I agreed to a free estimate from this company at the recent Home Show. I was interested in having a table repaired/refinished. It is an antique and in fair shape.
The "estimator" told me the table was worth $6000! He also told me several other pieces of furniture I have are worth thousands of dollars, including a broken down dresser held together with velcro (really!). (I'm surprised he didn't think my IKEA bookcases were priceless). Throughout he kept complimenting my extraordinary taste, intelligence and creativity. He even complimented my cat :)
He presented an estimate of approximately $7900 to refinish the table, even more than he said it was worth! But he then almost immediately said that this might go up if unanticipated repairs were necessary, so he added some more to the total. When I hesitated, he offered me a bunch of discounts. Soon, the price was down to about $4800 with a 25% deposit payable immediately. These are approximations because he wouldn't give me a copy of his estimate!
I then told him that this was far more than I had expected, and I would have to think about it and discuss it with family. He became upset, even said he was "offended" that I thought the quote was too high. Then he said that if he walked out the door, the price would go up by at least $1000. I told him I was willing to take that risk.
This took him by surprise, and he said he'd have to call his boss. I said that he should go ahead and that he could have some privacy in the other room if he wished. He decided, instead, to make the call while sitting next to me and explained to his boss that I was unwilling to sign and wanted to talk it over with others.
The "boss" asked to speak with me, and he said with nervousness "she wants to talk to you". I said "fine" and could tell he was surprised that I wasn't intimidated by the "boss".
The "boss" turned out to be the same woman who had called to confirm the appointment, Tiziana. So, the boss is also the receptionist :) She was very curt with me, saying that I had misled them into thinking I did not have a significant other and that I could make financial decisions independently. Ignoring the sexism implied in that, I laughed at her and said I certainly do have a significant other but that I am also able to make decisions. And part of making a rational decision is to think it over when it involves so much money. She said that I had taken advantage of their offer of a "free" estimate by not agreeing to sign the contract.
The estimator expressed doubt that I could relay the info accurately to my husband. Afterall, I wouldn't have a copy of the estimate. He seemed unable to grasp that I didn't need my husband's approval (especially since I don't have a husband!). I told him I would simply copy his estimated numbers onto a piece of paper. He did not like this one bit again challenging my ability to accurately convey the information.
He suggested as an alternative that I sign the contract and then use the "cooling off" period if I wanted to change my mind. He continued to pressure me to sign and became increasingly frustrated when I stayed firm.
He only stopped when I said "I am not going to sign, no matter what you say, and you must stop pressuring me"
This company is a scam. There are about 40 complaints to the Better Business Bureau in the last three years. I am fortunate that their estimator was so over-the-top and their intimidation tactics so transparent that it was possible to see through them. Also, the amount they wanted was simply outrageous. Reading the horror stories here and on at least two other web-sites, I see how lucky I am.
Something should be done about this company. I hope those who have been taken advantage of will come together to raise awareness and protect other potential victims. I plan to let the organizers of the Home Show know, and I am going to also notify CBC Marketplace. It might make an interesting story for them. Links to this website will be provided.