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  • FIRST POST
    ginger_jesus
    Mamas & Papas Murano cot bed - £30 for four wee replacement screws!
    • #1
    • 13th Feb 13, 10:41 PM
    Mamas & Papas Murano cot bed - £30 for four wee replacement screws! 13th Feb 13 at 10:41 PM
    Hi all - long time reader, first time poster, however my recent experience with Mamas & Papas has prompted me post this as a warning to others considering buying one of their cots.

    I have a Murano cot bed, a few years old now, but still in good nick. We're about to hand it on to some friends who have just had a new baby but on checking it I found I was missing four small screws to hold the side panels together. Not ordinary screws, of course, really strange headless ones. So I called the help line and asked to order replacement spare parts. Because the cot is now discontinued the parts are no longer held. Apparently two years is how long they hold on to these things for.

    The cot bed is designed to move from a cot into a bed, so it's likely that they will be used for more than two years for a single child, never mind younger siblings who come along, or the chance to pass it on to others. So comes the first question: is two years really long enough to hold spare parts for a product of this type?

    The discussion with the service agent indicated that a match for the part might be available from a parts kit from a more recent cot. On enquiring about the price for that I was advised it would be £30 plus delivery charge. 30 QUID FOR FOUR WEE SCREWS?!?! And no guarantees that they would fit either! Apparently the fittings pack is sold as a complete entity and you can't sell me the bits I'm interested in. So first they design in special fixtures which cannot be sourced at the local hardware store, and then they charge a fortune for replacements. That's what I would call profiteering.

    Next on suggesting that I would like to make a complaint, the advisor indicated that she could reduce the price to £15 plus postage, again for a full fittings kit that might not fit. I declined.

    Instead I did a wee bit of research, measuring the screws and the dimensions of the recess where they fit. I found they were standard I found they were 8mm M6 sized, but the only tricky part was the fact that the original fittings had no head on them at all. On closer inspection of the recess I found that it was in fact wider than the screw, so could potentially accommodate another type of head if I could find one.

    So off I went to EBay, searched on 8mm M6 screws and found a pack of 10 socket head screws for £1.60 with free postage. Yes, you did read that correctly. 16p each, giving me six spares should I need them again in the future. I thought at that price is was worth a punt in case they didn't fit, so ordered them, and a couple of days later when they arrived, guess what? They fitted perfectly. So much so it was almost as if the recess was actually designed for them in the first instance. Which I suspect they probably were, but M&Ps changed the design to lock in unsuspecting customers to their customer services team for overpriced spare parts.

    So I thought, "this really isn't on", and posted the story to the Mamas & Papas Facebook page.

    This is the response I got:

    "thank you for your post, we very much appreciate all feedback as it allows us to continually improve our products and services. We have passed your comments onto the relevant department who are looking into this and working on improving our spares service. We're really sorry that you have had a less than satisfactory experience, and we hope that this won't put you off shopping with us in the future. Thank you."

    I then asked how long that would take and whether they would be updating my thread when they had resolved it. This was their reply.

    "improvements to our products and services is continuous, there is no timescale. Unfortunately we will not be able to update your thread on any future improvements to the spares service. Thank you"

    Unhappy with this response and lack of commitment I posted the following:

    "OK, I like to think I'm a patient man. I can make the same enquiry of your contact centre on a monthly basis and post the results here if that helps. Hell, my phone contract is all inclusive so I could do it every evening and weekend. I can probably share the results on Twitter too if you like. In fact, maybe I'll set up a website and a blog and document it. That'll be good, eh? I'll also buy a bottle of champagne ready for the day that you can sell me four screws at a reasonable price instead of a full pack of stuff I don't need. Hopefully we can get there before my daughter turns 21 (she's 5 now). While I'm here I might as well ask who is in charge of spares policy at M&Ps so I can write to them too."

    Hence the blog

    mamasandpapasspares blogspot co uk

    And the website.

    www mamasandpapasspares com

    And now you get to share in it.

