Friday, May 3, 2013

"Preamble (Hoping For No Subsequent 'Amble' But Fearing Its Inevitability"

I am jerked awake about three in the morning, too jumpy to sleep anymore. 

There’s a battle looming. 

I hope I am up to it.

With the imminent advent of summer, we ponder fencing off our swimming pool to protect Baby Milo from watery endangerment.  Is a pool fence necessary?  Well, as a wise man once observed, “Some does, and some doesn’t.”  It’s an individual decision.  A decision which was now ours.

One morning, I am informed that appointments had been made for representatives from two pool fence companies who will come by the house and make pitches for their competing services.  Our first “fence rep” is Rich – young, knowledgeable, ingratiating but below unctuous. 

Rich explains the uniqueness of his company’s approach.  We kind of like what we’re hearing.  Though, when he mentions that holes will have to be drilled in the pool’s surrounding brickwork, our enthusiasm flickers.   Still, we remain determinedly in the game.

Later, I am alone with Rich.  He offers me a paper to sign.  When I ask what it’s about, Rich explains that my signature in no way confirms the hiring of his company.  It simply acknowledges my understanding and acceptance of the estimate.

I sign the paper.

Rich casually mentions a “start date”, as well as a two hundred dollar deposit.  I respond amenably to the “start date” without committing to a “start date”, but I am unwilling to pay any deposit. 

I explain, a little uncomfortably because I’m a writer not an adult that – full disclosure – another fence company rep would be by later to make their pitch.  It would therefore be inappropriate to make a deposit or confirm a “start date”, as, having seen only one presentation – Rich’s – we had yet to determine which company we would go with.    

Rich asserts he is okay with no deposit, saying he will call me later in the day, to hear our decision.  We shake hands, and Rich takes off. 

(Rich does not call later in the day, nor do we ever hear from him again.)

An hour or so later, the second fence company rep, Mike, arrives, does his – as they call it in television – “dog and pony” show.  And that, altogether, was that. 

We make no decision that day, nor on the subsequent days thereafter.  If anything, we are leaning steadily in the direction of, “No fence – mucho watchfulness.”

Two weeks later, there’s a message from Rich’s company our voicemail, informing us that, on the following morning, their workpeople will be arriving to install our pool fence.

A fence we were certain we had never ordered. 

Subsequent to the voice message, I race to find the piece of paper.  The one I was told confirmed my understanding and acceptance of the estimate.  On closer scrutiny, I discover these words:

“I agree to the Terms and Conditions and I hereby authorize the installation of (company’s name) Pool Fence as in the above illustration.  I grant your employees and installers permission to access my property for the purpose of installing said fence.”

It seems I had been deliberately misled.  Though assured otherwise, I had signed an authorization.  They were installing the pool fence we had never ordered in the morning.

There’s a battle looming.

I hope I am up to it.

(Though I’m really hoping it just goes away.)


Mac said...

Saddle up, Earl. It's fraud. Not hard selling or overly-manipulative technique, just fraud. The guy told you something that wasn't true. If I was you, I'd let them know you're going to sing their name from every rooftop while detailing the fraudulent technique - let them know they're going to get a tonne of bad publicity and ask them if one job is worth it.

In the end it's your word against his, and he's a salesman doing a pitch - who do you think they're going to believe? Do not go quietly into that contractual obligation. Make a lot of noise. Good luck.

Keith said...

"Thanks. I'll read it later." That's what I say even when I desperately want to sign the papers and get things moving, because I like to get a second opinion from myself when I'm in a different state of mind.

JED said...

I know you probably blame yourself for not reading the paper before signing it - and that's what he is depending on. If everyone read all the papers they were signing, there would be no time for anything else. He fooled you once, Earl. Don't let him fool you again by playing on your (if I've gained anything from reading your blog for years) guilt. Your only mistake was trusting him. Would you now trust him to put up a good fence? I'd hate to think that you might take your eyes off Milo for a second with only this guy's fence between him and the pool.

Mark Clemens said...

He did it to you, he's certainly done it to others. I imagine you can easily find a butt-load of complaints against him/company, on-line. It'll probably be easier than you think to make it go away.

I'm sure lots of us have been duped - lied to - by various sales reps, which doesn't ease things a whole lot for you today. But I'm sure you have the wherewithal to make this go away and if necessary, make things very difficult for said fence company.