I don’t know if you heard the interview on You and Yours – BBC Radio 4’s daily consumer programme – with Dave Cullen, the CEO of Ultra Finishing Group which bought distributor Mark Two last year, and Winifred Robinson, but to me it raised more questions than answers.
Tesco writes on its website: “Following a review of our Tesco Kitchens and Tesco Bathrooms provider, Mark Two Distributors Limited, we identified concerns about their ability to deliver the service our customers expect. This is despite the fact that Mark Two had supplied and installed over 11,000 orders.
Mr Cullen meanwhile has said that the terms of the contract with Tesco was “onerous”, although said ‘onerous’ contract has apparently been in place for over five years.
But the question Ms Robinson kept putting to Mr Cullen was that although Mark Two had been paid for kitchens (and bathrooms) by Tesco customers, it was unable to deliver or install the kitchens or bathrooms ordered and paid for. It was a question that Mr Cullen did not answer on the programme.
Obviously I do not know what has happened in this particular case but for years the curse of kitchen and bathroom retailing has been companies that had been paid in good faith by customers for goods or services, failing to honour their contracts. Every time it happens, the ‘good guys’ who deliver what they have been paid for, get tarred with the same unreliable brush.
It is probably tales of or even the experience of lost deposits or unfulfilled kitchen (or bathroom) orders that drives many kitchen or bathroom purchasers into the arms of B&Q or IKEA where they feel safer. Certainly in the case of IKEA, where the customer can actually hump all of the kitchen bits onto a trolley and then pay for them, this could be a factor.
Another question I have is why did several of the Tesco/Mark Two customers take their existing kitchen out before the new kitchen was delivered? The family I highlighted in my earlier post about this sorry tale, and customers interviewed by You and Yours had stripped out their old kitchen in advance of the new one being delivered or installed.
How common is it I wondered to rip out the old kitchen before the new one is installed. And talking of a kitchen being installed, Tesco who did not actually make or install kitchens or bathrooms itself was a member of the iKBBI (Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom & Bathroom Installers). Does the iKBBI recommend a consumer has an existing kitchen or bathroom removed before the new kitchen or bathroom is delivered and installed?
Sadly, my attempts to get the iKBBI to provide me with an answer to this and other installer-related queries concerning the Tesco situation have not so far been too successful. A statement from Damian Walters, founder and director of iKBBI said it was “very aware of the situation” and that it was “concentrating the majority of our efforts on supporting our installer members”.
When I asked specifically if it was iKBBI policy to suggest to consumers that they rip out their old kitchen ahead of the new kitchen being delivered and installed, the iKBBI sent me, via its PR company, a print out from the Tesco Kitchens website and the following comment:
“In answer to your question, these details need to be sorted between the manufacturer, installer and consumer. The iKBBI is working actively to arbitrate between the companies involved in this unfortunate state of affairs, as you will appreciate this is an extremely sensitive situation and therefore further details of the iKBBI’s involvement may be released at a later date.”
Perhaps at “a later date” I may have a good reason to recommend that independent kitchen and bathroom retailers use iKBBI-registered installers.