Written on: by t4mof (6 reviews written)
Excellent planning service
Flooring and tiling only available on an ad hoc basis
MFI - A year ago we upped sticks and moved about a mile and a half down the road into a detached house. This detached house was a bargain, having been previously occupied by an elderly gentleman who was still quite happy living in the 1960s. Needless to say, the kitchen hadn't quite moved into the 21st century. Actually, a more accurate description would be that it hadn't quite moved into the 1970s, so a new kitchen was top of our "to do" lists. We had made a bit of money on our previous house but due to the new house also needing a complete rewire and other vital work, the budget for the kitchen wasn't huge, but then neither is the kitchen - about £4000 was the top end to kit out a 9ft by 7ft space.
MFI were one of a number of places we looked. They stock a good variety of Hygena and Schreiber kitchens in many different styles and the price range seemed just right so we arranged a planning meeting. The difference between MFI and most other kitchen places was that MFI require you to take your own measurements to the planning stage so there is no need for a kitchen designer to come to your house. This might seem daunting to some but there are clear guidelines provided by MFI to the measurements they want and it was ideal for us as we didn't actually own the house for someone to visit us anyway. Once the plans are drawn up, your allocated fitter does visit to check that everything is going to fit as planned so there is a safety net if something has been measured incorrectly.
~ ~ ~ February ~ ~ ~
We had sold our house and the hunt for the new kitchen began. We saw two styles in the MFI showroom that had really taken our eye and we met with Lisa who gave us brochures with all the current prices in and all the appliance packages that could be included. We had decided to go for the built-in look and wanted to include a fridge, freezer, washing machine and dishwasher which were all extra costs on top but affordable with the (never-ending) MFI sale. At this stage she advised us to spend some time going through the brochures so that we would go to the planning meeting completely prepared. We arranged our planning meeting for the following day.
Armed with the list of appliances we wished to purchase, all our measurements and the style of kitchen we had chosen we turned up for our meeting. Lisa met us personally at the time we had agreed and off we went to the computer. We then spent the next hour planning our kitchen. Lisa was extremely knowledgeable and managed to cram in all the appliances we required as well as giving us plenty of cupboards and drawers for storage. She was very well-trained and experienced at seeing ways around any problems that cropped up. One example being that there was no way we were going to be able to squeeze in a conventional radiator along with everything else so she suggested a plinth heater which fits into any plinth and blows out hot air. It is ideal for a smaller kitchen and was something I had never heard of.
Once the plans had been drawn up, Lisa did a costing. The price of the kitchen came to £4156 which was slightly over our budget but we felt we were getting a lot for this price. Included was a oven/dishwasher/washing machine package and a fridge/freezer package, 4 years warranty for all these products (which added £540 onto the cost but as the appliances were MFI own brand and were an unknown quantity to us in terms of reliability we thought this was a sensible precaution) and the "dry" fit of the kitchen which at £970 I actually thought was very expensive, especially when you consider that if any extra things need doing such as plumbing or electrical work this is charged during the week of the fit. Lisa also told us that everything - removal of previous kitchen, tiling, flooring, etc. - could be arranged with our fitter for an extra charge. The thought of having the kitchen completely finished appealed to us so we were pleased by this.
MFI usually require a 20% deposit but since we were paying for this kitchen out of funds from the sale of our house, over £800 was quite a lot of money for us to find at that point. After "speaking to the manager" Lisa agreed to take 10% off us so they've obviously got some leeway on this and it is worth bargaining with them. The final thing to do was arrange a fitting date. The earliest they could fit us in was June. For anybody who is living in their house, this would be a long wait but again for us it was ideal as it gave us time to move and secure our funds before they would need paying. The balance of the kitchen was required 14 days before the delivery date. MFI also offer easy payment plans if you want to pay off the balance over a longer period of time. The APRs range from 19.9% for smaller loans to 9.9% for loans over £7500.
