How to spot high pressure selling of home improvements

A photo of a salesman

There is much talk nowadays about ethical selling of home improvements.

Mainly national companies are to blame, coupled with sheer greed, to make as many sales as possible, no matter what the cost or consequences.

NPA prides itself of the highest quality of materials and workmanship, and the most ethical and honest way of doing business. We invite you to read the following information.

Consumers are now more and more aware of their rights and have more access to information in order to make good decisions.

So how do you avoid making a bad decision when it comes to choosing a wall coating company to work on your house?

 High pressure sales people

Here’s a few tips to get you started.

A concerned consumer writes:

I had one wall coating company around (not NPA though, don’t worry! LOL!), and they gave me one price, then said later on in their sales pitch, that I could have it cheaper if I agreed to be a show home? What’s the truth in that? It seemed a con to get me to sign up with them.


The show home close



Absolutely no truth at all, don’t fall for it.

They will give you a massively inflated price, that you couldn’t possibly afford, but as they have built in the desire into their sales pitch, they will offer it to you cheaper, but you have to agree to do something, often signing up on the day they are there, so you don’t “miss out”.

Utter rubbish.

If you called them back the next day they will still offer it to you for the second lower price as they want your business, mark my words. (as if they would turn away business!) . This is also used in other industries like kitchens, double glazed windows, conservatories, bathrooms etc.

Many will say that you can be a referrer home and they will say that they estimate that 10 properties will be done from just having your home wall coated and their advert board outside or in the window, and as such, they are prepared to offer you a discount now as they KNOW that they will get more work out of doing your home, and they make you feel that YOU are doing THEM a favour! Once again, this is utter nonsense.

This is offered to everyone, they are not doing you a favour, they are trying to hard sell you a textured coating, and is built into their sales pitch. While what they are saying to you may seem natural, it is not, it is very carefully worded to get you to buy from them. Of course it usually conditional on you signing up with them on the day, without any time to think about it.

Also be careful of people showing you a sales video from the 1980’s, which is hopelessly out of date, and was originally produced by a company who have now ceased trading. It is quite laughable to watch just for the hairstyles of the time!

This video was also featured in BBC1That’s life with Esther Rantzen in 1989 exposing the same dodgy sales tactics that were recently shown on BBC1 Rogue traders (sept 2006) . The author estimates, that you will see another company appear on a similar show in the next 10 years! (maybe sooner?)


high pressure selling the hard sellAnother tactic, although not as rubbish and a bit more credible, is that they will put an advertising board outside your home when the work is finished, displaying their products and contact details and what their coating system can do to a house to encourage others to buy, and as such, they would be prepared to offer you a generous discount as they will get more sales from that!

While this method does work to a certain degree, its not much good if you live in a cul de sac, or a country lane!

The board “drop” close

While it is good practice to display a board outside where you are working, as other trades do like scaffolders, builders, carpenters etc, it should not be offered as some huge incentive to sign on the day before you have thought about it, nor should it be a reason to drop up to a third off the price, as they have given you a higher price to start with. My advice is be wary, and by all means listen to what a wall coating salesperson has to say, but take some of it with a pinch of salt, and always get 3 prices.

“AAAAAAARGH! Why dont these home improvement companies, just come to my house, show me what they offer, and then give me the price! ONE PRICE. THE PRICE THAT THE PRODUCT COSTS. It’s not rocket science is it?”

In most cases, THEY WANT YOUR MONEY AS THEY WANT THEIR COMMISSION. If you pay £10,000 for a large wall coating job, they often get about another thousand pounds of that in their pocket! Just for being in your home for up to 4 hours! Nice work eh?

The finance house pays them this, as it will eventually come out of your pocket in the interest you will have to pay.

Our jobs are all quoted and sold by a qualified person, with years of experience, NOT a salesman. From when the person arrives, to when they leave should take no more than 1 hour, hour and half maximum! Be wary of the above methods.

There are some smaller family run coating firms who do not do this though, and have very high standards indeed, so I have to say that as I dont wish to tar everyone with the same brush!

Sounds scary! So what other methods do they use to get my money?

The commercial close

(Close as in “close” a door etc.)

The wall coating salesman (or woman, but usually a man, they dont have feelings you see !))…….. gives you a price, you say no, its too high, they then go in with one of the methods above, but they still dont get you to sign the contract, so they come up with the Commercial close and it goes like this:

Well, Mrs (name), I can see that you really need a coating DON’T YOU?

