Kitchen wars

Warning: This is a very long post and is entirely about us trying to get a kitchen fitted. Read on at your peril. I promise that the next post will be shorter and will almost certainly involve knitting.

The saga starts a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. (My Mum’s dining room sometime after Christmas.) Steven downloads the kitchen planning tool from IKEA and spends hours, whilst Mum and I are wedding dress shopping, designing a kitchen that will fit into our new flat. It looks great and he even managed to come up with an innovative way of working around the fact that modern kitchen units are too deep for our kitchen. We like the design but have no experience of IKEA kitchens and decide not to get carried away and order the first kitchen we think we like.

So we do some shopping around. We rule out B&Q kitchens on the grounds that we know too many people who have had terrible trouble with their installation service. MFI rule themselves out by not returning three separate phonecalls asking for a design appointment. Magnet rule themselves out by not having pricing information available in the showroom without me asking a salesperson for help. (Note to suppliers: I don’t like making phone calls and I don’t like salespeople trying to sell me things until I’ve decided what I want. This means I need lots of easily accessible information. If you’re not going to give me that, I’m not going to buy from you.) We ruled out all the beautiful adverts for solid wood kitchens that appear in our local free magazine because “we couldn’t possibly afford one of those”. Given how much this kitchen is going to have cost by the time it’s done, it turns out we probably could have.

Anyway, we end up deciding that we do want the IKEA kitchen after all. We go into the store to try and find out how much they want to charge for installation. We come back out of the store feeling like we had been hit by a bus. Let’s just leave it at “it was a bit more than we were expecting”.

Time passed and we still hadn’t ordered a kitchen. Eventually, we sit down with the combined budgets for the flat and the wedding and work out that we probably can afford the kitchen. However, we didn’t like the salesguy at the first IKEA we went to (or much of the rest of the store for that matter) so we decided to go to a completely different IKEA and ask them how much they’d charge for installation. Fortunately, the number they came up with was within our (newly revised) budget and we liked the salesperson a lot better so we decided to be brave and order the kitchen. Unfortunately, we only decided this after we had left the store and driven home. Undeterred by the 45 minute wait we had had to talk to someone appropriately trained in the kitchen department on the first occasion, I returned the next night (with Tetris on my phone) to order the kitchen.

So, kitchen has now been successfully ordered and the next step is getting an appointment with the installation company (IKEA sub-contracts the installation to local firms). Installation company don’t usually do evening or weekend appointments so we end up making an evening appointment for 10 days’ time. 8 days pass and then on the Wednesday I get a phone call from the installation company. “Hi Susan, just phoning to let you know that we’re not going to be able to make the survey appointment on Friday as Andy (names changed to protect the guilty) has had to go to the dentist to have a bad tooth pulled and we’ve given him a couple of days off afterwards because you know what men are like.” Umm, last time I had (wisdom) teeth pulled I was back at work the next day. The whole point of pulling teeth is that they stop hurting when you pull them and you’re not bothered by the pain any more! And guys, one word: professionalism. Your clients don’t need to know that you think all men are wimps. Not willing to wait for the two weeks for another evening appointment, I arrange to take an afternoon off work on the Monday and the appointment goes ahead as planned. Well, except for them turning up 1.5 hours late.

Appointment goes without a hitch and without too many patronising comments. One hilarious point when the guy asked me if he could take a look at the fuse box. I looked at him blankly and he repeated his question more slowly, explaining that this was where the fuses for the electric circuits would be. Still with an uncertain look on my face, I point at the fuse box that we’ve just spent 10 minutes discussing, including him measuring up to check that it would still be able to be hidden inside a cupboard when the new ones are fitted.

So, now IKEA know what units we would like and all the kitchen installer has to do is tell me and IKEA how much they will charge for the installation and the extra bits of work that we asked them to quote for. The installer tells me that he can send me a quote by the end of the week. This is a little disappointing since it’s only Monday and it’s already been 3 weeks since we placed the order with IKEA. He then tells me that he gets up really early every morning to check his email and do paperwork so that if I send him an email with my email address he could probably send me the quote the next morning. I duly did this and the quote arrived on the Friday. (sigh).

Steven and I think about the quote. This takes a couple of days since we eventually decide that we’ll get someone else in to do some of the extra bits of work that we need done (no way we’re paying someone £95 +VAT to plumb in a dishwasher!) and I phone IKEA to tell them that we’re happy to go ahead.

This is where the fun really starts. The guy that I speak to on the phone is happy to note down that we’re happy with the quote but can’t do anything else, including take payment. Apparently, this is for “data protection” reasons. Not a problem, someone will call me the next day to take my credit card details. Fine, not what I was expecting but never mind.

