How to turn a great customer experience into a terrible one: Hammonds, the fitted furniture company

Hammonds CX

I am often asked how I find so much to write about on the subject of Customer Experience. Happily and sadly too many organisations make it very easy. So many of us experience great things (less so) and awful things (too often) on a regular basis, that I am inundated with stories that bring to life the effect (good, bad or indifferent) that Customer Experiences really do have. In this post I am going to share another of my own experiences that is ongoing – as always, I do so in the hope that the story not only brings to life the true meaning of Customer Experience, but that it will also help the company concerned and others understand how to prevent situations like this occurring in the future.

A very sad and disappointed young lady!

A very sad and disappointed young lady!

This is my beautiful twelve year old daughter Ciara. You may be wondering how a young lady could possibly look so sad and disappointed during the school holidays. Ciara is standing in her bedroom – in front of half constructed ‘built in wardrobes’. For the last two years we have been promising to renovate her bedroom. Now a young lady, Ciara wanted and needed a space that was suitable for a growing clothing collection and for her growing school workload!

Naomi and I spent a long time looking at a variety of options to fulfill Ciara’s requirements. Finding something that both appeals to a ‘nearly teenage’ girl and that is in sympathy with a Victorian house is not actually that easy. We have always been interested in the possibility of investing in built in wardrobes, but the cost has always made us think twice.

However, at the beginning of this year, we decided to ‘bite the bullet’ and visit the company that has the biggest and best reputation for designing and installing fitted furniture – Hammonds. A quick review of their website fills the prospective customer with a semblance of confidence. They state the following:

At Hammonds, we know how to make the most of every square inch of your room. Everything we do is made to measure, so problems such as tricky alcoves, sloping cellings or awkward corners simply aren’t an issue.

We’ve been infusing homes with WOW for almost 90 years, so we’ve learnt a thing or two about what works, what doesn’t and what really knocks people’s socks off.

Having your dream room has never been so affordable or stress free.

As far as I am concerned, any business that has existed for 90 years is a business that is very likely to be doing a lot of things right. The question is (as always), would they be able to live up to a publicly stated claim of being ‘affordable and stress free’?

The experience started very well. The showroom is good and Hammonds people extremely nice. I am always warmed by the way employees of organisations respond to adults AND children – the lady that we interacted with and every person since has been very engaging with all of the Goldings. In fact, from the minute we started our ‘customer journey’ with Hammonds, we have been met with consistently friendly, helpful and knowledgeable people – things were looking good.

On the value front, I have to say that investing in Hammonds fitted furniture is not a low cost decision. Hammonds may be more affordable than they ever have been before, but purchasing their products is still a very significant decision – it is not quite as significant as buying a car or even a house, but it is right up there with the biggest purchases that consumers tend to make. When a consumer spends a ‘lot’ of money, their expectations tend to reflect the size of the investment they are making. Failure to meet these expectations can have dire consequences.

Our customer journey continued very positively. From the showroom to the design to the order to the survey – it is difficult to find fault with the experience. As we finally signed on the dotted line, we had one very excited young lady who was eagerly looking forward to her bedroom being transformed into a palace. As Hammonds publicly state on their website – the wardrobes were the integral component in delivering Ciara’s ‘dream room’.

We were advised that we would have to wait six weeks from placing our order for the fitting to take place – this was made very clear and as a result, our expectations on how long it would take were perfectly managed. The 20th August was confirmed as the date and we were advised that it would take two days. To us, this constituted a promise – a commitment from Hammonds that this is when they would fulfill their order – there was nothing to suggest that this would not be seen through.

As a result of being given the firm dates, Naomi (as the ‘commander in chief of planning’ in the Golding household), put plans into action to coordinate a series of complimentary events that would need to align to the wardrobe fitting. For a start, we needed to decorate the room. New carpet would be required as well as new curtains. In fact, Naomi planned everything so well, that I was able to arrange my workload to enable us to prepare the room on the 18th and 19th August so we could decorate on the 22nd and 23rd of August and then move Ciara back in before enjoying a late summer holiday from the 27th August.

Ciara Headlines

At 8:30 am on Thursday 20th August, as promised, Hammonds arrived to fit Ciara’s wardrobes. The experienced craftsman who was to complete the installation was as nice as everyone else who we had met from Hammonds so far. As soon as he arrived, it was clear that he would go about his work quietly, efficiently and unobtrusively. We were all very impressed. At the end of day one, Naomi and I were very happy with the way things were going – the whole customer experience had been GREAT so far and we were confident it would continue that way.

The only thing that slightly concerned me was that the ‘fitter’ suggested that the time allocated to the fitting of the wardrobes ‘would not be long enough’ – he was told it was a one and half day job. Prior to leaving at 5:30 pm on Thursday, he confirmed that it would be more like two very long days. However, there was still no suggestion that he would not complete the job prior to the weekend.

By lunchtime on Friday, the situation was looking very different. It was looking likely that the job would NOT be finished. At 5:00 pm we were told that he would have to come back on Monday to finish the job off. We completely acknowledge that things will go wrong – it is a fact of life that perfection is difficult to achieve – however, the fact that the job was not completed in the time we were promised meant that our plans were suddenly thrown out of kilter.

We could no longer decorate over the weekend – due to my work commitments, we would have no choice but to change our holiday plans for the 27th and 28th August so would paint the room then instead – not something we wanted to do and something that caused considerable disruption and disappointment. However, as long as the job would be completed on Monday 24th, we would be happy. Our fitter left at 6:00 pm saying he would be back at 8:30 am on Monday morning.

On Sunday night Naomi received a text message from our fitter advising that he would not be coming in the morning – he would now be with us by lunchtime. Not great, but at least he was still coming. On Monday morning, instead of seeing him in the flesh, Naomi received a phone call – he would not be coming at all!! All he could say was that Hammonds would be in touch to arrange a new time for him to finish the job!!

Ciara Headlines

Everything that Hammonds had done up to this point to generate great memories of the experience were unceremoniously thrown out of the window. Later that morning, Naomi received a phone call from Hammonds in Chester. Although the lady was very nice, she said that the workload had now ‘backed up’ and that our fitter would not be able to come back and finish the job until Wednesday 2nd September!!!!! A whole week and a half later!!! The great experience was steadily turning into a terrible one.

