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Caveat Emptor – The 5 Tells of a Shady Home Improvement Salesperson

Home Improvement Sales People have a reputation somewhere between a Used Car Salesman and a Politician. Movies like Tin Men and Glen Gary Glenn Ross expose the chicanery that, unfortunately, is still practiced and taught. Choosing the right contractor based on the merit of his or hers sales pitch is like picking a leper with the most fingers.

Fortunately, the internet and sites such as Angie’s List, Google Reviews, and Guild Quality have made it easier to separate the Contractors from the Conmen. Yet there are still companies, despite having decent reviews that still practice the methodology of their suede shoe, plaid jacketed predecessors.

So how can you tell which salesperson is on the level? The due-diligence that’s been taught for ages says, ask for references, a number of years in business, inspect previous work and check the BBB. These are not bad steps but are by no means fool-proof. Regardless of how good a reputation a company has, their CEO, President or Owner, is not present to oversee their salespersons on every appointment.

Look for These Dead Giveaways

  • Insisting both the husband and wife are present for the estimate– This is referred to as Two Legs. It starts by the person who sets up the initial appointment. If they insist that both parties be present, buckle up and wear a crash helmet, because they aim to close you on the initial visit.
  • Length of presentation and demonstration– If their product demonstration lasts longer than 5-7 minutes, they are trying to build a perceived value that’s not really there.
  • Price Drop– If by the end of your time spent with them they start at one price and, through a series of fictional offers, lower the cost significantly, BEWARE!
  • Urgency– This is usually accompanied by a sudden drop in price, so if they tell you by placing your order today it will help them: fill the next truck, set a new company record, win them an award, qualify him/her for a sales contest or promotion, complete a larger commercial order that, lucky you, are being combined with, hence the “better” price. If the discounted price, special sale, or promotion ends that day, avoid it like the plague.  Chances are you’ll get a phone call in a couple days offering to extend the discount, and in most cases go even lower!  This leaves any rational person wondering, “What’s the REAL price”?
  • Failure to Itemize– If they are unwilling to provide a detailed quote, with line items of what each product and accessory costs, chance are there is something hidden they don’t want you to see, mainly, an excessive commissions. This includes sharing their measurements with you and how they derived at them.

Above all else, trust your gut feeling. If it’s telling you something’s not quite kosher, you’re probably right!

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