An Act of Kindness in Germany

One day my daughter,  who is 19 years old and has a slight physical handicap, came home from her work experience at a local senior citizen home and told me the most touching story…..

While standing at the bus stop in the pouring rain, a young man ran across the street and handed her his umbrella.  Then he turned around and ran back across the street, boarded his bus and disappeared without saying a word. It happened so quickly that she couldn’t even thank him for it before he quickly ran off. She said he was a refugee, new to this country and didn’t speak German. This act of kindness literally brought tears to my eyes.

Living in Germany, we hear and read reports about people and families in foreign lands having to flee their homes for safety almost daily. One can’t ignore the constant criticism and the political haggling about it all. People give them a place to live and then complain that they live there.  I try to avoid watching the news.  There are simply too many sad and depressing things going on in this world and I can’t help wondering if actual acts of “kindness”  have become a rarity. Why are people so negative and quick to judge and criticise people they don’t even know?

Ironic as it may seem, this act of kindness wasn’t performed by a native German resident but by a foreigner facing the hardships of being accepted by a new country, its people and its customs.

“Dear young man, wherever you are.  Thank you for being kind to my daughter.”

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Our New Kitchen, the Final Chapter

2017-28-5--13-27-29Our new kitchen is finally done ……

Unfortunately, ours was not the perfect experience.

Planning the new kitchen went well. The kitchen planner seemed trustworthy and professional. The problems began on the day of installation. One side of our kitchen counter (“L” form) was cut too short. A temporary adjustment made it usable until another was to be delivered six weeks later. The ceramic stove top was installed at a “noticeable” slant and not aligned parallel with the wall. The splash walls could not be mounted until the new counter top was delivered. The kitchen planner didn’t consider the fact that the cupboard door under the sink would slam into the drawers when opened because of the “L” form in the corner. Our new refrigerator door hit the door frame when opened and the inside fridge light died after just one day.

We directed our complaints to the company’s customer service department and the original kitchen planner came out personally to assess the problems which were later put into writing. She promised us that they would do everything possible  to complete the kitchen in a timely manner and to our satisfaction. Apparently, they were not responsible for the defective light inside the new fridge, so three weeks later we got a letter from the appliance manufacturer. An appointment was made to replace the light bulb in two weeks time.

The second counter top was delivered nine weeks later with only a single craftsman to install it. He informed us that he could not do the work alone. Apparently, there was a mix up in route planning. He also assessed the problems mentioned and agreed that in his opinion the kitchen installation was not done professionally.

After waiting another four weeks, another work crew arrived. They insisted that the stove was put in correctly. Apparently, our wall is “crooked.” (?)  They took down the original improvised counter top, only then to discover that the new one that had been sitting in storage all those weeks was also the wrong size. We phoned them and complained to customer service again. Why hadn’t it been inspected upon its arrival at their store, or before it was brought out to be installed? The splash walls were still not mounted, the stove still crooked, the sink only taped into the counter and a third new counter top was ordered.

Then we got a letter nine weeks later that our order had arrived at their store. The same routine again; phone them for an installation date and add another four weeks to get an appointment for the installation crew to come out and do the job. When that was finally done, the other imperfections were still there. By the time the counter was finally put in, the black ceramic coated sink had turned spotted, gray and faded. We were told that the manufacturer had forgotten to apply the required protective finishing coat. So, a new sink was ordered. Of course, all this time the sink hadn’t even been mounted or glued in because the counter had to be replaced. Believe it or not, it had been taped in with packing tape! The glue on the tape stuck to the counter surface and had been exposed to direct sunlight for months. When they removed the tape to install the new sink nine weeks later, the counter top had faded under the taped area. While putting in the counter they had also broken the cabinet lighting above the wash basin. So another complaint was made and we waited another eight weeks before that was taken care of. At this point we were convinced that we were either cursed or this new kitchen was just not meant to be.

We insisted someone from installation management personally look at our kitchen. The manager came and inspected the kitchen. He wrote a report which we signed off. Weeks later we got a letter stating that they would not reinstall the stove and would not replace the counter on the other side which had faded stripes from being taped for so long. According to their statement, they could not see any damage or faded stripes on the photos they had taken and insisted that the kitchen stove and everything else had been professionally installed. Huh? As for the cupboard doors slamming into the other doors? We had to find a solution to this ourselves.

In our opinion, this kitchen company’s customer service and management did not provide satisfactory service. They were disorganised and lacked the qualified professionals required for fitted kitchen installation. We were definitely NOT satisfied with the quality of their service. Our new kitchen was to have been installed and completed in June 2016. It took ten more installation appointments, numerous complaints and reorders in over a period of almost one year to be completed. Our new kitchen was finally finished in May 2017.

What did we learn from this experience? When purchasing such an expensive product that you haven’t seen in finished form yet…..

  • Don’t finance it even if at 0% ! At least then you can refuse payment until the job is done right.
  • Be sure you have insurance for legal action if necessary. As an average consumer,  fighting something like this alone can be tedious, expensive and exhausting.

We had also been promised a substantial gift certificate as compensation for our inconvenience, but never received one.

Are we completely satisfied now? Well, let’s just say we have learned to ignore the little imperfections that are still there and are glad the drama is over and done with.