(that’s a close), We agreed that DIDN’T WE? (another close)

and you said you like it DIDN’T YOU? (another high pressure close)

………and you said you would be happy to deal with our company DIDN’T YOU? (That’s another close there, getting the prospective customer to say yes all the time), Well, I’ll tell you what, I will do you a favour (OH YEAH?!), I have a friend in the commercial department, someone who normally looks after the crews who do hotels and factories. Well one of their teams is free for a couple of weeks while they wait for a contract to come online.

Rather than having them stand around, I could get them on this job, which means I could do it for cheaper (THAT’S THE LAST RESORT CLOSE), if you will place an order with us today.

What do you think Mrs customer?

(Now the pressure is really on you)

If you still wont sign, they get out the Ultra last resort, which although they will get a lower commission, its better than nothing at all.

They continue with ……….”OK, well I can see you really want it (blah blah blah, all the closes come back again, they are trying to get you to say YES all the time), what would it take to get your business with me today?

This is about the time that your resolve should be the strongest and dont give in, show them the door. If they refuse to leave, call the police. The editor of this site has had reports from consumers to say that is what they had to do. Exterior wall coatings and other home improvements such as roof insulation, roof coatings, conservatories, are great products and as such they should not be sold in the above way. If someone doesn’t want it, why try and convince them? Greed!

The reverse close and the cash back close

Can take many forms. A typical one is a cheeky salesmen who upon being told absolutely no way, can you leave, they will try and stay by telling you what you wont get. So Well, I can see there’s nothing more for me to do, but while I am here, let me just run through what you wont get

Also the cashback close on finance blinds you with numbers, they don’t tell you the APR or total value of finance, and use very confusing terminology and forms. All you can hear is £20 a week, which is nothing is it?. Also when selling you finance, they tempt you with an offer of them giving you money back if you place an order on their home improvement plan

What this actually is, is them bumping up the value of the finance product they are selling you. So a 10 grand loan becomes a 12 grand loan, and you get 2 grand back. Dont worry, the cash you get, you will repay over a large number of years, costing you a small fortune in the end. Dont be greedy yourself. If you cant afford it, don’t buy it.

A list of “closes” to listen for when a wall coating or double glazing salesman comes to your home

(A CLOSE (as in close a door), is specially worded language that gets you to agree with what they say, and ultimately, to close the deal.)

  • So you like it?
  • Do you agree?
  • That’s right isn’t it?
  • You can see that can’t you?
  • You would daft not to agree with that wouldn’t you?
  • So if we could give you the cashback to spend on what you like, you would be happy to go ahead today is that right?
  • Looks good doesn’t it?
  • Sounds great I am sure you agree, yes?
  • Isn’t this the best finance package you have ever seen?
  • So, £30,000 represents terrific value for money for painting your tiny bungalow doesn’t it? (!)
  • * Are they your life savings in that teapot over there? (!!!!)
  • Do you want it at the best price?
  • What colour do you want?
  • When do you want it done?
  • Do you want to go ahead on that basis?
  • (CASHBACK FINANCE): So you would love to get a cheque for £2,000 from us wouldn’t you? (ALSO REVERSE CLOSE). Salesman can side-track you at this point by suggesting what you can spend the money on that he has just “saved” you. (***CAUTION****)
  • (SAVING A DEAD DEAL); So if I can come back in 6 months time, and offer it to you at the lowest price we said, would you be happy to go ahead? This is done as you have told them to leave and they start to pack up and go.

Their sales leads methods

While our company, and many others, have people who are interested in getting a quote, approach us for a price direct each day instead of being canvassed or prompted to do so, many, if not most, exterior wall coating or damp proofing companies, go for the direct approach.

While, once again, there are some very legitimate and ethical companies who do find prospective customers via telesales or leaflet drops and treat prospective customers with courtesy and respect, there are some real sharks out there.

Many door canvassers are recruited either at vaguely worded presentations, off the street or through newspaper job ads promising untold earnings for the right people, a promise rarely kept. As with many direct sales companies, there is a very high turnover of staff.

The raw recruits, eager to please, often prey on older, lone women (as they are instructed to do so) and ritually target retirement areas and seaside resorts, promising a free survey of their home, or a free damp test. Dont be fooled.

