/ Home & Energy

Don’t fall for double glazing sales tricks

Man fitting windows

Making massive discounts may be the oldest sales trick in the book – but it’s a tactic that’s still working for the double glazing industry. Is a straightforward quote really too much to ask for?

Given the choice, would you buy a bottle of wine for £4.99, or one that was marked as ‘reduced from £12.99 to £4.99 for today only’? The answer’s obvious to you and me, which is why salesmen use this sneaky tactic to push their products, whether it’s wine or new windows.

Given the double glazing industry’s bad reputation, we wanted to see what really happens when a salesperson visits your home. So we invited 18 reps from the biggest companies to call on our undercover researchers, and recorded their sales patter. We found that 15 of the 18 quoted a high initial price only to cut it dramatically – in many cases, by half. This would clearly leave you with the impression that you’d bagged a bargain.

But have you really bagged a bargain?

Everest offered huge discounts in four out of five of its visits to our undercover researchers – if they signed up on the spot. The biggest ‘saving’ was nearly £17,000. In one of the visits from Anglian, the salesman quoted a high initial price and then admitted, ‘Obviously, you don’t pay this…’ This conversation left us wondering whether anyone pays the first quoted price at all.

The effect of these smoke and mirrors is to leave customers bewildered about what a reasonable price is. And that’s before you take into account dodgy claims about ‘government scrappage scheme’ discounts, for schemes which don’t exist.

Both Anglian and Everest bandied around government funding for discounts, but there isn’t any. So listen out for these claims as they’re a giveaway that your rep isn’t telling the truth.

How to stay savvy

The tactics used by these big firms are the oldest tricks in the book. To stay savvy, go with a firm that’s been recommended by someone you trust, and get three quotes to compare. We recently heard from a customer who’d got the big companies in to quote for his double glazing job – they knocked thousands off their initial prices. But their final quotes were still far more than he ended up paying to a small company that was recommended to him.

We’re pleased to see that a new Double Glazing and Conservatory Ombudsman Scheme has been set up; it’s undoubtedly needed. Still, none of the big players have joined, so it’s a bit of a damp squib. Clearly, there needs to be more accountability for these dodgy sales tactics, so we’ve sent our findings to trading standards officers and asked them to investigate these firms.

Hopefully this will force these companies to understand that we’re not haggling over a bargain buy at the local market. Double glazing is a major investment, and they need to take it seriously.

Comments

its the nature of the beast. a good product does not need to discount. If there isn't, there should be a legal standard and de-cowboy the trade. otherwise always seek recomendations.

An 84 year old widowed relative fell for this and ordered a very small conservatory using their finance package. She got frightened then called on us to cancel, which we eventually did after a lot of hassle (even though the guidelines were followed to the letter) from a very rogue salesman. The repayments over 10 years (84 remember) came to over £30,000 for the tiniest little conservatory. These firms should insist that elderly people are accompanied by a family member during negotiations in order to safeguard themselves and the customer.

Sibbling says:
10 February 2013

Quite right too! wouldnt want the oldies enjoying their twilight years and spending all of your inherritance would we?

Clive says:
5 April 2013

Rubbish, mate! It’s a lot of stress for the elderly when they realise they’ve been had. My Dad went through a lot of trouble with Anglian, and the odd thing was, he only had 3 windows done! Had they done a good job, we’d have signed up for a lot more, the rest of the house! So who wins really?

I agree, past the age of 80 and they should have a young representative present, or there should be a limit on how much they can ask for and be charged. Of course it’s an accident waiting to happen, what with a cold, empty draughty house with just one old ‘un occupying it for body warmth.

David L says:
13 August 2010

We bought 3 UPVC windows and one door from Everest Windows. We obtained a 60% discount but we had to agree on the spot with the salesman. The person who responded to my original enquiry said a surveyor would call but we got a pushy salesman.

My view was that the salesman used every trick in the book to get us to sign. He implied that we might think we were not worth their products when I he saw me hesitating. He made claims for the products that the surveyor who called to check details said were incorrect and that we probably had a case for mis-selling. Incorrect claims included “front door stained glass window” included in original quote, windows strong enough not to need lintels and laminated glass included in quote. Also windows guaranteed for life whereas only the sealed units are. He did not accept that with 9 inch solid walls we would need trickle ventilation in the windows and eventually I had to pay extra for this. At no point did he check that the opening area of the windows matched the floor area of the rooms.

