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withnail1969

Hillarys Blinds threatening court action

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We had two sets of blinds fitted by Hillarys Blinds a few months ago. The blinds are fine but the finishing of the woodwork is messy and looks unprofessional. I said straight away I was unhappy with it but kept being told "that's how it comes from the factory", "i'm a blind fitter not a carpenter" etc. They didn't seem to be able to cope with fitting blinds to bay windows.

We paid 50% at time of order and are withholding payment until they improve the finish. We have had another fitter out for a second opinion, who said "that's how it comes from the factory". We have written to the area manager and copied the letter to 2 other managers but have had no response (approx 6 wks have past.) If we phone, we are stonewalled.

We have spoken to credit control to inform them we are awaiting a response but they aren't interested. Today we received a final demand threatening court proceedings.

So - what are our rights? We have made it clear we will pay when the work is completed to our satisfaction but I don't think they will respond to our letter.

What is the worse that can happen?

Thanks in advance for any input.

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I am not a lawyer, and cannot give legal advice.

 

But, the following may or may not be useful.

 

The sale of goods act talks about the quality that consumers can expect of goods and services.

 

What is the legal definition of quality | Consumer Information

 

Satisfactory quality is defined as what a ‘reasonable person’ would regard as acceptable, and takes into account factors such as price paid, fitness for purpose specified, appearance and finish, freedom from minor blemishes, safety and durability. If it becomes apparent that an item is not of the quality you were led to expect, you were not aware of any such defect when you bought it, and you bought from a seller acting ‘in the course of a business’ (i.e. not an informal sale), you are quite within your rights to go back to the retailer, even after some months of use. If a product develops a fault within the first 6 months, the assumption will be that this defect was present at the time of purchase and you will not have to prove anything. If you are returning an item after this 6 month time period, this automatic assumption does not apply, and it may be up to you to prove the fault did not occur through misuse. You should also consider aspect of durability and acceptance.

 

(my emphasis)

 

You've got to ask yourself whether a reasonable person would consider the goods as acceptable. If not, then clearly the SOGA should protect you.

 

If they do actually commence court proceedings, then you need competent legal advice.

 

But on the issue of acceptable quality, could you post detailed pictures of the windows here?

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Many thanks for that. Here's an idea of how it looks

 

http://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa147/withnail1969/luka0509043.jpg

 

http://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa147/withnail1969/luka0509041.jpg

 

It's detail but the bill was for £950 for 2 bay blinds so we expected the best.

 

Thanks again.

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You paid £950 for two bay blinds, and as you say, you should expect the best. To me, that looks nothing like the best, in my opinion that's amateur hour.

 

I had a look on Hillary's website to see if I could see any closeups of the product that you have installed. It would be interesting to see if the image they portray in their advertising is consistent with what has been installed in your home.

 

As I've said before, I'm no lawyer, and I'm sort of filling in until someone more knowledgeable comes along. But if I were you, this is what I'd do next. I'd go to trading standards. I'd take the photos you've posted here. I'd take any promotional materials from Hillary's blinds that is relevant, and ask trading standards whether or not they feel the work done is of suitable quality given the price you paid and the quality suggested by Hillary's promotional material. If (as I would guess, but clearly I can't really predict what TS will do) trading standards agrees with you, then this might make it worthwhile to write another letter saying that you have obtained a second opinion on the quality of the blinds and that they are not of sufficient quality. And that you're perfectly prepared to pay the full amount once Hillary's have repaired the remaining snag. If TS won't give an opinion, then you could ask them whom you should consult with.

 

However, Hillary's are threatening legal action. So, you may need to prepare for that. And that requires more sophisticated legal advice than some random person mouthing off on a web site.

 

I had a quick look to see if Hillary's belong to any professional organisations, but couldn't find anything. If they do belong to a professional organisation (e.g. as Estate agents may belong to ARLA), then approaching the organisation might be an option.