No phone call the next day. I get a voicemail the day after, asking me to call to pay for my kitchen. I phone back that afternoon. No good. Their payment team goes home at 3:30. The next couple of days at work are absolutely hectic and I don’t have time between 9 and 3:30 to call. Several voicemails are left asking me to call and pay. I eventually manage to find 5 minutes whilst on a break at a tutorial day and phone to pay. The gentleman on the other end of the phone assures me that this isn’t how it’s supposed to work and that I can’t pay for my kitchen because management haven’t approved the price of my order. He will give me the full price for my order, if I’m happy with that, he can pass the price to management and if they’re happy with it, someone will call me to take payment. (Why on earth do their management have to approve the price for my kitchen after I’ve said I’m happy to pay it? Why don’t they approve it before anyone tells me what it is going to be?) He gives me the price (which I already knew), I say I’m happy and he says that someone will phone me the next morning to take payment. I’m not good at arguing with people on the phone so I say that’s fine and hang up.

Just as I hang up, my phone rings. It’s my voicemail. With a message from IKEA asking me to please phone and pay for my kitchen as they can’t progress my order until I do. While I was on the phone to them being told that I can’t pay for my order, they’re on the phone to me telling me that I have to pay for my order! Despite the fact that I now only have 5 minutes to get back into class, I phone them straight back.

I explain about my earlier phone call and about the voicemail and they put me back through to the guy I had just been talking to. Some fiddling around on his computer and he tells me that my order has now appeared in his queue and he can now take payment. I’m just happy that he’s now willing to take my credit card details and don’t bother arguing about why he couldn’t do so five minutes beforehand. Then, my credit card is declined. Why the credit card company thought this was a suspicious transaction when all the other transactions on this credit card are for the purchase of home improvement stuff, I don’t know but they thought they were doing me a favour and declined it. I really have to get back into class now and I tell him that I’ll phone back the next day having either sorted it out with the credit card company or with a different set of card details.

I phone back the next morning. I explain that I had phoned to pay for my order. The girl on the other end of the line very carefully explains that that’s not how it works and that I need to wait for management to approve my order (I still don’t understand why IKEA’s management needs to approve my spending. Steven, sometimes, IKEA’s management, no) and then someone will phone me to take payment. I explain that I had already jumped through that particular hoop and was phoning with different credit card details because my card had been declined the previous day. “Oh, were you speaking to Bob? (names changed to protect the guilty)” I have no idea who I was speaking to but since it sounds like I might get somewhere if I say I was speaking to Bob, I say I was speaking to Bob. She then puts me through to Bob, who, it turns out, I was talking to the previous day. Bob takes my credit card details, my kitchen is now paid for and someone will call me to arrange delivery.

Someone calls and we arrange delivery. They want to deliver on a Friday afternoon so we wait in for them. Delivery is supposed to arrive between 1 and 5 and they’re supposed to phone me an hour in advance to let me know that they’re on their way. 4 o’clock comes and no one has phoned to say that they’re on their way. I phone IKEA to be told that they’re running late but my kitchen is on a van and will be delivered today. At 7 o’clock, I get another phone call to say that they’re running very late and my kitchen is being transferred to a courier who is willing to deliver up to 11 o’clock that night, if I’m going to be in to receive it. Since I had already decided that I wasn’t going anywhere until my kitchen was delivered, I said that was fine. Steven and I did think it was a little odd that they were going to get a courier to deliver a kitchen but, hey, if the courier wasn’t complaining, neither were we. At 7:45, I get another phone call: the courier complained and is not going to be delivering the kitchen. The kitchen is instead on its way back to the depot and someone will call me in the morning to arrange re-delivery.

Being a little impatient by the time the next morning comes around, I phone them. “I’ll just need to check with the depot that they do have your kitchen back and I’ll call you back to arrange re-delivery.” I don’t receive a call and by the time I call them back (around 12:30) they’ve all gone home.

I phone back on Monday morning. Suffice to say that they were having catastrophic IT problems and it was Monday afternoon and 4 phone calls later before anyone could actually arrange a delivery for me. “Okay, Miss Skinner, we can deliver your order on Friday 11th April,” sensing that I was about to object, “or, if that’s not convenient, we could do Saturday 12th.” Okay, there are so many reasons why that’s not acceptable. Firstly, the installers are coming on the 8th and while there are things that they could be getting on with, there aren’t 3 days worth of things. Secondly, why does my order end up at the back of the queue because you failed to deliver it? Thirdly, how can you possibly think it’s acceptable for the second attempted delivery to take a place a fortnight after the first. I reined in my temper and stopped after reason 1. “Well, all I can do is pass it through to our planner, flagging it up as a planning problem and someone will call you back in a couple of days.” A couple of days! I eventually got her to concede that someone would call me back before Tuesday night (bear in mind that this is Monday afternoon).

Next morning, I come out of a meeting at work to find a voicemail saying, “Hi, Susan. This is Claire (names blah blah blah). Just phoning to check that everything went okay with your delivery on Friday.” I admit it, I gave an evil chuckle and called her straight back. Several rounds of phone tig later, I eventually manage to speak to her, explain what had happened and get her to admit that this was unacceptable. Several more rounds of phone tig later (some of which I got Steven to do for me) and we now (allegedly) have a delivery arranged for Saturday and an installation arranged for Tuesday. Wish us luck!

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