Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Hard Sell - Anglian Windows

We live in a terraced house in North London which is over 100 years old. When we moved in 17 (gulp) years ago we had to revamp a bit. All the fireplaces had been ripped out and the doors had been replaced with non child friendly glass ones. But the ceiling plaster was lovely, the tiled floor in the hallway and outside path intact and the front door had the original stained glass. The windows were also original - heavy wooden casements and large panels popular in their day.

Alas it is these that are now past their prime and need replacing. Because we bought an old house for it's character it is soul destroying to have to lose the original windows but the truth of the matter is that they don't open, let in loads of freezing air all winter (making them pretty non-environmentally friendly) and are just no longer fit for purpose. So we started looking around for suitable replacements. Obviously our first thought was replace like-for-like with real handmade wood - especially as we are only looking to do the front. But it really is a no-no cost wise being upward of £20,000. So we started to look at the plastic replacements.

In a previous house we had gone for Anglian Windows because they were just about affordable and the quality is good. I drive past our old house occasionally and they still look great after 20 years so we gave them a call to see if we could get a quote. Within 24 hours a salesman (and to be fair a very nice man he was too) had turned up on our doorstep.

And this is where the game begins gentle reader. We wanted a quote to replace our windows. A straightforward 'this is how much it costs to have three windows replaced' price. We are intelligent people and don't have all evening to negotiate. So he came and went through an hours sales pitch and told us all about the 50% off everything which is a special deal if you good by the end of the month. All we wanted was a straightforward price remember...

This he couldn't give us but promised to get something over in writing the next day. Which duly arrived. The cost would be in the region of £12,000 but with the special sale price of 50% off would be £6,000. Of course we all know that no-one ever pays full price for these windows - EVER! Every month there is a different deal so it's nearly impossible to get a ball park figure for something we might do in the Autumn or even next Spring. So we didn't get back to them as we were going to get other quotes.

That afternoon I got a call from Anglian. 'Did you get our quote madam?' 'Is there something wrong with the price?' Now this was within 24 hours of receiving the quote. I explained that we were gathering quotes together before making a decision and we didn't know when we wanted to do the work either.

'If the quote was better for you would you be prepared to sign up to the deal?' was the reply. Again I explained but did say that by all means they could come back with a different quote.

The following day my husband got a call 'We would like to offer you an extra £500 pounds off your quote if you sign today sir'. R said we were still thinking but if they could knock £1000 off we might reconsider. They said they had to 'contact regional management and get back to him'.

They duly did and agreed to knock £1000 off. He agreed to meet with the sales guy that evening to give a deposit of £50 to secure the deal and we would have the work done next year. In our heads we wanted to spend this amount so were happy even though we had had to go through the frankly ridiculous negotiating game - as I repeat, we just wanted a straightforward quote.

So nice sales person came back and it was now that we discovered that to put down a £50 deposit we had to sign up to a finance agreement over a certain amount of months with a third party supplier that if we paid upfront and foreclosed early had a penalty of £250! This was never, ever explained to us! What a right royal rip off! So the negotiating started again and we got him to drop the price a further £250 to cover the cost (strange he didn't have to contact regional management for this). If we hadn't got him to swallow this the down payment would have been £500 instead of £50!

As I said we are reasonably intelligent people who don't want the wool pulled over our eyes. We have done the deal because it was what we wanted to pay and having had windows from Anglian before are happy with the quality but why, oh why, oh why the painful, bloody rigmarole. And what if we were elderly or less able to argue the toss? And did we really get a good price or could we have got him down a further £1000 or so - we will always be left wondering!

nb prices are not 100% accurate but are in the region of what we were quoted and accepted

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