    So there you have it. It's their move. We now have to wait and see what happens next.
Page 2
    • Kingsd316
    • By Kingsd316 15th Feb 13, 5:10 PM
    • 1,322 Posts
    • 598 Thanks
    Kingsd316
    Well done sir. Page 2 item D - the screws that fit into the small barrel nuts.
    Originally posted by ginger_jesus

    Wow £30 for that, what a RIP!
  • ginger_jesus
    Got a couple of nice voicemails from Fiona at M&Ps today. Missed the calls because I was working. Will arrange a call with her for Monday and update this then.
  • ginger_jesus
    Further update - delivered the cot to my friend's place this afternoon. He took one look at the screws and said "Oh, they're called grub screws. You should be able to find replacements for them." As I said, I'm not particularly technical and had never heard of grub screws, but true enough, they're out there and cheap too. So the question now becomes why was I advised by M&P's CSA that these were bespoke parts that would be hard to replace elsewhere? It's either one of two things I reckon. It could be a lack of training and the CSA is as clueless as I am about the types and names of screws and fittings and their systems are not set out to help them because it's not occurred to M&Ps that this might be a good thing to do. Alternatively, it could be that M&Ps have made a conscious decision to ask their CSAs to push their parts packs because they make a bit of money out of it. Either way I think they need to do something about it.
  • fluffnutter
    So the question now becomes why was I advised by M&P's CSA that these were bespoke parts that would be hard to replace elsewhere?
    Originally posted by ginger_jesus
    Because they wanted to charge you £30. Lesson learnt. You'll know next time. It happens to the best of us but perhaps it's time to move on now.
    "Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell" - Edward Abbey.
    • ukjoel
    • By ukjoel 16th Feb 13, 9:57 PM
    • 1,384 Posts
    • 1,250 Thanks
    ukjoel
    pick them up for a couple of quid on ebay....

    We have had cots, cot, beds, changing tables etc that were all ex mamas and papas from ebay and all the bits are standard parts.

    Your paying £30 for their customer service team more than the screws.

    Funnily enough I had the exact opposite experience last week when I needed some replacement balls for my hungry hippos game. On ebay they were selling for about £8, but if you phoned the maker they would send a set out for £2 postage cost......

    Thats customer service for you.
  • ginger_jesus
    Disappointing result on the phone call this morning. Perhaps I was a little naive to think that they would see things my way at the first attempt. Awaiting a written response from M&Ps now, but the thrust of the conversation was that they did not believe that it was reasonable to hold spares beyond two years despite my assertion that by design these units have a longer lifespan and that they wouldn't be able to implement standard components in their global supply chain. They did say that they were discussing the feedback although given that response I don't think it will be particularly high on their to-do list. Still have a few tricks up my sleeve, though, so onwards and upwards!
    • somethingcorporate
    • By somethingcorporate 18th Feb 13, 10:09 AM
    • 8,810 Posts
    • 8,499 Thanks
    somethingcorporate
    Whilst normally I do not think too highly of pointless crusades it's actually ones like these that are more about the customer service element and how a company can gain real insight and feedback from the customer to improve themselves as a company.

    I think you should keep pushing.
    Thinking critically since 1996....
  • ginger_jesus
    Email from Mamas and Papas in full below.

