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Kitchen Buying Tips

"A number of reputable net retailers now offer complete kitchens via the internet and their showrooms are their web pages but that's technological progress and its only the dinosaurs who insist that terrestrial showrooms remain the only source for buyers."

Kitchen Buying - Look Before You Leap

Website: http://www.kitchensfitted.co.uk/
(This article is written in UK English.)

I recently received the following query from a disillusioned and frustrated visitor to my site. "How can I minimise the possibility of entering the nightmare of bad installers, being abandoned by the showroom and wishing I'd never embarked on the whole kitchen thing?"
In offering my opinion I decided that it would perhaps be useful to others viewing the same expedition with similar trepidation, to write about how to avoid the stresses associated with choosing a new kitchen.

So if we start at the beginning - where you're browsing the showroom nursing your ambitions to find the kitchen you've always wanted. Careful not to draw attention to yourself - after all, you've read all the horror stories, watched all the TV exposures and everywhere you go in search of your dream kitchen you feel a little like a lamb being led to the slaughter.

Have you entered the lion's den? Well no, I don't think so. The good news is that there is a wealth of knowledgeable, helpful, courteous and efficient people in a kitchen showroom near you determined to shake off the bad image generated by some of their unscrupulous counterparts.

The question is - how can you distinguish a sweet-talking salesperson from a dedicated professional? The truth is - it's difficult, but with a little preparation and sound knowledge you will be in a better position to prise yourself away from the clutches of an eager "Fagin".

Today the resources at your disposal mean that research is much easier. Most people own a computer and have access to the Internet where there is an abundance of consumer websites detailing the companies and the sales methods to avoid. There are also a growing number of sites offering good advice and discussion forums and newsgroups provide an excellent way of determining the wheat from the chaff.

The reality is that all your research can be done in the comfort of your own home whereas before you connected to the net, the only research possible was trawling the showrooms for days on end before tiring of the confusion. Purveyors of the old method ended up buying the kitchen hastily through sheer exhaustion and desperation.

The Internet also provides a source for finding the goods you want at the best price and a host of sites are proving popular by dedicating their search engines to scour the net in search of the best deal. Indeed, kitchen appliances were once a means of generating great profit for many retailers but a growing number of competitive internet appliance sellers means that now, even trade prices of appliances are being undercut by certain web retailers.

Contacting manufacturers to find out why you should buy their products before you actually do is a facility most of them invite but consumers rarely choose to use it. But by doing so you strengthen their commitment to you by ensuring personal contact with the company. Some may see this as a form of psychology, some may be daunted by the prospect, but I view it as a means of using the tools at your disposal to ensure a satisfactory outcome.
Increasing amounts of buyers are finding out how useful it is to source their kitchens from web retailers and this offers the buyer the comfort of choosing their kitchen from home, avoiding the conflicting advice you invariably find from the High St.

A number of reputable net retailers now offer complete kitchens via the internet and their showrooms are their web pages but that's technological progress and its only the dinosaurs who insist that terrestrial showrooms remain the only source for buyers. After all, the internet shops are open every minute of every day and no-one is peering over your shoulder with a look of anxiety in case you leave the showroom and look elsewhere.

The benefits of online shopping from an established and respectable site means that customers can get in-depth information about a product, read feedback from other customers and ask advice from experts who have fitted the product.
Still some manufacturers remain blinkered on "you have to touch and feel a product before you will buy it" even though recent research by a reputable appliance manufacturer told them that 39% of people canvassed on this belief said they would buy a product costing more than 500 over the internet. I wonder will they be talked about like poor old Harold Macmillan, Prime Minister in the 1960s who said "You know of course that this television thing is just a fad - it will never catch on".

There is no substitute for educating yourself on the various components available to the buyer and no shortage of resources are available to assist you. For instance certain websites offer the potential buyer tips on what to avoid, what to look for and articles on how to install your own kitchen.

To assist in your quest you can research expert opinions and articles by entering your queries into an Internet search engine. The results will provide you with both recommendations and criticisms of the large variety of products available. The above may sound like a blatant recommendation for using the internet as your new marketplace when seeking a kitchen, it isn't, but I don't believe that quality only exists on the High St.

For those not impressed with the Internet there remains a wealth of good terrestrial retailers offering quality goods, services and websites.
Armed with a new-found knowledge you can begin your buying crusade with confidence in your ability to prevent the wool being pulled over your eyes.

To prevent this happening here's a few tips:

  • When buying your kitchen - don't be swayed by adverts, be swayed by feedback. Ask if you can contact previous customers.
  • To ensure longevity of your kitchen - choose reputable and quality components - this will affect cost but prove cost effective
  • Insist on a personal contact within the company who will visit while the kitchen is being installed and again when the kitchen is completed.
  • Withhold a minimum of 20% of the kitchen cost until everything is completed to your satisfaction.
  • Make sure everyone involved works in synchronisation - i.e. all building works completed to a schedule before installing your new kitchen
  • Speak to the kitchen installer who has been allocated 2 weeks before installation to discuss the time and date of his/her arrival and access arrangements if appropriate. This is also a good opportunity to learn more about the person who will join the household for 1 or 2 weeks.
  • Raise any concerns with the kitchen installer whenever they appear rather than waiting till completion. This may save added disruption.

The core of any kitchen is formed around the three vital components, cabinets, appliances and worktops. Having the ability of identifying the quality of these components is a skill I would strongly advise all buyers to acquire before embarking on their mission.

Kitchens are no different to other industries in that quality products come at greater expense, but it pays to have the ability to recognise quality before handing over the money.

The important thing for you is that you receive quality goods and services at a fair cost. The important thing for most retailers is that they win your custom and you then spread the word. As the adage goes - If the services completed are of a high standard you will tell a friend or neighbour but if the standard is poor you will tell a crowd.

The message to all consumers is to "gen up" and play a part in removing the cooks who have been spoiling the broth for so long.

Editors Note: T Foley Interiors operate from www.kitchensfitted.co.uk offering consumer reference articles, advice, an onsite forum, and full kitchen design and consultancy services - taking the stress out of choosing a new kitchen.

Tim Foley 2003

Note: This article was submitted by a second party and the contents are subject to our disclaimer.

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