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Thank-you. Sometimes I wonder if we should just put up with it but I notice it every day so it's good to hear it's not just us who thinks it's shoddy!

I will try Trading Standards. I've done the same, looking in Hillary's brochure, online etc but can't find any bays fitted with venetians. There is plenty of written flannel though -

eg “With years of experience and all the tools and equipment required for the job to run smoothly, rest assured this will be a quick process and the results will look great too!

And there's no professional organisation they belong to, I phoned them to check this and they got very very confused....

If they take me to court, what's the worst thing that can happen? I can't bear to pay them for the shoddy work but don't want this affecting my credit etc.

Cheers!

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The standard of work in the photographs is never in a million years acceptable quality for £950

 

Don't let them bully you. If they start playing up you can complain to consumer services or whatever they are called now and tell hillary's you are doing so. If they chase you tell them to remove the blinds refund your deposit and reinstate your property to its previous condition. You could tell them you are prepared to live with the problem if they credit you with the balance due.

 

If they do indeed remove the blinds it will cost them money for fitters and repairs and they would be better off letting you keep them for the money you have paid. So would you rather keep them for £450 than send them back. If so the ball is in their court and you can wait until they make a move. I doubt if they will.

 

I believe that you would have a good case it they took action and if you send them the photographs it will get them thinking. The fitters who are saying that it comes from the factory like that are probably self employed and it is not in their interest to agree with you.

 

Don't stand for this shoddy workmanship.

 

Pedross

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The standard of work in the photographs is never in a million years acceptable quality for £950

 

I completely agree - it's dreadful. Have you sent these photos to head office along with your complaint? You should, along with a strongly worded letter making it clear that if they don't put it right you'll be forced to find someone who will. You don't owe them the balance for a satisfactory installation, rather you are out of pocket and you don't have what you paid for.

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The problem is that Hillaries employ their fitters/salesmen on a self employed basis earning commission only. Most are not skilled craftsmen, and many have other, unrelated, full time jobs. This is a recipe for poor quality work.

 

I don't know the size of your blinds, but would hazard a guess that the price you paid is at the top end, which if spent with small independent companies would give you superior quality and a proper experienced fitter.

 

Two years ago a neighbour had vertical blinds from Hillaries that were of such poor quality, they refused to pay the remainder owed and asked them to take them away. This they eventually did, and after a delay had their deposit refunded.

 

Two ways to go with this. Reject the blinds completely and ask for your money back and then go elsewhere.

 

Another way is to do has been suggested and ask that the deposit you have paid is in full and final settlement.Having done this take the valance strips to another blind manufacturer and ask them to mke up some more with proper chamfered corners. You will find these strips are either fixed to the blind head-rail with velcro, or possibly a magnet, and are very easy to remove and put back up.Cost should not be more than £50-£100.

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Those joints are not factory finished it's clear to see that they have been cut by hand with a fine toothed saw.The breakout (rough edge) proves they weren't machine cut.

 

Either the two ends should have been mitred into the corner which is okay if the corner is a true 90 degrees give or take a few degrees or more likely the butted end should have been scribed in. Scribing is a fundamental skill of any tradesman it's why the skirting boards in your house don't have a gap at the top but appear to run continuously into corners.

 

Wholly unacceptable workmanship it wouldn't have taken someone who knew what they were doing five minutes to hide those joints by scribing or mitreing them.

 

On the plus side at least he had the common decency not do 'the normal' and bodge the joint full of caulk.


You have the right to food money.

If you don't mind a little investigation, humiliation, and if you cross your fingers rehabilitation..............

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Pedros - thanks for the advice. I'd be happy not to pay the outstanding amount and keep the blinds. We could tell them to take them away but knowing our luck they would. I suppose if we got our money back we could then get someone to do the job properly. I guess it has to be worth the hassle.

Hightail - yes I sent the photos with the complaint letter - it's been totally ignored! Credit control have offered 5% discount which we obviously refused. They followed up with a letter threatening court action.