Naomi expressed her dissatisfaction on the call – all her well laid plans were in tatters. Hammonds claim that getting your dream room with them is ‘stress free’ – in our case I could not disagree more. Ciara’s dream had in fact been shattered. She would now have to start back at school without her dream room being ready to move in to. All her furniture and clothes are on our landing. The mattress for her bed is taking up most of her brother’s bedroom. Hammonds phoned back later that day to confirm that there was NOTHING they could do.

So what is the learning here? I spend a substantial amount of my time teaching people all over the world about the importance of understanding how customer experiences make customers FEEL. The emotional component of any customer experience is perhaps the most important, as it is the part of the experience that customers REMEMBER. Hammonds had transformed us from feeling great about the experience to feeling terrible about it. The entire customer journey had been so open and transparent up to the point things started going wrong. As soon as they did, we were left to create our own perception of what they were doing to us.

We felt as though we were de-prioritised by Hammonds. Now the work had started, we were unable to STOP them from completing it. We were at their whim to complete it when THEY wanted – without any consideration to our situation or circumstances. We assumed that they were MORE interested in starting new jobs in order to not disappoint others – but surely they should finish what they have started first!! To be told that there was NOTHING that they could do felt like a kick in the teeth. That was the icing on the cake in turning a great experience into a terrible one.

At the end of the day, we now have no choice but to wait. Our plans will have to be changed – we will just have to get on with it. However, the consequences for Hammonds are multiple. We are unlikely to ever purchase something from them again. If anyone asks us about fitted wardrobes, we are very likely to tell them to stay well away from Hammonds. The fact that I am having to write this post at all is a consequence they will have to bear.

In 2013, I conducted independent research of my own to understand the ‘most important things’ to customers when interacting with organisations. The third most important thing was ‘keeping promises; reliability’. As consumers, ‘doing what you say you will’ is so important when it comes to Customer Experience. Breaking promises and reacting to those events inappropriately is a sure fire way to detrimentally affect the future ongoing sustainability of your business. You can read more about that research here.

what-customers-want1

Just prior to writing this post, Hammonds customer service team got in contact with me. They did so in response to my tweets advising that I would be writing about our experience. They were phoning to advise that a new fitter would now be coming on the 28th August to finish the job. Well the 28th is better than the 2nd September, but it should not have been as a result of my social media intervention that they were suddenly able to do something they said they could not. It is also not great that a different person will be completing the job – we just hope that the expert work done so far will continue.

So there it is – how to turn a great experience into a terrible one. The greatest shame is that the bad now completely overshadows the VERY VERY GOOD things that they have done in the customer journey. Their customer journey failure has completely let down their excellent people. I only hope that they can learn from this story and prevent other customers from feeling the way we have done in the future.


Update – 3rd September 2015

I am very pleased to report that Hammonds successfully completed the wardrobe installation one week late on the 28th August. Two lovely men, both called Paul, finished the job in another very long day. Ciara is VERY happy with her new room!!

A much happier Ciara in front of one of her new wardrobes!

A much happier Ciara in front of one of her new wardrobes!

Today, unexpectedly, I received a letter in the post. It is a nice touch to close off the story. You can read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions, but I personally feel as though our experience has served to help Hammonds – and I hope that it will prevent other customers from experiencing the same as us in the future. Things will go wrong – they always do, but it is vital that any organisation is able to respond appropriately when it does!

Hammonds - apology

 

37 Comments

  1. Steve West August 25, 2015 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    Ian

    Like so many of your posts. I started to read the first paragraph and found myself saying “I know where this is going”. Unfortunately, the majority of high street retailers who sell products that need installing (kitchens, fitted furniture etc) tend to outsource the fitting to self employed contractors. Hammonds are no exception to this http://bit.ly/1Ly4tns and, from the current multiple advertisements for self employed fitters, they’re struggling to fill these positions. Whilst you can hope that the fitter will be competent and trained in the product he / she is representing, they will invariably have other private jobs running to deadlines that they are preparing for whilst working on your job. So, when a job runs over, they have a dilemma – do I carry on and complete this job and let the other customer down, or do I leave this job to start the other job and let this customer down? Unless everything goes to plan, all of the time, there is always the challenge of at least one customer being at risk of suffering a poor experience. And the worst part of it is (here’s the controversial bit) that the majority of tradespeople don’t seem to empathise with the huge inconvenience and associated costs caused by this.

    One way I have overcome this issue over the years is to always insist that I source the fitters myself. Luckily, my brother is a highly competent self-employed carpenter and is able to recommend other tradespeople who he trusts and uses himself. Funnily enough, none of these skilled tradespeople work for retailers, but rather rely on a stream of repeat business and recommendations from satisfied customers. Yes, you have to give them plenty of notice because they are invariably busy but they understand that starting and completing the whole job on time is the most important factor. None of them are experts in CX, but they know to how keep their promises and are very reliable.

    Give me a call and I’ll let you know their contact details 🙂

    • Ian Golding August 26, 2015 at 6:13 pm - Reply

      As always you have hit the proverbial nail on the head Mr West – customer empathy is still such a huge issue in the world of customer experience, which is why I hop that others learn from the many stories I share!!

  2. Jason August 26, 2015 at 11:03 am - Reply

    Hi Mr Golding

    Thank you for taking the time to write the detailed feedback in relation to the service you have received from us. We would like to offer our sincere apologies to you, Naomi and Ciara for the inconvenience and upset that the delay in completing the work has caused you all. We agree with you that it is a shame that what started as such a positive experience has since become a negative one; please be assured that we are all focused on having the work completed by the weekend so that your daughter can begin to enjoy the new room she has waited so long for.

    We know that you haven’t had the best experience but we want to let you know that your feedback is being taken very seriously within Hammonds and we are already making changes as a result of your comments.

    Thank you once again for your feedback and please accept our sincerest apologies.
    Kindest Regards

    The Hammonds Team

    • Ian Golding August 26, 2015 at 6:11 pm - Reply

      Many thanks for taking the time to respond Jason – it is much appreciated. I am pleased that our experience will ultimately benefit others. Fingers crossed that all goes well by close of play Friday!!