~ ~ ~ May ~ ~ ~
Our allocated fitter, Alan, made contact with us and visited the property to check the plans over. He checked through everything that had been ordered and the measurements. He added on a few extra items that he would need and ordered them for us and noticed that the plinth heater hadn't been added onto the original order and so sorted that for us too. The Pre-Installation Survey added another £385 onto his fitting cost for all the work that wasn't included in the "dry" fit charge. We also asked about those other services Lisa had mentioned such as tiling and flooring but we didn't really get much joy. Alan basically told us that he could do those things if there was time at the end of the fitting. Hmmm, not quite what Lisa had told us so it appears that these extras can be done if you get a fitter who can be bothered. Alan also left us his mobile number in case there were any problems with the move or if we thought of any questions in the meantime. I did need to phone Alan with a query about the boiler I had ordered which was to be placed inside a cupboard and he was easy to contact and very helpful.
As it turned out, our house move experienced a few problems and we ended up moving 7 weeks after our original moving date so the fact that MFI couldn't fit us in until June was a blessing in disguise. On the day of our move we received a letter from MFI informing us that payment would be due in full on 23rd May, 3 weeks before the delivery date. I immediately queried this as a) we had been told 14 days and b) the 23rd May was the day we moved and we had to wait for our funds to transfer from the solicitor. The store was very helpful and explained that the 3 week policy had recently been introduced and that as we had been told 14 days, this would still stand. Once funds from our sale had been transferred I phoned them up again and the outstanding balance was taken over the phone by Switch.
~ ~ ~ June ~ ~ ~
Two days before the delivery date it is possible to ring an automated service to find out whether your delivery is scheduled for a morning or afternoon slot but you cannot specify which you would prefer. Ours was a pm delivery and sure enough the stock arrived as promised. The extra items arrived the following day which was a Friday all ready for installation to start on the following Monday.
Alan turned up every morning the next week at 8am and was generally a tidy worker. He did a lot of his work out on the driveway minimising mess inside and at the end of each day cleared away his tools and took them with him so we weren't tripping over them every evening. He worked full-time hours and didn't sneak off for 3 hour lunch breaks.
He told me that all MFI fitters are contracted so they are self-employed but MFI provide regular work for them. Because of their never-ending sale (current one finishes 19th May, offering the same discounts we received in February 2003!) MFI were inundated with kitchen sales last year and had to find new fitters as their current batch couldn't cope with the increase in demand. Apparently some of the newer fitters didn't work to particularly high standards and some of Alan's evenings were taken up refitting badly fitted kitchens. So, be warned. If you order a new kitchen from MFI make sure they allocate you an experienced fitter.
By Thursday afternoon my kitchen was complete - minus tiling and flooring but hey, what are husbands for? A few weeks of hassling the hubby and this was complete too.
I checked over the workmanship and signed a document to say I was happy and Alan went on his merry way. We have never needed to contact him since to come and put something right. All the units and appliances have been fitted well and feel solid. I am very hopeful that they will last for many years.
In the hallway we were left with a few bits and pieces that had been ordered but not used and on the Saturday, we popped down to the store where they gave us an immediate refund.
~ ~ ~ April 2004 ~ ~ ~
Despite the built-in appliances being MFI own brand and therefore relatively cheap, we have been happy with their performance. Knowing that we had paid for the extra warranty also gave us peace of mind in case anything was to go wrong.
While I was in hospital recovering from Jon's birth, somebody decided to have a big laugh and the washing machine broke down. Hmmm. New born baby, toilet training toddler and no washing machine - the future was looking fun. We dug out the warranty and phoned the helpline. Within 2 days somebody came out and fixed the washing machine with no questions asked. All in all a good service and I'm confident that I won't have problems if anything else is to go wrong.
~ ~ ~ Overall ~ ~ ~
MFI's reputation sometimes precedes them and it is usually not a positive reaction you get from most people. However, I can honestly say we had nothing but professional service right the way through from planning to fitting and beyond. I feel we got good value for money and have added a substantial amount onto the value of our home. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them or use them again if the need ever arises.
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