Electron 99 - we initially had roller blinds fitted upstairs, the fitter tried to leave without me seeing them, they were so bad I started laughing, they didn't even begin to cover the window and we're very wonky. I said immediately they'd have to go and he rang head office who offered to fit the wooden venetians instead..... but we're still not happy.

Toulose LeDebt - yes, I think my 6 yr old could've done work of a similar quality. But surely in an organisation that size they've had some staff with standard skills?! Clearly not.

 

Coming up against a brick wall is really difficult. I may phone and see if they have a press office and see what they say. I'll definitely try Trading Standards and go from there.

 

Thanks everyone. I really appreciate your opinions.

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I don't think asking them to take them away would be a good idea, they probably wouldn't reimburse what you have already paid. I think you have done the right thing in holding on to some of the costs.

 

Do you have any glossy brochures that show differently to how your blinds have been installed? If so, those and photos of how yours are would be all that is required for any court to either order them to make good or give an appropriate reduction.

 

Can you find someone else in your area that could give you a written price to make good the mess they have done, then you could ask Hillarys once again to do the job and if they still refuse, then get this other company to do so and pay them out of what is still owed to Hillarys and give Hillarys the remainder.

 

Make sure you only contact Hillarys by recorded mail and not by telephone.

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Conniff - I agree, thinking about it I would never let them take the blinds without refunding the 50% deposit and I can't see them agreeing to that. The brochure doesn't show the blinds on bay windows, my argument is that they have been mis-sold as they can't seem to fit them to the windows in question.

It's a hassle. We'll phone credit control tomorrow to try and put a hold on action and do another recorded delivery letter. This one will be strongly worded and give a response date.

Thanks, this has really helped and made our position clearer.

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Just a thought but if you paid the deposit with a credit card you can contact the card company and they will put the pressure on Hillary's due to the fact that they also have an obligation regarding the goods.

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The finished article is shocking, you could have done that yourself.


 
 

Any advice I give is honest and in good faith.:)

If in doubt, you should seek the opinion of a Qualified Professional.

If you can, please donate to this site.

Help keep it up and active, helping people like you.

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We paid £100 for our bay window blinds, and they were cheap, and the blinds are no where near as good as high quality ones, but we were only staying there a year so didnt want to pay too much, but our finishing on corners was top notch, the shoddy work you have been given is totally unnaceptable!

 

As others have said, dont be bullied, and I truly hope this gets sorted, for the money you are paying, nobody in their right mind would think that work is ok!

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The finished article is shocking, you could have done that yourself.

 

I agree. It looks like a square bay. If it was a circular (5 window) bay there might have been some excuse, but a 90 degree angle is easy to disguise.

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Guest Old_andrew2018

Any news

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Any news

 

Well only last weekend they sent out some joker with a saw and a piece of wood to 'put it right', I sent him packing as I thought there was no chance he was going to fix it to the standard I expected.

We finally spoke to someone sensible at Hillarys and 10 mins ago they've just phoned accepting our offer of them keeping the 50% deposit as full and final payment for a shoddy job. As we got £120 via Quidco when we ordered it takes the amount paid to around £350 instead of £950.

I'm a happy camper.:D

Thanks for everyone's valuable advice.

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The standard of work in the photographs is never in a million years acceptable quality for £950

 

Don't let them bully you. If they start playing up you can complain to consumer services or whatever they are called now and tell hillary's you are doing so. If they chase you tell them to remove the blinds refund your deposit and reinstate your property to its previous condition. You could tell them you are prepared to live with the problem if they credit you with the balance due.

 

If they do indeed remove the blinds it will cost them money for fitters and repairs and they would be better off letting you keep them for the money you have paid. So would you rather keep them for £450 than send them back. If so the ball is in their court and you can wait until they make a move. I doubt if they will.

 

I believe that you would have a good case it they took action and if you send them the photographs it will get them thinking. The fitters who are saying that it comes from the factory like that are probably self employed and it is not in their interest to agree with you.

 

Don't stand for this shoddy workmanship.

