Thursday, 5 June 2014

MAGNET KITCHEN REVIEW: PART 1

I have been dying to write my review about Magnet Kitchens. We ordered our new kitchen in the Orpington branch in February and I never dreamt of it all taking this long. You can see the before and after pictures by clicking onto my old post Adding Some Sparkle to Our House - New Kitchen. I didn't want to write my review until we had received our last remaining item (the hidden drawers) but finally today we had them fitted.

We did look into few other kitchen companies before deciding to go with Magnet (mainly Wickes, Howdens and John Lewis) but we really liked their Integra range and found their service good (they provide fitters, granite suppliers, electricians etc). Now, all this looked great on paper but were they able to deliver their promises? Not quite.

When we first walked into their show room, we almost turned away because the sales people seemed so busy and it was very  chaotic. Finally one of their representatives noticed us and scheduled us in for a free estimate which we had to wait about 30 minutes for. In this first appointment, they gave us an estimated price for the kitchen but it did not include installation or any other work your room may require (and our kitchen needed A LOT of work!). The initial quote was just for the cabinets and appliances (plus the worktop if you buy it from them). The total price adds up very quickly once you start adding extractor hoods, integrated appliances, wine fridges and lights. Initially we agreed that we don't need any of the 'extras' but of course in the end we got everything we possible could. It's funny how it happens every time... ;)

The second appointment was more detailed and they gave us a more realistic price for the kitchen. At this stage, we had to bring measurements with us (although they do come to your house to confirm them afterwards) and we spent 2 hours planning our kitchen with the kitchen designer (yes that's right, 2 long hours, but honestly if you do it properly that's how long it will take).

The third appointment took place in our house. The same person we had dealt with before arrived to take the measurements and he then assigned the kitchen fitters (recommended to us by Magnet) to visit and confirm that the measurements are correct. The fitters found quite a few different issues at this stage and we agreed what we wanted done. Basically, it was everything from the floor to the ceiling. We agreed that everything would be replaced and made good.

























Unfortunately this is where things started going wrong. First of all, the job started one week late (this is pretty common but never the less annoying) and secondly the kitchen fitters arrived with an additional bill which meant that we ended up paying more than double we initially agreed for the installation. In fairness, there was a lot work to be done but it is astonishing how the initial estimate was so unrealistic.

Quality

I find the cabinets quite a good quality although it depends on which range you decide to go for. Our Integra kitchen was part of their mid range collection called Purely Magnet. I found their cheapest range, Essentially Magnet, quite flimsy and cabinet doors a bit too thin. In comparison to Homebase and Wickes, I found the material much more sturdy and the cabinets better built. There were also a lot of different drawer options such as pull out drawers, carousel units and other accessories which was nice.

Service 

I am a tough one to please and I expect a lot when you are paying Magnet prices for a kitchen. My initial feeling of their customer service was good.  You do need to have an idea of what you want before you go there as they are not independent kitchen designers. We had to change our draft many times as space was limited and this was not a problem at all for them. In fact, our sales representative spent many evenings replying to our emails as we wanted to make further changes. They were very patient and offered few different ideas how to utilise our space. They also gave us background on the functionality of different appliances, for example induction hobs, which I was not familiar with.

Now, it's quite a different story with their after-sales. The sales people are really pushing for the sale but their lack of attention to detail and organisational skills are appalling. I can accept that few items can get damaged in the transit and go missing but the most disappointing part has been having to wait for our quartz worktops additional 3 weeks because of an error they made. They forgot to arrange the quartz supplier to come to our house and take the measurements which meant we had to wait another 3 weeks for our worktops. Magnet agreed to provide us a temporary worktop (they don't normally do this) so I could use the hob which was least  they could do to be honest but this was only after a few angry phone calls. The most annoying part was that the sales representative (I won't mention any names..) did not admit he had done anything wrong although his manager had already admitted on the phone it was his mistake they had not been ordered. I understand that everyone can make mistakes but seriously be a man and admit you made a mistake!

Towards the end, we were dealing with the branch manager who was very helpful and to be honest I was relieved I didn't have to deal with our original sales representative (I got the feeling that the feeling was mutual..) as it was pretty clear once  he had closed the sale he didn't care about anything else.

Appliances 

Magnet have a vast selection of appliances but to be honest you can find them much cheaper online. We managed to get them to price match most of our appliances with online prices which was a great result!

Lighting

I find their lighting very expensive for what it is and you will find similar lighting much cheaper in Ikea or any local DIY store.

Magnet suppliers

Fitters: Aspirations M J Ltd

Now this is the part that I have been very happy with! Our kitchen fitters have been doing this for 30 years so I could tell they knew exactly what they are doing from the very start. They don't only just fit kitchens but they also do the plumbing, electrics etc and they used to be builders so we used them to level the floor, replace old ceiling and many other small tasks as well. They were hard working and made sure that the room was finished to a high standard. However, the only negative is that there was no room to negotiate in terms of the prices. I would recommend using this company but independently (not via Magnet).

