Kitchen Company Negligence
Here is a sad tale of personal woe that may strike a chord with other readers of the excellent Stickman pages. Writing complaint letters is not my thing but I'm prepared to make an exception in this case, so, unaccustomed as I am….
In September 2003, just after I had moved to a new house in Bangkok, I went to find a kitchen furniture company to install new cupboards and equipment. We found a company whose designs we liked, had a perceived good reputation, is one of
Thailand's largest furniture manufacturers and whose price we were happy with. Later in September we put down a 50% deposit (over 100,000.00 Baht), signed a contract and arranged for the kitchen to be installed between 07 and 09 December
The installation started on 07 December 2003 as planned but was still not complete by 15 December. We complained about this but the company had a number of excuses why it was late.
On 17 December 2003 staff from the kitchen company came, as agreed, to install the gas hob and when it was all completed they tried the gas. When the knob was turned, the gas rushed out with much too much pressure and my wife, who was present
at the time, told the staff to turn off the gas at the bottle. However one of the staff reached for the knobs on the hob – my wife shouted "NO!!" and reached across to stop him – because the knob has an automatic spark to ignite the
gas. However she was too late, he had already turned the knob and a fireball erupted from the hob, severely burning my wife on her right arm, hand, face and hair. The two staff ran for cover leaving my wife to shut the gas off, causing further
After a call from my wife, I rushed home from work to find the two workers no-where to be found and took my wife immediately to the hospital where she received emergency treatment. As a side note, I realised for the first time that my battered
old Honda can do 170kph!
That evening I spoke with one of the vice-presidents of the kitchen company and told him of my disappointment and horror and he promised to make appropriate amends. The next day the sales people came with flowers and a 'Sorry" letter
from the company. Not what we expected but we were promised more compensation.
The work was eventually finished in 2004 and the finance department sent a summary of outstanding costs. This final bill, in addition to the 100,000.00+ included the cost of some cupboards which we had ordered as extra, which was fine. However there were
additional items we could not identify. After lengthy discussions we discovered that these items were ones that had been, quote, "forgotten to be added in by the original salesperson". I was not happy to be paying for their mistakes
and the finance officer became quite unpleasant, saying that they would have to take the money from the salesperson's salary if I did not pay.
This all prompted further discussions with the vice president, and it was agreed that in return for me not bringing a court case against them for the gas explosion and serious burns to my wife, they would waive the remaining 50% payment due.
However, in December 2004 we received a court order advising us of a case being brought against my wife by the kitchen company for non-payment of the balance. We had the initial negotiation hearing in court today and it was quite clear they
had waited until the expiry of the one-year statute of limitations for us to bring a case against them before starting proceedings.
Therefore we can no longer bring a case against them for the physical and financial damage caused due to their negligence.
The first official court hearing is set for April 2005.
The interest that people may have in this story apart from the obvious human interest issue, is that I believe that the 'trick' of forgetting to add in costs of items we thought were already included, and then bullying their customers
to pay the extra is one they use often. Speaking to a other people about this I have had the reply, "oh, they do that all the time". The fact is that we made the decision to go with this company based on the agreed price as well as other
qualities – if we knew there was a mistake at the beginning we may well have ordered from another company.
I'm hopeful you will also be reading about this in the English-language dailies quite soon!
What a dreadful story. I REALLY hope that the legal proceedings go your way though I have my doubts. In the case of outstanding debt, I hate to say it, you're probably in the wrong. I'd see if you can pursue them for damages and if there is any other precedent for which compensation can be sought. I'd also try and go ABOVE vice president… Good luck.