Cowboys have arrived in Portugal

I was very interested in your article Beware of firms offering free surveys in the December 1 edition of The Resident, mainly as we had experienced one of these companies first hand.

We have a business in the Algarve and  one day earlier in the year the premises was visited by a man who was trying to drum up custom for his ‘ damp-proofing product’.

As the building is maintained by a management company we could not take advantage of his ‘free introductory offer’ to check the building for damp.

We had just moved into a house, which needed exterior painting and the man said that his firm also does that kind of thing with ‘special paint’ from the UK that prevents damp. So, he came along to the house and went through the routine of saying that the company was well established in the UK and displayed impressive photos of the work and copies of certificates and letters form satisfied clients.

Then we got down to the nitty gritty, he got out a small machine and proceeded to ‘measure’ the damp in our outside walls, our free survey and told us we had a serious problem, despite the fact that there was no obvious sign of damp in the house.

Then we got to the part about the paint his company used and how wonderful it was. He also told us they did not advertise in the papers, however a few weeks later I did spot a large ad for the company in the local press.

He then went outside to have a look at the building to give us an idea as to how much all this might cost should we go ahead. I am experienced in survey work and was rather surprised when he did not make any attempt to measure the building or ask to see a plan of the house, which would give him an idea of its actual wall area.

We really started to smell a rat when he gave us a verbal quotation, but when asked if it could be in writing from his company the reply was ‘oh we don’t do that’ … he actually admitted that the company did not have an office premises – the ‘office’ being his mobile phone number.

However, when pushed, he did write down the quote, but we had to provide the paper! Not even a business card was offered.

When we told the man that we felt the price was a bit high he offered a reduction of about 3,000 euros.  By this time we had got fed up and very suspicious of his pushy and well rehearsed performance and had to be quite forceful in refusing his ‘deal’.

One hopes that others have not been taken in by these companies as it smacked very much of the hard sell that has been rife in the UK.

Sadly, now it seems these selling techniques have arrived here and people can become victims due to their preference to deal with English speaking companies in the sometimes misguided belief that they are more trustworthy than the local well established businesses. As you quite rightly point out there are many companies both English and Portuguese that are genuine and they do a very good job for their clients.

We have dealt with both Portuguese and English workers and, touch wood, thus far we have been more than satisfied with the wok they have done. He eventually left and we had a stiff drink!!

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