A Portchester couple’s home improvement plans were thrown into chaos when they were left high and dry with an unfinished lounge makeover and a boarded-up hole in the wall.
Part of the deal was for Portsmouth-based Highgrove Windows (not to be confused with any other company of the same name) to supply and fit custom-made folding doors.
But a furious Jane and Jim Goodger unexpectedly found themselves at loggerheads with the company’s boss, who suddenly dropped a bombshell at the last moment by pulling out of the contract.
Jane told Streetwise she always wanted bi-fold doors to replace the windows in the lounge of their ground-floor flat.
The self-employed couple were wrestling with boosting their kitchen business, so couldn’t see their way to refurbish their flat until Jane’s mum and dad sadly passed away last July.
Her inheritance left them with the opportunity to give the flat a makeover, so they went about getting quotes for the necessary building work and sourcing the doors.
Jane, 51, said: ‘I’ve always wanted patio doors in my lounge so when we started out to refurbish the flat we contacted three different companies for quotes and prices.
‘We decided to go with Highgrove Windows because we liked the doors. They were called ‘‘easy glide’’ and slightly different to bi-folds because you could open the doors one at a time.
‘Also the owner, Mike Bunney, who came round for the initial inspection, knew of a reputable building contractor who could advise us about taking out the windows.
‘The others who came round were umming and aahing about putting the steel supports in, so he seemed more confident about doing the job.
‘We got a letter from him with the quote, which we accepted. We were reassured throughout the job the doors would only take a week to make at their factory in Quartremaine Road.
‘After a few more visits by Mike and the builder, the initial work was finally completed at the end of October and our lounge was boarded up ready for installation of the doors.’
From there on Jane admits relations with the firm rapidly went downhill. In early November Jim felt compelled to ring Highgrove to enquire when the doors would be fitted.
The missing doors dilemma deepened when they were told the company weren’t releasing any doors for the moment because there was a manufacturing problem with pivots which they were upgrading.
Mr Bunney promised to phone back when he had more information.
Another week slipped by and with still no idea when the doors would be sorted they rang the firm again.
By this time alarm bells started to ring that they were about to be left in the lurch, which didn’t turn out to be wide of the mark.
A further abortive phone call resulted in Mr Bunney claiming he’d need to make some further enquiries, but when he called back their worst fears were realised.
Despite his previous promises, he said he had no idea when the doors would be available for fitting and then promptly announced the deal was off.
With no alternative suggestion on offer, the furious couple were left with their home renovation project in complete chaos. More sparks began to fly when Jane insisted the firm’s apparent lack of interest in customer care needed exposing.
On looking around for another supplier, they ran into problems with sky high quotes and a four to six-week delay before any work could be started. This put their pre-planned Christmas holiday break on the line.
Jane said to make matters worse the decorators were held up completing the repainting of the lounge walls and laminating the floor. A brand new corner sofa timed to be delivered when the doors were installed was still in its wrapping and left languishing in a damp outhouse.
The builder was anxious to get his wall boards back and, to add insult to injury the heating bills had rocketed.
An exasperated Jane got back on to Mr Bunney and made a final plea for help. She politely pointed out that the only saving grace was they hadn’t paid up front.
As the manufacturer of the doors he surely must have known before the building work started that there was a problem. He’d turned their carefully-timed makeover into a shambles.
When the appeal fell on deaf ears, Jane called in Streetwise to see if we could help.
Our first port of call was the company’s website to check out what it had to say about its products and customer service.
‘We believe in offering a strongly personal service that can transform your home,’ it boasts, adding: ‘… just as you might expect, we fully install all of our products, big and small, because we want you to live in a long-lasting, safe home.’
We got on to Highgrove’s boss and asked for an explanation. We were anxious to get his side of the story, but it soon became clear he wasn’t prepared to talk to us.
We insisted that by walking away from the job in such extraordinary circumstances, it was understandable that the Goodgers were furious about the way they’d been treated and left to clear up the mess.
We twice asked for a comment, but were unable to get a response.
Following our intervention, Jane confirmed Mr Bunney had re-contacted her. But his response was hardly conducive to good customer relations.
She said: ‘He claimed he would have made an offer of help, but because I’d contacted The News, as far as he was concerned it was the end of the story.
‘I don’t want anybody else to go through this and was happy to reveal the very poor service we’ve had from Mike and Highgrove Windows.’