Consumer Report
St Helens Glass
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The 'windows phone call & aftermath' Experience
   - it's truly exhausting!

alternatively :
The Windows Experience or "We were expecting to get some estimates, not the Spanish bloody Inquisition!"

The Verdict : 2006/12/16
St Helens Glass is a time-waster. They offered us quotations good for 12 months but after a week, 5 phone calls, a visit from a salesman and after giving them about 3 hours of our time, we have nothing to show for it.
   No quotations, no brochure with details of the styles of windows available, no phone number to contact them, no nothing!

Saturday December 9th, morning
Phone call from Anglian Home Improvements (one of the routine cold calls) offering quotes for windows which would remain good for 1 year. By chance, we had been discussing pricing some new windows, so expressed interest. They tried to get a same-day or Sunday appointment but settled for 3 pm on Monday. Insisted that the home owner be present.

Sunday December 10th
Phone call from AHI to confirm the appointment. They were told we just wanted quotations.

Monday December 11th, morning
Another phone call to confirm the appointment, another restatement of the fact that we were just looking for quotations.

3:15 p.m.
A bloke from St Helens Glass arrived to do the measuring and estimates. By 4:30 pm, we were feeling drowned in technical information and the bloke was only just getting round to calculating the cost of the windows from his chart. The total price for 5 windows came to about four and a half thousand pounds. Then he started talking discounts for doing the job to their convenience.

Although we had said repeatedly that we were interested only in estimates, we realized that the bloke was talking about getting a surveyor round 'in the next 48 hours', installing the windows on January 17th, knocking a grand off the price and wanting a 10 deposit to seal the deal.

By the time he left, at 5:05 p.m., we were feeling quite exhausted from the effort of telling him we wanted to know the prices and have a think about how many windows we wanted to have installed (all at once or two then the remaining three), and it was too soon to think about signing any sort of deal.

At one point, the salesman was asking if we would sign up if he were to offer the job of £1,000. Is this some sort of sales trick? "See it's only the price we're arguing about and you were lying to me when you said you weren't ready to place an order."
   We never found out as we were feeling too weary to get into an argument or do anything other than point out that all we were interested in was the promised estimates.

Conclusion: It's clear now why they want the home owner present when their bloke calls; it's so the salesman can take a shot at talking the home owner into signing up on the spot rather than just providing what the customer wants – an estimate and an opportunity to think about the timing of the installation and how many windows to do (all at once or phased).
   Getting estimates from other companies was also in the plan, but that's not likely to happen until we have recovered from the St Helens Glass experience!
   But at least we know what to expect next time. (If there is one!)

A Price Comparison
In 1996, a relative's whole house was done for £3,000, and that included new front and back doors in addition to a full set of windows. The job took 2 days to complete.
   It would seem that there is no 'going rate' for double glazing. The price seems to be whatever the company is able to extract from the client.

Tuesday December 12th 8 p.m.
A phone call from St Helens Glass to ask how we got on with their estimator. The bloke on the phone seemed quite surprised to hear that the salesman had called only the day before. Told him we weren't thrilled that the bloke had stayed for 2 hours.

As I should have told him, "We were expecting to get some quotations, not the Spanish bloody Inquisition!" Added that we were still waiting to receive the quotations and we had no plans to make any decisions until that happened.

Added that we were rather drowned in technical information, certainly much more than we could possible take in, and we were left in no state to take an intelligent and informed decision. (Which is the definition of the state of the potential customer after a classic high-pressure sales pitch.)

Thinking about the Windows Experience afterwards :
Came to the conclusion that we had heard rather a lot about doing things for the convenience of the company and there had been rather too little consideration for the wishes and convenience of the potential customer. They had sent a salesman rather than an estimator, and he had tried to push us into signing up at an off-putting rate.

We had stated several times that all we were interested in, two days on from the cold call, was estimates. But we were left with the impression that no one had listened to what we had been saying.

We came out of the experience with the feeling that we didn't want to hear any more about windows in the immediate future.

Wednesday 13th December, morning.
Another phone call from St Helens Glass, the Trade Department this time. The lady rang looking for business and she was rather dismayed to hear that we had not been left with written quotations on Monday.
   Apparently, it's not company practice to send out quotations by post, they should be delivered by the man on the spot. I said I hope this guy sends us some, otherwise he's wasted a couple of hours of our time.

Told the lady I was unable to tell her if I thought the quotation were reasonable as I didn't actually have any information other than what I could remember, and I had no other quotations with which to compare them.
   She was even more dismayed to hear that I didn't remember the estimator's name, and I couldn't ring him on his mobile, because he hadn't left a business card. In fact, he had left us with absolutely no documents at all. So the lady said she'd get in touch with the department concerned and find out what's going on.

On later reflection, I realized that we didn't even have the number of St Helens Glass, so we couldn't ring them to tell them to go ahead even if we'd had a sudden rush of cash and enthusiasm!

2007

Tuesday 09th January, morning.
Another cold call from the St Helens Glass call centre and a bloke telling us their people are in the area and would we like a 50% off quotation valid for a year? I told him what we'd really like is the quotations from the bloke who was here last month, not another visit.
   I suggested that they get hold of the quotes from last month, knock 50% off and pass them on to us.
   The bloke on the phone said he'd try and get that done. But I'm not holding my breath.
   There was actually a follow-up phone call about a quarter of an hour later. The young lady admitted there was no way to track down the bloke who visited us last month and that they've had a lot of people leave. The best she could offer was another bloke with a measuring tape and the 50% offers tomorrow. But we felt we'd had quite enough of St Helens Glass for the moment.

March The latest news about St. Helens Glass is that the company has gone bust; which is sad for the people working there. But we're certainly glad we didn't get involved with them.

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