Local businessman warns against illegal traders after Watchdog investigation
A Heathfield businessman has spoken out after watching a recent television programme that revealed the shady and illegal sales tactics used by some companies.
Mike Evans, who owns County – The Home Improvers said he was furious when he saw the way staff at Zenith Windows were operating and giving the home improvement industry a bad name.
He explains: “It’s unfortunate that the home improvements industry is tarred and besmirched by a small minority of companies who are prepared to forego their reputation in an attempt to make money. It’s exasperating for us at County, because we’ve built a reputation for being honest and reliable that stretches back to when our company was founded more than 37 years ago.”
Managing Director Mike Evans formed the company with his father in 1982 and still lives in the Heathfield area, so it’s not just the company’s reputation at stake but also Mike’s and his team’s personal reputations.
The recent BBC’s Watchdog investigation into Zenith Home Improvements made for some pretty hair-raising viewing says Mike: “The high-pressure sales techniques that were used are simply outrageous and are something that we train all our representatives NOT to use. In the long term they are simply counter-productive. Instead, our strategy is to be in business for a long time and make a fair profit over many years which allows us to support our clients after the sale and for future years.”
Mike stresses that County’s pricing structure is always simple and up-front and what his company’s quotes is what you’ll get billed. There is no fake phoning of “the manager” to achieve a miraculous discount or starting with sky-high pricing. County does however receive offers such as upgrades or seasonal discounts on certain products from the manufacturers who supply County’s range of 1,500 products. These discounts are passed on to customers.
Mike goes on to explain that because County supplies windows, doors, conservatories and orangeries from a wide range of manufacturers and using all possible materials, he can usually specify something to meet a customer’s exact requirements and give them a choice.
“We give a price match guarantee for any like-for-like specification from a similar company – we simply won’t be beaten on price. That’s why we don’t have to use high-pressure sales methods such as keeping you in a meeting for hours. Coupled with 10 and 20 year guarantees on our products and installation, we’re FENSA and GGF registered and are a credit broker for finance, on which we make no money for providing. These give our clients a comprehensive package and complete peace of mind.”
If you are considering home improvements, here are some tips from Mike:
- Make sure you are offered a choice of material and products
- Check the company is FENSA registered for installin in accordance with Buiding Regulations
- Check the company is GGF registered which means your deposit will be protected as will your installation for the full guarantee
- Make sure the company understand what you need and why you want make changes
- Choose a company that offers finance at cost; so this is not the main focus
- Choose a local company with a physical presence
- Ask to visit the company’s showroom
- Check the company’s financial history
- Make sure the fitters are trained and hold MTC certification
- Look for honest and transparent pricing
- And most importantly – don’t accept cold calls or a ‘hard sell’
To find out more about County’s history, reputation and how the company operates visit the “About Us” page on the website.