Chorley pensioner who stopped smoking to save for dream kitchen left £5k out of pocket after tradesman ditches job
A pensioner who stopped smoking and spent nearly 20 years saving her cigarette money for her dream kitchen has now been left in limbo after fitters left the job half-done.
Phyllis Simmonds says she paid £5,200 in March for the work, which was started but left unfinished.
The 77-year-old claims she has not heard from the trader in over six weeks, since May 13 - and in the meantime, has been left with plug sockets dangling off the walls, cupboards not installed properly and missing wall tiles.
Distraught pensioner Phyllis said: "I really thought (the tradesman) was trustworthy and the reviews seemed to be great so I never thought there would be a problem. We were given a cup of coffee, shown around the showroom and I picked out exactly what I wanted.
"I just can't believe there are people out there that do this to others. It is bad enough doing this to anyone and taking their money, but especially an old age pensioner like me who has been saving up for years.
"It just gets to me that people can be this cruel. I have been on lockdown because of my age and have been stuck in and haven't been able to go out or anything. He kept coming round to do bits of work on the kitchen and I was really looking forward to it.
"It is just heartbreaking. I am having sleepless nights and waking up in the early hours of the morning worrying about it. It is just ridiculous and I don't know if I will ever get my money back."
In text messages seen by the Post, tradesman John Parkinson of North West Kitchen Fitting discussed the works with Phyllis' daughter-in-law Jo, and he confirmed work would be completed by Friday, May 14.
And he went on to confirm he had received the full payment on March 23, telling Jo he would be sending them a full invoice to her email address.
Since then, the family claims he never showed up to finish them and have not heard from him since, despite attempts to call and visit the Preston showroom on Marsh Lane.
The issue has been reported to Lancashire Trading Standards and Action Fraud, who are now investigating the incident.
Daughter-in-law Jo Gilbank Simmonds said: "We just can't believe what has happened because we were so sure we had found a trustworthy tradesman.
"We have tried and tried to get in touch but it seems he has just vanished off the face of the earth and we haven't heard a thing but have paid him over £5,000 to finish the job.
"It seemed really above board, legitimate and professional. Phyllis chose all the fittings she wanted at the showroom and we were promised the kitchen she had waited so long for, but it is now causing us to have sleepless nights and having a knock-on effect on the whole family.
"The old kitchen was completely stripped and it has been left in a right mess. It's all been cut wrong, none of the fittings are in properly and it was left very dangerous. We have had to spend our time making it liveable for the moment just so that she can at least use it.
"He kept saying he would come back to finish it and do other jobs that needed doing but it rarely happened. We started to notice things weren't right and Phyllis was becoming more and more worried it wouldn't be finished in time.
"We did everything we thought was right and because of the glowing references, never thought this would happen. We had a dozen quotes from other companies and after a difficult year, all Phyllis wanted was her new kitchen."
North West Kitchen Fitting, based at Preston Technology Centre, Marsh Lane, now has the status 'permanently closed' on its Google search results.
And recent reviews on the website Yell give an average of 2.2 stars out of a possible five. One recent comment reads: "Please contact Trading Standards, you are not alone being ripped off and we will get this sorted if we stick together."
Another user, posted on June 12, said: "I am disgusted! I am now left thousands out of pocket with a half-finished kitchen. I don’t even feel like stepping foot into the kitchen anymore."
Lancashire County Council Trading Standards confirmed to the Post that it is looking into reports relating to a company called North West Kitchen Fitting following complaints of unfinished works to kitchens.
Dawn Robinson, principal trading standards officer for Lancashire County Council told the post that the council has been receiving lots of reports of traders not finishing works across the borough during the lockdown.
She said: "We're receiving lots of reports of people paying deposits for jobs and traders not returning to do the work.
"We'd advise people never to agree to work with doorstep cold-callers. Always shop around and get three quotes. Our Safe Trader website is a great place to find an approved trader in your area.
"Always make sure you have a written quote with full name and address details and find out what the payment arrangements are before you agree to a job.
"It's best to be cautious if the trader wants a large amount of the total price upfront, you should never feel pressured into making a payment.
"If you're unsure of anything or want to know what your consumer rights are, contact the Citizen's Advice consumer helpline."
The Post has made efforts to contact the company for a comment but has not yet received a response.
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