Dream kitchen that became a nightmare

Charlie Chewter, 27, in the kitchen at her home on the Salterns Estate in Fareham.  Picture: Malcolm Wells (120797-5277)
Charlie Chewter, 27, in the kitchen at her home on the Salterns Estate in Fareham. Picture: Malcolm Wells (120797-5277)
Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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Before she moved home last year, Charlie Chewter spent many hours daydreaming about the perfect kitchen.

The mother-of-two loves to cook and took great pleasure in imagining how the different appliances and units would fit together when installed in the house in Salterns Estate, Fareham, she shares with husband Chris.

But her dream turned into a nightmare when the B&Q-designed kitchen was far from what she hoped for – and didn’t contain a single drawer.

Paying around £5,000, Charlie was expecting a stylish, modern kitchen created by one of the DIY megastore’s experienced designers.

After also agreeing to let B&Q supply all her appliances, the 27-year-old excitedly awaited delivery.

‘We don’t have a lot of money,’ she said.

‘So we decided to fit it ourselves. All I wanted was a modest kitchen that was just right.’

But when it was delivered Charlie realised that there was a long list of problems with her dream kitchen.

She said: ‘When we started assembling it I saw the room was designed without a set of drawers.

‘Who has a kitchen without drawers? I assumed any half-decent and experienced designer would realise people need somewhere to put their knives and forks.

‘They also supplied the wrong cooker and there were no brackets to install shelves, no waste kits with the sink – so all I had was a huge sink with a huge hole in the bottom – and no door handles, so I had to pay another £105 for handles and delivery. Many of the pieces didn’t fit together properly while others were chipped and damaged.’

But when she raised her concerns about the kitchen with B&Q, Charlie was confronted by a refusal to admit anything was wrong.

She said: ‘They offered us one small drawer and when it arrived it was damaged.

‘My husband and I have worked really, really hard for a long time to be able to have the house and kitchen we want.

‘Now every time I’m in the kitchen all I see are the sides that don’t meet together and the damaged units and I can’t imagine what I am going to do with my cutlery.

‘I’m really disappointed in B&Q and the kitchen.’

A B&Q spokeswoman said: ‘We fit over 35,000 kitchens and bathrooms every year and are sorry that Mrs Chewter has not received the high level of service we pride ourselves on.

‘We have visited Mrs Chewter’s kitchen and agreed to replace the shelf and drawer that are damaged as well as provide her with a gesture of goodwill which she has accepted.’

But Mrs Chewter told Streetwise the offer was only made after she said she was contacting The News.

‘I’m not satisfied with what they’ve offered at all,’ she said. ‘They’ve given me £100 in B&Q vouchers, but to be honest I never want to shop there again.

‘I don’t have the time or money to keep fighting. But I want people to learn from my mistakes. When you order, check everything on the list they give you. Then double check, it’s the only way to be sure.’

News consumer rights expert Richard Thomson said: ‘Looks as if B&Q is up to its old tricks. Around 10 or so years ago, this type of complaint about its kitchens was commonplace, then it decided to clean up its act and the complaints died away.

‘The first step in a case like this is normally to appoint an independent kitchen expert, usually from another trader, to look over the job and identify the snags and poor workmanship.

‘B&Q is registered with the Furniture Ombudsman and complainants should insist that B&Q contact them to help resolve their dispute.

‘Once an independent report has been completed both sides are bound to honour its findings and make good defective workmanship.

‘The relevant law is the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, which requires goods and services to be carried out in a reasonable time, competently, and at a reasonable price.’

To visit the ombudsman’s website go to adrnow.org.uk or call the consumer advice line on 0845 653 2064 for free help.