Couple start court fight against Wickes after nightmare kitchen installation
A Southsea couple have been left at boiling point after they put their trust in Wickes to provide a dream renovated kitchen – but got nowhere for almost two years when the installation turned out to be riddled with faults.
Teresa and Stephen Meade were more than impressed when they saw the virtual plans for their revamped £10,000 kitchen at the Waterlooville branch of the DIY chain in mid 2017.
The deal from their Kendal range of kitchens included cream matt finish units, integrated appliances, and oak worktops.
Teresa signed up after a finance package was concluded with Hitachi Finance, and paid a £1,000 deposit.
Wickes – sales mantra ‘we do it right’ – insists every step towards installing their new kitchens should be fun, exciting, and as stress-free as possible.
But it didn’t get off to a promising start when their local approved installer delayed the agreed start of the work by two weeks.
Then it was discovered two single wall cabinets had been supplied and fitted instead of a double unit, and the splashbacks weren’t on the design schedule and had to be ordered in at additional cost.
The job was programmed to be completed in 10 days, but took the best part of a month.
Registered disabled, 61-year-old Teresa is an epileptic, blind in one eye and has mobility constraints. As there were no cooking facilities arrangements had to be made for the couple to stay with family while the work progressed.
A furious Teresa said: ‘When we got back to the house after the work had been completed and started using the kitchen we began to realise just how poor the installation was.
‘The kitchen design just wasn’t suited to someone of my height, and I had to use a stepladder to access all of the wall unit space and part of the fridge freezer.
‘We were appalled by the way the kitchen had been fitted. The cupboard doors were wonky, the dishwasher hadn’t been aligned correctly or properly supported. There were no panels fitted between the dishwasher and the sink or the washing machine.
‘There was a plastic lid stuck down the side of the washing machine to stop it vibrating and none of the door handles were correctly aligned.
‘The waste pipe hadn’t been fitted correctly and there was no access to the power plugs to isolate the power supply for servicing the appliances because they were all behind the units.
‘The paintwork was appalling with it all peeling away, and I had to get it redone at my expense.
‘I couldn’t to get to the washing machine filter to remove any debris or obstruction without getting my husband to unscrew and remove a base unit plinth to get at it. The whole kitchen installation was diabolical.’
Teresa was so disgusted her dream kitchen was in ruins she commissioned an independent report listing numerous faults and sent it to Wickes and finance company Hitachi.
She says the firm flatly refused to accept it so she agreed to arbitration by the Furniture Ombudsman who agreed the kitchen installation wasn’t up to scratch. Consequently Wickes arranged for remedial work, and offered £500 compensation.
But she said the work and compensation didn’t even begin to adequately sort the problems with the kitchen. She insisted it was either ripped out and completely replaced or the finance agreement cancelled.
When she appealed to Streetwise for help she said she was at her wits’ end. She’d been battling with them and got nowhere. Her calls to the company went unanswered and her plea to the company CEO was ignored.
A company manager was finally appointed to look into her complaint but it soon became clear it would not be resolved.
She says the firm point-blank refused to do any more work to put the installation right, or up their offer to cover the full cost of repairs.
Our company background checks included reviews and comments by Which?, the independent Consumers Association watchdog.
They rated Wickes as being at the top end of the market for kitchen product quality and customer satisfaction, but members who experienced problems with the firm were critical of the way they handled complaints.
Problems took a long time to resolve, and staff weren’t in the least bit helpful in trying to provide a quick solution. They were brilliant with the sales, but didn’t want to know about any problems.
We got onto Wickes and asked them to re-investigate Teresa’s dodgy kitchen project.
When they got back to us they fully admitted despite the majority of customers being completely satisfied with their kitchen and bathroom installations, there were rare cases where they weren’t able to meet all their customers’ requirements.
They said in such circumstances they provide a fair and reasonable offer to positively resolve the matter which they believed to be reflective of the work required.
A spokesperson added: ‘Further to the findings of an independent inspection by The Furniture Ombudsman, organised by Mrs Meade, our final offer of goodwill reflects an amount we believe to be fair. Previous financial gestures have already been paid to Mrs Meade, in addition to this final offer.’
Streetwise put the company’s refusal to budge to Theresa who found it difficult to contain her fury.
She said: ‘If I’d have known what they were really like I’d never have gone to Wickes in the first place.
‘If you’ve got a problem they don’t really care or help their customers. They don’t return your calls, and they don’t want to know you.
‘They just moan at you because you’ve had this that or the other work done, and they refuse to believe you are in the right. They deserve to be named and shamed.’
Teresa is preparing to take her case through the small claims track of the County Court.
We’ll let you know the outcome in due course.