      • Paul June 20, 2016 at 6:30 pm - Reply

        I hardly think it has helped Hammonds as my partner, who by the way is now I’ll with worry over Hanmonds treatment of her are now 8 months into a 3 day job, and still Bieng hounded for money. I have placed the file in the hands of my solicitor and an about to start an Internet/ social media campaign.

        • Hammonds July 6, 2016 at 12:43 pm - Reply

          Hi Paul,

          I’m so sorry that your partner now feels ill because of the issues with Hammonds this is the last thing we would ever want and something we will take very seriously. We would like to get this dealt with immediately so we can look into what has happened and try our best to resolve this for you both!

          Could you reply with the account number and postcode or email our customer management team at ResolutionsTeam@hammonds-uk.com and we will make sure someone looks into this asap.

          Sorry again,
          Alex from the Hammonds team

  3. Helen August 28, 2015 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    I feel your pain! I too had a totally unacceptable experience with Hammonds – the end result, upset, time wasted, frustration, disappointment……………no bedroom furniture! After weeks upon weeks upon weeks we settled for a refund after a catalogue of errors including delivery, incorrect colour, poor quality, damaged items and on and on and on!! To top it all it was totally impossible to even speak to anybody in the leadership/management team to escalate my complaint………….they don’t speak to customers!
    I’d rather be without bedroom furniture than face having to deal with a company who cannot get even the basics right – its not rocket science…….simply do for me what you promise to do, when you promise to do it……..does it get any more simple?

    • Ian Golding August 28, 2015 at 2:18 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much for sharing your horrendous experience Helen – I suspect we are not alone. You are right – it SHOULD be so simple. The fact is, as Customer Experiences become more and more transparent, and future customers are able to find out what the reality is BEFORE they buy, companies get the going to have to get their acts together and get the basics right if they want to be sustainable.

      I must say, I was slightly disappointed that Richard Hammonds himself did not have the courage to respond to this story – despite the fact I tweeted him. I would strongly recommend he read about transformational leaders such as John Roberts of ao.com – he could learn a thing or two – have a read of this https://ijgolding.com/admin/2015/06/22/lessons-in-authentic-leadership-from-ao-com-its-not-first-time-resolution-its-personal-resolution/

  4. Steve West September 3, 2015 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    Nice Update Ian and its great to see that Hammonds have finally recognised their part in this. However, I find it fascinating that the responsibility of penning the compensation letter to you has been left to their Marketing Manager!?!?! If Hammonds perceive customer service to be the role of their marketing dept then I fear their journey towards becoming a customer centric company hasn’t even begun. I also notice that Richard Hammonds twitter account hasn’t been updated for over a year and the company social platforms are being used as sales and marketing channels to push product. Your services are much needed by this company!!

    • Ian Golding September 3, 2015 at 3:12 pm - Reply

      I do completely agree with you – the fact that a senior leader in the organisation did not have the courage to write the letter personally says a lot about the company. I did not state this in the body of the post as I think I have said enough already!! As I responded in a previous comment – they could learn a lot from the leaders of businesses like ao.com!

  5. Shailer January 25, 2016 at 12:08 pm - Reply

    My parents have, and still are having, issues with Hammonds. Damaged items, poor quality workmanship and short notice cancelled appointments appear to all be a Hammonds standard. Even though their install doesn’t meet the hype and advertisement, nor does it match the original design due to errors; several damaged panels, numerous return visits and attempted ‘repairs’ although they have offerered (increased!!) compensation of less than 0.5% of the sale price – bearing in mind 2 of 4 huge sliding doors are visually damaged amongst many other faults?!?!?! Would you accept a car that had a dent in 2 of 4 doors? or perhaps even a discount of 0.5%???

    Hammonds are very quick to promise such amazing things, sadly when it turns bad it keeps going downhill and although my parents issues are ongoing, it looks like ombudsman or courts are the only option left. A very disappointing service from a company that believes its fitters are the best in the business?! and take great pride in their work?!?! Totally false statements from the fitters that have been sent thus far! As for stress free – it couldnt be more stressful, I guess they mean stress FOR free? i.e. no additional charge made for distress, disappointment, failures, broken promises etc etc

    Perhaps WATCHDOG or similar should have an interest in such a company…..

    • Not At All Happy March 23, 2016 at 7:57 am - Reply

      Hi Shalier,

      I’m very, very intrigued to see how your issues with Hammonds have been addressed – do you have an update at all please?

      I have a case with Hammonds (had one for over 2 years – disgusting service and product) at present and with the Furniture Ombudsman.

      Thanks,

  6. Lyndsay January 29, 2016 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    Hi Mr Shailer,

    We are extremely sorry that your parents have had such a disappointing experience with Hammonds and that there have been issues at numerous stages of the fitting.

    We have however been in discussion with you this week and have offered an increase in compensation and agreed for us to replace the two damaged sliding doors. We understand this offer has been accepted.

    Once again we’re sincerely sorry for the distress this has caused.

    The Hammonds Team

  7. Nicola May 24, 2016 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    You were extremely lucky to have had your wardrobe fitted only 1 week late – you know, it’s funny, Hammonds told me this sort of thing doesn’t happen very often but.. there’s at least 2 cases now in less than a year- yours and mine. I had to wait 3 months to get my wardrobe, originally install date of 13th October 2014, they screwed up and tried again on November 22nd.. But did they turn up? No, they did not, and this is one of many things they said they’d sort out and never did. Eventually I did get my wardrobe on January 27th 2015 – my birthday. Every time I look at the wardrobe I am reminded of the hardship it took to get it, and I don’t trust the company after my experience for it to last 10 years or for them to keep that promise. Mistakes happen, but maybe they happen a little too often for this company, and maybe their shit customer service really isn’t helping. Your little girl didn’t have a room, I had to cancel a halloween party cancel Christmas at my home for relatives from abroad – and spend my birthday dealing with their mess. What an absolute SHAMBLES. They don’t understand at all how customers feel – do they care I slept in my livingroom for months or had to live in a bomb site due to their negligence? They installed a wardrobe incorrectly in October, showed up late and ripped it out in November and then finally finished the job in January – only so late because by this point I had run out of holidays to take off to be at the house and had to spend a weekend re-decorating the room before they could begin work again. Hammonds outsources their fitters, and they are NOT TRAINED and I see no evidence here now in this case almost a year later that the problem is being dealt with. I hope that company runs itself into the ground, maybe it won’t be long – they’re on a roll it seems.

