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'We're more transparent than retailers' says kitchen comparison site

Published: 15 January 2013
The owner of the kitchen price comparison website that has set DIY chains at loggerheads has now weighed in to the fight itself, answering criticisms that the site is misleading and biased towards B&Q.
'We're more transparent than retailers' says kitchen comparison site
The row broke out after research by kitchen-compare.com found that in the 15 weeks before Christmas B&Q had maintained the lowest prices in the market on comparable kitchens. However, in the story run by diyweek.net last week, Homebase suggested that consumers were being misled by the comparisons, saying in a statement: "Kitchen-compare.com does not give an accurate picture of kitchen comparisons, as it excludes regular promotional packages and does not always compare like-for-like kitchens."

Now, speaking exclusively to diyweek.net, Steve Collinge, commercial director of Insight Retail Group which launched the website, stated that kitchen-compare.com was unpopular with retailers because it was, in fact, being transparent when they were not, and added: "That's where I get cross about accusations of being misleading."

He said it was very difficult for consumers to make accurate comparisons of kitchens in stores and to get a true idea of their prices. "The retailers are all doing a model kitchen, and the consumer might get a quote of £1,800 and think they can have that kitchen for £1,800. But it's just for a carcase and nothing else - it doesn't even include a worktop or handles."

He said that for the comparisons done by his website: "We took three new model kitchens and included everything you need apart from the kitchen sink and the taps, and then got all of the retailers' price lists. And every day we checked the website to make sure we had the right promotional activity on top of that."

Mr Collinge - who also recently launched bathroomcompare.com - went on: "We tell the consumer what the price is every day. We check every single day, every website and every kitchen and bathroom page to make sure we're absolutely spot on. That's why the retailers don't like us - because we deliver transparency.

"What we're not doing is direct comparisons. But if you take the core ranges there is very little between those. You'd struggle to tell the quality difference between them."

And, he added, the kitchen website would soon be adding a new feature that would enhance the comparisons, scoring kitchens out of 10 on a range of factors from the inclusion of soft-close hinges to length of guarantee.

Mr Collinge also answered critics who accuse kitchen-compare.com of bias in favour of B&Q.

"At the end of June last year we went to B&Q, Wickes and Homebase and told them about the idea [for the website]," he said. "All three acted differently, but B&Q said, this is really interesting, how do we work with them. So we sold them a licence, which is non-exclusive - it can be bought by Wickes and Homebase - but it allows them to use www.kitchen-compare.com in B&Q advertising."

And he said that B&Q did now make reference to his website both in their television and radio campaigns.

"That's extended our relationship with B&Q, but we don't favour them," he said.

In diyweek.net's January 10 story we incorrectly said that www.kitchen-compare.com compares the cost of kitchens from just three retailers, B&Q, Wickes and Homebase. In fact, it now also compares kitchens from John Lewis, Magnet and Ikea.

Comments

Published prior to March 2014
By Frank Spencer
The Comparison site looks as through it was put together as a child's IT GCSE project!
Published prior to March 2014
By @RussRB
I own & run an independent kitchen studio on the Wirral designing & offering products from Chippendale, Sheraton, lakes, K Kitchens & Colonial plus lots of different appliance, worktop and sink manufacturers, I have provided people with 64k kitchens and we are doing one this week for 3k. We offer an unrivalled advice/design service for our market area, and the quality of our products are far far higher than the ones from the likes of B&Q, Magnet, Homebase, Wickes and Ikea, we are definitely less expensive in most cases and do not hike our prices to stupid figures only to reduce them by ridiculous amounts to tempt people in. When I give a fitting price it lists everything that is included and tells you what is not included, we won Merseyside Local Trader of the year in 2010 as voted by customers and received a design award in 2011, we are members of the FKBD Federation of Kitchen & Bathroom Designers and are FSB members (federation of small businesses). Unfortunately we are not on the Kitchen compare website because we design to suite what our clients want. We currently have an offer with 12 very good quality cabinets (better than the Sheds and Magnet)with laminate worktops, sink, taps, cornice, pelmet, plinth and Baumatic oven, hob, hood,fridge freezer, dishwasher for 3500 supplied. So in reply to Andy Steuart you do not have to spend 20k + and in reply to Steve Collinge. Yes you have to start somewhere but it would be nice if his website would point out the companies on his site are only a small representation of the kitchen industry and there are independents who can offer a service and products for similar or less than the companies quoted on the site. Being a Trustmark member or any other acronym member DOES NOT guarantee the client that they are getting the job that they think they are, people need to do their homework before jumping in feet first with thousands of pounds only to find the back up service stinks. People just need to type into their search engine "Problems with" such and such a company and see what comes up. If we make a mistake we correct it and that is the way it should be.
Russell
Published prior to March 2014
By British Kitchen Designers Assoc .
Andy Steuart : you make some excellent points Andy , and yours is a story that many consumers would
share .
But a few simple steps taken by the consumer would help :
If you only want a guide price , take detailed room measurements with you , thus avoiding a site visit , reputable kitchen studios won't want to waste your time or theirs on pointless surveys .
Set yourself a budget , be it 2k or 20k , and be realistic about what your budget will purchase .
Draw up a wish list listing your needs , appliances , durability , storage etc ,worktops etc .
And you are right in saying that sometimes the customer just wants to purchase components as opposed to an in depth kitchen design and planning experience .
Published prior to March 2014
By Andy Steuart
As someone in the process of actually going through the tortuous task of BUYING a Kitchen I can add these comments: The Kitchen Compare site provided a basis on which to understand the price differences and confirmed my own research. Yes, I can see there is a difference between mass produced kitchens sold by the likes of Ikea and B&Q and those offered by independent retailers (including their genuine knowledge & experience) , but I don t want to spend 20,000+ on something I will leave behind when I sell the house in a few years. As for the final cost including installation charges? Just go and TRY to get a comparative quote, I have had 4 quotes so far and I ve lost the will to live! The home visit -pushy, aggressive Sales Executive had to pushed out of the door - Normally this kitchen will cost you 42,000, but if you buy tonight I can give you a 50% discount etc. etc. All I want is the final price without being put under pressure. As for the final cost the other three quotes (including fitting) were all different as they all included or excluded various extras. In my opinion, these large retailers deliberately go out of their way to differentiate their offer with features that cannot be compared. How can you compare a 5 year fitting guarantee and a 10 year fitting guarantee? You cannot you shouldn t even need one if the job is done properly in the first place! These large retailers make a second hand car salesman look like an angel! In the end I will get the best price I can for the components that are of value to me and get my carpenter to fit the kitchen and I won t pay him unless it is done properly that s the best kind of guarantee!
Published prior to March 2014
By Steve Collinge
Thanks for your comments Richard, however, you have to start somewhere and in terms of the 'Compare' business, we're not even 5 months old yet. Every month since November of last year, we have added new retailers to the website including IKEA, Magnet and John Lewis, none of which can really be classed as 'sheds'. We will be continuing at this pace of adding new retailers and new ranges until we become the definitive guide to kitchen prices in the UK, so please watch this space.
Published prior to March 2014
By Richard
Maybe they should rename themselves Compare-the-shed.com to clear up any confusion that they might be the definitive guide to Kitchen prices in the UK?

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