Consumer Advice FAQs - Conservatory Blinds Limited
Conservatory Blinds at Night

CONSUMER ADVICE FAQS

Click the questions to view the answers.

WHAT IS A DIRECT SALES COMPANY?

A Direct Sales Company markets and sells its products to consumers in their own homes without any retail premises. They use self-employed commission paid salesmen and blind fitters that are paid a percentage of any order.

We are NOT a Direct Sales Company.

You will often find that the salesmen working for Direct Sales Companies will take many hours to provide you with a quotation because they are following a structured presentation that is designed to coerce you into buying at the end.

They will verbally create the impression that their company and their products are the absolute best that money can buy. When they finally get to the point where they provide you with a price, it will often be vastly inflated so they can then deduct a huge discount if you “buy today” so that you feel that you are getting a bargain.

A direct sales person will try and stop you from seeing another company, either by tempting you to buy now, or by slandering other companies, but always by reasoning that “you cannot buy these blinds anywhere else”… which is fundamentally untrue.

The cost of establishing a Direct Sales business is tiny as you only need to provide sales kits to would-be salespeople. With Pay per Click web sites being a quick way to generate work, virtually anyone can set up a Direct Sales Company selling blinds… and if you check Companies House, you will find that is exactly what happens.

They recruit large numbers of people on an ongoing basis then train them for a week using a standard ‘syllabus’ so that they have basic product knowledge, a belief in the Company and a detailed script to follow for selling. Typically, a direct sales company will lose 90% of the people it recruits within the first year as they cannot succeed.

A Direct Sales Company relies completely on you gaining the impression that what they are selling is somehow completely unique and much better than anything else. When it comes to conservatory blinds, you will find that salesmen will have no option but to resort to deception and slander, because their products are not unique at all – they are readily available elsewhere.

When you buy from a Direct Sales Company you are paying a high percentage towards the commission of Telesales, the Salesman, his Sales Manager(s) and the people that actually carry out the work (blind fitters are also paid a commission).

If you pay too little then the person tasked with actually carrying out the work (the blind fitter) will be forced to do the job for a price that he cannot afford – often not enough to even cover his travelling costs. To prove the point, calculate what 5-10% of the nett value of their quotation, and you will have an idea of what the self-employed blind fitter will be paid to cover all of his costs:

  • Fuel and costs of owning a van
  • Vehicle Insurance
  • Tools and fixings
  • Phone (mobile and land-line)
  • Postage and general stationery overheads
  • Public Liability Insurance
  • Income Tax

Blind fitters typically have a minimum of 1 hour travelling between orders and they need to make a minimum of 2 visits (more if they have to return to repair/replace a blind) plus a minimum of 1-2 hours to carry out a survey and at least half a day to fit the blinds. So they can easily earn less than the minimum wage…

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR WHEN MAKING AN ENQUIRY?

If you are relying on the internet to find a conservatory blind company then you need be very careful. It costs very little to create a simple web site giving you the impression that you are dealing with an established specialist company, when you are not.

We provide extensive information about our company so that you can be sure that you are dealing with a genuine long-standing company that specialises only in conservatory blinds.

We also provide extensive feedback with over 1,400 customer reviews on our website and over 800 reviews on the independent site Checkatrade.

There really are very few genuine conservatory blind specialists in the UK. The vast majority of retailers you will find on the Internet are simply not experienced in conservatory blinds at all – despite what they may claim.

Always check a retailer’s background before contacting them. For instance:

  • Check Companies House to see how long they have been trading
  • Credit check them with any of the online credit check companies
  • Visit their premises to ensure it is a real business
  • Check to see if they are a member of the British Blind & Shutter Association
  • Ask to visit their factory (or at least establish that they categorically have one)
  • Always insist that you will want to see real blinds rather than just fabric samples
  • Insist on seeing images of real installations, not their supplier’s marketing photos
  • Ask whether it will be possible to see a real installation

If in doubt, don’t commit to anything without having everything in writing.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR WHEN HAVING A QUOTATION?

Having someone visit you to provide a quotation can be quite off-putting nowadays as there are so many desperate salesmen and people that haven’t got the slightest clue about conservatory blinds.

1. Always get a detailed written quotation – not just a price scribbled on the back of a business card or brochure.

2. Insist on seeing actual blinds – not just fabrics and understand exactly how they will look and fit in your conservatory.

3. There are enormous differences between conservatory blinds so inspect actual installation photographs, rather than marketing photos provided by a supplier.

4. Be sceptical of any verbal comments made by a salesman about other companies or the relative quality of their blinds.

5. Don’t rely on the claimed performance figures of blinds – despite what may be said, this is often grossly misleading.

6. Think through the process and confirm any vague points or omissions in writing before placing your order.

7. Never accept verbal reassurances as fact – always insist on a detailed written quotation.

8. Don’t be pressured into making a decision for fear of missing out on a “special price”.

9. Be very sceptical of salesmen who don’t seem to have any technical knowledge or are obviously being vague.

10. If you are in any doubt, don’t place an order with anyone – you can always change your mind later.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR WHEN COMPARING QUOTATIONS?

