't buy it.  That $300 estimation can easily be escalated to $1,000 or more and that bill arrives after you have purchased the stove, which you are fully responsible to pay for.

#2.  If you buy a stove and on the receipt you suddenly see a sneaky "return policy" saying that a restocking fee will be charged, you must stop and cancel the sale.  It means if the stove is defective, broken or even if you don't like it because it is noisy or even puts smoke into your home you will lose up to 20% or more of your money.  That can easily be over $600.  Any dealer that puts a restocking fee on their sales receipt should not be trusted.  It is unprofessional and uncalled for to be considered a "good faith" sale.  If you squawk loudly to cancel the sale, many dealers will erase that restocking fee to salvage the sale.  If they won't, then they were likely out to take advantage of you anyway, so walk away from the deal as fast as you can and look for another dealer who will treat you better.  Before you buy, get a copy of the written "returns policy" and create an addendum.  See item #35.

#3.  Make sure you get all the parts and costs up front, in writing, with each item clearly identified including the installation fees.  No estimations!  Firm pricing must be set before you put down a deposit of money.  And look for that restocking fee statement, it had better not be there or cancel the sale right away.  You can't delay, you must cancel within hours or you may be stuck with the stove. 

#4.  Ask the dealer to explain to you in detail what the benefits of the stove is and get a sales brochure to back up what he/she is saying to you.  Get it in writing.  Anything verbally said is not to be believed. There are many shady people doing business in this pellet stove industry and they will take you if you are not smarter then they are.  Most consumers are not aware of the trickery in this industry.  I had to learn the hard way, but I do have a legal background as an edge in my favor.  Johnny Citizen does not stand a prayer dealing with these wheeling dealers.

#5.  Never buy a stove that you can't hear.  Ask the dealer to set it up so you can hear how loud or quiet the stove is. Do not believe the dealer if he says the stove is the quietest in the world, even if a brochure says it is so.  It is likely false advertising.  You must listen to the stove yourself. Realize it may be in your living room or near your bedroom and a loud stove will prevent you from watching television, conversing or sleeping. There are a lot of noisy stoves out there.  Listen for low frequency humming noise, buzzing noises, rattling noises and loud fan noises like rushing air.  Be aware, dealers often play loud music in their showrooms to cover up the noise.  When you get the stove installed, you suddenly discover the thing is making a horrific racket of noise.  What to do?  See item #6.

#6.  You are going to be spending a about $3,000 for a stove and installation or more.  Go to Radio Shack and buy a decibel meter and take to the stove dealer and take your sound measurements.  Take readings from seven inches, three feet, six feet, twelve feet and twenty feet away.  Look for a stove that makes no noise beyond ten feet away!  That little decibel meter will save you a lot of grief and help you to find a truly "quiet" pellet stove.  Do not rely on your ears alone, use the decibel meter.  Note on the sales contract/agreement, "Noise db not to exceed 40 db measured six feet distance from installed stove."  Why?  Dealer could bait and switch you.  He could be using a "modified" pellet stove that is well insulated or a different model as a demonstrator in his showroom.  You hear a nice quiet pellet stove in his showroom, but when you get the stove you purchased installed, you discover, to your horror, the stove is a loud, noisy, a miserable beast that is destroying the peace and tranquility of your home.  Without a decibel meter reading test in the showroom, you will be taken for one hell of a miserable ride.  Take the decibel meter readings in the showroom and get it logged into the sales contract as a "standard".  You have to do this today as there are just too many pellet stove dealers that are not playing fair.  Use your decibel meter to buy refrigerators, cars, kitchen and bathroom fans, washers and driers, document shredders, computers, etc.  How often have you bought something that was to be quiet, but ended up being loud?  Especially a car.  Tell the salesperson to shut up while you log your decibel meter readings as part of your shopping comparison evaluations.  Buy the real quiet car, not the advertised version that does not live up to its promises.  

#7.  Dealers will pressure you to make the sale now, but do not fall for their tactic.  Go visit other stove dealers, but make sure you bring that decibel meter so you can take readings to find your quiet stove.  A noisy stove will absolutely ruin your quality of life within your home.  It is not like a washing machine.  The stove will be running often and with your windows sealed shut in the dead of winter.  Too loud and it will interfere with your telephone conversation, hearing television, using your computer, conversation, etc.  It will be worse than a chatting visitor who will simply not shut up.  It will not let you get a good night sleep or even take a nap.  It will wear you down with its noise and not let you find any escape.  You will have to shut off and not use the stove and that defeats the purpose as to why you bought it in the first place, to save money on heating fuel.  Get a decibel meter and use it. 

#8.  Be aware that some dealers will sell you a stove, but if it breaks they will not come out to fix the stove.  Imagine that!  You have a one or two year warranty and they won't fix it?  Illegal?  Maybe.  Don't get caught in the middle.  There is a manufacture and dealer dispute taking place, so don't buy if they won't honor the warranty.  Be aware they may come out and fix the stove, but they may charge you a mileage and labor charge!  Again, don't buy from a dealer that does this to his customers.   See the Questions & Answers section below to protect yourself - item #C.

#9.  Sometimes a dealer can't install a stove due to licensing requirements, so ask them to help you find a qualified and licensed contractor stove installer.  Make sure they can do the job without voiding your stove warranty.

