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Flat update - John C. Kirk

Apr. 1st, 2004

12:08 am - Flat update

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Well, I'm making progress with the flat. I got my keys yesterday, with remarkably little fanfare - I just turned up at the estate agents, and they said "here you go". Nothing to sign, no proof of ID required, so I was in and out in less than a minute.

Having got into the flat, I celebrated with the "starfish position", i.e. lying down in the lounge, with my arms and legs stretched out as far as they'd go. Nice feeling. Then back to business, by going round taking photos and measurements.

Back down there again today, to get quotes from a couple of kitchen companies.

I had a guy from the English Kitchen Company round this afternoon, and someone from Moben in the evening. EKC as a company didn't make a very good first impression, even before the guy arrived. I had a call from them on Monday, confirming the time of the visit, which is fair enough. They then asked "Will both of you be there?" Both? "You and Mrs Kirk" There is no Mrs Kirk... I then had a second confirmation call from them yesterday, which ran along similar lines. "Will you and your partner both be there?" No, just me. "So your partner won't be there?" No, I don't have a partner, I'm still single, barring a whirlwind romance in the next 24 hours! I'm choosing to take this as a compliment ("I Can't Believe He's Not Married" TM), but it's also possible that the person who booked the appointment thought that Eemeli and I were a gay couple, and the confusion snowballed from there...

Anyway, I thought their sales rep did a decent job, making imaginative use of the limited space. Things went downhill a bit when we got to the end though, since I said that I was going to wait for the Moben quote before I made any decision, whereas he wanted me to sign up on the spot. In the end he said that I should put down a deposit to secure the discount price he was offering, but I could cancel it later if I changed my mind, and get a full refund.

Then there was some fun and games with the loan scheme they offer. I know that store loans tend to have ruinous interest rates, but I'm planning to pay it off in a few months, and this leaves my credit limit free for other things. Anyway, he was filling out the form, talking to himself as he went through the various options. The one that got my attention was when he said "Payment protection plan: Yes".

Me: "Er, no!"
Him: "You have to have it."
Me: "The form says it's optional [further up] and if it's compulsory then why do they have boxes marked Yes and No?"
Him: "Yes, well, they say it's optional, but it's actually compulsory."

He then tried to sell me on the benefits, using dubious logic like "If you pay the loan off early, you're still protected for the next 5 years". Hang on a minute - the plan is there to protect my payments. I.e. if I lose my job, they'll make the monthly payments on my behalf. So, if I pay it off early, then lose my job, then they'll pay £0.00 per month on my behalf. Wow, thanks, that's really worth paying extra for!

Anyway, I flat-out refused to pay for that, and told him that either it was optional (in which case I'd opt for "no") or it was compulsory (in which case I wouldn't take the loan - I'd just pay for the kitchen via my credit card). He called his office, and discovered that the payment protection plan was in fact optional. He blamed this on the finance guys, which I'm suspicious about, but I let it slide.

There was also another minor hiccup, where he filled out the form to say that 4200 - 300 = 4100 (rather than 3900). It took me a couple of minutes to convince him that I was right, but he came round to my way of thinking in the end. So, the moral of this story: know your rights, and don't be bullied into anything by pushy salespeople.

A bit later the Moben guy turned up. He did a good job too. Although I didn't directly show him the EKC guy's plan, the Moben guy wound up pointing out flaws in it indirectly. E.g. the original position for the gas boiler wouldn't work due to health and safety regulations, and the walls aren't strong enough to hang cupboards off. In the end, his quote wound up being a bit more expensive, but I decided to go with it anyway, since I think I'll get better value for money from that. The Moben guy also gets points for taking "no" for an answer right away as soon as he mentioned PPP.

Since I've decided to go with Moben, I'll be putting the EKC promise to the test, i.e. I'll cancel the kitchen and hopefully get my deposit back. If they start getting bolshy, then let that be a warning to anyone else.

One general note about this - I've definitely gained from visiting the Ideal Home Show, in that the money I spent on the ticket has been far outweighed by the money I've saved on purchases.

Anyway, that's now sorted out, so I can effectively cross it off the list, and just focus on the rest of the alterations that need doing.

Busy busy busy, but my stress levels have dropped considerably.

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:rileen
Date:April 1st, 2004 08:20 am (UTC)
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So, the moral of this story: know your rights, and don't be bullied into anything by pushy salespeople.

Or any kind of pushy people, for that matter :-)

Congratulations on your new home !!

No mention of the project for a while - how's it going ?
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[User Picture]
From:johnckirk
Date:April 5th, 2004 03:59 pm (UTC)
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Thanks :) I've been neglecting the project a bit recently, while I get this flat stuff sorted out, but that's one reason why I wanted to buy it now rather than in September (when the final deadline is approaching). Anyway, I've been doing some more background reading, and I've got a date for my preliminary presentation (end of April). I ought to send my supervisor a draft copy of my preliminary report soon, but that's a guideline rather than a fixed deadline, so I'm not too stressed about being a bit overdue on that.
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[User Picture]
From:rileen
Date:April 6th, 2004 01:23 am (UTC)
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That sounds good :-)

I landed up at the list of student project yesterday while using Google - funny how Google has cached versions of 'protected' pages !!
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[User Picture]
From:shuripentu
Date:April 5th, 2004 12:33 pm (UTC)
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*hugs you* Yay :) *wonders who noticed the ad for the Ideal Home Show and gets to take the credit* ;)

I definitely think you were right to go with Moben. I'm generally unwilling to give my money to dodgy companies, and I'd consider being unable to understand the word 'optional' and being unable to subtract simple numbers as being rather big signs of rather big dodginess.

*gets all her cubs ready for military action in case EKC continue to be dodgy*
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[User Picture]
From:johnckirk
Date:April 5th, 2004 03:48 pm (UTC)
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Thanks :)

Mind you, it's now looking like I won't go with Moben either. I'll post a proper update in a new entry later, but basically I spoke to Bob's dad on Saturday, who said it would take about 3 months to get gas installed. We also discussed moving some walls around within the flat. So, that will basically invalidate the plan that I discussed with Moben, which means I'm now thinking about getting Bob's dad/brother to do the kitchen as well as the rest of the flat.

On the plus side, EKC didn't argue when I told them I was cancelling. Mind you, it did take two phone calls, and I need to put it in writing too, so keep the cubs ready until I get my deposit cheque back :)
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