We sincerely hope you have better luck with your new kitchen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buying a custom fitted kitchen?

Part 3
Delivery and Installation

Finally! After weeks or months of waiting………..
The big truck loaded with all your fitted kitchen shelves, cupboards, drawers, doors, parts and appliances arrives at your front door. Hopefully that includes at least 2 qualified and experienced craftsmen to assemble it all for you. You will probably have to take an extra day off from work and sacrifice a vacation day to be home when your kitchen is being installed. It might even take more than just one day for it to be completed, so don’t be surprised if everything isn’t operational in just a few hours or after just one day. Don’t think for a minute that you can just go upstairs and sit down at your computer with a cup of coffee and leave the workmen alone to do all the work without any supervision. Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. You will want to be sure all the parts delivered aren’t damaged and your freshly painted walls aren’t scratched, or worse, while the cupboards and counter top are being assembled. Upon completion of installation you will be asked to inspect the kitchen thoroughly. Please do so with a critical eye! Inspect everything inside and out. Make sure all the appliances function correctly and there are no scrapes or broken off corners on cupboards, doors and drawers. Check to see that they all open and close properly and that nothing has been overlooked or forgotten! If you are one of the lucky customers,………. the kitchen is in perfect condition and functions as it should.

Mistakes, however, can happen. Document and take photographs of everything that is not to your satisfaction. If in fact you do find some faults, it will definitely come in handy when you contact their customer service and make your complaint. Always follow-up any complaint made on the telephone with one in written form and document everything. The more detailed you are, the better! Especially, if there are big problems involved and the situation becomes one for which you must seek legal counsel.

Want a new custom fitted kitchen?

Be prepared for a rollercoaster ride.

If you’ve been living in your home for over 20 years, it’s inevitable that it will start showing signs of wear and tear. Since you spend a majority of your time in the kitchen, it’s definitely the room that deserves the most attention. You’ve probably already renovated every room in the house numerous times and have left the kitchen for last. Why ? Well, not because it couldn’t be done, but probably because a new kitchen involves a lot of planning, time, money and energy.

Part 1 –
The Planning and design

Planning a new fitted kitchen can actually be lots of fun, especially if you’re the kind of person that is creative and generally enjoys designing and remodeling. But make sure you have lots of time and patience. There are hundreds of custom kitchen sales galleries and stores in your immediate area, however, finding the right one won’t be easy. Make sure you ask friends, family and acquaintances for recommendations based on their personal experiences with kitchen designers, their in-house installation specialists, professional craftsmen and customer service. Know what you must have and what you don’t need! Take inventory of your kitchen ware and supplies so that you know how much storage space you’ll require. Research color schemes and suitable materials for the kitchen cabinets and counters. Go online and look at different kitchen wall colors and designs too. When viewing actual models of kitchens on site, make sure you open all the drawers and cabinets and take a closer look at how well the kitchens are assembled. Assess the quality of the product and material. If you can’t afford a custom crafted kitchen made of pure hardwood, be very critical of the quality of pressed wood countertops and cupboard materials. Inspect everything! Take your kitchen measurements or blue-prints and go to at least 3 to 5 kitchen studios for extensive planning and estimates. You’ll be surprised at how different their ideas and prices can be. Where one kitchen designer might spend hours with you planning something great, another may not invest as much time or effort into the process. I had one kitchen planner ask me for pictures of my old kitchen and without much effort on his part, he told me that was the best option – he then drew up (literally, by hand) a plan for a new kitchen that looked just like my old one! Another fitted kitchen designer worked with me for over a week creating numerous kitchen designs suitable for our home using modern technology! And yes, for no extra charge.

To be continued…..

Goodbye Dolls and Trains

100_2087We all have these wonderful memories of our children at Christmas when they’re sitting under the Christmas tree opening their presents. The kids would tear off the beautiful wrapping paper and then they’d pass the boxes on to me to do the rest.  I couldn’t get the toys out of the original packaging fast enough!  This was no easy task, since I believe that toys are purposely packaged extremely well to make our lives more stressful on Christmas Day. Remember the dolls with their buggies and cool outfits? Or if you have boys, remember the cars and train sets?

What I didn’t know then was that one day the toys would be gone.

As my children got older they simply lost interest in their toys. They sat untouched, collecting dust in the cupboards and on the shelves.  My girls sprouted into their teen years and the dolls were forgotten. Instead, their interests changed to CDs, DVDs, mobile phones, gaming consoles, makeup, clothes and …… boys. Now that’s a scary thought, especially when you picture them running around the house in their little princess costumes at the age of four!

I guess as a parent, this must be the first stage in preparation of our children eventually leaving the nest. But what about all those beautiful and expensive toys and dolls sitting on the shelves?  Two options.  Box them and hide them away in the attic for almost forever or give them to children that would appreciate them NOW. I decided on the latter.

Today, a young family came to pick up the toys.  They searched through the boxes with eager looks of anticipation and wonder on their faces. They gave me looks of appreciation and embarrasement. I helped them load all the boxes of toys into their car and then sadly watched as they drove away.

I was glad, of course, that the toys would be cherished but never imagined I would be so sad to see them go. Our babies are no longer babies anymore.

They’re growing up.