#10.  Will the stove shut off right away when the wall thermostat tells the stove to shut off?  If not, what is the delay?  A small five minute delay is okay, but twenty or thirty minutes is too long for a stove to shut down, especially if it is a noisy one.  Some stoves don't shut off at all, so make sure you get a copy of the owner manual before you buy and read it.  It will also reveal a lot of "hidden" features that may be undesirable.

#11.  Get the dealer to list everything you are buying or getting.  Make sure there is no ambiguity in the advertising that may have double-meanings or has some optional thing you must buy to make the stove quieter, but the ad does not clearly explain the details.  Example:  to make the stove quiet you have to buy a kit that places a fan motor outside of the home.  The dealer may not tell you about this and may even say it is not necessary and then you find out the stove is as loud as a 80 decibel machine ruining the peace and quiet of your home.  At that rate, you will need to put your television at 100 decibels and that means hearing damage for you and your family.  A loud stove is a nuisance, a pest and a destructive monster in the house.  Get that decibel meter out before you buy!  Many people have pellet stoves and don't use them because they make too much noise.  Don't let this happen to you.  A decibel meter will come in handy when you buy anything that produces noise.  Even measure the noise of a barking dog or loud vehicle causing you grief.  It is indisputable "evidence" used by law enforcement, courts and can't be beaten with verbal testimony like, "Your honor, my product is very quiet.  I have no reason why they would claim my product is so noisy.  It's simply not true."  I won a court case with a decibel meter.  My mistake was that I should have used one before I bought the noisy product.  That would have saved me a ton of grief.  Live and learn.

#12.  Are you ready to lug forty pound bags of pellet fuel from point of purchase into your vehicle and again to unload it into your garage and again to load it into you home?  That's three times of lifting and you will need about one-hundred bags of fuel each winter or more.  It is hard work.  Have you considered a gas stove?  If so, check out the 'unvented" natural gas or propane gas stoves as they are 100% efficient.  Most dealers won't sell them.  You will have to buy your own and install it.  Look into it as an option or back up heater in the event of power failures as they use no electricity.  Any stove dealer could likely get one for you, but they may not due to liability reasons.  You can buy them on the Internet.  Some cities, counties, states may not permit you to use them or they may violate a housing or fire safety code.  Do some research on this before you buy.  Ask the manufacturer to guide you.  

#13.  Talk to other people who own pellet stoves.  Check out the Internet for stove ratings to see how well certain models rank.  Consumer reports may even have an article.  They did not at the time this article was written.  I did write them asking that they do an article on pellet stoves.  The public needs a fair and honest evaluation.

#14.  Inherent defects:  These are defects the dealer knows about, but shuts his mouth in silence and will sell you the stove to make the sale only to stick it to you when the stove does not perform.  Example:  the pellet hopper design is shallow and fuel tunneling takes place and the stove shuts off in the middle of the cold night due to no fuel, yet there is fuel in the hopper. The hopper design is defective and the stove will not reliably heat the home.  Example:  pellet feed auger keeps coming loose and auger stalls not sending fuel to the stove and the fire goes out.  The auger has a defective Allen screw that can't be fixed, it just keeps failing.  If dealer won't refund, you can take the dealer and the manufacturer to small claims court under the warranty law and false advertising for creating and selling a stove that will not function as advertised it would.  One brand is the Empire gas or propane non vented heater stove.  They are 100% efficient.  At higher elevations above 4,000 feet you will have to downgrade the heating BTU rating by about 20% by installing a smaller gas jet orifice or the unit will put out unburned fumes.  The manufacturer sells the orifices, but you must have your dealer where you bought the heater order the part, they won't sell direct to you.  Make sure the dealer will do this for you or have a gas appliance person do it for you if you don't know how.  These heaters require no electricity so they are great for power failures and dead quiet in operation. 

#15 Make sure dealer will guarantee the installer will use wall stud finders and electrical wire location device before boring holes in the walls and ceiling and roof.  I had an outfit bore holes blindly "hoping" they would not drill into the wall studs and electrical wires and they used chisels to bore round holes in the walls, which ruined the walls as the holes were jagged and square, not round.  Unprofessional workmanship.  From a licensed contractor!  Who is licensing these incompetent and untrustworthy installers?

#16. Who fixes the stove under warranty?  Is there any fees? Will proper tools and procedures be used to make the repairs to prevent damage to the home and stove?  I had a company come out to do a warranty repair and improper procedure was used.  He did not shut off the electrical power before working on the stove.  He put a screwdriver inside and a large explosive electrical arc formed that burned the circuit board and the stove's fan motor.  This caused the stove to be out of service for days in the dead of winter.  The motor was replaced and the stove was now loud and noisy.  I got a refund, but would you?  

#17.  What is the installation and delivery fee?  What is my discount?  If no discount, why?

#18.  What is my discount for the stove, parts and supplies?  Be leery of dealers that will not give you discounts. Something is wrong!  Walk away!  Don't buy the stove!  This means they are anti-competitive and usually for a reason, you are going to get ripped off by a nice, soft-spoken, polite, trustworthy, professionally pathological lying stove dealer with criminal intent.

#19.  Be very careful if a dealer offers you a "cash" discount price. This means they give a discount if you won't use a credit card.  They say it saves them money.  I does, it saves them the grief they will have to refund your money if something goes wrong and you complain to your credit card company in a dispute.  If you pay cash and fall for their discount "lure" you will be hooked.  Use a credit card to buy the stove as you get some protection if things go wrong, but don't count on them to protect you, but it is a layer to give you some protection.  It also makes the stove dealer accountable to somebody other than yourself.  If you pay cash, you are in deep trouble.  The discount will not be worth the price in savings.  Never give up your right to defend yourself by not using your credit card's free consumer protection plan.  The dishonest businessperson wants to lure you with a discount if you don't use your credit card.  Run from that dealer as fast as your legs can take you, before he takes you!