When comparing quotations between retailers you will often find huge differences in specification. Not only will the blinds and fabric differ between retailers, but most will only price for very large blinds covering multiple panes of roof glazing.

Of course the companies themselves will differ enormously too – from a large direct-sales company to a one-man band that just sells and then subcontracts everything out.

  1. Are you comparing the same quantity of blinds?
    Quite often you will find that you have no written record of the number of blinds or they have assumed very big blinds to keep the cost as low as possible.
  2. Are you comparing exactly the same blinds?
    This is nearly always not the case. Have you been shown actual blinds and real installation photos? You will often only be shown some fabrics and general “marketing photos”.
  3. Beware of quotations that are much cheaper than others.
    There is probably a good reason why. Check the retailer at Companies House to see how long a company has been trading. You can also purchase other information about the company.
  4. Check to see if a blind company is a member of the BBSA.
    If they are you can also see whether they are conservatory blind specialists or general blind retailers. Their web site or brochure (if they have one) should give you a good impression.
  5. Are they a real business?
    Many retailers claim to be established manufacturers when they actually buy blinds elsewhere and work from home. Ensure that you have the retailers true contact details rather than a “virtual office” address or just an “0845 number”. Search the Internet to see if the company’s true telephone number corresponds to the supposed address. You can even visually check addresses using aerial maps (e.g. Google maps) to see if they are a home-based business.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR AT SURVEY?

Once you have decided to place your order, the next step is a survey – and this is your last chance to ensure that you are happy with what has been ordered.

Use this check-list at survey, whoever you buy your blinds from:

  • Ensure that the surveyor is an employee and not a subcontactor
  • Check that this surveyor will be the same person that fits your blinds
  • Understand any changes made to the original speciifcation at survey
  • Establish exactly where and how your blinds will be fitted
  • Ask the surveyor to explain whether there will be any gaps left
  • Ask the surveyor to explain how the blinds will look when open/closed
  • Ask the surveyor to explain how to remove the blinds for cleaning
  • Ask what would happen if the installation does not meet the agreed criteria

Read more below about what to look out for at survey stage.

Firstly ensure that the surveyor will also be the person who fits the blinds so that you have continuity and can take him to task if he doesn’t do what he says he will do when it comes to installation. Here at Conservatory Blinds Limited we always endeavour to make sure that you are dealing with the same person at both survey and installation, but you also have a dedicated Contracts Manager in the office with whom you can communicate.

If the surveyor is having to change the layout and specification, or is discussing issues with you that were glossed over at point of sale, then be very wary. Always confirm any points in writing (or email) just to be sure of what has been said. Here at Conservatory Blinds Limited we rarely need to amend any details at survey unless the Installer finds a technical limitation in your property that was not apparent before.

Establish exactly where the blinds will be fitted and exactly what gaps you will get. Ask the surveyor to confirm what the blinds will look like when open/closed. Ask the surveyor to explain exactly how the blinds are removed for cleaning. Here at Conservatory Blinds Limited we always go through these details with you at survey so that you are fully aware of every possible detail.

If you are dealing with another company, be aware that you will almost certainly not have any basis for complaint once your blinds have been manufactured and fitted. At survey, double-check all of the key points made by the salesman that convinced you to go with this retailer so that you will not be disappointed at installation.

If you feel that there is a significant difference between what was claimed by the salesman and what is being stated by the surveyor then do not proceed and do not sign anything (many retailers have a clause that says once you have signed at survey you are fully liable). You can cancel your order if you have been misled.

DO YOU SELL FACTORY SECONDS OR FABRIC REJECTS?

No – we are aware that sales reps from a certain well-known competitor sometimes claim that we sell their “rejects” or “fabric seconds”, but we can absolutely guarantee that this is false.

We do not sell any form of inferior quality blinds or fabrics.

All of our blinds and fabrics can only be considered “top quality” – that is to say exactly the same as, or much better than any other blinds sold in the UK by any other retailer – bar none.

When speaking to salesmen, whoever they are and whatever they may say, for your own peace of mind, we would strongly advise you to always get written confirmation of any verbal claims. That will prove whether what they are saying is true or not.

ARE SAMPLE FABRICS EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE BLINDS?

Yes, any fabric sample that we provide will be representative of the type, range, colour and appearance of your finished blinds.

However all fabric samples, whoever you buy blinds from, will have been made from the available fabric batch at the time and so may not be absolutely identical in tone to your installation. The difference might be very slight, but it is unavoidable.

The colour will be the same (unless the manufacturer has changed it for some reason) but each fabric batch unavoidably differs very slightly (just like paint and wallpaper). The older the fabric samples are, the more the likely difference.

This is true of all fabrics supplied by any blind manufacturer.

If you are concerned about the exact tone of a fabric, request a sample of the specific batch from which your blinds will be made (if possible).

When considering colour, bear in mind that fabrics vary far more in appearance under different lighting conditions and when they are installed on the roof or the sides of a conservatory.

