We have used a local, reliable and independent replacement window and door firm (Marathon Windows of Epsom) since 2010 when we moved to our current address. They have, in the last seven years, replaced several ‘shot’ units in our original double gazed windows, removed a set of French windows installing a double-glazed sliding door instead and taken out an ageing wooden front door and replaced it with a modern properly insulated one. Their products are guaranteed for 10 years and do exactly what we want (i.e. keep the draughts out, stop heat escaping and increase our home security). So when we decided that we would replace the aforementioned original double glazing on twelve of the windows in our house we were 99% certain we would be going back to the same company.
However in the waiting time between calling Marathon and their salesman being able to come round, a representative of Anglian knocked on my door and asked if their company could give me a quote. I assumed they would claim their product was better than a local small company and probably charge a little more per unit but I decided that being a nationwide organisation with a much greater turnover they just might be cheaper so I accepted their request.
‘The Man from Anglian’ came round the very next day. I must admit that I switched off for much of his sales patter although I do recall that he didn’t seem to push their product as much as I expected. After measuring the twelve windows we wanted replaced he did let slip that Anglian were likely to be “10 to 15 percent more than a local company but a better product all-round” then proceeded to input what we wanted into a program on his Microsoft Surface tablet.
I never actually made a note of the full price that came up on his screen but it was in the region of £35,000 (In case you think I’ve typed an extra zero there I haven’t – that’s nearly £3,000 per window). “Don’t worry about that”, the Man from Anglian said, “We’re doing an offer at the moment that could get you up to 50% discount and, if you pay the deposit within the next four days, another discount on top of that.” So after he had ticked all our qualifying boxes the price bottomed out at about £14,000 just a mere £21k below the full price. I have no idea what Anglian’s profit margins are but assuming they weren’t selling to me at a loss, they apparently expected me to believe that they were prepared to forego £21k of their profit to get my business! As someone once rather aptly said “I might have been born during the night but it wasn’t last night!”
I still had another couple of days before Marathon were due to come round so I thought I give Everest a go in case they had a different attitude. Perhaps, I thought, they might just quote me a real price without all the discount nonsense.
‘The Man from Everest’ had a lot more sales patter than his predecessor. He couldn’t stop talking about the product he was here to sell and was constantly singing its praises. There was absolutely no doubt that he knew what he was talking about but he was like an unstoppable express train rattling through station after station on its route. Eventually I persuaded him to measure the windows and he duly entered the details into his laptop. I have a printout of Everest’s full price and it was £35,947 (suspiciously similar to Anglian’s) but once again apparently I was eligible for discounts. So all sorts of drop down menus appeared in his software package and my qualifying discounts were applied. Lucky me! Everest were prepared to give up over £21k of their profit and offer me the twelve windows for £14,695. Like the previous offer, I had to pay a 15% deposit within a relatively short time (3 days I think) to ensure the discount.
So what conclusions have I drawn from these two experiences? The first and obvious one is that both companies treat their potential customers as complete idiots. They falsely inflate their prices in the hope that you will either accept the full price or, perhaps more likely, fall for the ridiculous discount offer. Both firms rely on well-trained, persistent salesmen who both followed-up their quotes by phone twice within 48 hours. Both firms also set unreasonable time limits on the discounts in an attempt to get your business as quickly as possible.
Yesterday the ‘Man from Marathon’ came to call. He was knowledgeable but not at all pushy. At no time did I feel I was being treated like a fool. He measured our windows, calculated the cost on paper and informed me that his company raised their prices in October 2016 for the first time in five years. When I said I might not take up his quote until September this year (2017) he assured me the price would still be the same. Marathon’s quote for exactly the same work as the other two? £8,391.
There was no need for a follow-up phone call as I accepted Marathon’s offer today (the next day). They only required 10% deposit and will do the work in 4-6 weeks time – the same time-frame as the bigger companies.