#20. Do not sign any agreement not to sue the dealer, but that you agree to use arbitration to settle disputes.  Go find another pellet stove dealer.  Don't do business with companies that treat consumers like this.  If things go wrong, you will lose your rights.  If your home burns down from a defective stove or defective installation or repair you could lose your home and not be refunded for it.  Is it worth it?  Of course not.

#21.  The pellet stove industry and its dealers are so problematic be prepared to get a lemon stove, an improper installation that can void the stove's warranty or even wreck your home due to incompetent installers.

#22.  If a dealer tells you they have been in business for twenty years, they may be lying.  They may have bought the business only two years ago assuming the old business name from the old dealer.  Do not believe anything you hear.  Verify everything they say.  Consumers are trusting and we want to believe the pellet stove dealer is telling the truth.  Many of them lie with great boldness and authority and will con you.  I was conned by dishonest pellet stove dealer and this is why I am writing this, to give you a "heads-up" warning.  I have had to take one to court for false advertising of which I won that case, but it took five months of grief and I still lost money for winning, but it will help stop future abuses.  It will help keep other pellet stove dealers a bit more honest and stops the rampart unmitigated activity to openly lie and cheat customers with impunity.  The facts are being documented, folks. 

#23.  Do not contact the Nevada's Office of Consumer Affairs.  This organization is corrupt and by design letting dishonest businesses operate freely without restraint.  Its a serious problem for Nevada citizens.  The agency will default your case against you, clear the dealer of wrongdoing and the dealer will try to use that determination against you if you file in court (If they try to use it against you, plead "irrelevant inadmissible evidence" to the judge.  He should dismiss it).  One dealer did try to use it against me in court, but I beat them because I also detected the Office of Consumer Affairs fraudulent activity and I dismissed the consumer action before they could establish a finding.  But you may not be as lucky if you have no legal background to detect the fraudulent going ons in a government bureaucracy.  I had to file a serious complaint with the Nevada Legislature as the department is rogue and not protecting the public as authorized under law.   Forget the Better Business Bureau in the Reno, NV area.  They are just as lame.  They have no bite, no authority, no power.  They also ignored my case and never contacted me after I responded to just one level of response.  How convenient for the stove dealer.

#24.  It is so bad in the pellet stove industry hire an attorney to draft up an agreement before you buy a pellet stove when dealing with Reno, Nevada and Carson City, Nevada and other dealers in other cities and states. Do things right. Give your attorney this letter to help him prepare for the trickery procedures taking place by pellet stove dealers.  He will see the bright lines.

#25.  Look for a stove dealer that also refurbishes and sells used pellet stoves.  Why?  Because they are true professionals.  Any business that can completely overhaul a pellet stove knows what they are doing.  A pellet stove dealer that does not means they are not interested in the used market and only want to sell brand new stoves and they will not take your stove back under any circumstances.  Imagine a car dealer that sold no trade-ins or no used cars at all.  Something would not be right.  Half the equation is missing.  Can you trade in your used stove for a new one?  Think about that.  You will be stuck and you will not be able to upgrade stoves.

#26.  Who is going to get the necessary building permits?  You?  Be aware, you may have just given your money to a pellet stove dealer with a 20% restocking fee, or worse, "all sales final" with no refunds.  Now you find out you can't install a pellet stove into your home.  You go back and tell the dealer your sorrowful story and he suddenly does not feel much compassion for you.  That friendly dealer is now your worst enemy.  If he is "generous" he cancels the deal, but you got to pay him hundreds of dollars of your money for no fault of your own.  In fact, it was the dealer's incompetence and part of his scheme to rip off consumers and you are just another victim.  It's how he does business in Nevada (Nevada has poor consumer protection, but has great business protection for dishonest business persons).  It's legal and the Dept of Consumer Affairs will not help you even though it is an "inappropriate business practice" and a "failure to disclose" issue. 

#27.  You buy a stove and find out it is defective.  You tell the dealer to come fix it but they don't.  What to do?  Put it in writing and send it to them by postal mail.  Certified mail is fine.  I had one dealer refund my money for a pellet stove for failing for months to come out and fix the stove under warranty.  But only because I had sent numerous letters and that was "evidence" of failure to perform warranty work in a timely manner.  The arrogance of these pellet stove dealers is unusual and troublesome ruining what could be a fine and respectable industry.  It boggles the mind how incompetent and untrustworthy and unreliable they can be.  Could it be a haven for shoddy businesses?  It very well may be an industry that is out of control and blatantly violates consumer law and the Nevada Dept. of Consumer Affairs is their shield of protection allowing it to continue unabated?  You decide.

#28.  Get as many pellet stove brochures as you can and read them carefully before making your decision to buy.  Beware of benefits and features that you can't verify in the dealer's showroom.  They may say the stove is quiet, but in reality it is a monstrous loud beast.  So, don't believe what you read. Verify everything.  

