Conned 2 - part 2
About a week after my heating management system was installed, I was phoned by the man who
had actually got me to sign on the dotted line, Mike. He said they always had follow up visits to see how things were going, and asked was it convenient to come around that day, as he was in the area.
I liked Mike, so I was happy for him to come.
When he asked how things had gone, I gave him the full recital of the problems. How the men were not coming when expected, and how they came at inconvenient times, like arriving at 6 p.m. and staying until 10. I told him about everything that had gone wrong in detail. But I went to great lengths to say that they were all nice, friendly helpful men, and I knew that many of them were very overworked, and had long distances to travel.
Mike said he was pleased that I was so honest, and he was overjoyed, that despite the
problems, I was now happy with the system, which I agreed that I was.
“Did your daughter give you grief about buying it?” he asked.
“Oh yes,” I said, with a laugh.
“And what did you tell her?”
“That is was my money, and I could spend it as I wished.”
“You know, when I was here before,” Mike put in, “you mentioned something about wanting to invest some of your money and wondering what a good investment would be.”
“Yes,” I agreed that I had mentioned that to him. My thought at the time was investing directly in his company, but after looking them up on the internet, I found they weren't listed as being something people could invest in.
“Well,” he said, “my advice would always be to invest in solid things – rather than banks or building societies or the stock market. Things are going to be so unstable now with Brexit, and whatever you do, you shouldn't invest money in Europe.”
“What sorts of things do you mean, by solid things?”
“Well, take our thermodynamic system for instance. It is the up and coming thing. Did I tell you that all of the Costa Coffee companies across the world are using it now? And new houses are all being built with the system in place. Houses without it in the future won't sell so well. What a money savings feature it is – having 24 hour a day hot water, 365 days a year.”
“But I heat my water through the gas from the boiler and that works fine. I don't use that much water.”
“Just let me run though how much you actually do use, and we can work out how much the system would save you.”
So he went through how often I washed dishes and clothes, how many baths and showers I had,
etc. And as I knew it would, it didn't add up to very much.
“Well, you know when you talk about investments, the biggest thing you can invest in is your house. And when this house comes up for sale, if it is as energy efficient as possible, that will be a big selling feature.”
“Well, I know that it was listed as very energy efficient when I bought it, and I did think that was a good thing. And since then I have put in the solar panels, which should be a selling feature. Would you guarantee that I would get the cost of the installation of the thermodynamic system back if
I sold the house?”
“Oh, easily. You could immediately add £20,000 to the value of your house for that, just as you will be able to add a similar amount now for your central heating management system.”
“But I don't have a water tank.”
“We'd give you one. It is the least that we can do, with you being such a good customer.”
“How much would it cost?”
“What do you think?”
“Well, hopefully less that the other thing that I bought.”
“I will just work it out.” So Mike did some calculations, and spent five minutes or so writing down the various formulas.
“I think we could offer you the top discount. Normally you wouldn't quality for it, but I will give it to you anyway. I probably won't get into too much trouble for it.”
“That's kind of you.”
“And I think there would be no problem about your paying straight away. If you could make the down payment of 10%, then we could arrange for the rest to be paid at the end of next month when your investment matures.”
“And when would they do it?”
“Straight away. I could get Harry to come and do the inspection tomorrow, and then the team could come later in the week, and it would all be done by the weekend.”
“Well, I guess it will be okay. But first lets have a look where the system would go.”
So I showed him the spare bedroom with a big shower area. “I thought maybe it could fit in there.”
“Not really.” Mike said, “Of course it will be Harry's call, and he will make the decision about where it will fit best to be near enough the boiler and also the new solar panel. There will be no trouble with putting your panel on the roof.”
“You mean between the current solar panels on the south side.”
“Oh, no, not enough room there, but it can go on the north side.”
“But wouldn’t it be more useful with the greater sunshine?”
“It doesn't make that much difference.”
Then I showed him the cupboard which was in the spare bedroom. “Maybe it would fit in there.”
“Not nearly big enough.”
“Well, the only other place it could go is on the landing. I don't have a loft.”
So I took him upstairs and showed him the two bedrooms with their small en suite shower
“I think the best place would be here on the landing. You could probably connect to the water supply in one of the upstairs shower rooms, and it is just a short distance from where the solar panel would go.”
So I agreed, with the rough plans in place, and an appointment for Harry to come and deal with the fine details the next day. And I wrote another cheque.
Two things I think are worth mentioning here. Mike said, “You know since you are considering this as an investment mainly, I would suggest the more money you put into it, the greater your investment will be.”
I must have looked confused, because he quickly added, “Forget I said that. We'll just leave the financial details as they are.”
“How many of your customers actually pay the full cost?” I asked.
“One in three,” he answered, which might or might not have been honest, but it least it showed that he knew that I knew that a lot of what they said was part of the sales technique – and to my mind, misleading advertising. But at that moment in time, Mike was still on my good list, and I was still thinking I was doing the right thing.
“You won't be calling me to change your mind this time, will you?” he asked.
“Oh. no. I'm sure this is the right thing to do,” I said. What a fool I was.
Harry was the same engineer who had come to advise about the suitability of my boiler and radiators for the earlier project – the central heating management system update. He is a lovely man from Liverpool, and is the one person from their company who comes on time. He has a baby daughter who he had shown me pictures of with such pride on the last occasion he had visited. He was also the person who dealt with my “Big Smell” problem when it happened. He couldn't find any source
of the problem but he did come immediately and did his best to find anything that might be wrong. So he was definitely a good person in my mind.
Harry agreed with all that Mike had said, and we decided that landing was the best place. He was to order the water tank and he said that since my house had potential for four showers all being used at once, I should have the biggest water tank that would fit. And since it was a gift from the company, why not take the biggest gift. It made sense to me.
He thought that thebest route for the pipes from the new system to the old boiler in the kitchen would be diagonally across my bedroom. He said I would have to move all the furniture and lift the carpet before they came to install the system the next day or two. I agreed to do that.
I informed my daughters straight away what I was doing. They were less critical of this product, mainly because my more outspoken daughter has a solar panel for heating water on her house – and although it is a much earlier version, and only works when the sun shines, she did think that using the environment to help with energy costs was a sensible and good thing to do. The reports on the internet about this product were less critical that the ones for the other product, which at this time I was very happy with, so they didn't really offer me any strong opposition. I guess they felt that if I was going to spend all my money on energy saving products, well - there were worse things I
could be doing with it.