Howdens sale to non trade account holder - what are my rights?

I booked a design appointment online. The designer came to my house the same day. She measured up and invited us to the depot an hour later to see what she had come up with.

We loved the design and I purchased the kitchen for £4500 there and then.

It was delivered, as agreed 22/11/19 but there were 15 items missing, 2 damaged and 3 carcasses were the wrong colour. This meant that my fitter couldn’t even start the job that weekend as planned.

The fitter then asked how I was able to purchase it from Howdens and he explained their policies and procedures to me. Naively, I had no idea. The need for a fitter, with a Howdens trade account hadn’t been mentioned to me by the designer/salesperson.

I called customer services and she confirmed it. She then got the depot to contact me.

The manager, Nick Roberts, came out the following day to check what was missing. He apologised profusely, said he would investigate and get our missing items ASAP.

I pointed out, that even if they were delivered the following day, I had now lost my builder and as a knock on effect, the plumber and tiler too.

With less than 4wks to Christmas and with my old kitchen ripped out in preparation, our predicament was looking quite drastic, so I told him that I wanted the missing items delivered and I would like it fitted, FREE of charge. ASAP.

He said that he couldn’t do that but he had some “preferred fitters that he would ask to squeeze us in” but at our own cost.

I wasn’t happy with his answer so I moved onto the actual sale and how it was made possible.

In short, he denied my theory that an account in my name had been set up without my knowledge, but eventually admitted that the salesperson had “broken company rules but done nothing illegally” to secure and push through my purchase.

He then suggested he may have pressurised her into doing so.

I asked him to explain and he fobbed me off by saying that they had something called a “trade referral” scheme. I asked who referred me and why wasn’t this mentioned to me. He then patronised me by saying it was only done so he could ensure I got the cheapest possible price.

At this point I started to get suspicious and my thought process leaned towards some kind of dishonesty for personal gain between the manager and salesperson.

He assured me there wasn’t and has offered a full refund of the kitchen as long as I returned what I have already received.

This was now insulting!!

He knew and had seen for himself, that I have no kitchen, flooring or bathroom flooring in my house.

My living and dining room are dominated by a safety hazard comprising of 108 unopened Howdens boxes.

My step daughter is autistic and cannot process the disruption at home and is therefore staying with her nan.

It’s 3wks until Christmas.

We have no kitchen, no fitter, no flooring, no living or dining area and our daughter is staying 10 miles away.

I haven’t slept with the anxiety, my partner is close to a nervous breakdown, her mother is stressed and her daughter is in distress.

We’re eating takeaway or microwave meals, the whole house is freezing cold because of the exposed concrete floors, and it appears we will now be split up for Christmas.

The depot manager has seen all of this for himself, yet all he offers is the opportunity to have our money back and the hassle of finding something we liked as much as the one we have bought from him, elsewhere!

It was upsetting and insulting.

I asked him is it any wonder my kitchen hasn’t turned up when, if the depot manager openly breaks, bends and twists company rules, policies and procedures then the people he oversees and sets an example to are likely to do the same.

The end result is someone like me and my family finding ourselves in this nightmare.

I contacted customer services and they’ve offered the same as him and kindly given us 7 days to decide whilst also admitting that my sale broke company rules and was being investigated internally (which I doubt will happen if I disappeared with a refund or missing items in 7 days!!)

I’m sorry for the long post but I’ve actually shortened it for you as much as I could.

I would really appreciate some feedback and advice on this.
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Replies

  • rach_krach_k Forumite
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    It looks pretty obvious to me that Howdens supply to trade only. Their website is titled "Howdens | The UK's Number 1 Trade Kitchen Supplier". When you go to book a design appointment, it says:

    "Book a design appointment with your local Howdens
    As the UK’s Number One Trade Kitchen Supplier, we can help connect you with a builder of your choice and then work with you to create a design that transforms the look of your home."

    and:

    "Why choose Howdens?
    We only sell to the trade, so your kitchen is fitted by someone who has the craftmanship and know-how to complete a professional finish."

    How you could have missed that is beyond me. You must have known something a bit odd was going on and were happy to go along with it while things were going your way. When it didn't, you look to blame them.

    Regardless of that, why did you/your builder rip out your old kitchen before you had the complete new one? That's mad! You get your new one delivered, check it over and then start destruction. The fact that you didn't isn't Howden's fault.

    They offered to find somebody to squeeze you in, which is a good solution. You would have been paying your own fitter anyway so you haven't lost anything. Accept that and don't forget to say thank you.
  • dunrovingdunroving Forumite
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    rach_k wrote: »
    It looks pretty obvious to me that Howdens supply to trade only. Their website is titled "Howdens | The UK's Number 1 Trade Kitchen Supplier". When you go to book a design appointment, it says:

    "Book a design appointment with your local Howdens
    As the UK’s Number One Trade Kitchen Supplier, we can help connect you with a builder of your choice and then work with you to create a design that transforms the look of your home."

    and:

    "Why choose Howdens?
    We only sell to the trade, so your kitchen is fitted by someone who has the craftmanship and know-how to complete a professional finish."

    How you could have missed that is beyond me. You must have known something a bit odd was going on and were happy to go along with it while things were going your way. When it didn't, you look to blame them.

    Regardless of that, why did you/your builder rip out your old kitchen before you had the complete new one? That's mad! You get your new one delivered, check it over and then start destruction. The fact that you didn't isn't Howden's fault.

    They offered to find somebody to squeeze you in, which is a good solution. You would have been paying your own fitter anyway so you haven't lost anything. Accept that and don't forget to say thank you.