The Chief Executive did not answer a letter of complaint and when I told a customer manager that I had complained about her team and other matters she got the Chief exec’s office to refer the matter back to her. She sent her best team to install the products but when they arrived I discovered they had lost one window.

Their regional sales manager contacted me at one point but would not include trickle ventilation in the quote because I had got the discount normally reserved for staff. He did not think inclusion would be a suitable gesture for all the hassle I had experienced.

If you must ask them for a quote ask them after you had obtained other firm quotes. Ask exactly how their products are superior to others and ask for this in writing. If the salesman does not comply tell him or her that you will report this and or ask for another rep to call. Or even better tell them they are off your list. if you do succumb you have 7 days to cancel. This is written in very small light grey print on the reverse of pink paper that has your quote and signature to buy on the front.

[This post has been edited by moderators.]

Many of these Big Players are stuck in the trap of needing to sell at high prices, sales reps are self employed, as a result need to get a substantial commission to make a lkiving especially if only probably 1 sale per week is made, they allso often have a self employed manager who gets a commission on the sale, on top of this other managers, surveyors and installers get paid, many are on a poor basic with a bonus system.
As a result of using these out dated practices the price for double glazing and conservatories has to stay high. Many sales reps with a conscience would not even mention the ” book” price but do the best they can at the time and hope for the best.

josie says:
18 July 2011

thinking of useing safestyle windows could we have some feedback

We have Safestyle double glazing windows and a upvc stable back door with cat flap which they
supplied and fitted and we are more than pleased with the quality.

steve marley says:
2 July 2013

i would highly recommend you do not use safe style UK they tried to give me a high price and then the usual discount all i wanted was a quote and they started to become aggressive trying to push a sale i received a phone call off a manager from safe style saying that sales man had been conning people into paying high prices then the manager offered a £10 price reduction if we continued to use safe style . obviously i told him to *+*!$ off

maureen says:
21 July 2011

following comments about double glazing and conservatories I have to say that the same abysmal sales tactics apply when someone finds they are in desperate need of a stair lift Inevitably the individual who needs the stair lift will be in poor health and in desperate need of the item to be installed quickly. You have no idea what sales pressures are applied and the extrodinary prices that are quoted to transport the individual a few feet upward.I have to say the firms have no shame at all with with extrodinary claims of complicated engineering and specially made equipment. the whole thing is a massive rip off of the very vulnerable. After all the stair lift will not enhance the value or look of the property and the profit margins are huge why do they get away with it. There seems to be almost a cartel where the top firms are all “at it”

Reply to the article says:
14 February 2013

Reply to the article above, not the article you want to write about some company or issue that is not related.

Hi ‘Reply to the article’ – thanks for trying to keep the Convo on track, but we do welcome a range of comments on related subjects. We’ll keep an eye out for Convos that are going too far off-topic, so you can sit back and join in the discussion!

Disagree says:
28 March 2013

What is the point if conversations are not relevant.

yvonne says:
2 August 2011

Thinking of replacing old double glazing, some units of which have clouded and others which seem to let the wind through! Have Which ever done a quality survey of double glazing products and companies? How can I be sure I get A rated windows ? How can I be sure the new windows won’t mist up and are fitted proerly ? Is it important to buy windows made of virgin plastic. Any recommendations ?

I agree. This is an area of major expenditure to which many of us are being driven by ever increasing energy bills. It is high time that Which? did an authoritative survey of double glazed windows, their effectiveness, what characteristics are worth having and which not, and of the quality of fitting by the various installers. Using their on-line panel to evaluate who is recommended and who not, would be a good start.

The difference with recycled PVC (or non virgin) is that more stabilisers have to be used. These are used to bleach the PVC White (it is naturally off grey) and can be affected by sunlight. The stabilisers come to the surface as a pink, silvery grey or yellow discolouration. Have a look down your road at the doors and windows that are discoloured and you will see

duncan maclaren says:
23 August 2011

hi
just want a genuine quote for double glazing as mentioned previously all sales people start high then go lower i am getting sick of my time being wasted .just been told by a penicuik representative that i can save £4000 with the government window scrappage scheme and a 10% discount if we take this offer on the spot does anyone know of an honest straight talking double glazing company that operates in glasgow please !

