Saturday, 8 September 2012

Wickes Kitchens

Wickes is a builders merchant in the UK. They have been around since 1972. They are part of the Travis Perkins plc group. They advertise quite frequently on the national TV projecting the image of reliability and a "Job Done" approach.

Sadly that has not been our experience. We are severely disappointed.

We purchased a fitted kitchen from them on 26th May 2012 (Order Number 890924). We paid in full on the 26th May as part of their conditions of business.  The price included fitting.  Here we are on the 8th September 2012 not knowing when this kitchen will arrive or when it will be fitted. Yesterday we had a phone call to follow up an earlier letter telling us the kitchen parts would be delivered Saturday (today) between 8 am and 10 am.  The call said the driver would call us before arrival. The fitter had said installation would start on 10th Sept.  That's 15 weeks delay on the part of Wickes.

The kitchen has not been delivered, there's no contact from Wickes and yesterday afternoon the fitter called and said he'd hurt his back and might not be able to attend on the planned Monday start date. We tried to call their Help Desk and learned it is only available Monday to Friday 9-5:30.

We want to thank Wickes for wasting our Saturday and leaving us in the dark. What happens on Monday? Do I have to make arrangements to stay at home?

Is the Travis Perkins group so short of money that it needs us to act like a bank and have us lend it £9000 free of interest for 15 weeks?

Getting the van ready to drive around the City of London

Update @ Sat 8th Aug 13:10 The truck arrives. They'd had two previous deliveries (allowed 15 mins each by Wickes) bur each delivery "took a couple of hours, because they were flats". They couldn't call us because "they didn't have any phone numbers".  We'd given Wickes a couple of numbers when we placed the order, in any case is there no reason why the driver couldn't have called their HQ and had them call us to advise of the delay?

Update Mon 10th Sept @ 10:15am
No sign of any Wickes fitters at our place this morning to install the kitchen, nor any phone call as promised to explain when this work would be done. Apparently the fitter had warned Wickes that he might be off sick (injury) today. As usual Wickes do not seem to care about inconvenience to their customers.There's no point in calling the original salesman, he was moved to another Branch.

Update Mon 10th Sept @ 13:45
I called Wickes Help Desk again, not having heard anything for a couple of hours. The regional installations manager has, after my earlier call (10:46), arranged an alternative fitter to visit tomorrow at 1pm to assess the work and possibly start on the following day (Wednesday). The manager confirmed in the call that Wickes have no formal procedures in place to check why installations are delayed past their "normal period of 4 - 8 weeks" after the date of order, it is left to the customer to raise concerns. In effect Wickes had 64 hours during which they could have resolved this before start of play today; but they didn't.

In a further example of customer friendliness I note the comment from the Wickes Helpdesk representative (S_______e)  who briefly handled my call; "You should expect it to take between 24 - 48 hours for us to handle a query."  It seems that I've had the Red Carpet treatment so far. It will be fascinating to see what Wickes manage to deliver on their latest promises in the next couple of days.

Update Wed 12th Sept
The replacement sub-contractors have commenced work on time and are getting stuck in to the work. As Wickes uses sub-contractors as its fitters there was very little handover from the previously assigned fitter so we had to do a full review of the plan. It turns out that while "everything" was delivered there was a missing item which the sub-contractors will have to contact Wickes to sort out. 
Interestingly in the original order process  and subsequent discussions I deliberately asked Wickes if their fitters were Wickes employees and was told they were employed by Wickes. Strictly speaking the fitters are not employees, they are self-employed/ working for small companies carefully selected by Wickes. They have a contract to supply services to Wickes. One consequence is the fitters will try to take on as much work as possible, which in my view could lead to scheduling difficulties. I just dislike the misleading response from Wickes which implied the fitters were direct employees.

Update Wed 19th Sept
The replacement sub-contractors employed by Wickes completed their work on Monday (17th) afternoon. They were good and took care over their work. They tidied up and placed the rubbish from the install in a large yellow bag in our front garden for collection.Sadly the Wickes design didn't fully match the room so a couple of set of draws have been return to Wickes (Monday) for refund. No news from Wickes on the refund, so I'll have to chase them again. Grrr!!

The sub-contractors managed to devise a fitting from cut-offs from the installation, so the work looks tidy (pictures, also shows floor replacement), but we didn't get what we paid for in terms of installed kitchen furniture. 

One annoying thing is that we were left with a 2.5 metre length of solid oak worktop from the installation. The designer had ordered two x 3 metre lengths to make up the parts for the installation. You would have thought that Wickes could have sourced a 0.5 Metre length off-cut of their worktop. The list price of the 3 Metre lengths is £324 each. So we (Wickes) wasted the the better part of £150 after discount, though I guess it increased the Wickes profit.

The rubbish collection is sub-contracted by Wickes to Hippowaste, but these people haven't turned up within the promised "48 hours", more inconvenience for us and our neighbours  who kindly kept that part of the street free from parked cars. This is once again poor control of process by Wickes of their sub-contracted suppliers. We still have a Hippo squashing the plants in the front garden, with no clear idea of when it will be taken away.

The effective charge per man-day of the installation was £300/man day; I'm pretty sure the sub-contractors don't see all of that money, but it might be a useful comparison if you are considering using alternative fitters to install the Wickes Kitchen unit.

In summary:
  • The Wickes kitchen units look robust and well constructed, but don't buy them unless they are at sale prices;
  • Their appliance prices are high, you'll get cheaper if you look around;
  • Don't use Wickes for the actual installation. They retain good installation sub-contractors (Note: not employees!), but their management of those resources is poor. They do not realise when things have gone wrong. The Wickes communication procedures with the client are poor.
  • Don't believe their delivery timings, you are destined to sit waiting at home for at least a whole day. Their delivery staff are helpful and efficient when they arrive.
  • Don't believe their timings for waste collection.
  • Double check and triple check the design produced by Wickes before signing, we had some wasted space behind cupboards and a couple of units too  large for the gaps.
  • Remember Wickes insist on a 100% deposit, i.e. payment in full when you sign the order; make sure you pay by credit card or you'd have no leverage if things go wrong. 
To give Wickes their due, when I made their HQ aware of the events through this Blog I received a phone call from one of their managers who called and gave a genuine apology. They've also resolved the surplus worktop issue. Hopefully they'll benefit from my criticism and avoid inflicting this on other customers. It doesn't take rocket science to sort their procedures.

1 comment:

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