Would you go into a supermarket, leave with a trolly full of food, and then tell the cashier that you’ll pop back in a few days to pay for it? Would you book a holiday, and just before you step on the plane tell the holiday company that you’ll come back into store to pay for it once you’ve come back? If you’re buying a car outright would you drive off in the car and then come back to the dealership later on to pay for it?
The answer to all those questions is no. The answer to all those questions is that you have to pay for them all before you leave with them. So why is it then that when it comes to windows and doors, home owners are able to pay a small deposit and then are able to wait until after their windows and doors have been installed to pay their final balance.
In 2017, when pre-payment is taken for so many other things, this is ridiculous.
I’ll move onto the pitfalls for installers in a moment. But take a look at other big ticket industries. Cars, kitchen, bathrooms, holidays etc. Unless you’re paying for the first three on finance, all of these sorts of big ticket purchases require the buyer to pay their full balance prior to receiving their products or going on holiday. It makes perfect sense. Why would a car dealership, who is selling a car to a customer who is buying it outright, let them drive out of the forecourt with their car without payment? They wouldn’t.
Yet, when it comes to windows and doors, installers are still only taking a deposit upon signing of contracts and only taking final payment of the balance once all the work is completed. There are so many other purchases we all make in this world, but as installers we put ourselves at such risk and disadvantage by doing it the way we do.
This form of payment method is so outdated. Consider the context of the world we live in right now. Everything is expected to be instant, whether you’re buying or selling. So against that backdrop, this archaic characteristic of our industry seems so out of place.
This isn’t the main issue though. My main issue is the severe lack of protection installers have against rogue customers.
No protection for installers
I feel quite strongly on this, and I will be blunt, there are more and more customers out there deliberately looking to screw companies over. It’s getting worse, and this year I feel had been particularly bad.
Over the past couple of weeks I have had private conversations with installer friends of mine who have told me of situations with their clients which have left me to believe that there is a growing number of people out there taking advantage of hard working installers, who then seek to shirk paying off their large final balances by whatever means necessary. Be it last minute snagging lists, claims of mis-information, faults where there aren’t any. In the meantime, they have a house full of new windows and doors and the installer is missing thousands of pounds in their bank account.
How is that fair? Unless it’s on finance, most window and door contracts are signed up with a deposit taken upon signature and then a final balance to be paid once the work has been completed. Some take stage payments, but even then there is a balance to pay at the end. This leaves the installer wide open to abuse from what I believe is a growing number of dishonest and rogue home owners who know exactly what the situation is and will actively try to wriggle out of paying. This is where I feel we should all be looking at how we take payment from home owners.
In a future post I am going to expand on this next point much further, but the new consumer protection laws that came into force a couple of years ago hand every bit of power over to the consumer, so much so that if a rogue customer has the inclination, time and energy to do so, makes it incredibly easy for them to abuse good, honest companies and hit them in their pockets. That is a post or two in itself, and I am going to get into the nitty gritty and the specific wording of those laws because I believe that this is going to become a very serious issue for many high quality companies. I have looked into it recently and as far as I read it, installers have pretty much no protection.
It really is time to change the way installers take payment from customers. Very few industries do it the way we do it, and for good reason. Given the often very high values that are exchanged in our own industry, doesn’t it make fiscal sense to start taking full payment up front either before the job starts or at least on the first day of the work? Some may argue that consumers need those rights and that protection against rogue companies. Well I would argue that the absolute raft of consumer laws out there right now, coupled with in-built protection with things like credit cards and finance agreements, that is less of an issue these days.
I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts on this matter. Is it getting worse out there? Do window and door installers need more protection from rogue customers? Is it time we changed the way we get paid? Please leave your comments and thoughts in the section below.
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