Ex double glazing salesman, Everest do have the best windows but they are way too expensive. Any company quoting a rated windows can be checked out. http://www.bfrc.org. Look on there and put the
company name in and that will tell you which a rating they hold if any.
Always go on recommendations, so many companies (not just small ones) are going out of business
just now. Dont pay a deposit. And try not too touch their finance its way too expensive. Try the
company out with a couple of windows if you have to. You can fit a high quality window and get a
cowboy fitting it. So the installers are very important.

lynn says:
20 January 2012

Read all the reviews with great interest. I’m about to do a 3 bed/2 bay full house double glazing and the first quote I had was 29K down to 10K (with a promise of more discount). How can you compare the difference in quality? The windows look wonderful. Surely the small suppliers can’t go cheap with high quality windows? I am so confused.

Honest window man says:
16 March 2013

Please please do not fall for the big company BS. I work for a local window manufacturer in the Wilts, Hants, Dorset, Somerset and Berkshire areas and our windows are top quality. .We are very conciencous to ensurethat the customers get as much real info as possible so that their final decision is the right one . I go to customers houses , measure windows, doors,fascias and design conservatories , then take the sizes back to the office and send a quote/drawings a couple of days later. I pride myself that not one of my customers can way lay me in the street and say that I mislead them or overcharged them. In fact, many come back for other things again and again.Our prices are base on cost plus and are worked out to a fair and true final figure. It never fails to amaze me how many people ring me up and demand monster discounts!
I know there are other local companies out there with the same ethos as us ,so it is worth hunting them out! The local companies that have big adverts that advertise big sales and discounts etc are trying to play the big boy game (if you let them)and could be a bit iffy.

I dispair at the tactics used by the some in this business , especially ripping off vunerable elderly
people! One example: ten years ago.80yr old widow. two rear bedroom windows .Rear garden was totally enclosed by an eightfoot wall on two sides and thirty foot conifers to the rear.Our cost £750.inc vat. Her husband had believed the hype and had a national replace a front window two years previously, just before he died. She got the national company to quote and the rep told her that the local authority did annual aerial surveys and would see if she used another company and would make her replace it with theirs because it would have ”Ruined the architectural integrity of the building!!!!!” This was a bungalow built in the late seventies.

Scumbag charged this lady nearly £2000 !!!!

Dont fall for it!!
Rant over!!
Enough said!!

[Hello, please don’t type in capital letters as it sounds like you’re shouting. We’ve edited the caps out for you. Please read our commenting guidelines for more info. Thanks, Mods]

Honest window man says:
16 March 2013

I reckon you should look out a local firm and a fair cost would be around 6-7k. Dont pay more!!!good luck.

Failed Double Glazing Salesman says:
27 June 2014

Nice to hear that your company has scruples and is successful. Good luck to you

John says:
10 April 2012

Virgin plastic???

Lame sales patter… Plastic exists but I’ve get to find the former!

Gary says:
25 April 2012

Virgin grade uPVC is new plastic that has absolutely no recycled materials its untouched…hence the word virgin

David says:
1 May 2013

Yes Virgin as not manufactured with recycled windows that have already been exposed to the sun and turn pink / yellow eventually. The only company in the UK to manufacture virgin white extrusion (window frames) are in fact Anglian Home Improvements. The oter window companies normally import from abroad and that is made from recycled windows which you do not want.

Rob the builder says:
30 May 2013

Total crap, all extrusions is made of recycled PVCu this is part of the Kyoto agreement, you are a salesman this is one of their ploys. also white knight is a 62mm profiles industry standard is 70mm.

The Which? view is that triple glazing is not worth paying extra for. However Internorm are currently offering triple glazing at no extra cost so I am giving it serious consideration. However they will fit their new windows into the existing frame of my double hung sash windows. Anyone had new windows fitted this way? Any problems? Anyone got any suggestions as to how to improve the insulation of the now empty weight boxes?

Great windows but decided not to go with them in the end because the results, IMHO, would not look right because of bulky frame and hence less glass area.