    Dear xxxx
    Further to your telephone conversation today with Fxxx, I am sorry that you remain unhappy with our response to your enquiry. I understand that you purchased your Murano cot bed from us a few years ago. This has been used as a cot and later converted to a junior bed and was used fault free since purchase. I am aware that more recently, you have opted to gift the cot bed to a friend and discovered 4 screws to be missing that were originally used in the assembly of the cot. We are genuinely sorry that this is the case and being that the Murano range is now discontinued, we are unable to supply you with replacement fittings. We do not recommend that you use replacement parts that are not recommended or supplied by us as non-approved parts may render the cot bed as unsafe. We realise that this may be frustrating and disappointing in circumstances such as yours, where parts have been misplaced.
    I am sure you can appreciate that the safety of all our products is of the utmost concern to us. All our products are stringently tested for safety, durability and for compliance to the current safety regulations. With safety being our priority, we also want to provide our customers with the most innovative designs and offer and extended choice of many different styles and colours, that we believe would compliment our customers nurseries. To enable us to provide this variety, the supply chain we have is worldwide and therefore prevents us from being able to provide universal fittings for our cot beds and furniture ranges.
    When originally purchasing your cot bed, we offered a 12 months manufacturing guarantee. It is reasonable to expect that in the unlikely event a fault in manufacture was to occur, this prevail within this time frame. However, as a further commitment, we will hold spare parts for up to 2 years after a product becomes discontinued.
    All components and fittings are listed in the instruction manual and specific reference is made to ensure all parts are identified prior to assembly and if there is any discrepancy, we ask that we are contacted to ensure we can remedy this. Thereafter, responsibility to secure all components and fittings must lie with the consumer.
    As a direct result of your feedback and further research carried out by us, the pricing of our spare parts is currently under review and we hope to improve this within the foreseeable future.
    I can confirm that we are seriously considering your suggestion to offer a more streamlined spares system. We genuinely take on board all our customers feedback and will implement changes where necessary. It is with regret that we cannot offer specific feedback as to what our future collections may include, but can give you our assurance that as a business, we have taken on board all the comments you have made and will continue to investigate these internally.
    Once again, we are genuinely sorry that we have been unable to provide the spare parts you required on this occasion and again thank you for your detailed feedback, this will most definitely help us to continue to review this situation and meet with our customers expectations.
    Best Regards
    Vxxx
    Customer Care Manager

    I only wonder if there is something I can take from their comment about the pricing of spare parts. I like to see the best in people where I can, and maybe they are listening. Since I started pursuing this, I've been made aware of several others who have had similar experiences either through friends anecdotes on here or on Facebook. As such, I would urge those that are following this that know a similar story to get in touch as it will all help demonstrate the need for change. Anyhoo, I'm now considering my response.
  • ginger_jesus
    Hi all, thought I'd give you an update on this. Last night I followed up with customer services to see whether anything had been done, and at the same time I emailed the owners and the senior management team with some suggestions to improve their service. As of 3pm today there has not been a response.

    That said, my blog is getting lots of hits from all over the world now. If you're interested in the detail, it's all on mamasandpapasspares.blogspot.com
    • lucy03
    • By lucy03 1st Mar 13, 5:00 PM
    • 468 Posts
    • 565 Thanks
    lucy03
    Just as my view, from a safety point of view I'm not surprised by what M&P are saying. They seem to me to just want to want to control the process and ensure they are not accused of offering the wrong parts for older pieces of equipment.

    If they sold 1,000 packs of screws for 30 pounds profit to make 30,000 pounds a year, that's not going to cover much more than one member of staff (and an assistant to cover holidays and illness), phone calls, packaging, office costs, product costs, etc. So they'd likely have to sell tens of thousands of replacement parts to make this a useful profit line, and I'm not sure how likely that is. If they felt this was a profitable enterprise they'd have likely established a much larger supply stream to supply these items.

    I suspect the reality is that they know many buyers will just fix the items themselves after the two years following product discontinuation. However, from a legal point of view, they're on much safer ground not operating a phone line trying to give DIY or parts advice when those parts are sourced from a third party.

    There must also come a practical point of view of just how many replacement parts they can hold, if they felt their items lasted six years for example, that's a potentially huge amount of replacement parts for every product they make and every product they've discontinued in the last six years.
  • ginger_jesus
    Hi Lucy, interesting take on the issue. I'd argue that the cost of providing the after care service is wrapped up in the margin when you buy the product in the first place. Even at the cheaper end you're paying £300 - £400 for a cot. There's a good amount of profit in that. The cost of handling my original call was probably in the region of £3 (assuming contact centre costs of £10 per hour which is not far off the going rate for that service these days). The cost of the parts is only a tiny fraction of that.

    But the whole issue of complex stock holding and high inventories goes away when you introduce the idea that you design with standard components so that all furniture can be assembled using the same things. So if someone needs a double ended widget for a high chair, it's the same double ended widget that's used on the chest of drawers, wardrobe and cot bed.

    I don't buy the legal argument either. They supply replacement components when they're reported as missing from newly opened packs. There's no difference in their duty of care during that process.

