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Planning my dream kitchen

imageWith cupboard doors almost swinging from the hinges, it’s time for a kitchen refit. The first since our house was built more than 20 years ago.

In fact eight years ago, the cupboard doors were painted by my husband to smarten them up and give them a facelift and they featured in a local newspaper article on stylish homes! But they are now chipped and way past their sell by date.

The thing is, how can one tell the cowboys from the genuine, customer orientated, talented kitchen designer who will provide a quality product and deliver what is promised on time, someone who will not stitch you up? Is this the exception rather than the rule when it comes to buying a new kitchen?

Having read Rachel’s horror story about her kitchen re-fit, I am anxious to avoid a similar experience. I was glad to read the comment on her post warning against Moben after their designer called round last week and gave my husband his spiel. However, he didn’t bring a brochure which I had requested and refused to leave his phone number because he didn’t want to be troubled (his words, true!). I found myself wondering what Sir Alan Sugar would say if this "don’t call me, I’ll call you" salesman had been on an Apprentice assignment. Selling kitchens is a task I would love to see him set his budding entrepreneurs because it is so fraught with horror stories.

The Moben guy did have some good ideas which we plan to use – only not with him. He stood in the kitchen rubbishing everything about it. Most of his comments were justified. But we are still waiting to see his design – six days later.

We’ve passed his tips on to a local family run company whose image designer was, er, a bit drippy. But we feel more comfortable dealing with them and their after sales service. And they did install our present kitchen. After putting three or four heads together, we hope to come up with a terrific design for my dream kitchen, complete with a waste disposal unit which I am languishing after.

I’m also glad that I cancelled the designer from Magnet I had booked for a visit after reading a string of poor customer reviews on the internet about their work.

What’s your advice about buying a new kitchen? Have you got a horror story to tell? Is it ever a smooth running experience? Is there a company that you recommend?


29 Comments

  1. I own a company that specializes in interiors and have become sick and tired of these so called half price deals, free this and free that when you buy your kitchen. I have dedicated a huge lump of my kitchen web space to advice when I should be using it to sell kitchens. Here are a few tips from someone in the trade. If its half price then it was too dear in the first place. In most cases it’s simply half the price it would be if you doubled the price you are being offered it for. The free cooker is just a cooker you paid for when you paid too much for your kitchen. If a company has a huge marketing presence then you should consider who is paying for it and do they put the same budget into customer service. Finally if you want to check out the good company’s from the bad just search the company name + complaints. Simple.

  2. Sally i hope all has worked out or is working out with the kitchen, i would say that if not then if you are looking for trusted tradesmenn to fit your kitchen or any future project whether it be an extension or garden landscaping then have a look at the tradespeople on http://www.onestopbuildshop.co.uk all the tradespeople are part of a trade association and have feedback left about their last projects. You can also buy all your building materials and building supplies from here and have it all delivered to your door for free!
    I really hope this helps and thanks for sharing.

  3. Hi, heard of your plight via Rachel these guys are very good. They did the Spiral Cafe in Camden Lock

  4. Sally, I am sure one day you will get your dream kitchen. I’ve had to wait all my life for this moment and I’m looking forward to it now. We placed our order today with the local guys, so fingers crossed, that we don’t have too many setbacks.
    We went to John Lewis as well, but we didn’t like their selection as much and it certainly wasn’t cheaper.

  5. I spent all my married life living in RAF houses dreaming of having a wonderful kitchen one day…..I even put some money away hoping to save for my nice kitchen, that money is now worth 700 pound. Iam now in a housing association house still dreaming of that great kitchen i know i will never have so I hope you get yours ellee then i can come and drool over it 🙂

  6. Steven_L

    “The thing is, how can one tell the cowboys from the genuine, customer orientated, talented kitchen designer who will provide a quality product and deliver what is promised on time, someone who will not stitch you up? Is this the exception rather than the rule when it comes to buying a new kitchen?” (ellee)

    A good friend of mine is a kitchen salesman. He gets 5% on the price of your kitchen, and 50% of everything he can overcharge you by.