An update with some answers to the question I posed “Anyone got any suggestions as to how to improve the insulation of the now empty weight boxes?”. It seems daft to leave them empty and thus forming a cold bridge.

After a bit of research I decided to go for a product called expanded Perlite from William Sinclair. This they describe as “Expanded Perlite is a white, ultra-lightweight aggregate ranging from a very fine powder to an aggregate with a particle size up to 6mm in size. It is inorganic, inert, neutral in pH, biologically stable and has no asbestos content. It has excellent thermal insulation properties over an extremely wide temperature range”.

Sounded ideal. Following a conversation with their technical guru we went for the powder version because he felt it would make pouring it through a proposed 10mm hole easier than using larger sizes. With hindsight a larger size would be better since the powder was so fine it leaches out of the tiniest crack.

Anyone found a better way?

Honest window man says:
16 March 2013

Are they going to fit just the glass units into your windows?? cos unless they use the exact same window profile as you already have ,i dont this is not going to work.

Rob the builder says:
30 May 2013

The industry standard is to make a 4 x 2 framework for the reaveal this leaves a 2″/3″ gap that can be filled with Rockwall/fiberglass insulation or expanding foam beware if you do use foam do it in stages.

Joe says:
17 May 2012

We had 3 quotes one from Anglian which came in at a crazy price, and 2 from local suppliers, the one we went for was MPN but this was based on recommendations as well as price, so shop around and do your research and you won’t go far wrong. Ask the firms to look at past installations so you can see the quality of their work as well

Keith Morriss says:
18 July 2012

The main reason i started Victory Windows & Conservatories was exactly as comments have been founded with the excessive and often rediculous pricing and sales methods. I was trained in sales with Anglian , served with everest as an installer and a service engineer with safestyle windows and just could not believe my eyes. Did you know that with the thousands of different companies the majority use one of the same upvc systems as offered by others.
I found these systems and i found the best manufacturers together with the most competitive pricing.

[Hello Keith, we have edited your comment as we don’t allow advertising on Which? Conversation. Thanks, mods.]

Colette says:
10 September 2012

Reading this all with interest as I am looking at replacing all my windows and doors. Had a rep from Anglican round yesterday and did get a lot of the patter here, including the reduction – down from 17000 to 6000! But with 7 days to book them, they wanted a deposit there and then but advised at that time I wanted to get at least 3 quotes, he badmouthed all the other companies out there (not surprisingly). Does anyone have some good recommendations for the Orpington/Bromley area?

Thanks

Colette

Andrea says:
24 April 2013

Hi Colette

I am in the same area and looking for a recommendation – who did you go with and were you happy?

Best wishes

Andrea

Janette says:
15 September 2012

Has anyone had any work done by Crystal windows based in Romford? Half price tactic was used

Keith Morriss says:
16 September 2012

I feel very sorry that customers are still being used with such tactics from these double glazing salesmen after all these years. It was one of the reasons i decided to run my own double glazing business and offer the very same upvc extrusions as everest used at the time ( Rehau upvc)

It sickened me to have to pitch the sale towards the finance packages..
If ever anybody needs an old fashioned customer service within this industry with a price to bring a smile to the face contact myself on

[Hello Keith, we have edited your comment as we don’t allow advertising on Which? Conversation. Thanks, mods.]

syedraf says:
16 September 2012

very disturbing all these comments. I wish to replace upvc windows that let in condensation and have no idea. both anglian and everest seem unsuitable and overpriced acording to these comments. do not know of others. any recommedations or is Which doing an article on these?

Rob the builder says:
30 May 2013

If you have bad condensation i would recommend a de-humidifier don’t go for the silly diy ones you can get for £50 quid go to a hire company with the room dimensions they will recommend the right size for you, run this for two weeks or as recommended and install some form of ventilation the building needs fresh air as much as we do?

I’ve had a couple of quotes for a new conservatory roof and back doors – it’s not a massive conservatory and the quotes are around £4000 – how am I to know whether this is a fair price? It’s very daunting!

Rob the builder says:
30 May 2013

Too cheap to me are they just suppling. the conservatory does it include the base.

suesu says:
14 October 2012

Crystal Windows and doors Ltd salespeople said they use nothing but virgin plastic for their windows but on the small print of the contract/guarantee they say not all their products use virgin plastic!