We had a strange experience this week with a double-glazing company called Weatherseal. I took a telephone call from one of their sales people, which suggested that the company were looking for a showhome in my postcode. They were looking for a property to take 'before' and 'after' photos of, to demonstrate how their products could revitalise a house. In exchange for using the house in their advertising, they would do the whole job completely free. This sounded too good to be true, so I checked with the telephone sales-person, asking one specific question: "Do you get told if your home has been selected for the promotion before you agree to the installation or not?" The answer I was given was that, someone would call round, assess the property for its advertising potential, and if it was the most suitable one in the area, authorise free installation, and that this would all be agreed without paying a penny.
It sounded too good to be true because of course it was.
On the evening the person was supposed to call, he appeared two hours later than agreed. He understood that he couldn't go into measure windows in the kids bedrooms while they were being put to bed and that the measuring couldn't proceed. His boss on the phone thought otherwise, and put us under pressure to 'wait until they were sleeping' and then go in and begin. It's the school holidays, and they weren't even going to bed until nine-ish! Clearly these salesmen are being driven, and are under inordinate pressure from HQ.
The following night the assessor re-appeared. Bright, friendly, articulate and only 15 minutes late, he came - not to assess the property for its advertising potential taking "about an hour" of our time as promised; but to subject us to over two hours of intensely high-pressure selling. The experience was almost surreal.
The salesman was obviously highly trained, and engaged us in this ludicrous piece of theatre, involving a spurious company history lesson designed to build trust; a guide to the market designed to discredit the competition; mysterious rituals with meaningless (but important-sounding) code numbers to make the potential customer feel like a lucky winner; asking us to sign pointless pieces of paper saying we had understood the presentation, so to get us warmed-up for signing a real-contract. The pressure to take up their credit-plan was extremely strong too - and at times highly misleading. While the salesman was keen to suggest that a huge discount would be applied to the bill just for taking up the credit-plan, and to talk about the potentially low monthly repayment figures, he was far from forthcoming about the total-repayment sum should you use the full ten-years to repay! Likewise his figures for interest did not relate to the amount it would actually cost us for the job he had just measured up for - but simply interest 'per thousand pounds borrowed'. Likewise we were never told whether the interest rates were fixed, or flexible! This was rushed through at enormous speed, followed with the invitation we (unwisely) took, to sign to say we were happy with the presentation. The truth was, we were still digesting it, when the pen and the form were pressed into our hands.
All this comes to the inevitable climax of the sky-high bonkers price, which you get to chew on for a few minutes while he rehearses for the umpteenth-time the benefits of the Argon-filled glass-units and multi-point locking system.... Then comes the call from HQ with the 'good news' about the code number which slashes thousands off the price..... all so predictable. Yet - even as we were wise to what was happening, we felt the huge psychological pressures being brought to bear on us.
When we repeated, and repeated, and repeated that under no circumstances would we be signing a contract as big as this on the night - the salesman refused to accept this answer. He questioned, asked all manner of intrusive questions which we had to repeatedly refuse to answer, questioned again, kept offering to wait outside in the car until we had talked it though. Embarrassingly he just would not let go, despite us asking for the space to cook our tea and deal with the kids! The pressure to sign was then upped with the usual line about these deals only being on offer tonight, and that if we didn't sign now he wouldn't be able to give us the amazing deal we had just seen. When we explained that we would never sign a deal this big on the spur of the moment, he phoned his boss - who then tried to (very assertively) run through the presentation with me again on the phone! Can you imagine?!
I got the impression that the salesman himself was a decent guy, being driven by an unbelievably ruthless company, to operate in a way which stretched the definitions of reasonable, ethical practice to its tolerances! Whether any of it was actually illegal or not, I do not know.
Thankfully we are not weak, vulnerable, elderly or unable to withstand this kind of bombardment - and eventually he left. I had the chance to Google this company and see if this kind of thing goes on regularly - and indeed it does. I also discovered that they are a repeat offender in violating the rules on tele-marketing and in fact should not have been calling me at all!
Their windows look quite good. They seemed strong, warm, secure, and looked fine. The question is this: would I want to do business with a company that (i) violated my TPS registration and illegally cold-called me, (ii) tricked their way into my home under false pretences, (iii) outstayed their welcome by taking double the promised time, (iv) put us under undue psychological pressure, (v) tried to get us to sign up to a credit-scheme without adequate time to consider its terms in detail or compare it with other products, (vi) placed us under pressure to hastily conclude a deal with them for the windows without allowing us time to weigh our options (vii) subjected us to highly-polished theatre and ritual all designed to psychologically manipulate us towards parting with cash? Er,....
I see that consumer discussion boards are deeply divided about this company. Some people report terrible experiences - others will not have a word said against them. I am in no position to generalise about the company, I simply relate my experience. Let the reader decide!