    • Hammonds July 6, 2016 at 2:29 pm - Reply

      Hi Nicola

      We are really sorry you feel like this. It really is so disappointing for us to read how our service has let you down and left you feeling like you don’t trust Hammonds anymore. We are a family run company who are passionate about customer service and providing great products but sadly there are sometimes exceptions where mistakes are made and we do our best to learn from these every day.

      All I can do is apologise that you went through this and assure that although yourself and others commenting have had negative experiences, this is very rare and something we will continually work on to avoid.

      We can assure that your 10 year guarantee is something we would of course honour, so please don’t worry about that.

      All of our fitters are local professionals from each region who do undergo professional Hammonds training.

      We know it is probably no consolation at this point, but we would like to send something as a small token of our sincere apologies for your experience.

      If you could email ResolutionsTeam@hammonds-uk.com we will arrange this for you.

      Thanks,
      Alex from the Hammonds team

  8. geoff hutchinson May 31, 2016 at 11:52 am - Reply

    we have a hammonds kitchen

    it has taken over two years to complete

    they fought tooth and nail to avoid putting things right

    the fitter had no plans on arrival and kitchen was designed so badly that we suffered two gas leaks caused by back of drawer banging on gas pipe

    we are lucky to be alive really

    they removed my review from a review site , then argued that it wasnt
    them that removed it.

    we have been paid compensation of about 20% of cost which i consider not sufficient for the two years of hell we have been put through

    my sink is still not parallel to my work bench because the fitter was
    of very poor standard.

    we ended up getting help from financial ombudsman because we had
    one year interest free credit, but they have no control over hammonds
    so it looks like we will end up in court

    the ombudsman was lied to in an attempt to claim my kitchen was complete back in september 2014, with various tales about us including
    the claim we washed car parts in our sink

    i would be happy to speak to bbc watchdog if as above they get involved

    this company seem to be one to avoid

  9. Lyndsay July 6, 2016 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Hi Geoff,

    We are truly sorry that you feel this way and that the issues have been going on for a long period of time.

    We have been doing everything we can to ensure you’re left feeling happy with your new kitchen and have been compensated accordingly.

    I believe you have been in discussions with my colleague regarding the compensation we have offered you. Please accept our sincere apologies once again that you are not left feeling satisfied with the offer however unfortunately this is the full amount we can give in this circumstance.

    I understand you have now chosen a replacement sink and to source a fitter yourself in order to have the work completed.

    Our customer’s happiness is integral to our service, so we are so sorry your experience with Hammonds hasn’t been a positive one.

    Many thanks,
    Lyndsay from the Hammonds team

  10. geoff hutchinson July 13, 2016 at 9:59 pm - Reply

    thanks for the reply

    discussions about compensation….sort of, you won’t pay me
    any more , so thats not really a discussion.

    i have not chosen a new sink. hammonds have agreed
    to replace our sink, that will be number 4. i received a
    phone call telling me that a 4th sink had been ordered
    but turned up damaged so a 5 th sink has been ordered,
    news of which i still await.

    its now 2 years and 5 months since you started work
    on our kitchen

    making yourselves sound concerned on social media
    does not constitute keeping your customers happy, indeed
    it only serves to further annoy already unhappy customers.

    still, we can continue to advise people not to repeat our
    mistake of using hammonds

    geoff hutchinson

  11. Hammonds July 21, 2016 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Hi Geoff

    I believe your sink was delivered yesterday and we are awaiting a quote from your plumber to fit this so we can get this completed for you.

    Apologies again that you are still unhappy about your experience.

    Thanks,
    Lyndsay from the online team

  12. insideman July 24, 2016 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    Hi Geoff
    Hammonds don’t make kitchens they buy them in from Sigma3 and stick a very large margin on top, look at your kitchen range on Sigma3 website, you will find it a couple of grand cheaper

  13. Bryony Nicholls August 19, 2016 at 1:27 pm - Reply

    I don’t know whether I feel better for knowing I’m not the only one having serious problems with Hammond’s or whether it makes me even more angry that they have such shocking customer service!!
    Hammond’s were recommended to me by my mum and dad (they had purchased wardrobes from them a few years ago) so we went ahead visited a store and booked for a designer to come out. The lady in the showroom was lovely and couldn’t have helped us more. Let me tell you this though I would certainly not recommend Hammond’s to anyone after my experience, in fact I would warn anyone not to go to them. Although Hammond’s were recommended to us we also decided to go with them as we have a slight curve to the ceiling and also a chimney breast that needed to be enclosed within the wardrobes so their ‘Everything we do is made to measure, so problems such as tricky alcoves, sloping ceilings or awkward corners simply aren’t an issue’ promise seemed to make them our best option.

    Very long story ahead:

    1st Designer:
    I was all excited to have the designer come round, that soon turned into an awkward situation in our own house when the first thing he done was complain about the parking down the road. Anyway putting that aside we pointed out exactly what we wanted from the brochure so you wouldn’t have thought it would be that difficult. We also asked a few questions about lead times and so on and told him what the lovely lady in the show room had told us to which he replied ‘I wish they didn’t answer questions in the show room they just get it all wrong’ and continued moaning about the people in the show room, we didn’t think this was very professional and surely he wouldn’t be standing there doing his job without the people in the showroom doing theirs.

    We then showed him the space where the wardrobes was going to be and he measured up, he tried to convince me to step the middle section of the wardrobes (the bit around the chimney breast) out so that we would get a full depth cupboard however I advised that I thought it would make the wardrobes look old fashioned and that wasn’t the look we was going for in our modern style house – his rather abrupt comment back to that was ‘You don’t have wardrobes for the look you have them for storage’ this comment wasn’t welcome and I’m pretty sure Hammond’s as a company wouldn’t agree with this. We also asked while in the room whether the curtain rail or the window sill would be a problem (we asked three times to make sure) and was told they wouldn’t cause an issue at all.

    Once he measured up (huffing and puffing I may add) we settled around his computer to “design” the wardrobes. Now this is where the ‘made to measure’ comment from Hammond’s isn’t true and is false advertisement, made to measure you would think you would be able to have anything your heart desires – nope it is actually a set of pre-sized cupboards that they have to fit into your space.

