If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Friday, 7 October 2011

Getting on my Wickes

I posted yesterday about how Nowhere Towers was in utter chaos, and that the major cause of the stress was the sheer bumbling disorganisation of the kitchen fitting operation.

We got a couple of estimates when we were planning this, and Wickes were not only the cheapest quote by a country mile, but gave the most confidence that the work would be planned and executed professionally. The 'planning consultant' we dealt with was efficient, creative and confidence-inspiring. So we went with Wickes. I don't regret this decision, although it's been a bit of a bumpy ride thus far. The individual fitters seem pleasant people and good at what they do, but the planning of the work has been inept. It would be too painful to go through every single cockup, so I will leave you with one image which will stick in the mind for a while. Imagine all the kitchen units fitted, worktops polished and in place, new gas hob installed and connected, spotlights fitted and working, and then remembering that the cooker hood needs a hole through the wall above the hob. Cue an hour of house-shattering drilling two feet away from all the new kit. Mess, dust, debris, and the inevitable 'oo-er, I've damaged the new units, now how can that have happened?'

Or deciding to cut a channel down a wall to fit cables for a new power socket, a week after the wall was decorated, and then blobbing on some Polyfilla and a bit of paint and pretending it never happened.

We were promised, by the smooth design consultant, that once the work began, it would continue without a break, and would be completed in 7-10 working days. As it happened, there was usually only one guy working, and because they had to come from Ammanford (about 60 miles away), they usually turned up between 10 and 11 am and left by 4 pm. Each of them was pleasant and did a good job, but the feeling of 'getting nowhere' was worsening by the day.

Yesterday, the hole-saw vs new hob grudge match, and the fact that we were now on Day Sixteen Out Of Seven To Ten tipped me over the edge. I went back to Wickes, sat the new design consultant down (the original chap had 'left the company') and told her what was going on. I'm bad at complaining. I either give up too easily or I lose my rag and end up going way over the top. Yesterday I was calm and factual, but very positive. I was quite pleased with myself.

My words had the desired effect, because this morning early there were three vans and two cars on the drive, and the kitchen was full of workmen. Suddenly, things are moving. The boss of the installing company has had my snag list with both barrels and - strangely - all the items are already in hand. A thorough check of all the equipment has revealed several key items missing, so they are now on order. We are told it should be finished by tomorrow night. I hope so.

One thing the girl in Wickes needs to learn, though: the use of 'sorry' as a key component in your Customer Service toolkit. She listened to my tale of woe, agreed it was unacceptable, and she has obviously kicked some arses very hard indeed afterwards. But the word 'sorry' wasn't used once, and I still feel a niggling sense of injustice that I had to go through all this just to get the job done. Here's a lesson for all you customer-facing dudes out there: the first words you should say are "I am sorry to hear that, and I will try my best to fix things for you." And sound genuine.

After that, it's just clearing up the details.


  1. Sorry to learn of your tribulations.

    "........and the inevitable 'oo-er, I've damaged the new units, now how can that have happened?'"

    At least you had an honest fitter.

    More than one kitchen-buyer has, at some time, been told "........ I've noticed one of the new units is damaged, now how can that have happened?'"

  2. I was being a little generous. I discovered the damage and told him. He said he hadn't seen it, which I can believe, and the unit is being replaced, so no loss.

  3. Fingers crossed that I can only offer remote sympathy on this post, and the previous one! That may change starting on Tuesday - not really looking forward to my first experience of major house alteration. New kitchen, loft semi-conversion and rear extension are all scheduled, and it's hell just trying to move everything about to make space for the work to commence!

    That's after throwing loads of old tat out, as well.

    Hope you're all sorted now!

  4. Mustn't laugh, but ... HAHAHAHAHA

    Key point from today's presentation: try to do one thing at a time. Kitchen's the worst. You have no idea how much crap is in there, and how often you need it, until you try to get it out of there and into the rest of the house. I'd swear that there is a whole house-worth's of stuff just in the kitchen. We are now starting to get it all back in place, and it's a relief. Just to make a cup of tea ...

    I must say that it is very nice, though. Next is the bathroom, I think. That will be a breeze.

    Good luck with it, anyway - and if you need a shoulder to cry on ...

  5. Thanks - may yet need one!

    Sadly, as the latest building regulations involve a game of move-the-boiler and hide-the-hot-water-tank, it is necessary to overlap the various stages. Otherwise, I'd be delighted to approach it in a more logical and singular fashion. It's a slight comfort that the kitchen is a tiny galley-style one: it's full of Mrs E's mysterious crockery collections, but otherwise not too bad for stuff and hopefully quite a simple job to replace.

    On the bright side, had the bathroom done last year and it went extremely smoothly. So that was nice.

  6. Ah, Mrs E has mysterious crockery too! When we took it all out I think I counted five separate sets, three of which we never use, and part of my task this week will be to control the reinstatement, so that only what is actually some use is restored to the hallowed area.

    The bathroom is next here - but only AFTER THE REST OF IT IS FINISHED. Please.

  7. Fitting kitchens is the only thing that Mrs N allows me to do now!

    I went off Wickes rather when I learnt that they had taken over Focus diy.

  8. I'm fairly sure all women have mysterious crockery. It's probably genetic, or quantum, or something like that.

    We have nearly enough for a full dining set apiece, and that includes the cats. I'm hoping to negotiate losing at least a couple of sets: after all, the cats only get confused over which plate to use for what course.


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