Customer £8,000 out of pocket after plug pulled on bathroom deal

RETAIL WRANGLE... David Stanton has been left with a 'shell of a bathroom'.
RETAIL WRANGLE... David Stanton has been left with a 'shell of a bathroom'.
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AN angry customer who paid more than £8,000 to a national retailer for a new bathroom has been left high and dry – after the plug was pulled on the work.

David Stanton, of Marsham Close, Cleadon Village, has been caught in the middle of a bitter wrangle involving high street retailers Tescos and Debenhams and the kitchen and bathroom business Mark Two.

It has left him with the “shell of a bathroom” for almost two weeks – and £8,640 out of pocket,

His nightmare began when he booked an appointment for a design consultant to visit his home after seeing a ‘design your own bathroom’ offer on Debenhams website.

Mr Stanton paid the full amount up front for the work, with fitters employed by Mark Two arriving on November 3.

But the work was suspended by Debenhams two days later after Tesco ended its own association with Mark Two – plunging that company into trouble.

Mr Stanton said: “We have a bathroom with no plumbing and no tiles and a second bedroom full of equipment. We have had no work carried out on our bathroom for eight days and we have now been without a bathroom for 11 days.

“Debenhams and Mark Two both tell me that I cannot have a refund so that I can get someone else in to finish the job. They say I have to wait for them to make a decision. It is surely unacceptable to expect a customer to wait like this, especially when it is an essential room like a bathroom.

“We have been told by the fitter who started the job that the reason for it not being completed is that Mark Two have not paid him or any other fitter for this job or his previous job.

“We’ve been left in limbo with no way to turn.”

A spokesman for Debenhams said it could not comment specifically on Mr Stanton’s individual situation, but added: “Debenhams is aware of the situation and working with Mark Two as a matter of urgency to establish the status of the orders and ensure a resolution for customers. Debenhams has ceased trading with Mark Two, with agreement that the supplier would fulfil all its obligations on existing customer orders. We will be providing a full update to our customers as soon as possible.”

Distributor Mark Two, which ran Tesco’s kitchen and bathroom fitting business, said it is ‘deeply disappointed’ at the retailer’s ‘refusal to engage’ following the sudden termination of its contract.

A spokesman said: “Mark Two sincerely regrets the inconvenience to customers caused by Tesco’s sudden termination of its contract with it.

“Since 2008 Mark Two has enjoyed a strong relationship with Tesco, which has served more than 11,000 customers providing high quality kitchens and bathrooms.

“About a year ago Tesco informed Mark Two of its intention to exit the kitchen and bathroom market. Since March 2014 Mark Two has contacted Tesco more than 100 times with little response to seek a mutually satisfactory solution that would protect our joint-customers. Mark Two is deeply disappointed at Tesco’s refusal to engage, an act that jeopardises the fulfilment of some 300 customer orders and threatens around 200 jobs in the Bolton area at Mark Two.”

Tesco said in a statement on its website that it took the decision to close Tesco Kitchens and Tesco Bathrooms after it “identified concerns about Mark Two’s ability to deliver the service our customers expect”.

It adds: “Although Mark Two continues to trade its business, holds all customer payments and is legally responsible for honouring all outstanding customer orders, warranties and supplier payments, it is our belief that they will not be fulfilling those obligations.

“As a result, we have taken the decision to step in and do the right thing for customers.”

It then goes on to advise customers to contact it, saying “we will do our utmost to provide a solution to ensure that your kitchen or bathroom is completed”.