    I'm not so sure it's as straightforward as that. If you look at any Howdens branch, the main sign says nothing about trade only, so it is conceivable that a person could miss the way that Howdens is supposed to work. Howdens is such a large brand that you could conceivably end up there without looking at their Web site.

    Considering the number of Howdens customers, and their tendency in practice to not emphasise the "trade only" message (e.g., by communicating with the customer directly on many occasions), I think the OP's situation is quite believable.

    However, I'm not sure there is any case for Howdens being in trouble for what is a case of poor treatment of a customer. They have offered to refund the total cost and take back the offending items.

    I could see a test case at some point in the future on the way that Howdens practices. Two individuals could buy the exact same kitchen from the same branch, the same rep, on the same day, at two very different prices. While there may be some similar situations in retail (e.g., car sales), there seems to be a lot less transparency about the way Howdens works.
    (Nearly) dunroving
  • cattiecattie Forumite
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    It's fairly common for non trade persons to buy from Howdens. It depends on the manager of a particular branch. For you to imagine some sort of fraudulent or dodgy activity amongst staff to allow you to buy you must have a very suspicious nature.

    What your fitter should have done after ripping out the old kitchen is ensure all the fitments etc for the new kitchen had been received & then set up a temporary kitchen for you, allowing the sink to be used along with a microwave/grill & possibly an electric table top double ring cooker if you'd wanted to provide one. I've never been left without a basic kitchen set up such as this when having a kitchen refurbishment.

    You approached Howdens to sell you a kitchen, & this is what they did & no doublt gave you the same discount they would to a registered trades person. As a company they can choose who they wish to sell to. You've now been offered your money back, so take it & buy elsewhere.
    The bigger the bargain, the better I feel.

    I should mention that there's only one of me, don't confuse me with others of the same name.
  • haguierahaguiera Forumite
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    I ripped the kitchen out myself ready for the new one to go in, to save my builder friend time. Ok perhaps I should’ve followed Howdens T&C’s about not doing that. I expect that is one of the reasons they “only sell to trade account holders”.

    I wasn’t given an itemised receipt and there is no account or reference number on any of my paperwork either, so perhaps they did sell it to a trade account holder, because I assume a trade account number would have to be inputted somewhere during the sales process??? 🤔 If so, who did I purchase it from and what are my consumer rights here? I suspect something a bit sinister is going on as I cannot get an explanation from the depot. Just the offer of a refund and disappearing. Unfortunately for them I won’t be going away that easily.

    But thank you for your opinions.
  • haguierahaguiera Forumite
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    Did I really get the builders discount........ or did the manager and salesperson????

    Is it really that unbelievable that something so sinister could be going in every time they sell to a member of the public? I’ve been approached by someone that reckons I paid £1500-£2000 over what he could’ve got it for on his account.

    We still have a sink and microwave btw. I’m not that stupid but it’s gonna be a difficult to do a Christmas dinner and find room for the tree at the moment with Howdens boxes �� dominating our living/dining area.
  • GDB2222GDB2222 Forumite
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    I’m a bit surprised at the sense of entitlement and outrage expressed by the OP. I can’t for the life of me see why the bathroom floor is relevant, and if the house is cold he should turn the heating up. Demanding free fitting seems over the top, and whether or not a particular type of account was set up is irrelevant. Either accept the practical solution offered, or accept the consequences.
    No reliance should be placed on the above! Absolutely none, do you hear?
  • "sinister" Really?


    Free fitting, oh please . .


    You ripped your own kitchen out. Stop trying to put the blame elsewhere.
  • haguierahaguiera Forumite
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    dunroving wrote: »
    I'm not so sure it's as straightforward as that. If you look at any Howdens branch, the main sign says nothing about trade only, so it is conceivable that a person could miss the way that Howdens is supposed to work. Howdens is such a large brand that you could conceivably end up there without looking at their Web site.

    Considering the number of Howdens customers, and their tendency in practice to not emphasise the "trade only" message (e.g., by communicating with the customer directly on many occasions), I think the OP's situation is quite believable.

    However, I'm not sure there is any case for Howdens being in trouble for what is a case of poor treatment of a customer. They have offered to refund the total cost and take back the offending items.

    I could see a test case at some point in the future on the way that Howdens practices. Two individuals could buy the exact same kitchen from the same branch, the same rep, on the same day, at two very different prices. While there may be some similar situations in retail (e.g., car sales), there seems to be a lot less transparency about the way Howdens works.

    Under sales of goods etc, yes a refund or replacement is all we’re entitled to. But as you said, Howdens is HUGE and considering the way they’ve conducted the sale without my knowledge and lack of any goodwill, I feel a bit hard done by.

    Then there’s the lack of transparency from the depot regarding my suspicions.

    Obviously the time of year and knock effects with our daughter etc makes it a much more stressful position we find ourselves in, but it is what it is now so I’ve escalated it with Howdens and may even Tweet Matthew Ingle.

    In the meantime I need to find somewhere for the 5 of us to have Christmas dinner. 🎄
  • haguierahaguiera Forumite
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    I’m not a trader so something would’ve been forged for me to appear as one!! 🙄 Things like GDP ring any bells to you mate? 🙄
  • edited 5 December 2019 at 3:37PM
    societys_childsocietys_child Forumite
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    edited 5 December 2019 at 3:37PM
    GDP is a measure of the size and health of a country's economy over a period of time.
    :huh:


    You're losing me . .
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