Over a month ago, as I was flicking through my junk mail, I raised my eyebrows to the ALDI plumbing products special buys of the week.
The discount grocer offered consumers the supply and installation of a new toilet suite for under $300.
The deal sounded too good to be true. But ALDI has been known to offer quality products for special prices – especially during their weekly special buys. I gave the deal the benefit of the doubt, conceding the deal could help a struggling family and at least ALDI had engaged with a plumber to do the installs, unlike other stores which gave step-by-step instructions.
Of course the toilet suite deal ran off the shelves. But the installation process hasn’t been smooth sailing with some consumers complaining about delays in getting their toilet suite installed. They’d receive a confirmation booking for the install and the plumber wouldn’t show up. (Maybe it was because the plumber was being paid peanuts for the install?)
My dad was recently purchasing some plumbing gear at his local Reece store and one of the plumbers who had been approached by ALDI for the installations said the toilet installation process was a bit of a mess. Consumers were buying toilets from ALDI only to have to return them as the toilet suite wasn’t compatible with the existing plumbing services at their house. Some would have a p trap or skew waste and the ALDI toilet suite is only compatible with an s trap waste.
This forum thread from Whirlpool gives a great insight into the issues around the installation.
But there were some happy customers who had no issues with purchasing their toilet suite and getting it installed.
What concerns me about this deal as a plumber though, is the quality of the installation. A cheap toilet suite can be anywhere around the $150 mark (based on a Posh Solus model dad and I would install in homes back in the day) which leaves less than $150 to pay the plumber for the install. A commenter on the Whirlpool forum found out a plumbing company was offered $130 per installation. Sounds like a bargain, but that installation price is asking for trouble.
What corners will the plumber cut in order to make a dollar out of that installation price? Considering an average call out fee is around the $115 mark (and I explain why ALL plumbers should charge a call out fee here), that leaves only $15 for labour to remove the old dunny and replace it with the new one.
Other questions that need to be asked about the installation are:
Does the plumber get paid for their time if the toilet suite can’t be installed to the existing services? Or is this done for love?
And where can the spare parts be sourced? What happens in a few years time when the toilet won’t stop refilling and needs its inlet valve changed?
It’s great to be savvy with our dollars, but when it comes to plumbing products, you should be buying them from a reputable plumbing supplier. Better yet, get your plumber to buy the toilet suite for you so you don’t have to muck around, working out if the toilet suite will suit the existing services layout in your bathroom. Value your time.
The problem with these types of deals is it brings a plumber’s rate down and it offers a false expectation that changing an older toilet suite to a new model is an easy job. That’s not always the case.
Replacing a toilet suite might take an hour, or it could take a few. And depending on the quality of the stop tap and pan collar, it’s recommended these parts be replaced when a new toilet suite is installed. This can take time and extra cost for parts. I’m sure these haven’t been allowed for in the installation cost for the ALDI toilet suite deal.
It’s a good feeling to know that you’re saving yourself money on a fixture you whizz and poop in but will it all come back to bite you when it comes time for installation and future maintenance?
And the plumbers who are signing up to install this deal – is it worth your time? Understand that the reason many plumbers are going under each week is because you’re signing up to do these installations for ridiculous prices, making it harder for plumbers to make a dollar from a licensed industry that should be valued. And have you considered your liability and whether your insurance will cover you installing products that are found to not meet Australian Standards later on?
To add more fuel to the fire, the internet went into a bit of a frenzy on Monday with news the too good to be true $79.99 ALDI mixer tap added 15 times the maximum amount of lead to the water.
The Courier Mail reported only one tap was tested by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC), but the news of the results from that one test have caused widespread alarm across the state.
And for good reason.
Lead poisoning is serious and approximately 12,000 homes have installed the tap, oblivious to the potential health hazard running from their sink.
CONSUMER CONCERNS: Australians are being warned not to use a kitchen tap sold at ALDI after it was found to be contaminating water with high levels of lead. #TenNews
Posted by Ten Eyewitness News Queensland on Monday, July 10, 2017
Investigations are being made by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the QBCC and ALDI themselves on the tap, which had been tested and certified before it was placed on ALDI’s shelves.
When the tap was tested by Melbourne’s IAPMO R & T Oceana, they found the tap permitted lead levels well below the Australian Standard. So it’s a bit concerning to find the tap now runs 12 times the maximum amount. Something doesn’t add up.
We can’t get lost in the hype, but if further testing confirms similar results to the QBCC, ALDI will have a PR health crisis to deal with. And the next question to be asked is will the store backpay consumers for the cost of installation and disconnection of the mixer tap?
This just proves my case why it’s important to purchase from a reputable plumbing company like Reece Plumbing or Tradelink. Most reputable tapware brands will offer a 12 month installation warranty and a 5 to 10 year warranty on the tap itself. Which means, if the tap is found to be faulty in the first 12 months of installation, the manufacturer will pay for a plumber to disconnect and supply and install a new tap. This type of warranty is not offered on cheaper, budget brand tapware suppliers. You get what you pay for.
Plumbers should also be supporting stores like Plumbers Choice, who only sell plumbing products to licensed tradies. If there were restrictions made on what plumbing products could be sold to the public, we wouldn’t be having these plumbing issues.
At this stage, the mixer tap has not been recalled, but consumers have been advised to avoid using the tap until further investigations are made.
I’d love to hear from you. Are there any plumbers who have been approached to do the ALDI plumbing products installs? Or did you purchase the ALDI toilet suite deal?
How did it go? Leave a comment, but please remain respectful. I’m happy to hear from all sides. And thank you for taking the time to read my rant. :)
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