My daughters are currently furnishing two cottages they have bought close to us here. My younger daughter (YD for the purposes of this post) is sensible and pretty street-wise despite not having lived away from home before. However, nothing can really prepare you for the sharks that start to circle out there in the big wide world once they smell easy pickings.
YD had taken an afternoon’s holiday from work yesterday in order to meet up with the guy from a local blind supply/fitting company (BS for this post…which, I think, is an appropriate abbreviation in other ways). As the time after the appointment would be free, we thought we’d go along together and then do some window shopping for other bits at an out-of-town retail outlet. I try to make it a point not to stick my oar in on matters to do with her own home so when Mr BS turned up I said hello but then kept suitably schtoom. Cost is an issue here – obviously – but she would ideally like some plantation shutters. So far the one quote she’s had has been way over the top for a young couple just starting out (in the high hundreds of Pounds for just one window) but then those were hardwood shutters and we know other alternatives are available.
Mr BS said he is able to supply shutters in MDF – which for the unitiated is basically pressed cardboard and so has nothing like the staying power of hardwood. Still, for a first home that sounded ideal. She made what I think may have been the mistake of telling him the price that she had been quoted for the largest window by the first company, and when he measured the same window, almost without looking at his paperwork he came up with exactly the same price. I immediately smelled a rat and piped up:
‘Hang on, you’re quoting £xxx for this window…in MDF …which is basically pressed cardboard. You do know that the other company were quoting for solid wood shutters’.
I do believe there was micro expression of guilt there (yes, I too have watched ‘Lie to Me’ but I’ve always had a pretty good BS monitor anyway). YD glanced over at me with a knowing expression in her eyes and asked Mr BS how much hardwood shutters would be then. The answer was £30 more than MDF and she quite rightly said that on that basis it made little sense for anyone to go for MDF if they could afford to stretch just that £30 more.
He won’t be getting the business.
Just because I can be a bolshy so-and-so, I typed in the dimensions of the window at a UK suppliers’ internet site today and the quote it came up with (for MDF) was a little less than half the price quoted yesterday.
This isn’t the first instance I’ve noticed of traders being slick with someone they perceive as young and therefore inexperienced. Doubtless exactly the same was done to me at that age, which explains precisely why I am so cynical about anything to do with buying products and services for the home. I just wish there was a way of somehow downloading my wisdom and copying it over to my children.