The Quartz Suppliers: the Stone Company

Since Magnet forgot to arrange them to come over in the early stages, we had to wait 3 weeks for our quartz worktops. When they arrived to take the template (measurements) for our worktop, they brought a sample piece with them as well so I could confirm it was the same I had ordered. Everything was fine and they seemed professional and knowledgeable.

After 3 weeks they finally installed the worktop and it looked just like I wanted. There were a few rough edges but they explained to me this is normal after they polish it. It looked fantastic although I could see a few minor mirror flecks that had lifted (this possibly happened when it had been in the transit). So far I havent' had any issues but I wish that I had gone to another private supplier as I am sure I would have gotten it much cheaper without the premium that Magnet add to everything.

On the positive side, we did not end up paying anything for the quartz in the window sill. Initially, our sales representative had forgotten to factor this in and when the stone specialists came to take the measurements they told it would cost us additional 500 pounds. I contacted Magnet and felt they should cover this expense out of goodwill because of the additional delay it took to get our worktops. Unsurprisingly, our original sales representative was not agreeing with me but after a few phone calls to his manager they agreed to pay for it. 

Pros
  • Reputable company that is trade mark registered (protection in case of a dispute).
  • Helpful sales people that made as many drafts of our kitchen design as required before we were happy.
  • Great software that shows you a very realistic image, 360 panoramic, of the room.
  • The selection of kitchen styles is vast and there are different price ranges for everyone.
  • Kitchens are good quality (especially medium and upper-end seem very sturdy and well built).
  • They explain and show you different mechanisms of drawers and functionality of appliances.
  • Good selection of accessories to go with the kitchen (handles, lights etc).
  • Nice show rooms that help you to decide what kitchen to go for.
  • They use good, reputable suppliers and fitters.
  • Different worktop options (laminate, granite, quartz, corian etc).

Cons
  • You need to have an idea what you want beforehand (they are not independent kitchen designers).
  • Ultimately their 'kitchen designers' are sales people. They will not know much about installation or any other problems your kitchen fitter might face down the road.
  • The kitchens are not cheap and you are paying for the name.
  • Colours for granite and quartz are limited.
  •  Magnet recommended fitters and granite suppliers are expensive because Magnet takes a huge cut of their earnings.
  • Waiting time for your kitchen is app. 4-6 weeks once you have ordered it.
  • Once the kitchen is ready to be delivered, you have to take it (they cannot store it until it is ready for installation).
  • Even though, the 360 panoramic is very realistic, it is only an artist impression. Heights and other dimensions might have to be different due to installation requirements so by all means it will not be exact.
  • Magnet will add on their most expensive appliances in your kitchen design unless you advice them otherwise!

For an overall score I would give Magnet 3.5 out of 5.

Few tips for kitchen shopping
  • Do a lot of research online and have an idea before going into a kitchen store. Nobody knows your kitchen as well as you do!
  • There is always a sale in kitchen stores so expect to get between 40-60 % off the original price (the first price they gave us, without the discounts, was ridiculous!). However, be advised that they will add on appliances, lights etc.
  • You can find appliances cheaper on the internet but we had a better idea. We asked Magnet to price match the appliances we wanted with the online prices from other websites and they did!
  • Negotiate. There is always room for a negotiation and the more you buy, the more room there is to negotiate.
  • Take some pictures and measurements of your current kitchen when you go to your first appointment (this way the estimate will be more accurate).
  • Allow 2 hours for the first appointment (well if you are demanding like me, allow 2.5 hours!).
  • Go to a few different kitchen stores (at least 3) for quotes and try to get them to price match. You would be surprised to see what they will throw in to get your business!
  • Walk around in the showroom and open the drawers and see which different mechanism you prefer.
  • Ask if they can give you examples of the worktop materials (granite, quartz, laminate) and take it home with you and do some testing to see if it is as hard wearing as you need (try scratching it and pouring liquids like lemon juice and red wine on them and see if these come off nicely).
  • Ask to see a larger slab of the worktop if possible before ordering in order to get a more realistic idea of what it will look like in your kitchen.
  • Read up on appliances before buying so you can make an informed decision.
  • Pick a kitchen style/worktop that suits your life style (don't follow trends).
  • Choosing the right kitchen fitter is as important (if not more!) as choosing the right kitchen company. Go by references if possible.
  • If you decide to go with their recommended kitchen fitter, do a background check on them before to check if they are any good (I can speak from experience, they aren't all good!)
  • When dealing with the company or fitters make sure that all important decisions/plans are in writing (email) so that in case of a dispute you have some proof.
  • Don't be afraid to be demanding and precise. Certain level of micromanagement will be required!

I hope this information was useful and if anyone has actually had a good kitchen experience I would love to hear about it!! I hope I didn't come across too negative as I do love my kitchen even though the after-sales customer service was a let down. I am definitely glad this is the one job that is behind us now.

PS. Read here how my Magnet kitchen is holding up after 2 years!
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