 

Pedross

 

 

Additional thanks to you for this message, I wouldn't have considered offering the deposit as full and final payment - and it worked! Well done and thanks again.

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Hi,

 

I ordered some wooden shutters and blinds for my kitchen and dining room from Hillary Blinds. They lost the blinds and got the shutters shipped from China. They took three months to fit the blinds.

I made 6 calls over nearly four months asking for updates, never once did Hillary blinds ring me to update me. At the end they offered me a £37 'goodwill gesture' from a rude customer services person and blamed the fitter (who she said was self employed??) and nothing to do with Hillarys on the two month delay in fitting the blinds. Ive been a fool. Almost £1400 in total, rubbish, rubbish, rubbish...avoid at all costs.

what really got to me was the attitude of customer services, a real culture of not giving a care about customers..i spoke to several different customer services people and only one of them was professional, didnt talk down to me, and didnt repeat the company line repeatedly. very bad customer services.

Michael

 

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As someone who has been in the window blind business for over 25 years I would like to add my opinion that dealing with Hillary's is a lottery at best. This is largely due to the fact that you are dealing, in many cases, with some of the reps who are not trained up enough to do the job of fitting the blinds correctly (they use self employed reps who are expected to sell and fit the products.) I also can't remember, genuinelly, a week going by in those 25 years where a customer hasn't relayed information of dealing with an "arrogant" or "rude" Hillary rep. As a commision only based job, there is a lot of pressure to cover the huge amount of leads Hillary generates and, so I understand from people I know in the business who have worked for them, it's a relentless situation that puts a lot of pressure on the rep which causes a fair amount of rep turnover.

 

The quality of many of their products Hillarys offers has also dropped below what many other companies such as Louvolite and Eclipse (mainly blind manufacturers for other sellers) produce for sale. Particularly the Vertical Blind and Roller blinds which, in my opinion, just about exceed DIY quality now. This I have assumed is because they were bought out in 2007 for around £300million and the onset of the recession must have put some pressure on their profit margins.

 

Whatever the reason, the recent Watchdog program on them was long overdue as you will comprehend if you do an internet search of "Hillary Complaints". Apparently, their customer service leaves a lot to be desired also!

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I think the Hillary response to questions that;

 

"All our fitters receive 8 full days of training, which is undertaken at our purpose built Training Academy at head Office. This training is a mixture of theoretical knowledge as well as hands on, practical experience."

 

confirms the lottery I stated as, if a rep being trained has been in the construction industry, you will be lucky. However, if a rep being trained has never picked up a power drill in their own home let alone being set free after 8 days to use it in somebody's else's home; it's hardly surprising they get so many fitting complaints.

 

The worst thing I see after going to a house that's used Hillarys before is the corner cutting that goes on as the rep is up against the clock all the time. This takes the form of fitting to a window frame instead of properly drilling into the lintel or, when they have drilled into the lintel they have hit a catnic (steel) lintel. Instead of drilling into it properly and securing the fixing bracket with a self tapping screw (which can be time consuming occasionaly as these lintels vary in structure), they use a cut down rawl plug and small screw to fix in the small depth of plaster underneath the lintel.

 

The pricing is a lottery too as I can quote against Hillarys and only be 10% cheaper then, when I go to a similar job close by, I'll be nearly 50% cheaper than they have quoted.

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I agree with you, their blinds are complete rubbish

The blinds I ordered arrived too early they were put up but the pull chains are so short I cannot reach them! The chains are made of metal but fitted to plastic pull cord mechanisms.

The fitter told me they were rubbish and not to pay for them!!

Hillarys Blinds have now sent me a letter saying they have tried to phone me on various occasions.....NO they have not! Not once in fact but they want me to call them!

I am an interior designer and have lots of experience with roller blinds. Normally the more you pay, the better the blind. Not in this case, utter rubbish and the company should be ashamed for themselves.

At the moment I am letting them stew.

Nobody should purchase blinds from these people.

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