    Anyway progressing on with the story after well over 3 hours and a lot of moaning from the designer who also wasn’t able to use the program properly we settled on a design and then the final bit came, the quote. Now we knew it wasn’t going to be cheap however there was a promotion on at the time and we knew our budget, unfortunately the final figure wasn’t in our budget and also my husband wasn’t there at the time (my mum was with me as she’s got a good eye for design) and so I had to tell the designer I wouldn’t be putting a deposit down there and then. I would have to go away speak to my husband and possibly have to go elsewhere, as soon as I said this his attitude became even worse and he basically couldn’t get out of the house quick enough!! We told him our budget and what we could possibly stretch to and he said he would go away and speak to his manager. I called him the next day and he said he hadn’t spoken to his manager yet however he didn’t think he would go for it as ‘didn’t I know they have to pay his wages and the fitters and the surveyors wages out of the quote cost along with the actual product’ now I really didn’t appreciate this comment. We ended the call and he called back a little later to advise they could meet us at our highest we could go to. Brilliant… the designer came back to our house still grumpy took the deposit and for us to sign some documents that he didn’t even talk through or give us enough time to read (I know I know…I should have made sure I did read it before signing) and scheduled a surveyor to come round (this date was subsequently changed).

    Surveyor (Visit 1)
    So all exited that everything was in motion the surveyor attended for what we was told ‘to just check everything the designer had done’ how wrong was that, the surveyor proceeded to tell us the design wouldn’t fit and that the curtain rail and the window sill would cause us issues. We weren’t happy about this at all. Now the surveyor was genuinely lovely however he did see the negative in everything and said the designers didn’t really know what they was doing and was basically glorified salesmen (didn’t think this was very professional either). He worked out a new design for us that weren’t overly different to our original design but I told him I had to have a think about it and couldn’t just go ahead straight away. We felt really gutted.

    We decided that the 2nd design wasn’t what we wanted and requested a new designer come round, an area manager named John called and asked why we was asking for a different designer to the original one we had, we told him our issues to which he said he completely understood and he would arrange for the original designer to have training and would be spoken to about his customer service.

    2nd Designer:
    So the 2nd designer turned up and she seemed quite friendly and pleasant, she said she wanted to get everything 100% right due to the issues we had already experienced and was shocked with the service we had received. We went through the whole process of designing again and she made numerous calls to the area manager (John) to make sure of a couple of items. We then got the final part again… the quote, it was higher than the 1st agreed price for a less intricate design which we thought was weird however it was agreed that they would match the original price. Brilliant on the right track again. She rescheduled the surveyor to come back out but said there wouldn’t be any problems (famous last words).

    2nd Visit from the surveyor:
    Once again the surveyor came out looked at the design and said it wouldn’t fit, by this point we are at the end of our tether and settled with a redesign, I did however call the designer while the surveyor was at our house to ask for the area managers number, she asked if there was an issue I told her that her design wouldn’t fit and she also then had a moan about the surveyor saying he was just being awkward and reluctantly gave me the area managers number. I spoke to the area manager and told him under no uncertain circumstances that we wasn’t happy with the service we was receiving and I was assured that he would make sure it all went smoothly to the end of the process and we would have the best fitters and so on. (Have I heard from him again…. no)

    Fitting day 09.07.16:
    Fitting day went by shockingly smoothly, no issues (we thought). There was a few scrapes on the ceiling however we didn’t complain and thought it was to be expected. We signed off the paper work and off the fitters went. We paid within the cost of our wardrobes for the fitters for two days however they were there less than a whole day.

    On the fitting day after the fitters had left we notice there was a chip out of one of the bedside cabinet handles and I made a note to call Hammond’s to let them know, however a couple of days later we also noticed that two of the doors have been put on the wrong way round (sliding doors). I called Hammond’s to let them know about these two bits, granted I don’t believe it was the week after the wardrobes had been fitted as unfortunately a serious illness I have relapsed out of remission and it wasn’t the biggest thing of my mind. Hammond’s advised they would get the fitter to attend to swap the doors around and they would send a replacement handle. The replacement handle arrived however they was the wrong ones so I called Hammonds to let them know.

    The fitter called and asked if he could come round however unfortunately it was during the day and so I had to advise no one would be at our house and told him times that someone would be. I then got a text asking if he could attend again at a time that wasn’t suitable and once again told him the times someone would be in. I didn’t hear from him again and we hadn’t received the new handles so on the 8.8.16 I called Hammonds to tell them this, they said they would get the handles out and tell the fitter to attend.

    I eventually get a text from the fitter on the 13.08.16 asking if he could attend at once again a unsuitable time on the 16.08.16 as by now I just want everything sorted I arranged for someone to be at the house at the time. The day comes my husband gets home from work early to be there for ‘after 5pm’ that the fitter requested, I get home at 6.30pm and he hasn’t arrived, we didn’t want to start cooking dinner until after he left and so it was getting later and later and yes you can guess what happened he didn’t show.

    I called Hammond’s yet again on the 17.08.16 to advise them of this ( I may add for all this time I have been being chased for the final payment which I was refusing to pay until everything if sorted), while on the phone on the 17th I told them I am at my whit’s end with them, their customer service is absolutely shocking, I wouldn’t recommend them and I certainly would not be paying the final figure at all and for every day they do not get this sorted from then on in I would expect £100.00 a day back. They said they would get the fitter to call and would resend the door handles. It’s now the 19.08.16 I hadn’t head back from anyone and so I have had to call them yet again!!!

    Throughout the whole process I have asked to speak to managers to escalate my issues and not once have I been put through to one. I am a HR manager and customer service is a huge thing in our company, it quite clearly isn’t in Hammond’s and in my opinion training is very much needed to get the company to a good standard.

    I’m sure Hammond’s will owe me a hefty sum by the time this gets resolved.

    Good products, just a shame that the customer is treated very badly in the process, that there is so many errors and that the staff clearly have no respect for each other.

  14. Hammonds Furniture September 28, 2016 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    We take all our customers complaints very seriously, so it’s really important to us that we deal with, and respond to, each and every one of our customers, to allow us to try and put things right.

