Written on: 24/08/2011
In the last few days of 2009, having made a few earlier enquiries and being in the vicinity again, my wife and I went back to the Chester Branch of Kutchenhaus to arrange an appointment with a Kitchen Designer, although we were not intending to proceed with a new installation for a few months. Patsy met us and we explained what we wanted to do. Tim was just finishing an appointment with another customer, so we were invited to have a word with him.
That word turned into a full design session starting from a basic scenario to a complete kitchen with the units, equipment, style and colour requirements all agreed. Luckily, we had taken measurements along with us, so it was simple to adjust sizes of furniture from the outset. Throughout, Tim became our designer, making the session interactive with ideas being proposed by each of us and accepted or rejected and giving us time to choose the style and colour as we went along. We finished the session feeling extremely confident with what had developed and with just a couple of things to think about over a few days.
Having copies of the design and discussing it in situ, we went back a couple of days later ready to make tweaks or changes where necessary and finalise a sequence of next steps following order placement. All the advice necessary was provided by Tim, from having a visit by the Surveyor, necessary to confirm or amend dimensions that we had supplied and make changes to the order before transmission to Nobilia. We were advised that there would be a lead time of at least eight weeks, which didn’t matter because we were intending to wait a little longer anyway. As it happened, the Surveyor was the fitter tasked with our job. We agreed a date with Kutchenhaus that we would like to aim for and confirmed that it would be acceptable for the fitter.
A week before our installation date we were advised that all items had arrived and would be delivered on the specified date. The fitter was also advised and contacted us later in the week to confirm with us. Following confirmation by the delivery team the night before, our kitchen was delivered at 6.00 am. Everything was well packed and undamaged where we could see.
Dave, the fitter arrived later that morning, having arranged a skip for disposal of the old units and other rubbish. As units were unpacked we all checked for damage. All was well. Despite having to remove all the existing kitchen furniture before installation could begin, Dave made short work of the removal and most unit carcasses were installed by the end of the first day, one of the best features of pre-built units. The other aspect was that because all measurements submitted were accurate, the units slotted together easily, with no gaps or filler padding. Dave is competent and conscientious and produces work to the highest standard.
Towards the end of the installation Dave had found that a panel piece was missing, so completed an Exceptions Report. He said that it would be ordered and he would then return to fit it. It wasn’t in a place where it would be glaringly obvious but still needed for the job to be finished. A couple of weeks later, I called in to see Patsy who was able to give me a scheduled date for arrival. It arrived a week late and with the grain in the wrong direction.
The Installations Department in Manchester ordered another piece, meaning another wait of several weeks. This, on arrival was also found to be incorrect. Each time a request was submitted, the delay was up to four weeks, so each occasion saw a month pass by. As it happens, the missing board was not in a conspicuous place so we could put up with the wait. Anyway, the kitchen was functioning well and to my wife’s delight, still is.
On one of my frequent progress report visits to the long suffering Chester Branch staff, I was able to speak with a previous Chester Branch Manager (now an Area Manager). He explained how the errors in specifying grain direction occurred and I also found out the reason why there is a long wait for single pieces to be ordered and obtained.
It is important to understand how the Nobilia production system works and this isn’t always explained to customers at the beginning. Through my regular discussions I have learned that there is no fast track method for an individual board, unit, cupboard door or counter top. All components have to have two or more machines set to specific dimensions, so that the pre-built units for full kitchens fit into place. This means that even individual boards have to be treated as separate orders using the same machinery and must take their place in a queue, comprising orders from several continental countries. This is the source of the delay.
Eventually the board with the correct grain direction arrived, Dave came to fit it and the kitchen was complete, about six months after it should have been.
Despite that, my wife has a kitchen that she is really pleased with and hope that it lasts as long as the last German kitchen she had. This is all because of the efforts of Patsy, Alison, Tim and Dave who always treated me to a smile as I walked through the door, knowing that I was about to complain and doing their best to resolve the problem.
On ventures like this it is important to know what you want, be open to suggestion but not afraid to reject what you don’t like. Also make sure that your measurements are absolutely accurate.