Sale of the (previous) century

I never realised that if I wanted to replace the leaky, creaky windows in my house, I’d have to take a journey to 1975.

I called a respectable national windows brand to get a quote and a salesman duly arrived.  And so we rewound to a world of sales practises from a bye-gone age.  I almost felt nostalgic.  It took an hour and a half, but I’ll pick the highlights:

We were obliged to sit through a tedious video on window manufacturing, reminiscent of the kind of ‘Railways of Britain’ documentary that might have been aired if the test match was rained off.  Fifteen minutes of my life I won’t get back.

Prices were about to go up by 16% but we could beat the increase by signing today (hurry hurry, roll up, roll up)

The initial quote started at a ‘list price’ of £30,000.  Within two minutes it had become £16,000.  When we weren’t interested, it fell to £10,000.  Then “what price are you looking for?”

Somehow it is cheaper to borrow the money and pay in instalments than to pay cash.  Interesting business model.

“I’m going to give you a credit quote – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised”. “I don’t want credit, thank you”.  “I have to give you the quote”.  “I definitely don’t want credit”. “I’ll do the quote” “No really, I don’t want it”. “Here’s the quote…”  “La la la la, I can’t hear you”.

Presumably, people do sometimes buy, or the practise wouldn’t persist. I worked with windows companies in the 1990s and, even then, we looked on the quaint sales methods as being on borrowed time.  Clearly not.

We hear so much these days about transparency and trust, brands with a purpose and so on, it’s extraordinary that this industry has continued largely as it was for decades.  Zero trust, zero transparency, zero brand equity.  Just familiarity.

It felt as though I had gone to a car showroom and they had shown me a Ford Capri.  No, make that a Morris Marina.  Sold by Arthur Daley’s brother.

(And, before you ask……no I didn’t).


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