#29.  To win a credit card dispute you must do one thing, get another pellet stove dealer on his letterhead to give a second opinion.  This can very difficult to obtain as many dealers "close ranks" and don't give such second opinions or stove inspections.  They are in the business of protecting each other, so it seems.  The consumer is looked down upon.  If you can't get that letter, the credit card company will drop your dispute and you now have no credit card protection.  It's unfair and sets the proof standard so high as to be impossible to obtain for the average Joe.  So, do not rely on your credit card consumer protection plan as it too is fraudulent when it makes the standard of proof so high as to be unobtainable.  The consumer is getting a raw deal every which way in Nevada.

#30. Can you buy a pellet stove out of state?  Yes, but the warranty repair issue comes into play.  Who will perform the warranty work?  Who will install the stove?  If you can do it yourself, fine.  If you plan to hire a professional contractor/repair firm that may or will void your warranty and you don't mind, fine.  You can save a bundle on sales tax.  But knowing how inferior many pellet stoves are, they do need warranty repairs so keep this in mind.  If dealers charge fees to fix warranty repairs, then they are losing the benefit for the consumer to buy from them and deserve to lose the sale.  Why buy a stove from a dealer that charges you money to fix the stove when it should be fixed for free?  Think about that.  You may be better off just buying the stove at a discount hardware store or out of state and save a bunch of money, including sales tax you won't have to pay.

#31.  In California there is no problem getting justice in court, but in Nevada is a different story due to the consumer must bear the burden of proof, not the merchant, which is grossly unfair because a dishonest businessman is the creator of the scam and the consumer has to not only figure it out, but to expose every detail to convince the court of wrongdoing.  And, if you win your case in Nevada you still lose money if you even used the defective stove and be charged as much as $200 a month.  Expect to lose $600 to $800 or more.  There will be little justice in a Nevada court, but at least if you win your case, you will not lose all your money and the trouble is fully documented.  That can help stop future wrongdoings.  Caution is now in the air when doing business.  It helps keep them honest.

#32.  You will discover many pellet stove dealers charge unconscionable fees for smoke stack flue pipe.  This flue pipe is not magical pipe, but it could have a ridiculous spellbinding price of $500 for five feet.  This is a total rip off price, so don't pay it.  Ask for a discount price.  If the dealer won't discount, cut about $300 off that $500 price, it's time to do business with somebody else.  Ask for Simpson brand pellet stove pipe, it's good pipe.

#33.  Buying a pellet stove is serious business and there are many pitfalls.  The dealer may make it sound easy to install, but it really is not when you consider all the variables and the expensive consequences revealed in this article.  

#34.  Look at question "J" below.  You must have the dealer come out to your home to make proper estimates to install the stove.  Make sure the dealer does not charge you a fee for this service.  This service should be part of the cost of doing business to compete in the marketplace.  Now you know why dealers inflate the installation fee to $350 minimum.  Read any fine print regarding this estimate and make sure there is a "cap" on the estimation.  A cap would say, "customer will not be charged over 10% of the installation fee."  This way the dealer, if they give an improper quote, or ruins the wall or ceiling in your home will not inflate the price to cover his mistakes.  This is a typical contractor trick.  Cap those installation fees or you could end up paying way over $1,000.  A dishonest dealer can make mistakes "on purpose" to inflate bills to enhance his profit.  It happens all of the time, just that the innocent, unsuspecting consumer does recognize the dark side of the transaction taking place.

#35.  Attach an addendum to your sales contract purchase order/agreement, and on that original sales contract, state there is a such and such dated addendum with (a stated number of stipulations) items listed on it.  It could look like the Questions and Answers paragraph below.  If you don't put what was discussed and agreed upon in writing, believe me, you will not get what you thought you would get.  Suddenly, there will be a huge misunderstanding and you will be forced to buy the stove or submit to a 20% restocking fee.  You will be robbed of your money.  That addendum will save you a lot of grief if anything goes wrong.  Any dealer that will not let you put an addendum on the sales contract?  Don't do any business with him, he's a crook.  The dealer need not sign the addendum, but you should sign and date it.

#36.  Make sure you are getting the right stove you expected to get.  The sales order contract may list a different stove or a different model than what you thought you were going to get. A simple error, but a disaster for you if the installers install that stove inside your home and you later find out it is not what you wanted or expected.  It may not be easy to just put another stove into your home. It may not even fit or require a larger flue pipe and the cost will be horrific to fix this mess and the dealer may not be so nice about things.  He may insist you keep the stove and that was the agreement you made.  And the law will agree with him, too.  If you think there is a problem, send or hand deliver a letter to the dealer to cancel the sale.  A sale can be canceled, but time limits apply usually in less than three days.  Remember, that restocking fee will come to haunt you if you accepted those terms and conditions.  The dealer makes a mistake and you end up losing hundreds of dollars for no mistake of your own. That's how the restocking fee "rip-off" operates, and it is a big rip-off.  The restocking fee is a tip to let you know there is dishonesty taking place in the deal.  You could make an addendum to stipulate under "what conditions" a restocking fee applies.  That would be fair for you and the dealer.  Be aware the restocking fee returns policy may not be on the sales contract.  It is often "hidden" on a little paper receipt attached to your sales contract that many people totally miss, until it is too late.  Those terms may also be on the back side of the receipt and in faded print to trick you.  These things really do happen more than you think.

#37.  Price inflation.  Yes, prices do rise and that can be verified by pricing the competition when you shop around.  But be aware when you visit a manufactures Web site they may list a Suggested Retail Price, say $1,200 for a stove, but you find a dealer sells the exact same brand and model for $1,600.  Then ask the dealer to sell it to you for the lower price.  If no deal, then no deal. Take your money elsewhere.  You will likely also discover other problems when a dealer inflates the prices of his products, so beware.

