The joys of double glazing: Amber and Anglian review

Finally, a boring post about something other than web minutiae!

Eighteen months ago, we moved into a large Victorian house that needed lots of work. Twitter chums have responded to my requests for recommendations for builders, roofers, tree surgeons, decorators, plumbers, electricians and plasterers enthusiastically. But when I innocently tweeted “Can anyone recommend a decent double-glazing company that aren’t pressure-salesmen, cowboys or criminals” I got no replies at all. Not any. Twice. That’s telling in itself. So I decided get a couple of quotes and compare them.

Firstly, I called Amber Windows, told them what I wanted and told them that I had an hour maximum for them to measure (two doors – how long should it take?), and emphasised that I didn’t want to waste time with faux-discounts; give me your best price and go away.

Needless to say, Cliff, the Amber Windows salesman, told me of a “special discount” to reduce the £5600 cost (ha!) to £2500. Then came the usual palaver of “calling his manager” to ask if there was an extra special deal. Lo and behold! there was. Mild pressure was applied; a curt “that’s the lowest price, if you sign up today. Take it or leave it”. I told them I’d leave it as I hate people pressuring me and insulting my intelligence. Other the next two weeks I received several phone calls, from different people, offering me wildly different prices until I told them to stop calling me.

I told Jim, the Anglian Windows salesman, not to waste my time and simply to give me his best price. He was direct, but was clearly anxious to sign me up there and then with the implication that there was a further discount. (I said no, as I wanted to discuss the various different designs with my wife at our leisure). He also didn’t seem to know about his products; the Anglian brochures boasted of a certain British Standards that their windows meet; my insurance requires a different Standard and he couldn’t tell me if Anglian’s windows meet More>Than’s minimum security standard.

His price was good, so I invited him back to take a deposit, provided that he could answer the British Standards question. He didn’t come prepared with an answer, and was visibly annoyed at my asking the question. I signed the contract and gave him a cheque on condition that her find out (this was written into the contract) and I emailed him several times subsequently but he never satisfactorily answered my question. Eventually I gave up and the surveyor gave me the answer on headed notepaper as Jim had promised (but failed) to do.

Jim also promised me that my burglar alarm contacts would fit on the new doors, and that I would have a trickle vent to prevent condensation forming. This was written into the contract. When they were eventually installed today, the trickle vent was missing on a door, and the burglar alarm contacts wouldn’t fit. I can only assume that the factory misread the words “trickle vents to be fitted above doors” as “trickle vents to be fitted above only one door”, and Jim’s error regarding my burglar alarm was nothing to do with his eagerness to get a sale.

After signing the contract and paying a 20% deposit in August, I waited and waited and eventually chased up Anglian myself for a survey date and a fitting date. The fitting date was postponed by Anglian at the last minute, three times. The first two times because of bad weather, the third time because of lack of fitters. When I complained on Twitter, they mysteriously found a fitter who came today. They’ve done a nice job, but have yet to return today to finish the job (to put trim around the back door, put in a spyhole and a knocker and install a trickle vent. The burglar alarm contacts I’ll have to sort out by myself). I was hoping to visit the doctors on Monday morning, but now I’ll have to wait a week.

I have another window that needs double-glazing, but simply don’t feel like going through this rigmarole again.

If there is an Apple-style “just works” double glazing firm that doesn’t entirely ignore customer satisfaction in its haste for profit, I hope it will clean up the market.

6 Responses to “ The joys of double glazing: Amber and Anglian review ”

Comment by Dave Pawson

Yep. 100% recommendation. Local to Peterborough, but they will travel.

Good product, fair price, nothing daft (as you found). Own staff do the work to a good standard.

Even on my side arguing with a door supplier, i.e. good aftersales product support.

My review Door issue now resolved.

Manor Windows is the company.

HTH Dave

Comment by Andrew

Before we were acquired we didn’t have anything as 1.0 as headed notepaper, and it frequently annoyed me that when members of the team moved house, a letting agent would phone me and insist I provide an employment reference ‘on formal headed notepaper’, as if doing so somehow bestows a cast iron authenticity. Move over SSL! Headed notepaper is the new gold standard in communications security. Apparently.

My standard response is to ask them whose headed notepaper they’d like me to use. For fun I thought I’d send one on downing st notepaper (PDF available online, obviously). Did the trick and in record time too.

Comment by AlastairC

I found that getting it ordered via a builder friend was the best approach. 2 bay windows and a door for 2.5k, with a valid security cert as well. My friend gave them the order, got the ‘best price’ off the bat, and I effectively paid him to be there (painting in this case) whilst they installed them.

Definitely worth it!

Comment by Charlie

My advice would be to avoid double-glazing companies entirely and contact a glazer or fitter directly. Double-glazing companies are often just middle-men between factories and fitters. As the fitters are often beaten down in price they are often less than happy with the jobs or substandard and not qualified. Maybe your surveyor can provide a recommendation?

Comment by Patrick H. Lauke

I’ll echo the comments about cutting out middle-men and instead looking for a fitter. As you know, we’ve had loads of stuff done in our house, and we now have an impressive list of handymen and specialists that we can call upon. And when we need something done that we don’t have a contact for, we ask our existing ones if they can recommend somebody from their circle of colleagues/friends. It’s a bit incestuous, but all our fitters etc know each other, and we get xmas cards every year from our decorator and plasterer ;)

Comment by Bill Lees

Good advice to avoid double glazing companies altogether. In fact, since you’re in a Victorian pile, you really should avoid UPVC windows altogether (though I gather it may be too late for your doors.). I speak as someone who lives in a house built in 1902, and in my view UPVC windows in such a property ruin it in a quite horrible way, and if you care about such things can adversely affect future re-sale values and saleability.

We had our windows restored by a specialist company called Ventrolla (www.ventrolla.com), who also install their own unique and very efficient insulation system to the original windows. No hesitation in recommending them for any future window work you need.