Customers have been alarmed at the short lifespan of their kitchens after the cabinets drawers and doors peeled.
Palmerston North woman Laura Denharder fought to have her cabinets replaced after finding that the laminated coverings were coming off, around three years after they were first purchased.
She had bought a middle-of-the-range line of European cabinets, imported by Auckland-based business Kitchen Cabinets and Stones.
She originally put them in her home in Papaioea, Palmerston North before moving and later buying a rental with the exact same cabinetry.
Denharder liked them so much, she spread the word to her friends and family, including her mother Judith Vosslamber.
But in July 2020, she discovered the kitchen cabinets in her rental were coming apart.
“They peeled!” explains Denharder.
“Which means they don't shut. They've cracked. And… it makes the kitchen quite unusable”.
Meanwhile, her mother Judith, who also had a "Julia" kitchen cabinet set installed in a rental property in Auckland made a similar discovery.
She told Fair Go that “the thermal layer of plastic on the outside of the door had literally just come away from the custom wood”.
“It was peeling away like an orange peel I suppose or a skin. It was like it didn't have a glue on the back,” she said.
Laura Denharder was confident her tenants had taken good care of the kitchen cabinets, given their track record. So she approached Kitchen Cabinets and Stones (KCS) and supplied photographic evidence of the problem.
But she says the company told her the cabinets were no longer under warranty, as that had ended after two years. “That was a bit of a shock to me because I know that a kitchen shouldn't last just two years,” says Denharder.
She tried pointing that the Consumers Guarantee's Act says their products have to be fit for purpose. The company responded with a 50 per cent discount to replace the cabinets.
Mrs Vosslamber was offered the same discount and reluctantly accepted as she needed to sell her how and she “didn't want it to look rubbish”.
When Fair Go spoke with Kitchen Cabinets and Stones, its owner Jakub Malinowski said the issue itself was “very small”.
He said the business sold 10,000 of the "Julia" line kitchens and explained that “if somebody had one or two doors, five doors delaminating, it can be the fact that it's just the huge number of doors that we sold”.
Mr Malinowski said less than three per cent of customers have made claims under warranty.
But he acknowledged that in the cases of Denharder and Vosslamber’s cabinets, there was a product fault where “the person who has made the door hasn't applied enough glue on the top cover and the cover of the door has come off”.
The company has reached out to the pair and apologised and replaced the doors free of charge.
Kitchen Cabinets and Stones public relations manager Sarah Jesson says the business is growing and their customer service is playing catch up.
When someone has an issue in the future, they're promising to be more flexible.
“Case by case, where fresh out of warranty and there is delaminating and there is genuine product fault, we'll be replacing those cabinets free of charge”.
They also want to make sure customers know exactly what they're getting.
“It's a really fine line between offering budget options that are made with cheaper products to then just being able to meet customers' expectations,” Jesson explains.
Laura Denharder acknowledges her cabinets were cheap and going forward, if she sees a kitchen and the warranty “doesn’t match up with what the life of the product should be, I probably would be more careful in purchasing it”.