    He works for a good company too, no cold-calling, established over 10 years.

    His mentor, who consistantly sells over £1 million worth of kitchen a year, used to work at one of the more dodgy firms.

    They used to have chanting sessions for their salespeople where they would sit around cross-legged chanting ‘sell sell sell sell’ for minutes on end.

    The managers would encourage their salesmen (on commission only) to take on expensive mortgages and lease cars so that their only choice was ‘sales or bankruptcy’.

    Oh, and behind the glare of the Cameras it’s people like Sir Alan Sugar that impose these ‘don’t call me I’ll call you’ rules.

    I’m not going to tell you all the tricks of the trade because that would spoil your fun!

  7. At one time I had two Magnet catalogues when they changed their marketing strategy to “33% off !!!!!”.

    The first catalogue had prices at £y.
    The second catalogue had 2 differences: “33% off !!!!!” on the front. And all the prices inside were 33% higher….

    Nuff said.

    Go with the little man, and they probably buy their supplies from Wickes, who are a good semi-trade supplier.

  8. After the flooding last year, we got a top of the range kitchen from Wickes – I don’t know whether they are a national firm – and a friend of mine fitted the kitchen for us. We are delighted, especially with the doors that you can’t slam shut. They just glide to a close. Good luck anyway. I lovely kitchen is something that gives you pleasure and something you take pride in. It is the heart of the home.

  9. Ellee,

    My sources tell me that about two years ago Moben were fitting (mis-fitting?) around 350 kitchens a week. No wonder I get so many emails from disgruntled customers who only found my Kitchenhell website after they bought a Moben kitchen.

  10. Oh Ellee – dont get the waste disposal! A waste of water and a wormery is much more fun :o)

  11. You certainly need a reputable company, Ellee. These that sell over the phone are to be avoided.

  12. Thanks everyone, I am even more confused than ever now. It seems to be heading for potential disaster which we have to safeguard against.

    I have followed up advice from Dave Cole advice and am going to see John Lewis tomorrow. And I shall ask about the Schock surfaces which PL has recommended.

    NML, I wonder how many kitchens these Moben guys actually sell…

    James, I hope I do not have the same experience as your clients.

  13. Hi, I came over from Rachel’s blog and couldn’t help but laugh! We had *exactly* the same experience with a Moben guy – I wonder if it’s the same one… We were actually howling with laughter as he sat in our kitchen fannying around making up a plan. We were so turned off by his sales patter, we actually enjoyed leaving him in there to waste his time. He then says that the kitchen we want would normally be £28K but that they are doing a half price deal so we’d get it for £14K. We were cracking up laughing. “Er, aren’t you guys like the DFS of kitchens – you always have a half price sale…” He had no response to that.
    Ikea if you’re not looking for real wood. According to Living Etc, lots of people buy the Ikea units and then get customised doors through a carpenter. And we’re going to get an independent designer to work out a plan for our kitchen – it’s easier and then I won’t feel obligated to go with one store or have to take sneak peeks at plans and try to commit them to memory…

  14. James

    Ellee

    Sadly I’ve had to sue two kitchen suppliers for clients, one of whom was Moben. My top advice is get everything you want down in writting before you pay anything. They can be remarkably forgetful of what you ordered once they start.

    James

  15. I meant ‘environmentally-hostile’ in the last line!

    Buying things to last is one of the greenest behaviours we can indulge in. Plus future owners of your house might even get to thank you for your exquisite taste!

  16. Decent sized sink (much more versatile and what if the dishwasher ever breaks down?) with long nose mixer tap (to prevent splashing)

    Triangular under-cupboard lights (not expensive and much classier than many others), gun metal sockets (makes kitchen look at least twice as expensive), imaginative lighting (not plastic downlighters). Nice tiles that won’t date. Forbo Nairn eternal wood flooring in Natural Oak – all the practicality of cushion-floor vinyl but amazingly realistic wood-effect.

