Having watched Secret Shopper on Channel 4 – where a consumer ‘allegedly’ bought a kitchen from a well know national retailer of kitchens at a knockdown price of £5,500 – when the spec priced it originally at over £12,000 – merely reflects pricing activities of many high street/on line retailers/etailers, writes Graham Ball, CEO of the KBSA.
Those of us long enough in the tooth are aware of these practices, learning over the years when to buy from outlets and when not to! I believe it not only ‘cheapens’ the offer, as we currently live in an age of a more open and transparent society – these pricing practices seem destined to be consigned to the ark – or more relatively Room 101.
The new kitchen-compare comparison website is now letting more people see how ridiculous these pricing offers are, as on one foray into their ether, I actually found one of their standard kitchens was cheaper at John Lewis – with a single price quoted, rather than any of those well-known national tin sheds with more than one price.
Our members have horror stories about how consumers are duped with spurious pricing offers and unbelievable installation costs – but the problem will only continue as long as such pricing practices are not outlawed.
What is has proved to me, yet again, is that the independent specialist can compete against this by continuing to take a more honest approach to their offer and promoting the excellence – and completeness – of their service, which is essentially a ‘cradle-to-grave’ for the whole project. A recent independent survey of KBSA retailers projects indicated a satisfaction level of 100% – which to me is living proof that the independent’s claim to professionalism is alive and kicking.
Buying a kitchen is a very infrequent but major purchase – so there is no ‘routine’ for consumers to follow – meaning it can be and often is a nightmare purchase. There is little inbuilt knowledge how to start, where to go for the best service, what questions to ask. The KBSA plays its part in helping to educate the consumer with advice and information on the website, the free buyers guide and attendance at several live home interest shows every year.
We also try to help our members highlight the key strengths of the independents’ offer- a personal service, second to none, to help guide you through the buying minefield and bring you safely out on the other side , usually completely satisfied and willing to recommend that service to others – that’s the way it works.
You won’t find misleading price offers, you will find installation costs visible (unless you are looking for supply only), you will find excellence in design, receive professional project management and you will know the person you deal with will be living the project with you – isn’t that all anyone could ask for?
Graham Ball is the CEO of The Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association (KBSA) . The Association brings together over 300 fully accredited, UK based independent, retailers. Each KBSA member provides all the expertise required to design and install a new or updated fitted kitchen, bathroom, bedroom or home office.