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Vinyl Covered Kitchen Units

November 27, 2013

OK the title is not likely to set the blood racing although in my case at least and I suspect in that of a number of other people it is likely to raise  blood pressure. The question is this, you buy a new fitted kitchen and you expect it to last a reasonable time, but how long is a reasonable time?
In my case I had the kitchen fitted in October 2008 so I have had it exactly five years and one month. My expectation was that a kitchen would last much longer than that. The fitted kitchen which was taken out, was from the 1980s, in perfect condition but dated. My other experiences were of kitchens which had lasted anything up to forty years. So my expectation of how long a kitchen lasts is a minimum of twenty years.
The problem which had arisen was that the vinyl doors had peeled. The very fact that there is a jargon term to describe this means that I am not the only person to have had this happen. Of course when you talk to the company this is what they always say, we have never had this happen before, you are the only person … the implication being that it is your fault.
Peeling is an odd way of describing what happens. I suppose when you are in the showroom and looking at these beautiful fitments you don’t ask what tat they are made of nor how long they will last. After five years I know now that these units are made of mdf (I assume) covered in a vinyl skin which is glued to the mdf underneath. What happens in peeling is that the glue loses its stickability and the vinyl floats away from the mdf. That lovely product you saw in the showroom looks like an absolute load of rubbish.
With some trepidation, because I know what it is like being a consumer in this day and age, I ring the company who fitted the kitchen. They send a man out to look at the problem. Actually he says he is coming to measure the doors. The suggestion is that I will have to pay for them. I say, no, you are coming to look at the problem with the doors. When he sees them there is the usual, ‘we’ve never had that happen before,’ but it depends how they have been used. I point to the immaculate house, and say,’ does it look as though they have been abused?’ He won’t agree they haven’t, but he then indicates the cause of the problem – the sun. I live in England, for goodness sake, not Australia or California. My immediate reaction was that if the sun was going to cause the glue to be ineffective then you should not have put the units in that position.
The conversation goes on. We talk about who is going to pay for them.
‘Well who do you think is going to pay for them? he says. ‘If the manufacturer accepts liability then you will have to pay us to fit them.’ No, I say, I paid you for supplying and fitting the units, they were not two separate transactions. He appears not to understand that and suggests that I don’t understand what he is saying. He relates it to buying a car which is under guarantee for a while and then you have to pay for repairs. I say that is totally different so he then tries to explain to this stupid customer that it is like buying a fridge or a washing machine. I am not interested in his examples and do not want him in the house any longer. I move towards the door but he stands and presumably will stand until I say I will pay for something. Eventually he goes and I am left bruised, battered but unbowed.
I ring up the boss of the company but should have known better. If the staff are bullies there is only one person they have got it from. We have exactly the same patter about cars and fridges and I try to put my side of things. The boss explains that I had a one year guarantee with the kitchen but he will see what he will do, if the manufacturer will replace them free of charge. However, I will have to pay for fitting. No, I say, and repeat my argument about it being a package. We are getting nowhere and I put the phone down.
It is time to call trading standards (Citizen’s Advice) to see where I stand. I write the company a letter explains what my rights are and no sooner have I done that than the owner of the shop is on the phone saying. ‘I am trying to do my best for you Mrs Smith but your attitude has been terrible from Day 1.’ (as we are only at Day 1, I don’t understand this.) He goes on ‘You are only angry because you are not getting your own way and unless you apologise I am not going to do anything.’ I apologise but mentally note that at no time has the company apologised for the shoddy goods nor for their attitude. All this seems to be my fault.
This week I have received a letter offering to replace the doors even though the manufacturer’s guarantee only lasts for 5 years so, surprise surprise, mine are one month out of guarantee. The sting in the tail is that I will have to pay for fitting the doors and the cost including VAT is £96. When I send the cheque they will order the doors. I would be happy to receive the doors free of charge and find someone else to fit them but suspect that the £96 will be to pay for the six new doors.
Phew, what sort of a country is this where these traders can treat clients in this way. We have so much legislation but they aren’t bothered by this in the slightest. I have great doubts about these vinyl covered units being fit for the purpose in any kitchen and if they cannot cope with sunlight, what situation are they suitable for? I rang up one of the largest manufacturers of vinyl covered units in the UK and asked how long this covering would last for. ‘That depends,’ was the answer. Unless you can be definite on the life of a product such as this, then why would it be used in a kitchen with an expected life of twenty years?


From → website

  1. supernova1c permalink

    I’ve experienced something like this Jane. Drives me up the wall too!
    Regards James:-)

  2. I’m afraid to say that nothing seems to be made to last these days from clothes to furniture. We live in a throw away society it’s very frustrating. The customer is never right. It makes you dread having to replace things.

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