    Forget built-in appliances as they are over-priced and when they break down you can never get the same size again to fit the hole. Better to have the classiest free-standing Fridge/freezer you can find (Smeg are the Rolls Royces), ditto cooker. If you don’t hide it, pride it!

    Black granite is so passe now. In fact forget granite and go for Schock worktops – they are amazing to touch, look at and will withstand as much heat and ill-treatment as the most expensive granite.

    Expect the under-sink to leak after fitting & to have to get kitchen installers back to fix!

    Buy a kitchen to stand the test of time – it is so environmentally friendly to buy one that will only be replaced five years later when it is tired and out-of-date.

  17. We used a small local company when we had ours done and they were great. We chose them because of good things we had heard about them. Word of mouth is generally safest on these things – and I do think it is nice to support small, local companies when you can. This one was a bit more expensive but not too bad and it was worth it in terms of lack of hassle.

    Good luck!

  18. I’d love a new kitchen, too, but what I’m going to do right now is paint the cabinets and then invest in a good countertop. That should keep me satisfied for another 20 years, hopefully. Good luck on your refitting, or as we say here in Canada, renovation. 😀

  19. Well I had my kitchen redone almost fifteen years ago and it was quite traumatic. The designer for the company who did ours was good but we worked together till we got the plan just right, so spend a lot of time on the planning stages is my advice. It’s easy to do it on paper than undo mistakes along the way. That said it still took two and a half months to do it and I cooked with a microwave and an electric frypan in the laundry for that time! Plus it cost the equivalent of two cars!

    Good luck.

  20. nunyaa

    I’d love a dishwasher, and one of those island kitchens. Then a chef to use it Lol.

  21. I’d avoid Moben. Despite being told off yesterday (27/05/08) by the Advertising Standards Authority for advertising fictitious discounts they appear to be continuing to do it on their website. The ASA considered their advert ‘misleading’ and failing the test on ‘truthfulness’, ‘substantiation’ and ‘prices’.
    If you can’t trust their adverts what can you trust? If you want to know more just go to my kitchenhell website.

  22. Good luck with your kitchen 🙂 I would love a new one but after just having the double glazing redone and a new boiler it will have to wait. May be the money saved from more efficient heating and windows will give me the chance soon 😉

  23. Unless you’re based around Highgate (where a friend lives who knows a good set of tradespeople) I can’t help, but it’s often a good idea to go for smaller outfits; one customer to Magnet is neither here nor there but to a small company it’s a much bigger deal.

    Good luck!

    xD.

    PS John Lewis do own brand appliances – they’re almost identical to brand names but rather cheaper.

  24. Good luck Ellee: reliable builders are worth their weight in gold and sadly I have none to recommend.

  25. Liz, Yes, do watch closely. I hope we can both learn from the experience of others.

  26. Sally, that is exactly what I am worried about.

    Tom, I have taken up your excellent advice and the company is going to provide numbers of some satisfied customers for me to call. Sorry to hear about your bad experience too.

  27. I requested a brochure from Moben via the net and was inundated with brochures, emails, calls, letters – they must be desperate!

    We have been intending to do our kitchen for about 2 years now so I’ll follow your experiences with interest.

  28. If they are any good, they will be prepared to give references or even arrange for you to see past work with the permission of satisfied customers.

    We have had both good and bad experiences with small local companies (which we try to use, whenever possible). One is consistently excellent, especially at controlling the tradesmen it uses. The other was a good designer but hopeless in execution. So much so it started to go bust in the course of the project and I had to send it packing, retaining money to finish the job.

    We wouldn’t now hire anyone new without taking references. If the company can’t introduce you to any satisfied customers, that says all you need to know.

  29. from my experience getting anything done in your house is never a smooth enjoyable experience.
    I wish you the best of luck and look forward to seeing the end result.

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