Faults with kitchen from Wren Kitchens leave couple in three-year battle with company

Julie and Tim Harman paid £12,299 for a buy now pay later kitchen from Wren Kitchens, but were left to endure almost three years of distress and turmoil when it turned out to be a kitchen from hell.

Thursday, 4th April 2019, 2:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th April 2019, 2:07 pm
Picture: Shutterstock

The Portchester couple were more than impressed when they viewed a range of luxury kitchens at the firm’s local showrooms and signed up for their dream kitchen in July 2015.

Julie, 53, said everything looked to be in order when it was delivered in the October. But when the fitters completed the job it was riddled with faults and such a disaster it had to be ripped out and replaced.

She said: ‘As soon as they tried to get us to sign the kitchen off we noticed when they put the lights on the whole of the worktops were so scratched it looked as if somebody had skated on them – they were that bad.

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‘By the time the designer got in touch we’d started looking over the installation and compiled a list of the so many things that were wrong.

‘The cooker hadn’t been fitted properly and all the electrics were still exposed.

‘The gas bayonet they were supposed to have capped off hadn’t been done so we had to get someone out ourselves because it was so dangerous.

‘A wall unit was fitted over an existing electric plug and socket, but the casing had been removed leaving exposed wires, and end panels had been cut when they shouldn’t have been.

‘No gas, electric or plumbing safety certificates were provided.

‘The kitchen units were damaged, and not properly attached to the walls, and all the doors and plinths cut too short, misaligned and with exposed edges.

‘Noting lined up, and there were gaps everywhere.

‘When we complained to Wren we didn’t see anyone for 14 weeks. The chap from the showroom said he’s never seen anything like it and was so embarrassed.

‘He said they’d get it sorted but nothing happened at all.

‘The customer service resolution team was absolutely diabolical. Eventually they sent someone out who agreed and did a report, but refused to give us a revised price for the necessary work, or tell us what they were going to do about it.

‘They just kept passing the buck from one person to another and delivering worktops and things without our agreement.

‘We had five installation field managers come out. All had different views and said different things including not replacing the worktops which was the very first thing we complained about.’

But things were to go from bad to worse for the couple when the unresolved year-long wrangle resulted in the finance agreement kicking in and Wren paid £12,000 plus for the kitchen disaster.

Julie had been assured the firm wouldn’t be paid by Barclays Partner Finance until they’d signed a satisfaction certificate but that turned out not to be the case.

They complained to the banking ombudsman who agreed there had been a significant breach of contract and the money was ultimately refunded.

However the refund wasn’t to be the end of the story, as Wren Kitchens continued to shy away from agreeing precisely what was to be sorted and who was going to pay for it.

The escalating battle dragged on for a further two years with Julie finally having to pay for a Wickes replacement kitchen to be fitted. Wren had point blank refused to engage any further with Tim, and gave them both the cold shoulder routine.

Additional bills totalling £2,650 to had been run up to cover solicitor’s fees, plastering, removal and replacement of wall and floor tiles, and escalating interest because her credit rating had been trashed.

She winged off a furious email to company boss Mark Pullan for the way the couple had been treated which pulled no punches.

In it the NHS theatre nurse castigated his company for the protracted shambolic state her kitchen had been left in which she says had made her ill and sick with worry.

Julie appealed for help from Streetwise to get the matter sorted.

We got onto Wren Kitchens and Barclays Partner Finance and asked them to investigate.

We reminded Wren that because the contract had been breached they had a legal obligation to financially compensate the Harmans to ensure they were put in precisely the same situation as if the order had never been placed.

It included any out of pocket expense for removing the defective kitchen and any additional work associated with its replacement.

Following our intervention, Julie was much relieved when the firm promptly agreed to compensate them in full and offered an unreserved apology.

A contrite spokesperson said: ‘We are the UK’s number one kitchen retailer, delivering more than 2000 kitchens a week to homes across the country. We are extremely proud of our customer service record and of the exceptional customer reviews we receive on Trustpilot, Google and other independent platforms.

‘We apologise to Mrs Harman that, in her case, we did not meet our usual high standards; whilst this was an untypically complex situation, it should not have taken this long to solve. We are pleased to confirm that the matter has been amicably resolved with Mrs Harman.’

Barclays Partner Finance was also reassuring, and helped pay for removal of the wall tiles. Their spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm that Mrs Harman’s loan has been cancelled, and that no further payments are required. We have also written to Mrs Harman to apologise for the distress and inconvenience caused.’

On receipt of a full and final settlement offer from Wren for the outstanding £2,650, Julie was astounded.

‘I can’t believe it,’ she said. ‘For three years they have refused to put the kitchen right, took out a finance agreement without fulfilling their contract, have been nothing but bloody minded and now obviously because you have contacted them they’ve got it sorted. Unbelievable. We’ve finally got all our money back. I can’t thank you enough.’