    And finally, they're still prepared to sell you a pack of bits that might not be fit for purpose. I'd suggest that would put them on shaky legal ground under the DIY scenario you suggest.
  • fluffnutter
    You've started a blog about it??
    "Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell" - Edward Abbey.
  • ginger_jesus
    Yup. And a website. mamasandpapasspares.com
  • ginger_jesus
    BTW, I got another response from the customer services team. They're not giving anything away.
    • bubblegumcola
    • By bubblegumcola 1st Mar 13, 8:15 PM
    • 1,073 Posts
    • 1,945 Thanks
    bubblegumcola
    It sounds like Mamas and Papas are just covering themselves from a safety aspect by not recommending any other screws available elsewhere that may fit your cotbed? With nursery furniture I think manufacturers have to be pretty careful with the advice they give out to parents. I know they say they have a guarantee for a certain period but they must realise items of furniture get passed from person to person.

    I have a Silver Cross cotbed I bought 16 years ago (they stopped making them some time afterwards) but its lasted all three of my kids plus my nephew. (New mattress every time though)

    I think Mamas and Papas are just being very careful about the advice they give out for replacement parts for fear of legal action should anything horrific happen. I would suggest that if you are happy with sourcing your own replacement screws then just to do it, the guarantee has expired on the cotbed anyway and so it's down to yourself if you are happy using different ones. If it was me I would probably try similar ones.
    • notanewuser
    • By notanewuser 1st Mar 13, 8:22 PM
    • 8,001 Posts
    • 13,912 Thanks
    notanewuser
    My daughter slept in a cot which is a family heirloom. My dad renovated it for her, and needed some replacement screws in the process.

    Unfortunately some b&$tard had moved us over to metric since the cot was made, so the screws are fatter than before and were a pain in the @r$e to screw in.

    Who do I sue?
    • aldredd
    • By aldredd 2nd Mar 13, 4:51 AM
    • 918 Posts
    • 659 Thanks
    aldredd
    I think it's time to let this one go. You've made your point with them, and they've re-affirmed their position. They're until no obligation to supply parts to you, but offer them for a period of time as an extra service - a service that admittedly comes at a cost - but nobody is forcing you to pay it.
    It would be a little different if it was a 'wear & tear' item, and was still within the expected lifetime of the product. But we're talking about some screws. Screws which you lost - not M&P.
    • notanewuser
    • By notanewuser 2nd Mar 13, 9:42 AM
    • 8,001 Posts
    • 13,912 Thanks
    notanewuser
    Yup. And a website. mamasandpapasspares.com
    Originally posted by ginger_jesus
    Crickey. Talk about a mountain out of a molehill.

    This system is common with millions of products.

    We've recently repaired out coffee machine. A tiny rubber washer had perished. It's a very specific size and shape, so there isn't a generic replacement. The manufacturer only sells the part in a complete assembly costing £45.

    It's just not cost effective for them to do it any other way.
    • notanewuser
    • By notanewuser 2nd Mar 13, 9:46 AM
    • 8,001 Posts
    • 13,912 Thanks
    notanewuser
    Hi Lucy, interesting take on the issue. I'd argue that the cost of providing the after care service is wrapped up in the margin when you buy the product in the first place. Even at the cheaper end you're paying £300 - £400 for a cot. There's a good amount of profit in that. The cost of handling my original call was probably in the region of £3 (assuming contact centre costs of £10 per hour which is not far off the going rate for that service these days). The cost of the parts is only a tiny fraction of that.
    Originally posted by ginger_jesus
    It costs a lot more than £10 an hour to have a person in a call centre. The premises, IT, telephony, utilities, business rates, training..........
  • ginger_jesus
    £10 an hour per FTE is what I've paid for a contracted out call handling service in the past couple of years. That's all in, not just people costs, and UK based, not India.

    Anyway, I don't want anything from them myself - I've sorted the problem at this end. This is about people getting ripped off. A few small changes to their processes would mean that they would simplify both the manufacturing and stock holding systems, as well as keeping their customers happy.
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