#38.  Find out if the stove needs repair if you have to pay any stove removal and stove installation fees if they have to take the stove back to the shop for repairs.  Read the Manufacturers warranty in the owner manual and boldly ask the dealer to show and give you a copy of his repair policy.  Add what was said to the addendum.

#39.  The dealer should help you find the right stove for your home and your personal requirements.  You don't want a loud stove, so make sure you listen to the stove (with no loud music or other sounds in the showroom to cover up noises) before you buy it.  Close the doors to keep out outside noises that will cover up any noise.  Make sure the stove is not too large in size or in heating BTU output or it will overheat your home, make too much noise and may not even look nice or fit where you want the stove to be.  Fitments is a problem.  Often where you want it is where the stove can't be placed usually with construction limitations.  The dealer must come to the home to verify the stove is proper and can be installed.  See #34. 

#40.  Try to get the stove installed with the flue rising straight up through the ceiling to the roof.  It simplifies installation if you want buy another pellet stove in the future.  A side discharge out the wall can be problematic.  If you have to go that route, make sure it is not vented on the side of the house where the prevailing storm winds blow.  It should be on the opposite down wind side of the house or the wind will blow smoke back into the stove.  A major reason why a stove can't (or should not) be located in a specific area of the home.  Always try to put the stove where you want it of course, if it can be installed.  I have had some dealers give me bogus advice where to install the stove.   

#41.  Beware of the illegal last minute delivery and fuel surcharge bill.  The stove dealer delivers the stove and the driver hits you up with another bill to pay to cover the cost of delivery.  This was never discussed prior to the sale and was not put on the contract purchase order.  Don't pay it.  I had one Carson City stove dealer do this to me and I bitterly argued and adamantly refused to pay the new bill.  The delivery person refused to take my explanations that it was unlawful and then he cried that the bill would now have to come out of his own pocket as the stove dealer would not reimburse him (mind you, this person worked for the stove dealer, so it was all a money-making scam).  I told him to get out of my house and take the stove with him and I am filing formal complaints as this is unlawful business dealings.  Only then did he realize I knew my rights and I was going to cause him a great deal of misery and expose the scam.  He scratched off the new bill off the existing agreement and contract.  Amazingly, when I did complain to the Nevada Dept of Consumer Affairs, the incompetent employee/investigator said it was not illegal.  That's when I discovered he was unskilled and not an attorney, yet  holding the position of a judge/investigator.  Imagine that.

#42.  Beware of the fancy showroom.  It is one of the most successful illusions of  professional service to impart into the consumer's mind.  If the store's showroom is immaculate and well decorated, buyer beware!  Just very extra careful.  You need to ask yourself this question, "Why is a pellet stove company showroom so lavish?  What is the meaning of this?  What is the true purpose?  What message are they trying to impress upon me?  Why so much interior design decoration?"  I will tell you what it really is, to fool you into thinking you are dealing with the utmost professionals, but in reality they have become filthy rich overpricing their stoves and operating with questionable business practices that they would be shut down if they did it in California or some other state, thanks to the Dept. of Consumer Affairs not enforcing the existing laws on the books, letting these businesses do what they do to scam consumers.  Frankly, look for a stove dealer that does not have a lavish showroom and is not trying to "overpressure" his customers with psychological eye-candy gimmicks to place a "favorable light" and an "atmosphere of trust" upon the consumer.  Go look at the typical appliance store.  Is it lavish or just plain Jane in appearance?  Even car dealers don't go to these extremes and we all know they psychology games they play.  I was taken in by the lavishly decorated pellet stove dealer scheme.  It let my guard down and as a result I got burned and I had to do a lot of legal fighting and even go to court to win my money back. 

#43.  Here's a good word of advice to help you determine the honesty of a pellet stove dealer.  Start talking about the competitor's brand of stoves as being good stoves and that they said they would give you a discount to you if you buy one.  This triggers the sales mode in the dealer and he starts to blab away badmouthing the stove and the other dealers and he will say all kinds of bad things that you will not get the proper warranty coverage for repairs, etc.  He will then go on to convince you to buy his stove for all the right reasons he just gave you.  There is nothing wrong with selling your product, but to badmouth other dealers and stoves without factual truth is nothing but dishonesty.  But to really put him to the test, what sort of discounts is he going to give to you?  None?  Just a measly 10% on the stove only, but nothing on parts and installation?  Go elsewhere to buy.  I found a pellet stove dealer that had a small showroom that was plain, but functional, was friendly, knowledgeable and gave me discounts and I did not even have to ask.  He just went on discounting everything, gave me a nice price, promised me no-charge warranty repair when another dealer in Carson City I visited said he would not do this for me or for anyone.  The dealer with the beautiful showroom turned out to be dishonest to me and badmouthing another dealership that sold the same brand of stove yet.  And, the stove was whisper quiet just as he said it would be, but I did use my decibel meter to make sure all was well and all was well.  His installation person was very professional, kind, understanding and careful and helpful and most of all these are very nice people to deal with.  They did not give me lying sales pitches, never badmouthed other dealers or their stoves That dealer was Woodstove Distributors.