    If you have an outstanding complaint or are still unhappy after an experience with us please could you email us at resolutionsteam@hammonds-uk.com

    Thank you,
    The Hammonds online team

  15. geoff hutchinson October 6, 2016 at 12:01 am - Reply

    thanks insiderman

    i am very much wiser for my 2 year kitchen fitting from hammonds

    bryony

    you have my every sympathy, keep on at them, good luck.

    i continue to advise everybody to avoid them

  16. Mr Noboby November 17, 2016 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    Well I am on the brink of spending £4.5K on a couple of fitted wardrobes from Hammonds.

    After reading this I would be a fool to part with my money

  17. Peter Graham November 25, 2016 at 10:28 am - Reply

    It seems that we are not alone in having problems with Hammonds. Our journey started with the local showroom lady who was very helpful and we were persuaded to order two built in wardrobes at not an inconsiderable amount of money.

    A designer duly arrived and worked out the basic dimensions and produced a computer image, so far so good. Then a surveyor arrived and measured up and, in the case of the bedroom wardrobe, this is where the problems started, not that we knew it at the time.

    Fitters arrived on the 26/27 September as agreed and the dressing room wardrobe was fitted without problems. There was then some scratching of the head when it came to the bedroom wardrobe. This was being fitted into an existing enclosure. The surveyor had told us to remove the existing wardrobe which we did but the fitters suggested he should have said that we needed to remove the interior and exterior architrave and that the exposed wall edges should have been plastered. He had not.

    This was overcome very neatly by creating boxing that slid into the gap between the inner and outer architrave. However, the surveyor had specified a very deep top front panel and we all agreed this was ridiculous both in terms of the visual appearance and access to the upper shelves in the wardrobe interior, which would have been impossible. The net result was that the doors supplied were too short so the installation could not be finished.

    Shortly afterwards we were chased for the balance of the payment and had to explain that the job was incomplete and that we would not be paying until the installation was completed to our satisfaction.

    On the 15th October the fitter came back with new doors. Two were of the right size, one was too short! He had to come back for a third visit with a third door of the right size.

    At this point we noticed that there was a very large and unacceptable gap under the doors and contacted Hammonds to get this fixed. Customer Services came back to say ‘nothing could be done’.

    It took a letter to the MD to get something moving. We also noted that the interior of the wardrobes was not scribed to the wall so there is a one inch gap at the back of all shelves and that the drawers were not the self closure type, having been told that from Jan 16 all drawers had this feature.

    The simple solution to the problem of the gap below the doors was to raise the level of the bottom rail and this is what Hammonds agreed to do. They have yet to comment on the gaps internally or the soft closure drawers.

    Today we had a fourth fitter visit to find that the parts he had been supplied with were exactly the same as those currently fitted (despite the box saying otherwise) so the problem is still not fixed and a fifth visit will be necessary.

    We also noted, whilst the doors were out, that on one of the doors the wooden panel carrying the mirror had been very poorly fixed on one side. Staples holding the panel to the door frame had been inserted so close to the edge they had either broken the edge off or left it cracked just waiting to fall off later. Do they not inspect items before shipment?

    All in all our experience of Hammonds has not been good and, given the cost of the wardrobes, we simply would not buy from them again. Calling Customer Service is a nightmare, either the line is engaged or you get a ‘you are 6th or whatever in the queue’. Their surveyors, inspectors and storemen all seem suspect judging by our experience.

  18. Bod February 15, 2017 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    Was one click away from looking at a Hammond’s fitted wardrobe, after reading all the above, that definitely ain’t happening!

  19. Sophire Burt March 29, 2017 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    Just search Hammonds complaints and this came up. My poor mother who suffers from severe depression was having her bedroom done afternyears of savings (on benefits) and yearsbof building up the courage of allowing it to happen. I can’t write how badly Hammonds have set my mother back mental health wise. I am in tears myself as I write this. She has been sleeping on her sofa for nearly a month now surrounded buly all of her belongings that would normally be in her bedroom. This is because she was meant to be having new carpet fitted too, but due to Hammonds not completing their job and then breaking the reschedule dates we have had to in turn reschedule the carpet fitters for a 4th time. My complaints to Hammonds have fallen on deaf ears and I am going to call them in the morning to explain that leaving my disabled mother unable to sleep in her bed for nearly a month is utterly disgraceful and that is they don’t get a fitter to fit in the next 48 hours then I will be speaking the the ombudsman. They have really caused more damage than they care to think about. Just so so so upset and very sad for my mother. Shame on you Hammonds.

  20. Bill May 13, 2017 at 11:45 am - Reply

    I have just had a terrible experience with Hammonds. I thought I would give them a go at giving me a quote as well as trying out a few other companies. Hammonds seemed ok in their showroom and the members of staff were all friendly. They initially went of some measurements I had given them to give me a quote. the quote they gave me was very rough and only an estimate as they would need to measure themselves to give an accurate one.
    I have always been sceptical of companies who offer ‘Great discounts’ and ‘Sales now on’. I mean the final figure they give you is what they should just sell it as. I was quoted £10500 for my bedroom (I almost fainted as the previous company had only quoted £7500) they then offered me the 20% discount taking it to £8400. I though that was still too much.
    Then it all started. The sales man then started his (well trained lines) and offered another 10% if I paid the deposit there and then. I said I would think about it and not make a decision today. They would not leave me a copy of the quote or the designs that they had done unless I paid a deposit? strange I thought. I asked about why the quote was so much more than other companies I had quote me (although at that point I had only had 1 done). It was explained that the other companies use material of less quality than they do (I have now done research and this is not true).

    I then received calls everyday from Hammond’s asking if I would like to go ahead. pushing the additional 10% as it was only available for that week. I kept saying no. Funnily enough, the following week came with more calls and by magic, the 10% discount was still available for another week. I stopped taking their calls after this. I had four more companies quote me and have found one (a nice small family run business) that I think I can trust. “THEY” from the start said that they don’t offer discounts, they don’t raise their price to then offer cuts. they are made to measure and made all of the units 817 wide to prove this in my design. Their final price was £4396. So half of Hammond’s quote pretty much and a relaxing service.
    I did finally answer a call from Hammond’s to ask them to stop pestering me as I had chosen to go with someone else. I then got shouted at and accused of wasting their time and money.

