I often don't sleep well. There is nothing wrong with me physically to prevent it, but I do spend a lot of my life worrying about things that have happened, things that might happen, things that I would like to happen but probably will never do. You get the idea. So getting up at 4 a.m to use the computer, is a common occurrence.
I had spent my eight hours of not sleeping time deciding that I would make use of the 30 day get out clause in the contract I had signed. But I couldn't very well call my nice selling man too early, so I had to fill in my time getting some research done, which I should have done the night before.
First of all, I looked on the company's website. It was well done, interesting, and very convincing. And there were loads of positive feedback stories from happy customers. Then I googled the company and was amazed that the first thing on the list (showing it was the most googled) were
stories about people who weren't so happy. I read them all. Some people felt the claims the company made were extravagant, and they had been reported to a standards agency, and told to moderate their claims, which they now were doing. Many complained about the forced speed of buying and getting the product installed, which had worried me too. Some talked about conversations between the person and the boss, about the inevitable deal. That was when the penny dropped for me that maybe I wasn't in fact getting a bargain after all. Some talked about how long it took for complaints to be dealt with once the product had been installed. On and on it went. There were probably at least 50 negative comments. To be honest, if I had read those the night before, I would not have agreed to have the system. So that made me even more sure that I was doing the right thing to back out of the deal.
There were some positive comments, not those taken up by the product's website, which seemed to show that some people were happy with their purchase. The main ones seemed to be that their warmth and savings were obvious and apparent very quickly.
Eventually quarter to nine came, and I called the personal number I had been given. I did feel bad to have to tell him that I was backing out, but I said that I couldn't afford it. There were background noises of his family having breakfast and the kids getting ready for school. He obviously couldn't talk, but he said he would ring his boss, and they would contact me, because I would have to sign a form to say that I was withdrawing from the contract.
Not half an hour later, my phone rang, and a woman confirmed the details with me, and again, she didn't argue or fuss at all. She said someone from the office would be with me, and when I said 1 pm would suit me, she made the appointment. The person involved later called and got directions and confirmed that he would be with me promptly at 1.
And he was. This was the second in command I think. The lady who dealt out the bargains was the big boss. But he was a good looking middle aged man, not in the slightest rushed in his approach or giving me any reason to fear that he would not deal fairly with me.
He came in, sat down, and I made him a drink. We chatted a bit about his company, and I told him that I had been very impressed with the man who had come the day before, and wanted to assure him that my backing out had nothing to do with the way he had conducted the business. This man told me a bit about how the company works – how they are building up slowly but are progressing through the country, and getting busier all the time.
"I just wanted to withdraw my signed contract," I insisted. The guy started putting some figures down on a piece of paper, and asked me the same sorts of questions about my usage of heat and my bills, and so on. I told him that his energy specialist (they don't use the word salesman) had
been very thorough and had gone through it all with me. He had been very convinced that I would benefit from the system, and I didn't doubt it.
“So,” he said, “you aren't averse to the product, and you would like it. So what is the real problem?”
“I don't like to be rushed into making a decision. I want time to research the thing, to consult with my daughters, to think it over. I'm not saying I might not buy your product in a few months's time, but I don't want to be pressured into doing it now.”
“Are you saying our man put pressure on you?”
“Oh, no, not at all. I wanted to buy it, but I didn't like the time factor being forced, not so much by him, but by your promotion only being on offer if I bought and had the product installed immediately.”
“I must admit that I very much want you to continue with purchasing this product,” he said.”If you don't continue, I will have to divert somebody back up here, to try to find somebody else from this postal code to take up the offer. This isn't our money that is being offered, but the environmental group that subsidises these things has rules and if we don't get takers for the ones in this area, that potential money will be lost for good. And that is why I have come all this way to see you, and to see what I can do to get you to change your mind. What if the price came down a bit more?”
“Oh, I would certainly be interested in hearing about that,” I said, never quite giving up on this being a bargain.
“And what if I said you didn't have to pay it all up front, but could do it in installments?”
“That would help a lot,” I agreed.
So we talked and all went well, and as he went out the door an hour later, I was still the not very proud owner of a new heating system. Did I believe him? Yes I did. Do I still believe him now? Not a bit of it.
When I had initially agreed the day before, the wheels had been set in motion for a man to come to do a survey of my house to make sure the boiler and radiators were up to the job. Interestingly, he called me at half past twelve to say he would arrive at 1 – and I was confused, for surely his boss would have told him that I had cancelled. But knowing their record of dealing with stupid women like me, they must have been pretty sure that they would be able to change my mind. So the surveyor was recalled and he agreed to come to do the job later that afternoon.
His job was not so detailed. He took photos of the boiler and the radiators, and made a floor plan, and scanned and sent it off by his phone. So the paper work was minimal – just a sheet for me to sign saying he had arrived and done the job satisfactorily.
But now I had a big job to do myself. I had to email my daughters and tell them what I had done. I had considered keeping it a secret from them until it was complete, but decided that I would be the adult that I should be, and take responsibility for my decision, as it was my money, and if I wasted it, that was my right to do so.
So I started my letter by telling them to look at the company's website – and how convinced I was that it was a worthy product. I told them that I knew there were negative comments, but so far I had not had anything promised me that was outrageous and I told them I had got a good deal.
I anticipated strife, but one daughter was supportive, although I was pretty sure from her comments that she thought I was wasting my money. The other daughter was very worried about it. She and her husband spend hours on the internet finding reasons for me to change my mind. I told them I appreciated their research, and yet I was determined to go ahead. I half think that if they had been
less negative, I might have been more willing to withdraw again – but I was determined that I wasn't going to be treated like the child in this relationship.
This was now Friday, and I had to get together some money from various sources to pay the
installment that was due on Sunday, after the work was completed. I have a savings account where I had been accumulating money to bring my son and his family back here to visit – but that wouldn't be needed for another year. I took as much as I could out in cash, and the rest as a cheque. Then I went to my main bank, and also paid in a cheque from another bank, where a certain amount of money had accumulated over time. And then I knew I had some credit left on my one and only credit card. So I felt well content with my progress to date, and the work would begin the next day.