#44.  Is the dealer willing to spend the time to talk and answer questions?  Especially about installation?  Return policy?  Refunds and exchanges?  Warrantee repair policy and procedures?  You will be amazed to see pellet store owners say, "Don't worry about those things, we guarantee everything and you will be happy.  We will take care of everything for you."  But they will not discuss your questions in detail.  They simply want you to put down your money deposit and let them install the stove and give you the bill for the other half.  When you are alone with the stove after they leave, any problems will be mishandled to your disadvantage and for you to suffer.  This pellet stove industry is brutal, uncontrolled and operating in shadows to catch the unsuspecting.  I was actually quite surprised to discover an honest pellet stove dealer!  I had so much trouble with stove dealers I bought a gas stove to put into my home.  When I came across an honest dealer, I bought another pellet stove.  I like the pellet stove's orange flames.

#44.  Pellet stoves require yearly routine maintenance to clean out the combustion fan and air plenum.  This requires some basic mechanical skill.  Will the dealer do this for you and how much will it cost you?  It won't be free and is not a warranty repair item.  So, should you buy your stove from that fancy stove dealer with the lavish showroom, but he will not come to your home to fix the stove under warranty?  A dealer will sell the stove to you knowing all along when you call him for warrantee repair he will "refuse" to repair the stove or "bill you by the hour" to fix it.  Imagine having to pay for warrantee repair?  It's illegal, but they are doing it, blatantly, boldly with impunity in the state of Nevada because the Dept. of Consumer Affairs is incompetent and intentionally blind to see the wrongdoing and come to the consumer's aid.  It is illegal to refuse to perform warranty work, especially if the dealer sells you the stove.  Check your Lemon Law, it not just covers vehicles.  Pellet stoves are covered under the Lemon Law as it is a Federal Law that warranties must be honored.

#45.  Do not let the sale go through if the stove can't be legally installed into your home, apartment, manufactured home or neighborhood.  Even some Covenant and Restrictions can ban pellet stoves if they want to.  Make sure this is on your addendum you will get a full refund if the stove can't legally be installed, for any reason, and by any authority.

#46.  Did you know that if you put in a pellet stove you can't change you mind later and put in a gas stove in the same location?  Why?  The flue pipes can't be interchanged.  You will have to remove the flues and install new flues and that means drilling larger holes into your roof or walls.  The other option is if you have the extra room inside your home you could have both installed separately.

#47.  Before you buy go to your local Better Business Bureau and let them search the database for any complaints lodged against the company you plan to do business with.  No listing does not mean the company is safe, it just means nobody has had the nerve to complain against them or the consumer did not know or bother to complain to the BBB.  Try to buy from a BBB member if you can.  They do promise to abide to honesty in their dealings and be fair to the customer and the BBB will come to your aid if there is trouble to help resolve the issue, or they at least should, but in my case I am disappointed in their lackluster performance.  If you find a lot of complaints against a company is lodged in the database, don't do business with that company.

#48.  Useless Repair Warranties?  Make sure you can get your stove fixed, on site, without you having to pay for the dealer or repair persons' hourly labor fee and fuel mileage fee.  Get this repair warranty in writing on the sales agreement.  Do not accept a verbal agreement by the stove dealer or salesperson or they will deny they ever made the promise and you will have zero proof to support your claim.  Don't forget, some dealers require that you pay them to remove your stove, "uninstallation fee" to fix the stove that can cost you hundreds of dollars and an "installation fee" to reinstall the stove, also costing hundreds of dollars.  You can see why some stove dealers showrooms are so fancy with such highway robbery customer service. So if you see them advertise, "We Service The Stoves We Sell" you may be in for a rude awakening if you need repairs during the warrantee period.

#49.  If the stove is advertised as "The Quietest Pellet Stove in the World" it probably is one of of the loudest!  Beware of such false advertising claims.  American Companies are leery of making such bold statements, but "foreign made" stove companies will blatantly violate our truth in advertising laws.  I was a victim of it.  Buy American!  It will protect you from dishonest advertising claims in catalogs and brochures.

#50.  Do not believe what a pellet stove dealer tells you.  I have found so many of them lying just to get the sale or to badmouth in some way another dealer so you won't buy from them.  A sneaky bunch these people are.  Just do some shopping around and you'll see right away this is true.  Anything they say must be backed up in writing to be believable and even then, if the advertising is false and misleading, then you will be duped.  The pellet stove industry is not to be trusted. There are serious problems in this industry and with dealers where lies are conveyed as truth.  Worse than dealing with car dealers!

#51.  Pellet Stove Inserts:  These stoves are inserted into the fireplace recession area.  Consider buying a free-standing stove to sit on the fireplace hearth instead.  Why?  The insert stove must be disconnected from the chimney stove pipe and the entire stove unit dragged out (most have no rollers or wheels) just to service, clean, adjust or repair the stove.  They look nice when inserted, but each year you or somebody you must pay to perform this annual routine work.  A free-standing stove you can just go to work on it easily accessing all side panels of the stove especially the rear section.


