Bad Salesman

When we bought our house we knew it would take some time to modernise. It’s not been kept in the greatest of care, and we are slowly working our way through the required work. The next big job is a new kitchen, which is getting installed in March, and as we had a little money left over (getting a very good deal on the kitchen) we thought we’d see if we could afford updating the bathroom (the mushroom coloured suite has always been a bugbear).

I’ve phoned 4 or 5 different bathroom places, asking each to come out, have a look and a discussion about what is possible. Two of them never showed up, and didn’t phone to say they wouldn’t make it, so they are struck off the list. Two more have yet to call me back to confirm when they are visiting, which left one company who arranged to send a salesman out yesterday.

Lo and behold he turned up!

I just wish he hadn’t.

Maybe we were spoilt by the guy that sold us our new kitchen (as much as ANY salesman can ever spoil you), but this guy was just… I dunno, BAD.

It started out fine, he turned up, was pleasant enough and asked some good questions when I was showing him the bathroom and talking about what we would like. Now, I made it quite clear that I wasn’t sure what we could afford what we really wanted and that we were looking for some help with the pricing and were more than willing to alter our ideas a little. Basically I was trying to get say that we wanted X, when in reality we expected to be getting Y, and letting him ‘manage’ to get us a good deal for Y.

So he seemed to be playing along and suggested we price up the most expensive layout option (new shower unit, moving the sink, boxing in under the window and the WC) first and work from there.

He spent some time measuring up, talked through the usual brochures and choices and then he jotted down some notes on a pad, totalled up and gave us his quote.

It was about £1k over our budget (we were keeping a few hundred back for negotiation). I told him this and he started humming and hawwing, rapping his pen on his notepad, tapping more figures into his calculator, scratching his head, writing more figures down, and eventually said that (ohh it’s a miracle!) he could come quite close to our budget. It was right at the top of the budget we had told him, and I made some general “not sure” noises to see if he would sweeten the deal.

Now, at one point he had asked us to pick floor tiles to which I said that we weren’t going with tiles so to leave that out of the budget, I’d handle that later.

So when his deal sweetener was to throw in a set of floor tiles for only £100… well I said no.

He then spent a further couple of minutes tapping away whilst Louise and I sat quietly, letting him break the silence first. No, he couldn’t get us a better deal, he was cutting this and this, ohh and this. I asked him to remove the shower option, and his reply was “well yeah, but you want to get it done properly”. My response of “but there is a perfectly good shower there already” was, seemingly, ignored.

He again pointed out that this was a great deal, and that his craftsmen were the best.

And to be fair, it was a pretty good deal so I told him that yes, I thought it was a good deal. To which he replied:

“Ohh ok, so when do you want to get things moving?”

Ummmm. Hello? I asked for a quote.

He looked a little befuddled at this point, and I wonder how many other people he has bullied into taking things they don’t want. I was quite firm, saying we had other people still to come in, but if he left the figures with us we’d call him this week. At that, he all but ran out of the door, leaving no figures behind. He will not be getting a call from us.

Why are good tradesmen so hard to find?

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Long time blogger, Father of Jack, geek of many things, random photographer and writer of nonsense.

Doing my best to find a balance.

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Ian's Mum says:

Thanks Gordon I will keep the turquoise bathroom after all I just could not face that. When we got the gutters and facias done the ‘salesman’ got his jacket off and settled down for the evening and he was immediately our best buddy, on first name terms. We were so desperate to be shot of him we got them done by his firm as we knew at least he would not be turning up to do them. It was expensive but a good job. Oh and I know what you mean about finding tradesmen!! Cobbler’s bairns and all that. Does our mutual mate not have any recomendations? Have you tried Finesse next door got theirs there I could ask them how it went, I never heard any moans and she is hard to please!

mum says:

When we were thinking of doing our bathroom,we had a guy in for 4 hours and eventually dad had to say ‘Please leave now’ several times before we got rid of him. It just shows you how many folk must get worn down by the sales tactics if they are so willing to persist. The worst ones were double glazers who would ‘just phone their boss to see if they could do a deal’ or ‘this quote is only valid if you sign now’ We eventually found the perfect guy – just a shame he only works in this area! Keep trying and ask around, word of mouth is often reliable.

hans stolte says:

Thats a salesman, tradesmen are easy to find, good ones work for the top companies like um the one with the fish thats a mammal.

Cheap crap companies use salesmen, polish workers and frun like hell if anything goes wrong, as your home insurance will point out when it does.

Been there..done that…

Those tactics must work in a large number of cases. I often wonder at the point of cold-calling salespeople, because I would never buy something sold over the phone (except when I do, of course). But I doubt that they would continue doing it if they didn’t get a reasonable hit rate. Same with spammers.

But I hear so many stories about idiotic salespeople, from those that refuse to leave to those that refuse to accept “I’ll have to discuss it with my husband/wife/partner” as a valid reason for apparent indecision. I wonder whether the world separates into ‘people I know’ who won’t get bullied and ‘other people’ who succumb. Somehow, I suspect it’s not that straightforward.

In bygone ages I have fallen for sales’ spiel, although in my defence it has either been for trivial amounts, or I have taken advantage of the ‘cooling off’ period, or it has been for an ‘approved’ charity at a time when I have felt open to persuasion. My big repeated mistake is booking holidays with insufficient thought and research (and that’s without being sold at…!)

(Unsolicited advice and voice of experience speaking) You guys know what you want so you don’t need a “bathroom designer”.If you want a nice bathroom, talk to some plumbers. They’ll know how to hook you up. Find out if anybody near you can recommend a good plumber and go from there.

Debster says:

Sounds like Dolphin … I always ask for a price that will still be valid the following week.

Aah great! Something I’m qualified to comment on.

I’m probably repeating what others have said, bit just wanted to add my thoughts to this.
You will pay much more for a bathroom if you do a deal through a Salesman who visits from a showroom. The mark-up on the units is huge and they also make a huge profit on the fitting too (which is often sub-contracted out), so when they give their first quote, it’s way, way, WAY over the top. Unfortunately, some people fall for this first quote, sign the deal and wave the Salesman out the door as he is mentally booking his next holiday.
Often people like yourselves will challenge their price/quote and that’s when they bash away their calculators and amazingly cut the price down. If, after much number crunching, the Salesman thinks you’re on the verge of signing (but not quite there), he will do the “I’m gonna have to phone my Boss on this one. He’s not gonna like me calling him, but I need to get him to authorize any more discount. Now, you WILL sign the deal now if he agrees to something, wont you?” That’s his closing line, right there!

If you want the most cost effective way of changing the bathroom, then buy the suite yourself and get a plumber to fit it for you. Try to get at least 3 quotes on the job. Also make sure each plumber quotes for exactly the same job. That way you know exactly where you stand.
If you’re unsure of the ‘design’ then by all means get a Salesman down to measure up and give you a no-obligation quote. That way, you then have a much better idea of the ‘design’ when you get quotes from plumbers.

As you can probably tell, I could go on and on about this, but I’ll save your comments space. If you feel the need for some more advice though, feel free to contact me.

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