Another day, another customer service (or lack thereof) rant this time it's the turn of aqva Bathrooms.
Turns out this company has directors in common with QS Supplies, a company that I've not dealt with since 2012 for similar reasons and - had I know about the relationship - wouldn't have touched aqva with a bargepole. Seems they're also known as Tiles N Baths Ltd.
How difficult is it to order a bath?
I placed an order on their website for a product, and shortly received the following;
Thank you for your order with AQVA Bathrooms. The products you have ordered is unfortunately not something we keep in stock, & is a special order, which will be made for you.
Please reply back to this email to confirm you would like to go ahead with this, as once this order is placed it is non-cancellable. We anticipate delivery of the order 2-3 weeks.
Now, this was a bath straight out a catalogue... I very much doubt it was "made to order" so this feels a lot like they're trying (unsuccessfully) to get out of their responsibilities in the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.
Anyway, I confirmed acceptance of the order and a couple of months later received a bath after a bit of confusion with couriers and delivery dates.
At the time I inspected the bath and it appeared to be in good condition. I'm not a plumber, but it obviously wasn't damaged in transit which is good.
Three months later...
The plumbers arrive. I don't know if you've ever tried to get plumbers in the Highlands to commit to doing anything when they say they will but it's awkward, and three companies later I finally found some reliable ones.
One small problem. It's legless. (the bath, not my plumbers)
Putting it right
No problem I thought, I'll call aqva. I did and explained the situation, I also clearly explained that it was delivered in March and quoted the order number. The person on the phone was very helpful, and assured me that they'd get legs out to me and they asked me to follow up in an eMail.
I replied to the original order confirmation eMail, and got this eMail from them;
We are currently in touch with Phoenix to try and speed up the process.
We apologise for the inconvenience caused.
Great, legs will be on the way...
The problem grows legs...
The next day I get the following;
According to our records, this item was supplied to you in April and as such is outside of our timescale for reporting items lost/missing or damaged.
We can supply replacement bath legs to you, however, the parts will be chargeable.
The cost of these parts are £30+ VAT (delivered) Please call sales to place the order.
Er, no. That's not how this works. You supplied me a product with bits missing, it's irrelevant what "your timescale" is for reporting items missing.
This is particularly frustrating given that I had already confirmed the date of the order over the phone and - allegedly - they were in touch with their supplier to "speed up the process"
The next reply...
As a goodwill gesture, we will be willing to provide the legs at cost price £20+vat
Unfortunately, it is the manufacturers who had refused to send out the missing parts due to the time frame.
Firstly they have just admitted they tried to make a 50% margin out of me for supplying a part that they failed to supply in the first place secondly, the manufacturer's refusal is irrelevant, I'm a consumer and their customer.
When is a consumer not a consumer?
So basically, they seem to think that because their supplier (the manufacturer) has a policy that limits the time claim can be made for missing parts, that absolves them of any responsibility - wrong.
I am a consumer, not a business. Aqva Bathrooms sold to me as a consumer, not a business therefore I have several statutory rights.
The manufacturer, Phoenix, is a business which sold to Aqva bathrooms as a business and therefore they can enforce whatever terms they want on aqva regarding missing parts etc but, unfortunately for aqva, consumer protection law is such that it becomes their problem!
The simple solution to avoid such issues is for Aqva to inspect the goods when they arrive on their premises before shipping them to me.
This is the first time I've had to have this argument since the introduction of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, but ultimately the rights are similar to those provided by the former Sale of Goods Act.
Goods are not of satisfactory quality (there's a bit missing!) so I am entitled to a repair or replacement.
The new legislation makes it very clear;
If the consumer requires the trader to repair or replace the goods, the trader must— (a) do so within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience to the consumer, and (b) bear any necessary costs incurred in doing so (including in particular the cost of any labour, materials or postage).
It seems that aqva Bathrooms fail to understand what "bear the necessary costs in doing so" means.
There's always another way, and American Express are usually exceptionally helpful when it comes to such situations.
You can request a chargeback from your card issuer within 120 days from when you become aware of an issue and up to a total of 540 days after the transaction.
So either they send me some legs, or it appears I have a free bath.
Yes, there's some positive ones too, but look at them in detail - it's easy to get it right when you're shipping a tap in a box, but I measure any company on the customer service if something does go wrong.
The fact that someone makes a mistake, or a part is missing, is irrelevant - it's how they put it right that matters.
In this case, Customer Care really doesn't.