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Old 5th May 2011, 11:20 PM
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Smile BBC Watchdog: Hillarys - do they measure up?

Hillarys 'the UK's NO1 for shutters and blinds'. They offer a made to measure service, speedy installation, quality hand finish and a three year guarantee. But all this comes at a cost and it's not cheap.

And the Watchdog viewers who have been in touch, well they're not happy.

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(Do you have something to say about this story? Tell us what you think by emailing us here. Don't forget to include 'Hillarys' in the subject line. Watchdog will publish a selection of viewers' comments underneath each story, both throughout and after the programme is on air. Please remember to include your name as you would like to see it published).

When it came to Hillarys promise of expert installation two of our viewers had big issues. Tracy Hannah chose Hillarys for all the reasons above. Thanks to unsatisfactory measuring she's been left with a shutter that just wont open - very frustrating.

Donna Carr told us that because Hillarys staff didn't measure the window correctly, and instead of re-ordering the blind from scratch, the fitter used a saw and proceeded to hack away at it to just force it to fit the frame. He didn't use any nails or glue and predictably the blind eventually fell down.

Now let's find out about that 'quality hand finish' they promise. When John Morris used Hillarys to fit his blinds not only did they crack the ceiling, but the blind fell down within two days. He had chosen to use professionals so that the job was done well, and was therefore left feeling less than pleased with the outcome. Something similar happened to Donna. Hillarys ruined the area around her window where they tried to fit the shutter. It's lucky therefore that Hillarys offer a three year guarantee then. Surely getting these problems fixed is just a phone call away?

It appears not. Tracy has had to make repeated phone calls after Hillarys fitted her shutters last December. She's been trying to get them to fix one that sticks ever since. She found the customer services department both rude and unhelpful. She told us: "After numerous heated phone calls including one where the gentleman on the end of the phone said he couldn't have a conversation with me it's two minutes passed five - and he'd finished at five and proceeded to put the telephone down on me - I eventually persuaded them that it was essential that another fitter came out to check the measurements." However Hillarys told her it would take three months for the new shutters to arrive, AND they would be based on the old measurements. Tracy wasn't hopeful that the new shutters would fit... but she has eventually had correctly measured shutters installed.

Donna managed to get Hillarys to do some remedial work for her, but now wishes she hadn't bothered. "Hillarys said they would supply a painter and decorator - he came up on a Sunday with his wife - he didn't leave 'till ten o'clock and it turns out he wasn't a painter and decorator, he wasn't even a decorator - he wasn't qualified - he was just a member of Hillary's office staff who does occasional handywork for Hillarys. His decorating technique was just appalling . It's all coming away from the walls- there's all gaps - it's just a really terrible job he's done."

When Donna called back the following day Hillarys told her she should: "...just be grateful that I'd got the work done in the first place. They've now said that they're not gonna send me a replacement shutter 'cos my expectations are too high. They've refused to redecorate my room and they haven't even give me the costs to cover the reimbursement of the wall paper"

Back to John Morris and his cracked ceiling. Did Hillarys patch it up? John explained: "When we complained about the hole in the ceiling and fact that the blind had fallen down we were told we had to give the person who had botched the job in the first place the opportunity to come back and fix it. And obviously our concern was that the person who'd botched it originally was gonna come back and botch it again."

Which, it seems, is exactly what happened: "He came back to fill the hole with some filler, put more filler in than would ever be needed - and then he left it to dry overnight and we never saw him again. Another person came to rectify the problem - but he didn't have the tools or know what he was coming to fix. It was just bad customer service form start to finish. We've still got a... what I would class as a ruined ceiling and a crooked blind." Not to mention a bill for £268 - which he later had refunded.

John, Donna and Tracey are just a few of the customers who have been in touch and who've paid for a service that simply didn't measure up.

Hillarys company response:

Hillarys treats any and every customer service issue extremely seriously as customer satisfaction is of paramount importance to us. It is our reputation for a high standard of customer service that has, over the past 40 years, seen the company become the UK's leading supplier of made to measure blinds and shutters.

The cases highlighted are exceptional and we are sorry and disappointed that our service levels fell below our usual exacting standards. We would like to stress, however, that each of those issues were already known to us before the customers contacted the programme and we had already been working towards rectifying their problems.

We visit thousands of homes every week to measure and fit blinds and shutters and have thousands of satisfied customers who recommend us to their friends. Each blind and shutter we make is made to measure and we regularly audit and review our procedures as part of our ongoing improvement programme. Recently, we have invested significantly in new systems and processes all designed to enhance the service we give to customers.

For example:

- We have established a dedicated advisor training facility focussing on shutters and conservatory blinds in particular so all advisors can practice more complicated fits.

- We have developed a dedicated website to provide additional support to advisors for product and fitting information.

