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Written by: Paloma Kubiak
13/11/2017
When buying goods and services, shoppers want clear and transparent pricing. Although I managed to get a good price for our windows, why did I have to play hard ball?

We’re constantly bombarded by adverts to buy goods and part with our money – from suggested posts on Facebook, promoted ads on Twitter and big billboards in your eyeline as you’re stuck in traffic on the South Circular.

But when someone comes knocking on your door, it’s really personal. Although doorstep selling regulation was tightened in 2014, I’m still wary of anyone coming to my home with the aim of selling me a product.

However, when Mr. Replacement Window came a-knocking, we were willing to hear him out. We inherited the old, condensation-trapped, heat-leaking windows when we bought our house over three years ago and we knew, sooner or later, we’d need to get them replaced as part of our home renovation plan.

It was a two-hour hard sell. I was polite enough to offer him tea – though looking back, this may have actually extended the visit.

He came with two samples – window A: the double-glazed, A-rated five chamber, Q-lon weatherseal, Argon gas PVCu window (it’s amazing how much you can learn) followed by sample B – the inferior C-rated version.

“So which are you interested in?” he asked. Naturally, we wanted the best. But of course, the better product was pricier.

For two windows for the front of the house, we were quoted £2,500 – daylight robbery. I’ve never been more grateful for Christmas being just round the corner – using that as excuse A. Excuse B – our budget. He could plainly see our house was undergoing refurbishment. Money’s tight etc.

“What’s your budget?” another difficult question as having pounced on our doorstep it didn’t give us any time to shop around to get an idea of the costs. We got him down to £1,500, but still that was just too much. I said if he could do it for £1,000 (a price I would be happy to pay for a 10-year guarantee, FENSA certificate and all parts and labour), we would seriously consider the deal.

“Let me call through to my boss”. And voila, the boss who I had never met was kind enough to give us these windows for this price. The condition was that we pay a deposit on that same day.

Alarm bells rang – I told him we need some time to discuss (research the company, check reviews etc) before we would come back to him. I asked if he had other appointments in the area – if so he could revisit us later. “No, no other appointments”. Just our luck. But he was happy to go wait in his car while we discussed.

The pressured sale made me uncomfortable in my own home. All the tips I have written in the past on staying safe while shopping online, the consumer rights when it came to doorstep selling and about little old ladies being scammed out of their pension savings came flooding back to me.

He had all the ID, the items (it looked like he was moving in with the amount of brochures and window samples under his arms) but his need to seal the deal there and then made me wary.

We did what research we could in those 20 minutes or so and I thought paying the deposit on credit card would be safer due to Section 75 protection if anything were to go wrong.

“Ok, we’ll take them” (we all shook hands). We’ll have them fitted in before Christmas.

I felt like we got a really good deal and we were able to hold our own, though given that price, Mr Replacement Window is probably still getting a healthy commission for the sale and his boss a tidy profit.

But for the old, vulnerable, unsavvy shopper, the first price they see is the price they’ll end up paying. For every couple like us who can haggle away – and not need to take out one of their ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ deals – there could be 10, 20, 50 or 100 homeowners paying the first inflated price.

A couple of years back we had a rep from a well-known company give us a quote for a porch – trying his luck at £10,000. Within minutes that had dropped to £5,000.

Do we really need to play these games? Why can’t there be simple, clear pricing for these types of sales and goods? I know every home will be different so pricing will vary, but shouldn’t there be a level playing field? You never know, that may even instill greater trust and clarity around doorstep selling.

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