    I will NEVER use or recommend Hammonds to anyone.

    • Rishi May 23, 2017 at 11:17 pm - Reply

      Hi bill, could you recommend and provide details for the family Run business you mentioned as I too was about to jump in and pay the deposit for a Hammonds Wardrobe but seems it would be the biggest mistake ever.

      I need a fairly simply 6 door wardrobe wall to wall. Hammonds quoted £6500 then knowcked this down to £4500 then £3600 and just now had the final offer of £3300 – all within a day!

      Any help or recommendations would be appreciated.

  21. Jo October 9, 2017 at 9:52 am - Reply

    I found this thread after searching if there was anything on line about whether the continuous discount offered by Hammonds constituted an artificially inflated price in the first place. I thought I might add to the mix. I had a very interesting experience with Hammonds – I had used them before and had a very good experience so when I bought a new house that needed wardrobes in 3 bedrooms, I went straight to them. The sales chap and the surveyor were given access by the previous owners during the exchange period to measure. When we completed on the house, and the guys turned up on site to fit the wardrobes while the house was empty, it transpired that BOTH the salesman and the surveyor hadn’t actually surveyed one bedroom properly as in, not bothered to OPEN THE DOOR of the existing wardrobe which was being replaced and had neglected to find a chimney breast and a water tank (!) I kid you not. We had to abandon that wardrobe completely on the day. Whilst we had no problem with the actual fitting dates and time it took and the fitting chaps were lovely – there are elements in everyone’s story that resonate with me – the inability to speak with a manager is a constant thread (in fact, the biggest frustration of all) and also the compensation I was first offered – simply a discount on buying more furniture from Hammonds in the future! Eventually I received fair compensation, but only after they accidentally sent me an email meant for another customer complaining about the same thing (a little embarrassing for them). It is such a shame, as the wardrobes themselves are very good. I am unlikely to use them for the third wardrobe.

  22. john stewart October 25, 2017 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    I ordered some wardrobes from hammonds.What a mistake!. We gave the designer a set of drawings that i already had, all he had to do was to copy these on his computer and work out a price.
    Having given us a price of 2,800 which is very expensive but we went ahead. He then lied to us about the inside of the wardrobe he told us that every part was made exactly to our space inside the
    wardrobe. Not true. They do not do make made to measure insides they are lying to every customer. The designer then measured 650mm from the wall which i confirmed correct as we have a window 90mm along from that. The second surveyor then took it upon himself to move to 710mm now the edge of the wardrobes are inline with the window .now my shutter cant fit. I am now left with a frame that is in the wrong place & insides that i didnt order! Hammonds are refusing to move the framework to the original place & change the jnsides.
    this company are lying about their bespoke wardrobes, they are getting people to sign contract that you dont know what youre signing, they are putting furniture inside that doesn’t fit, they are changing
    designs to fit there standard units.with all these experiences that i and all the other people have had i cannot believe that trading standards or governing bodies cannot step in and make this company
    comply with customers needs. They are selling furniture with false advertising i thought this country had laws to stop these thieves.

  23. MC Bedford October 31, 2017 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    Having run a business for over 20 years i always like to give folk the benefit before ploughing in with complaints…but.. Hammonds come on!! Your customer service and communication is appalling. I too had used Hammonds before, my daughter loves her new room… 2 years later I didn’t hesitate to use them again for a long needed makeover of our own room.. planning was a bit stressful and we had to change our plans but ok this happens! Rushed to pay down a deposit before we headed out on a break to the USA we had it all planned. Dates fixed for September fitting slowly changed to October… decorating complete and carpet on standby we were still on track!!!! Well I’m sorry to say that here we are 31st October with a half built wardrobe and a ew carpet curled up at the edge .. waiting, yes just waiting …. new date is heading for November 13th but I won’t move mentally in yet as this will likely be December. Throughout the waiting game it angers me more how you are left ‘feeling’ the fitter, self employed, doesn’t get paid until work is complete so you can’t blame him! The hand paint effect machine. that has broken for the second time, is the main culprit here only it’s metal and can’t get to the phone… like the guys in charge it seems! So, they have me and the other 800 customers on a conveyor belt of uncertainty… would I use them again? NO? ….WHY? Because they made me feel like just a number and for that reason they don’t deserve my custom

  24. Sarah Stringer November 29, 2017 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    Having read all above I don’t know whether to be pleased or horrified. I too have my own on-going issues with this company.
    Having moved into a new house seven years ago we decided to invest a considerable amount of money – well over £10,000 – in two sets of wardrobes, one for the room used by my husband and I and one, a year of two later, for my daughter’s bedroom. The process went well and we were very happy with the result.

    However, a few years down the line, the cracks started to show – literally! In the master bedroom the fronts of the wardrobes came loose from the solid casing behind. In my daughter’s room, the same happened but, in addition, the whole frame of the wardrobes seemed to be slipping away from the ceiling.

    In June this year, 2017, I contacted my local Hammonds store to report the problem. They took all the details and told me I would hear from them within a day or two. A week later I called again having heard nothing. This time I was told it was not something the local store would deal with and I would have to contact Head Office. Frustrating, but so be it. I contacted Head Office who directed me to an online form which I filled in and sent off, complete with photos. I received an acknowledgement back informing me that I would be contacted within three working days. Well over a week later I called again, having heard nothing. They told me they had not received my form, despite me having had an acknowledgement and I was asked to carry out the same process again, which I did – this time taking a screen-shot of the acknowledgement. I still didn’t hear within 3 days and called again. To cut a long story short, after many more telephone calls I was told a fitter would come and visit in September – three months to get to this stage!

    A very nice man visited my home. He looked at the doors in the master bedroom and said they would have to be replaced. He said there had been a faulty batch of doors and it was a common problem. Next he moved to my daughter’s bedroom. Here he was horrified. It looked, he said, as if it had been ‘installed by a blind man’. He pointed out the problems with the slipped frame, the delaminating doors and also issues with the carcass itself where slanting panels were not properly fixed and had large gaps. He said the work would take three long days.

