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Old 19th May 2011, 10:21 PM
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Smile BBC Watchdog: Can you rely on Wickes DIY?

Wickes - the DIY retailer providing a service you can trust. That's according to them. And if you're not convinced, how's this for a guarantee? Their adverts say: 'that's why we're proud to put our name on it. It's got our name on it.' Alas, so has the shoddy workmanship and faulty products Watchdog viewers have told us about. Rebecca Wilcox investigates.

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.



(Do you have something to say about this story? Tell us what you think by emailing us here. Don't forget to include 'Wickes' in the subject line. Watchdog will publish a selection of viewers' comments underneath each story, both throughout and after the programme is on air. Please remember to include your name as you would like to see it published).

If you love upgrading your house, where better to go than a store with a strong sense of self-belief?

The Wickes Tiling advert says -
"At Wickes we know how it feels to take pride in a job".

After all Wickes has 'always been a name you can trust'. And that's because they 'only put their name to quality'. Nice quotes. Here are a couple of others.

Mike France: "I feel that they have severely let us down."

Malcolm Wise: "I mean I really think their advertising campaign is just a big joke."

No mention of trust, pride and quality from these customers then. Let's delve a little deeper. Mike France bought his £8,500 kitchen in 2009 - and had it fitted by Wickes-recommended installers. The company promised a complete Service Package.... and total peace of mind through every step of the journey.

We asked Mike if his kitchen had been everything he hoped for. He told us: "There were in one way or another 40 separate issues and problems." Mike took us round his kitchen and told us: "Those two drawers didn't close properly, that facia frame there actually fell off. Because the plasterwork was so awful instead of finishing at the level shown there, i.e. half height, we've had to go up right to the full height of the cupboards."

And as the list grew, so did Mike's complaint letters. Some were more serious than others. Mike added: "About four months after the installation was essentially complete we experienced an electrical fire in the kitchen. We believe ourselves that the cause of the problem was the way that the fitter had fitted the plug on the dishwasher."

That doesn't sound like the peace of mind Wickes had promised.

Jerry Ponder is a kitchen and bathroom specialist with over 30 years in the trade. We asked Jerry what he made of Mike's kitchen and he told us: "They were simple problems to be sorted. They've taken such a long time to get right and it's just bad project management from beginning to end."

So Wickes, we hope you're proud of this kitchen. It's got your name on it.

And so has this one. Anthony Davies bought it in March last year. It cost him around £14,000. And 13 months of hassle.

Anthony told Watchdog: "We have had problems with this kitchen ever since it's been installed. We've had various leaks from various appliances, we've had problems with the doors not fitting on the cabinets, we've had problems with the trims, we've had to have the wall tiling done three or four times."

Anthony also took us round the problems that still exist in his kitchen: "Well this is the fridge freezer. You open the door to it and you'll see where they built the shelf on the bottom, but because it's so far off the ground, I can't actually reach the top. And so we have to use a step to get your beer. And this is the boiler cabinet and as you can see it's been more bodged than made. The soft close fittings don't really work."

What does Jerry think?

Jerry told us: "There have been a huge number of issues and snaggings in this kitchen. A lot of them have been sorted out by Wickes but there are still a lot that shouldn't be here and will have to be sorted before the kitchen can be fully signed off. The whole thing is just a disaster."

Oh Wickes... You've left your calling card again.

Wickes bathroom advert: "At Wickes we've designed a range of 24 luxurious bathrooms... That's why we're proud to put our name on them."

Rachael Bowen ordered a bathroom from Wickes in May last year for over £3,700. Rachael told Watchdog:"We've had never ending problems from day one. There were leaks, the tiling wasn't done well, we had to have the floor re-done, the under floor heating didn't work. The shower was not connected properly and the water was spraying everywhere. The sink needed replacing because it was damaged, the facia board was ill fitting, the cupboard door was also not closing properly."

This was Jerry's verdict: "Wickes' promise of high quality installation hasn't been delivered here. I'm afraid it's yet another example of a very bad service by Wickes."

Perhaps we can at least take comfort from this assurance on Wickes' website: 'The great people we have at Wickes, the pride they have in the work that they do and the fact that everyone at Wickes always puts the customer first'.

Fiona and Malcolm Wise had their bathroom supplied and installed by Wickes in February last year at a cost of over £3,000. Fiona told Watchdog: "They guaranteed that they would be finished in the five days that we were away on holiday and when we actually got back all that was fitted was a toilet which was leaking. Well when they finally in the other, the basin, the towel rail and the shower, everything leaked as well."

Now, what was the other thing that went wrong for the couple? Oh yeah....the boiler exploded.

According to Malcolm: "All of a sudden there was just a big bang. I'd only opened the door about a second a water started pouring out of the bottom of the boiler."

Even after 20 visits from Wickes, the problems haven't gone away. Fiona took us around her bathroom: "You have to flush the loo by sticking your finger down there. The pipe's all rusted; this is so badly marked, the grouting is so horrible."

Over to you Jerry: "The number of faults that occurred here right from the beginning, particularly the leaks, were totally unnecessary and unjustifiable. The whole job's been an absolute disaster from beginning to end."

So that was Wickes.... Voted Britain's favourite DIY store. Want their autograph?

Response from Wickes to Watchdog:

We at Wickes would like sincerely to apologise to Mr & Mrs France, Mr & Mrs Davies, Mr & Mrs Wise, Miss Bowen & Miss Sandhu for the considerable inconvenience and distress that they have been caused. The level of service in each case and our delay in resolving the problems raised has been unacceptable and inexcusable.

Our installation service gets most things right most of the time, but we readily admit that we have got things very wrong in these particular instances and are now working to put right all the outstanding issues as a matter of urgency.

Our Customer Services Director has personally visited each of the four customers involved and will remain in close contact with them to ensure that everything is resolved to their complete satisfaction.

These issues occurred prior to recent changes in the way we manage any installation problems, nevertheless we have learned some uncomfortable lessons from the customer cases highlighted and a full review of our installation procedures is already underway. Excellent service is our highest priority and we are committed to achieving it.




Can you rely on Wickes DIY?
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