Don't bamboozle potential clients

The remodeler sitting across the dining room table from my wife and me a few weeks ago appeared nice enough. He was punctual, well-groomed, courteous, respectful and knowledgeable of the goods and services his company provides.

After complimenting my landscaping and remarking how tasty our next night’s dinner smelled boiling on the stove, he began the presentation we had requested. His performance included explanations of magazine clips that touted his company’s excellence, video testimonials on his smartphone and photographic comparisons of his projects versus the competition’s. He told us that his was one of the fastest-growing remodeling companies in the country. In fact, he said, it had set the all-time one-week sales record the prior week. “We’ve been so busy it has been hard to keep up with demand,” the remodeler told us. He finished by explaining the remodeling process and asked if we had any questions, which we didn’t at that time. He completed his proposal and slid it across the table.

Now, we are consumers who believe it’s OK to pay high prices for products that command them. Still, this remodeler’s proposal came with a price far higher than what we believed to be reasonable. We told him we weren’t ready to commit and that we’d get back to him after weighing this project against the other remodeling work we have been considering. He responded with a price reduction, to which we reminded him we needed more time, not a lower price.

This was the moment I sensed the nice-guy act ended and the sales-guy shtick began. His demeanor changed, and so did ours. Again he reduced the price to a level he said was good only until he walked out the door. Again we said we needed more time, at which point he dropped his price a third time. He also informed us of the tiny commission he would earn at that low price, even though we didn’t ask for that information.

Then came a story about needing to book work for his crew so they could collect a paycheck. I was expecting him to tell us about each crew member’s five hungry kids covered in flies they were too weak to swat away. This story, however, didn’t jive with the story he told minutes before about the record-setting company struggling to keep up with demand.

We struggled to determine which story was real and which was the true price. Then, my confusion turned to irritation that this once seemingly nice person was willing to charge us almost twice the price he settled on in the end. Not cool, man. Not cool.

When we said no for the tenth time, the sales shtick ended and back came the nice guy with a woe-is-me demeanor. As he slinked out the door, I envisioned him receiving 30 lashes upon entering the office the next morning for failing to close us in one sitting.

While my wife and I consider which remodeling project to tackle first, we know it certainly won’t be with a bamboozler like this. To be fair, this project involves the purchase of product and its installation; it’s not a full-scale remodel of our aging, outdated kitchen. Kitchen remodels aren’t closed in an hour at a dining room table. When we’re finally ready to move forward on the project we discussed at our dinner table, I expect a respected remodeler — like so many I’ve come to know in this industry — to treat us better than we were a few weeks ago.