    In November he returned to do the work. We had confirmation of his arrival by email the day before which said he would be with us by 8am to enable us to go to work. Later that night he called us on the phone to say there was no way he would be there for 8am and that it had never been an option. We therefore had to rope in my father-in-law to open up the house at 9.30am. That night, when I arrived home, my bedroom was looking great. The doors had all been replaced and it was just as it should be. I looked in my daughters bedroom and it looked as if he had only had time to remove the doors and the external frame. The carcass was still in place with its slipped panels. It was clear the job was only just beginning.

    The next day I returned home to be told the fitter had arrived at 9am and left at 3.30pm and had ‘finished’ the job. I was thrilled…..but then I went upstairs. The new doors were looking good and the frame was properly in place. The handles were not straight, which I thought was a bit of a schoolboy error when correcting a complaint, but I figured my husband could sort that out. Then I opened the doors and it became clear that the original carcass was still in place. The gaps that the fitter had pointed out as being ‘shockingly bad work’ were all still there.

    My husband contacted Hammonds immediately and explained the situation. We were told we would receive a call either that day (last Friday) or, worst case scenario, this Monday. It is now Wednesday and I have just called Hammonds again and spoken to a lady called Amy Skelton in Customer Services. She tells me they spoke to the fitter who had confirmed the job was complete. They did not bother to call us to tell us this. I have advised her that the problems pointed out by the fitter are all still there. She has promised to contact me today but I have no confidence that she will do so.

    The quality of work and, in particular, the ‘don’t care’ post-sales attitude of this company astonishes me. My daughter has just spent her 10th birthday sleeping on an occasional bed because her room is a disaster zone. She hoped to be choosing some ‘grown up’ additions to her room to mark her big birthday by this stage.

    Hammonds – you need to sort this out because it is shocking. You need, not only, to be aware that this is how your company is carrying out its work, but also of the damage this will do you. you are meant to be a great British company that prides itself on workmanship and service. So far I have yet to see much evidence of either.

  25. Bill Vincent December 4, 2017 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Hammonds have a good product but are totally incompetent. Their web site lists glowing comments from customers but they have never even acknowledged the feedback I provided. The surveyor took months to submit the plans, and did not do so until after the fitting date had been arranged, and only did so after numerous calls from me. They failed to deliver all the parts needed, so a second visit was need to completed the installation. The whole things was incorrectly installed and had to be taken out and completely reinstalled, meaning our newly laid carpet had to be taken up and then relaid. Today they have again failed to turn up to complete the installation. The installation was started four months ago and despite all the problems we have experienced Hammonds have failed to apologise for any of their many errors. Do not use this firm unless you enjoy months of frustration and hours on the phone trying to get them to provide what you have paid for.

  26. J Plant January 3, 2018 at 7:06 am - Reply

    We had two Hammonds bedrooms installed just over 10 years ago and though expensive we were initially very pleased with the space, look and service. However the master bedroom which was the Cedar range has started to peel. All the laminate is peeling off the doors and surfaces. Hammonds acknowledge that this was a manufacturing fault and that there are many others in a similar situation but they refuse to rectify the problem. There are numerous other cases on the Internet with the Cedar range. The maple does not have the problem. We have a £4000 fitted master bedroom full of peeling doors which will soon be reduced to chipboard.
    Hammonds want to charge £100 just to send someone to look at the problem. I have sent photographs.

    We can’t understand how they are still trading with this quality of product and customer care. Just appalling.

  27. Harris Makhdumi April 25, 2018 at 11:38 am - Reply

    They not got any better. Everything was going fine until the fitter didn’t finish the job. He spent 3 days on a 2 day job and then just left. We been left with a mess in our bedroom and boxes and mess everywhere in the house. Wardrobes are impossible to use and we have nowhere to store our stuff. They have never called or emailed us once in the 3 weeks since this happened. Everytime we call we get told that they will call back or they waiting for some parts. No one really knows anything or wants to help. They make you fill in online forms if you have a problem but never respond. No address on their website (should have been a warning) but i have written a letter now but still no response. Appalling service and they really just don’t care. Have taken this up with my credit card company to raise a dispute. If anyone has any other ideas what i can do please do let me know.

    I guess Hammonds know we stuck because they started the job and we have to wait for them to finish it when it suits them. They obviously sending fitters to new jobs instead of finishing ours and other jobs.

  28. Josh Allen September 22, 2018 at 3:26 pm - Reply

    Wish I’d seen this first.

    They failed to deliver the day arranged, we were sat at home waiting for hours, I’d arranged to work from home that day, but really needed to be in. No one attempted to contact us, so we eventually got through for them to say it wasn’t coming. I can’t remember when it was delivered, I think it was the following Monday. Not so bad, just shocked at the lack of communication, they have two email addresses and two phone numbers.

    The next day, the fitter didn’t turn up – so again had to call them, he then turned up around midday rather than 8-9am as advised. The lack of communication, was again shocking.

    The guy was nice enough though. But when he unpacked the doors, two were badly damaged. One so bad, you have to think they must have no quality check in the factory. He arranged for replacements to be ordered.

    Hammonds, failed to let us know when these would arrive, and we called a few times. Eventually they gave a date, for some 3 weeks later. When they turned up, they only delivered one of the doors. Which is currently propped up in the room waiting to be delivered. We haven’t dared touch it in case it’s damaged as well. So we’ve lost the use of that room. (we’re in London apartment, we don’t have much room to lose!). So have had to cancel any family /guest stays with us over the whole of August, and now September.
    On asking them where the second door is, they failed to answer, advised they would look in to it and call us back… they never did. We’ve had that same conversation several times with them now.

    One time, they informed us the second door was delivered directly to the fitter. We contacted the fitter, who said that’s not true. For one, he wouldn’t have the capability to deliver it to us. We have since called them, emailed, them multiple times and have got no where. Oh, and nearly forgot, the fitter put a hole in our ceiling so we’ve got to get that sorted as well.

    We’re soon approaching two months after the delivery date of the first lot. And we are now wondering what is the best way forward. We have a lot of legal friends, including a top barrister, so will be getting their thoughts on how to proceed. The lack of communication is a joke. If they phoned up, and said we’re sorry, we’re really busy but we’ll get it all sorted by xx/xx/xxxx I would be annoyed but I’d go with it. My worry now is that this will never be complete, and we’ll have to pay someone else to try and replicate the other door and fit it, which is probably not even possible – and we’d lose the warranty on what little they have done.

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