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Questions you should ask the dealer, then get the answers in writing on the sales agreement by attaching your questions and the dealer's answers given to the sales agreement and make the dealer sign it next to your signature and date, before you buy the stove.  Ask in writing:
A.  There is no restocking or other hidden fee if the stove must be returned for refund or exchange? 
B.  Delivery and installation price of $_______ is a firm price with no additional fees?
C.  Manufacturers Warranty covers all expenses, I pay nothing?  What minimum fees must I pay to have the stove repaired under warranty?
D.  If the stove can't be installed or pass building code or other city, county or state inspection you will fix the problem or I will get a full and complete refund?
E.  Proper tools and supplies will be used to install the stove?  Stud finder?  Electrical wire locater and hole drills be used to bore holes? 
F.  Installation will meet safety and building code requirements?
G.  You are a licensed contractor to install pellet stoves in my home's location?
H.  The stove I get will be the exact one as described in the brochure?
I.  If the stove had inherent defects I may return the stove for a full refund?
J.  Where will my stove be installed?  Where will the flue pipe exit the home?  Can it be installed?
K.  Is the stove properly sized for my home?
L.  Copy of return policy, repair policy and owner manual given prior to sale?
M.  Any other question you need to ask the installer, put them in writing.
O.  Insist to see the dealer/installers guarantee and return policy. 
P.  If the stove is on sale, don't buy it.  It is likely broken or outdated.

BOTTOM LINE
As you can see, buying a pellet stove and having it installed is no simple matter.  If you do not get things in writing, you don't have a prayer to challenge the pellet stove dealer in a credit card dispute or in court, especially if they are dishonest and you may find out few are honest.  One mistake on your part and you can lose hundreds of dollars.

SALES RECEIPT DECEPTION
 If you purchase a pellet stove and see no return policy you may be rudely surprised find one on the back of the cash register receipt in faded hard to read ink.  If it states a "restocking fee" cancel the sale right away and do not accept delivery of the product.  Write a letter to the dealer and demand your money back in full.  Reason?  No return policy was discussed with you so no contract agreement took place.  But you may only have 24 hours or three days to do so or you may lose your right and you will have to pay the restocking fee.  In this case, don't pay it.  Just take the dealer to small claims court to get your money back claiming there was no contractual meeting of the minds to consummate a legally binding contract.  Look for that sneaky return policy with a restocking fee hidden in it before you buy anything today.  If you do not challenge the return policy in a rapid and formal manner it becomes legally binding upon you, so you must fight it.  Do not do business with a business that has returns restocking fee.  

AN HONEST DEALER FOUND - Woodstove Distributors in Lake Tahoe

I found an honest pellet stove dealer that I was happy to deal with and he gives discounts and he will fix the stove under warranty in the Reno, Carson City, Lake Tahoe area.  In any case.  Before you buy, at least give him a try.  I feel he will do you right as he has done for me.    Woodstove Distributors, 881 Tahoe Blvd. (Hwy 28)  in Incline Village, Nevada. Contact:  Randal P. Kesler/manager Phone: 775-831-2327  E-mail: rpkesler@sbcglobal.net
They may even ship the stove to you in another city or out of state, but warranty work they may not be able to do of course, but check with them before you buy; and, they do take trade-ins and overhaul stoves and sell new and used stoves.  A good all around dealership servicing the needs of the their customers.  

RECOMMENDED STOVES

The pellet stove I recommend is Quadrafire, Mt. Vernon model.  It is efficient burning, quiet running and has many advanced features and most of all, it works.  It heats the home, is easy to clean out the ashes, does not make obnoxious noises, the firepot cleans itself and the wall thermostat has many user selections to control the stove.  I am very satisfied with this stove.

Another brand of pellet stove that is very good is the Harmon brand of pellet stoves, also now owned by Quadrafire.  But I do not recommend purchasing these Harmon stoves from the Reno or Carson City, Nevada locations.

RED FLAG

Support the honest pellet stove dealer who must strive to survive in an ocean full of sharks who are out to rob and abuse consumers.  And remember, a fancy showroom does not guarantee you of professionalism and fair dealings.  It should be a "red flag" to warn you that something strange and unusual is going on and that the business appears to be overly successful, way too lavish for their britches.  A bit too excessive in appearances is usually the sign of a con artist who may throw you off guard.  It may not always be the case of course, but it should raise a red flag as to why the business appears to be too lavish in appearance.

Try to get recommendations from other people who have purchased a pellet stove, but be aware they may be old, deaf and dumb and may still steer you wrong from their sheer lack of wisdom regarding what makes a pellet stove good or bad.  Ultimately, you will need to do your own research, but at least you know now what to research!  Get all the industry brochures you can and read them.  Compare prices and features.  Listen to the stove (in a quiet showroom setting).  Make the dealer fire it up.  It may be a loud, noisy beast despite the dealer's salesperson saying it is the quietest stove in the world.  Even factory brochures will outright lie to get you to buy the pellet stove.  I know by experience.  I was bold-face lied to by the pellet stove dealer whom I trusted and the manufacturer's brochure that I trusted to be truthful and both robbed me and I had to take that dealer to court for false advertising.  My mistake?  I did not demand the dealer fire up the stove before I bought it.  I totally believed the dealer's advertising to be absolutely truthful and I found out it was a lie.  I was also sideswiped by the Department of Consumer Affairs to not enforce their own laws for false advertising. They told me, in writing, there was no false advertising.  I knew they were lying so I took the matter to court and won my case!  All this grief because I trusted a pellet stove dealer to be honest.  Never again!  Don't make the mistake I made.

