Familiar tale

I am sick to death of being ripped off by rogue tradesmen. And no, this is not India I am talking about. I have been living in the UK for a few years now. A couple of months ago, I decided to refurbish my bathroom. I called in a consultant working for a leading bathroom installation company to give me a quote for the work.

The gentleman arrived one evening and surveyed our bathroom. He mentioned a huge amount for the work, but quickly reduced it by more than 60 per cent, saying a sale was on and that it would last only a couple of days. He advised us to sign the contract quickly so that we could avail of the existing offer.

Foolishly, my husband and I fell into the wily salesman’s trap. We paid 50 per cent of the amount upfront and the remaining amount, it was decided, would be deducted in equal monthly instalments over the next three years. The goods were delivered a month later and a couple of bathroom fitters arrived two weeks after that to start the work.

The fitters, I discovered to my dismay, were extremely lazy and disorganised. They would turn up at 10 in the morning and leave a little after noon. One day, their car broke down and they did not turn up for work for two days following this incident as they were too stressed.

The next three weeks were very quiet. I made a number of calls to our project manager, a thoroughly useless and incompetent lady who kept telling me that she was trying to find another fitter but it was extremely difficult to get hold of one in the town where we lived. I kept reminding her that we had been promised that the work would be over within two weeks.

Finally, I borrowed a few books on consumer law from my local library and sent off a letter quoting clauses from the Supply of Goods and Services Act and detailing how the company had violated the contract.

Six weeks after the work began, a fitter finally turned up on our doorstep. For six weeks, we were left without a functioning bathroom in our house though we did have a toilet. We had to shower in the homes of friends, neighbours or our gym. When we felt too tired to drive down to the gym for a shower, we just applied more perfume on ourselves.

In the middle of it all, my in-laws arrived from India to stay with us. Repeated requests to the bathroom installation company to speed up the work as my elderly in-laws would be put to trouble going down the stairs at night to access the toilet fell on deaf ears.

Further, it turned out that the goods that had been supplied (mirror, shaver socket, WC and basin) were defective. We had to wait another week for the goods to be supplied again. Finally, the work finished two months after it had originally started.

The entire experience has been very disappointing and bitter for us. If you live in India and believe that your plumber is fooling you, think again. Things are no better, if not worse, in the UK.

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