Monday, 21 January 2013

Anglian Home door quote

I made an appointment for Anglian Home Improvements to come round on Friday night to give us a quote for a new front door. Their advertising had gone through the roof - there was a 50% off insert in one of the newspapers, and after a quick visit to their website I now get targeted display ads showing me their 50% off products on every other website I visit. I'd gone from never knowing about this company to being reminded of them every hour.

A quick search online revealed many frustrated customers who simply wanted a quote but were punished with outdated sales techniques. There were tales of salesmen taking hours to leave and trying to wear the customer down. Crazy examples such as 'If you don't commit now this offer leaves when I do'. I had a momentary panic but decided that if the salesman tried any of this schtick on us, we'd deal with it.

I'd blogged about Silvelox doors three years ago (£3,000) which are top of the range. Friends recently had two Welglaze doors installed (£1,600 for a door including 'furniture', fitting, a full-size side panel of glass & VAT) and neighbours had a quote for a local company to fit a standard wooden door with glass (from £450 plus 'furniture'), so we knew the range was varied.

When I made the appointment I asked for a ballpark range of door prices but was told that they only discuss his with the client in person.

I was expecting Anglian to be a mid-range product (ie around £1,600) and with 50% off be an £800 door plus letterbox and a nice handle. It turns out I was wrong. The salesman arrived (early, despite the snow) and brought in a little DVD player to show us their cheesy sales video. He had a heavy holdall with paperwork and brochures, but oddly, no samples to show us how the colours look in real life. He insisted the colours in the brochure were accurate, when I showed him the printed colour swatch and the accompanying photo didn't even match hue, he just shrugged.

When I asked him if the handle could be fitted on the other side of the door instead of the side shown in his brochure he said 'I don't know. I don't see why not!" (Seriously, isn't this the sort of thing he should be briefed on?!)

Long story short: He stayed for 45 minutes and managed to bring down his £3,000 (!) door with the basic sandblasted glass to £1,495 including VAT and installation. I balked at this and showed him the additional £150 off voucher I'd been emailed for making the appointment directly. "Oh, no, I've already included that discount in my calculations." Really? Pfft. So we pointed out that not being able to have a letterbox fitted into the specific door we liked was going to be a problem (we'd have to investigate other methods of collecting the mail). He did some more calculations on his notepad, muttering "30% off..." (his scribbles were ilegible) then he said '£1,200. That's what I can do this door for, any less and we won't be making a profit.'

I suppose we would have been happy with £1,000 but after the video, the fake calculations and the constant deferring to Rob instead of me (what year is it?!) I didn't feel like stretching the extra £200. It's so close and yet... well, we may still go with it if we can find another mail solution.

In the meantime, how hard would it be for Anglian to just publish guide prices for their products and save their sales people wasting hours of their time? Surely a false economy? We would be far more likely to purchase the product knowing the cost instead of wondering how much of the quote has to cover the salesman's commission.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Holiday season comedown

Christmas feels like a distant memory. The actual festive week was spent in Suffolk with a group of friends at two converted farm houses on Partridge Farm. The region is famous for its fixation with food, and there was no shortage of really impressive pubs, farmers markets and restaurants. Aldeburgh is worth a visit for (apparently) the best fish and chips in the UK. We ate at The Regatta instead as the chef used to be at The Connaught. Might go back in summer to sample the fish and chips.

Christmas itself was spent gorging ourselves on smoked goods from the nearby Richardson's Smokehouse in Orford, and watching lots of movies. No stress. It rained cats and dogs pretty much non-stop but when you're in front of an open fire in a onesie no-one seems to mind. Actually that's not entirely true - I kept dropping food on myself and remarked that the onesie seems to be repelling food and my pal said 'It repels more than food.'

Just after New Year (spent in London - rare) we took the girls to Paris for four nights and despite a long list of 'must sees' only managed a fraction. I really recommend Paris in January - it's virtually deserted compared to London. We went up the Eiffel Tower and didn't have to queue (€16 for all four of us) - I had the best frites of the trip up on the L1 cafe. We stayed a hotel recommended on Trip Advisor for families - the Residence Foch. Get a Junior Suite aka a family room if you go - it means the kids are in another room with their own TV. We shut the door on ours and watched back to back episodes of Breaking Bad.

An efficient way to see the sights with kids is the Fat Tire Bike Tour - nearly 4 hours of gentle cycling with an English speaking tour guide (with the kids on a tandem, or if they're really small in a baby seat) for €90.

So, back to London and this year probably won't see much in the way of renovation as we're saving up to go back to New Zealand for a (long overdue) trip to see friends and family. One thing we would like to address is our front door though - I've got Anglian coming round to give a quote on Friday night. I've read about their heavy handed sales techniques but am optimistic that the sales fella will want to be anywhere than our house all night on a Friday night. Will report back!