Hard sell? What about hard buy?

By Maureen Lipman, March 5, 2009
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A shutter and blind company are flooding my mailbox and infiltrating my magazines. I won’t name them because further publicity will only buy them more stamps, but as it happens I need two sets of shutters for the front bedrooms of my flat.

I love shutters. They please me. They are stylish and they do the job. I love them on old French chateaux in dusty celadon green and I love them on my new French windows in sparkling white.

It’s the people who sell them who worry me. The lofty woman who came to examine my faulty living room shutters looked so far down her nose at me that I began to retreat, in defence, into Wallace and Gromit speak.

“They woggle about when I open ‘em.”

“I’m afraid these shutters aren’t really designed to be opened.’’ She sloaned, flicking a piece of freshly striped hair back from her cashmere gillet.

“B..b...ut.. they’re shutters..’’ I mumbled, “shutters are meant to open as well as ....shut.. aren’t they?”

“Oh, the slats..Yah… One simply opens the slats to let in the light, ok?”

“But I like to look out.”

She glanced from me to the courtyard as though I’d suggested a viewing of the London sewers by night.

(Nun in the bath. Man knocks on the bathroom door. Nun screams.

Man says: “Blind man.”

Nun responds: “Oh, very well, come in.”

Man comes in, looks at her and says: “Nice breasts. Where do you want the blind?”)

Because of the first shutter company’s attitude, I arranged for a fitter to come and advise on whether shutters could be fitted in an irregular space or whether I should have blinds instead.

We make an appointment for three weeks’ time, which is when they have a man in the area. We swap numbers and addresses but in spite of my directions, the fitter gets lost and never arrives.

A week later, we fare better. The fitter studies the windows of both rooms, then sheepishly informs me that he’s only started working for the company today and he doesn’t yet qualify to measure for shutters, only blinds. He’s a nice man so I don’t hit him round the head with a curtain rod but ask him, politely, to phone a man who does. Which he does, and an appointment is made for Monday.

Which, believe it or not, is kept. On time. Nice man. Measures up, advises, shows samples. Will go away and send me an estimate for both blinds and shutters in a day or two. He has a cup of tea and a chat about the stuff he’s seen me in on telly.

That was four weeks ago. No estimate of any kind. My windows remain shutterless. My telephone manner has reached new lows.

“Why do you advertise? Why do you shower readers and flat owners with bloody brochures for free estimates? Why did you infiltrate my life and take notes on my bare windows? Are you a cover for some sinister spy ring?”

She offers me a new fitter. I titter.

I pride myself that I’ve never shaved my legs, appeared in The Bill or visited Ikea. One of those resolutions must crumble. I shall get in my car and go for a Danish. Today.

    Last updated: 3:31pm, March 5 2009