MORE ADVICE ON WOOD STOVES & PELLET STOVES

1.  A pellet stove will burn wood pellets much more efficiently than a wood stove.
2.  A wood stove will put smoke odor inside your home each time you open the firebox door.
3.  A wood stove does not require electricity to run.  A propane or natural gas stove can run without electricity as long as no combustion or convection fan is required.  Check the stove's features before you buy to see if it will heat without utility power.
4.  Most pellet stoves will put the fire out when the power fails.  Some new models like the QuadraFire Mount Vernon lets you plug in deep cycle batteries so the stove will run for many hours without utility power.  This is a great feature.
5.  Wood and pellet stoves will generally only heat the living room and adjoining rooms if the floor plan of your home is open or the home is small in size.  But, any heat you gain from your wood or pellet stove will offset any fuel use you burn with your main furnace.
6.  Wood stoves create wild temperature swings.  The stove will get real hot, then real cold.  A pellet stove will maintain a nice even temperature as most all are wall thermostat controlled.  Don't buy a pellet stove that the fire will not shut off when in wall thermostat control mode and that means any pellet stove that has a hi-low flame control feature.
7.  Pellet stoves start up by themselves.  Wood stoves require you manually start the fire.
8.  Ash removal.  Ask about it before you buy.  Some stoves do not have an ash dump and you must vacuum the ash out, which is not all that bad, in fact it is cleaner and faster to use a vacuum cleaner or a small shop vac.
9.  Wood stoves can burn anything, but smoke and odors from the smoke stack or chimney can be problematic to your neighbors.  Even wood smoke will cause trouble as heavy smoke on start up will smoke out your neighbors and they will not like having to keep all windows and doors sealed shut constantly to keep your smoke out and even then, smoke will seep inside their homes as it fouls the air all around your home.  A pellet stove produces zero smoke and zero odors and your neighbors will love you for that.
10.  You will pay a lot of money for a cord of wood and you must haul and store all that wood that will be laden with insects, including termites, rat feces, poisonous snakes and spiders can be found in the wood pile.  You will get splinters of wood in your carpets and in your fingers handling split wood.  A pellet stove comes in sealed bags and their are no living unwanted critters inside the bag with the wood pellets.  It is clean and a sane way to burn wood fuel.
11.  People believe they will save money using a wood stove.  Calculate the cost and you will see you will pay more for a cord of wood than a load of pellets.  Also, the pellet stove is way more efficient and burns much less wood fuel than a wood stove.  Plus, there are no bugs, spiders and wood splinters to deal with. 
12.  If you like getting up in the middle of the night to stoke your stove with wood you will love the wood stove.  If you enjoy sleeping all night long, then buy a pellet stove.
13.  There is nothing wrong with having both the wood stove and a pellet stove in your home.  You will have heat no matter how badly you get snowed in with power outages.

14.  The drawback with wood and pellet stoves is you have to haul heavy cords of wood or 40 pound bags of pellets.  If you can't do that, then look into a gas furnace that is "vent free" for 100% efficiency, but some of these stoves are not legal in some states.  Vented gas stoves are not as efficient but will likely be better than a conventional furnace regarding savings on fuel costs.  You can get them in propane or natural gas.
15.  Choose your stove dealer very carefully.  Most I have dealt with cannot be trusted as they operate shady businesses with deals that sound good, but are bad deals.  And never buy if you see a "restocking fee" or "estimate" price in the sales contract or proposal. 

I know this article will be helpful to you, the consumer.  I wrote this article to help you.

Sincerely,

James Russell
http://www.JamesRussellPublishing.com

 

TESTIMONIAL

Hello James,   My name is Gregg.  My wife and I read your article on pellet stoves when we found it searching for stoves on the internet.  It was an eye opener and I want to thank you very much for it.  It educated us as to the advantages and disadvantages of these stoves and as to the “dealers” in Reno.  I shopped the dealers in Reno and saw the high prices and no trade ins and finally, I called Randy Kesler in Incline village.  Within a few hours I was in his shop and had purchased a stove from him at a savings of $1,400.  Randy immediately recommended one of the two stoves I had narrowed my list to, and where the store in Reno wanted $3,500, Randy sold it to me for $2,100.  WOW!! He also took my trade in and gave me a blower fan worth $300.  Double WOW!  Because none of the other stores in Reno wanted to have anything to do with my old stove. I hope he makes a bundle on my old stove! 

                Thank you for your article and honesty.  It is rare in this day.  I will look over your website more later, as I have just found it looking for your e-mail address. Delivery and installation is coming in about one week, and I will keep you informed as to how that goes, but I am very happy with Randy, and I am sure I will be very happy with his installers.  Very thankfully and sincerely,  Gregg


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This information is made available to you for general information purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for legal advice.  Hire a consumer attorney for consultations and assistance.  No business in particular is identified as being dishonest or otherwise honest unless "specifically" stated and identified in this original article.  Any such identification made is by chance and not intentional and is coincidental.   The article is opinion based on personal experience and summations and is not considered absolute fact.  The cities of Reno and Carson City are cities I have shopped for a pellet stove and found discrepancies that in my personal opinion deserves to be mentioned as a cautionary red flag for unsuspecting consumers.  There may be a honest dealer in Reno and in Carson City now or in the future.  The State of Nevada's Department of Consumer Affairs is fraudulent and filled with incompetent and unskilled employees who are not attorneys at law acting as legal interpreters and judges, and in my opinion, grossly fails to protect consumers and habitually fails its mission to fulfill that sole purpose, authorized by the Nevada State Statutes law, in open defiance of the authority of the State Legislature.  The agency is rogue and is failing in its mission to protect consumers and even going out of its way to protect dishonest businesses.  What happens here in Nevada would never be tolerated in California or other states. 

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All rights reserved.  © Copyright 2008, 2011 by James Russell

 

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