Time for a very personal story and one which took place in the Netherlands, not in the UK.
My stepfather kindly bought my mother a little rack for the shower to put shampoo bottles and things like that on. I used to have one of these from IKEA, but my stepfather bought one made out of titanium judging by the price. It comes with a 25 year waranty, so it will outlive the bathroom where it was to be fitted, by many years.
The problem was hanging the thing up and whilst my stepfather is excellent with his tools, he decided to ask the local shop which had sold him the titanium rack whether they could do it for him. This is a sizable local business, very much part of Enterprise Nederland, and yes they offer this service. €30 per 15 minutes, and as it meant putting four screws in the wall, it should be doable in the minimum time of 15 minutes.
The installer showed up, drilled the holes, installed the rack and decided it needed some waterproof filler. So back to the van, which took some time, put the filler in and presto, the 15 minutes had expired. The invoice arrived a week later for €94!
In good Dutch practice (but not mentioned to my English speaking stepfather) they had charged €30 “showing up costs“ , €60 for the labour and then €4 for parts (parts?). Needless to say stepdad was not amused.
This morning, on my way back to England I stopped by the florist to load up on flowers – it is amazing what you can get for €20 – and noticed the hardware store across the street. So I decided to go in and talk about the invoice.
The manager, who I eventually got to, was very friendly, explained that this was standard pricing, etc, etc and they had to stick with their sales policies. A rather lame line quite frankly, but I pointed out that I felt this was abusing the elderly (sorry Mom!) and that they had clearly not explained their ‘sales policies‘ very clearly. I also pointed out that my ‘sales policy‘ included respect for the customer and not abusing the customer (I hope some bankers read this – it would be a novel concept in that sector).
To her credit the manager said she would think about the matter. This gives her the space to make a compromise proposal when my stepfather goes in to pay the invoice, as I have no doubt he will address his discomfort with the matter.
To compete in the Enterprise sector you have to compete with the volume players and whilst you may not be able to compete on price, you can on service.
Personally I think that for the price of the titanium rack they could include installation anywhere in the country, but that is another matter. After all, it cost 32 times what the IKEA one costs, even though the IKEA one will rust within the 25 years.