If buying end of batch fabrics, then there will be no variance if the sample has been cut from that exact batch.

WHY IS YOUR ADVICE DIFFERENT FROM ANOTHER COMPANY?

You will often find that our advice differs from other companies because they have salesmen with little or no actual experience, other than what they have been taught to say. They have rarely, if ever, even seen conservatory blinds being installed, quite apart from understanding what is being done and why.

They will always provide a quotation based on the cheapest options – using cheap discounted fabrics (quite different from the ones that they originally show) with oversized blinds (up to 2m wide) using a doubled-up layout, regardless of whether the blinds will look, operate or fit correctly.

Their sole task is to win as many orders as possible, which is completely unlike our approach. Because we aren’t a direct sales company we can train everyone individually over time so that they have a complete understanding which results in technically appropriate advice.

Like many “home improvement” industries you will unfortunately find that there are lots of “hard-sell” salesmen, as well as general blind retailers and online shops with no pedigree or real experience of conservatory blinds whatsoever. Their sole interest is that you place an order with them, irrespective of everything else.

You can often tell them because they will slander other companies. We regularly encounter the worst possible advice, conduct and bare-faced lies reported about other retailers – and it is no wonder that this sometimes puts people off from buying blinds at all.

Pay Per Click advertising on the Internet now allows anyone to establish a plausible looking web site for very little money. They can promise the earth for lower prices and unfortunately some people will fall prey to this.

After you have placed your order and the blinds have been manufactured there is very little recourse, especially as most retailers will have paid a blind company to make and fit them and so will be unable to do anything – even if they wanted to.

Our advice is to treat blind companies as you would a builder. Be very wary about “bargain prices” and always check their previous work first, rather than just looking at the marketing photographs that they show you, or trusting the word of a salesman.

Obviously not every blind retailer is like this and thankfully there are still good people whom you can trust, but this is far from everyone.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I PLACE AN ORDER WITH YOU?

Once you complete an order form and pay a deposit, they are scanned, emailed and posted to our Contracts Department so that we normally receive them within 1-2 working days.

We process your order and send you a confirmation letter, which you will normally receive within a week of placing your order. You can cancel your order up to a week after placing it, and receive a full refund.

Within this first week we also issue your order to our factory, to ensure that your selected fabric is reserved or, if necessary, is specially ordered.

Your installer will subsequently call you to arrange a date for your survey. We are unable to book specific times, but do suggest whether it would be an AM or PM appointment.

At survey your installer will go through your order with you in some depth, as well as measuring your conservatory in detail. He will point out any technical points that could be of interest to you and seek your preference over any aesthetic options. Your installer will also book your installation date with you at survey.

Your blinds are then manufactured to this survey and subsequently delivered to your installer by our own delivery vehicle, normally within 2-3 weeks. Over 95% of our orders are completed within estimated timescale.

After your blinds are installed your installer will talk you through their operation and care, as well as require you to sign a completion form and make due payment. If he has to return to refit a blind that requires alteration, he will book a return date with you there and then, but will still require a majority payment.

We also provide you with a Care & Maintenance pack that includes a detailed booklet, any relevant spares and silicone for any future care of your roof blinds, if you haven’t requested an Annual Maintenance Service.

After installation we will send you a completed invoice and, some weeks later, we also try to follow-up your installation and make sure that you are happy.

CAN I CANCEL MY ORDER?

Yes. In addition to your rights under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 we also offer customers the right to cancel their order at no cost, right up until the time that we have surveyed your conservatory and are ready to proceed to manufacture.

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 were introduced to protect people from unscrupulous selling and to ensure that adequate pre-contract information was provided – but when it comes to ordering a bespoke service, these regulations really only create a delay.

Most consumers do not want to wait at least 14+ days before their order is even processed, so businesses can offer consumers a waiver to this cancellation period. We include this waiver as standard (as indeed do all of the other national blind companies) because it is the only way to avoid lengthy delays to the process.

However, instead of removing the customer’s right to cancel altogether, we actually offer our customers an additional right to cancellation over and above existing consumer legislation…

In addition to your statutory consumer rights, our customers can cancel their order right up until the time that we complete the survey of their conservatory.

If there is anything that you are unhappy with at survey, you can cancel your order and receive a full refund.

We do this to offer true protection against any misinterpretation, misunderstanding or changes in circumstance, without any pressure, whilst still conforming to the Law.

If you wish to cancel your order after it has progressed to the manufacturing stage, you can still do so, but you will be liable for any costs/losses that we have incurred, because the blinds are completely bespoke to your conservatory and cannot be used elsewhere.

If you are paying the balance by Interest Free Credit you have up to 2 weeks to cancel your finance agreement, from the date of application. Rather than delay your order by a fortnight before we even survey your property, we will continue as normal (unless you choose to delay the survey) or otherwise may be liable for any costs incurred if you subsequently cancel your order.

Please refer to our Conditions of Sale and Your Right to Cancel within your contract documents.

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