- We have recruited a network of installation managers to provide on the ground support to our team of advisors and fitters.

- We have invested in new IT systems (installed last year) in order to provide better, faster information for the customer services team to understand how to help serve out customers with any questions they might have.

Additional Questions:

Can Hillarys confirm that their fitters are employed on a sub-contracted basis?

All of our 950 local advisors and fitters work in partnership with Hillarys on a self-employed basis.

How much training are Hillarys fitters given before starting installation work?

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.

In the last year we have also invested in a network of installation managers, who train, mentor and develop our fitting team on an on-going basis in the field. In addition to this, there is a regular programme of workshops, undertaken up and down the country, offering the best practice advice. We are committed to this programme and will continue to develop and invest in it.

Watchdog Viewer Responses:

We have used Hillarys quite a few times in the house we are in now and have a very good local fitter. We may just be lucky, but we have never had any problems. I guess it is really down to the training the fitters are given and the common sense the fitter uses. I am disappointed to hear of the problems.

Jenny Dalleywater, Goudhurst

Just wanted to say we had blinds from this company and the advisor told us to use the existing rails. When the blinds were fitted there were large gaps and when I called to complain he was very rude and said that the existing rails were the problem!!!!!

Elaine Baldwyn

Hillarys - do they measure up?
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Old 19th November 2013, 03:35 PM
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Default Re: BBC Watchdog: Hillarys - do they measure up?

I ordered and paid over £400 for 3 blinds in my sitting room. The blinds they fitted were heavily creased which created a very unprofessional finish. In addition to this the lining I ordered (thermal) was not fitted and I was given only the standard version. I had to ring 4 times in total to complain. When I eventually got through to someone in a position to make a decision they offered me £100 refund. I thought this was pretty fair so accepted the refund. A couple of weeks later, I got my phonebill through and I have been CHARGED OVER A £100 TO CALL THEIR COMPLAINTS LINE. I am completely unsatisfied with the service offered by this company. Not only did they sell me a product that was poorly finished and different from what I had ordered, their services are designed in such a way that it actually costs you more money to get them to do their job right. It is completely unethical to charge customers to complain about mistakes that they have made as a retailer. I will never use this company again. I will encourage anyone I know not to use this company and I am asking anyone who reads this not to use this company. There are plenty of satisfied customers and lucky for them Hillarys did not make any mistakes with their order. However, mistakes will happen and a company should be judged on how they deal with things when it goes wrong rather than when it goes right. Bottom line: Hillarys charge you to complain. In fact, they charge you as much as they can so they make even more money from unsatisfied customers than they can from people who are happy with the end product. IT IS IN THEIR INTEREST TO DO A BAD JOB BECAUSE THEY MAKE MORE MONEY OUT OF YOU THAT WAY.
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Old 3rd June 2017, 01:26 AM
gareth008 gareth008 is offline
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Default Re: BBC Watchdog: Hillarys - do they measure up?

Customer service after sale - terrible.

We ordered £4000 worth of blinds for our house. The sales representative arrived and we discussed what we needed and chose blinds. Fitter arrived a few weeks later to measure up. We had requested that the blinds upstairs were fitted to allow half the shutter blinds to fold shut in line with the split in the windows. This was agreed, measurements were taken and sent off for the blinds to be manufactured in China.

Fitter arrived and was extremely professional, fitted with no issues and we were initially very happy.

It was only that evening, when we closed the blinds, that we realized the split had been measured in the wrong place, and the blinds were not manufactured as we had requested. Instead the blinds closed way above the split.

Upon phoning to ask what we could do - We sent a picture of the blinds against the window. A Hillarys representative admitted that it looked terrible and they would take it up with management, who would phone us back the next day. No phone call. We eventually had to chase them up and the answer was effectively - 'you signed for the measurements, nothing we can do'

I can accept where they're coming from, but realistically, who double checks the measurements of the fitter, when they present you with the paperwork to sign?? Do you say 'actually let me just pop round the house and check your measurements'. You assume they've done what we agreed.

Hilary's have refused to rectify the problem, instead offering a £50 voucher. So we are stuck with blinds, that aren't what we verbally agreed on. Although the blinds are decent quality and the fitting was great, they're not what we wanted, and they are not interested in sorting it out whatsoever.

I'd rather stick pins in my eyes, than have any more dealings with them and would suggest you avoid, unless you're happy to recheck all the paperwork you're signing, in case the measurements are wrong.
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Old 30th June 2017, 12:39 PM
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Default Re: BBC Watchdog: Hillarys - do they measure up?

Surprising to see these problems with what is a well known and what would seem to be a respected brand with a leading place in the market. It will be interesting to see how this company approaches these issues and whether they are able to satisfy their customers. I'll keep watching this thread!
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