If you think you have damp and you are a senior citizen, contact your local council who may be able to help you. Do NOT let these people into your home, they are trying to sell you products that you probably don’t need.

Many of these door canvassers will introduce themselves to the homeowner out of the blue as the marketing manager! HIGHLY UNLIKELY! They are NOT the marketing manager, they are a door canvasser and they are paid on the amount of “leads” they pass to their manager!

Deposits paid for home improvement work before they start………

Some people are wary of deposits. There is nothing wrong with paying a deposit to the right people. Many small businesses rely on these funds for cashflow, especially on big jobs. From the point of view of the reputable contractor, it also proves your commitment to getting the job done too; after all, when you get building work done, there are two parties involved, YOU and the CONTRACTOR!

There are Customers from hell also you know!

While thankfully this is extremely rare, its just TRUST though. You have to trust the contractor to part with your money! You are letting them loose on the outside of your house, your most expensive asset!

After all when someone wins a record deal or a book deal, they get a pay advance don’t they? Only pay a deposit in a CHEQUE and NOT cash! Always sign an agreement either at the same time or before you hand over a deposit. An even better way is payment by credit card if the company offers that facility.

It is worth noting that only a CREDIT card will give you full protection, rather than a debit card, but both are good ways to pay, and simple too. Payment of the deposit only by credit card and the rest by cheque will actually in some cases, guarantee the whole value of the transaction, giving you further protection.

If the person asks you to make the cheque to someone’s name instead of a trading name or company name (eg. Mr john smith instead of XYZ ltd. or XYZ coatings, etc.), then you could be forgiven for being a little cautious, it may be quite legitimate, or it may be that they are a sole trader (!) and you are happy to deal with a sole trader, after all there are good ones out there.

However there is still the remote possibility that they are either stealing from the company they work for, or its simply a one man band you are dealing with, but trying to pass themselves off as a huge company. A deposit usually pays for the salesman’s commission (after all they are doing a job and there are some great honest and ethical salespeople in the industry, only a few are cowboys), and for the purchase of the coating materials required to do the spray coating on your house.

Sometimes though this is not the case and there are some wall coatings surveyors and sales people who do actually receive a modest wage and don’t take commission as such, but they probably run the company anyway! I digress a little………..

You would be advised not to pay more than around 30% of the contract value in a deposit, and NEVER pay the balance until the work is completed and you are happy.

The Consumer credit licence myth uncovered by NPA

A consumer credit licence is issued by the office of fair trading or it’s equivalent.

Any company can get one, even recently incorporated ones, with zero share capital, and in most cases it is easier to obtain a CCL than it is to get a credit card! Possession of a consumer credit licence (CCL) does NOT add much credibility to a wall coating company or salesman, it just means they have the correct paperwork to sell finance and financial products to you.

Saying that, there’s nothing wrong with a home improvements company having a Consumer credit licence of course, just don’t be blinded by it, it just means that they exist and they are allowed by law to sell you financial products.

Our advice to you

Look on the internet or talk to friends who have already had a wall coating done on their house. Choose 3 companies and get quotes from all of them, don’t sign up on the day, unless you are 100% confident and happy to do so, dont be pressured.

Also, get a written quote from each one, and then decide on which company will get the job to apply an exterior wallcoating on your home, in your time, not theirs!. Feel free to call any of these companies back and ask them questions, but decide when you are ready.

Then call them, tell them with either yes please, we would like you to do the work or no thank you, and get the winning company back to do the paperwork, and collect a deposit if applicable.

It is not our intention to confuse customers with too much information, nor do we infer that all wallcoating companies are bad, far from it, there are some great companies out there, even ones not connected with us in any way, with great work teams who do a good job, but the industry has made itself a bad reputation and we feel it is (sort of) our duty at NPA, for the continued future and good name of the industry, to let consumers know the pitfalls.

Remember, it’s your money, its your decision.

Its that easy!

The editor of this website and of this article writes with 22 years experience in the industry. He has seen and done it all. He has heard the rubbish spouted by some exterior wall painting companies to get you to part with your money. He has seen the corners that the cowboys cut.

By no means do we say that you shouldn’t have a wall coating, in fact we encourage it obviously, but we want all consumers of these services to be happy and not be ripped off by con men. Good luck in your search for a quality home improvement. Upon visiting this site, you have made the first step in the right direction.

This article was updated August 2009 and July 2010

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