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Bathroom furniture/ceramics - even more rip-offs than sports-car branded high-end road bikes?

neebneeb Posts: 4,310
edited December 2017 in The cake stop
So I'm looking for a new bathroom sink with a couple of drawers underneath it ("vanity unit" I believe the term is..).

There's a perfectly good looking one of the ideal dimensions on ebay for £168 with free delivery. Classy modern design, sink made of real glazed ceramic rather than papier mache or something, perfectly functional moisture resistant gloss-finished MDF.

Passing by a boutique-ish bathroom store today I pop in, ask what they have and am shown something that looks pretty similar to the above. £1600!!! :o:lol:

I scoff politely and ask exactly what is you get by paying 10x more for a bathroom sink. The sales guy mutters something about finish, type of porcelain and (I'm not making this up) "German engineering" on the drawer closures.. :D

Is there something I'm missing? I mean, I get paying a little bit more for quality and reliability, but it's a ceramic sink with a couple of drawers underneath it, not a jet engine. To my completely untrained eye it looks almost identical to the £168 one. Why on earth is there a market for £1600 bathroom sinks? Is it a brand thing? Are there people who actually recognise bathroom furniture brands and go "ooh, a Smithers & Shankton, classy!" ?

Will the £168 sink melt if I run the hot tap too long?

Posts

  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 16,933
    There are definitely those that are priced at what certain people will pay, but there is also such a thing as too cheap. If it's cheaper than the equivalent from IKEA, it's probably garbage unless it's just reduced to clear.

    The difference between the low end (unbranded) sanitaryware and the stuff like Duravit is the precision of the casting: the cheaper ones are usually pretty wonky, so a wall mounted basin will hang with a bit of a droop meaning it won't drain properly, or one to sit on a unit won't be flat on the bottom. With the better stuff, if the brochure says it is 485mm wide, it will actually be 485mm wide.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    1980s BSA 10sp

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • rjsterry wrote:
    There are definitely those that are priced at what certain people will pay, but there is also such a thing as too cheap. If it's cheaper than the equivalent from IKEA, it's probably garbage unless it's just reduced to clear.

    The difference between the low end (unbranded) sanitaryware and the stuff like Duravit is the precision of the casting: the cheaper ones are usually pretty wonky, so a wall mounted basin will hang with a bit of a droop meaning it won't drain properly, or one to sit on a unit won't be flat on the bottom. With the better stuff, if the brochure says it is 485mm wide, it will actually be 485mm wide.
    Whilst I agree with most of that, my experience of Duravit in particular is less than amazing. Purchased a full complement of three basins, three toilets and nearly a very expensive bath for the renos we did. Inside 5 years, two of the basins had to be replaced because the glazing had deteriorated so badly, and the loos are a functionally poor design, and have similar glazing issues becoming apparent. These are all the Phillippe Starck series so not effing cheap either.

    Really glad I bought another brand of (much cheaper but still dear) bathtub which has been perfect.

    Must admit that German made tapware is very very good though, worth the extra dollars indeed.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,310
    Here's the cheap one I'm looking at on ebay:

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Modern-Bathr ... 1438.l2649

    It's certainly unbranded, but the attraction is that it's exactly the right size. I have an alcove for the sink that's 720mm wide and currently has an old little oval sink in it that doesn't make good use of the space. This one would slot straight in and look a lot more contemporary. It's even almost a perfect depth to be flush with the recess.. 700mm sinks aren't so easy to get as 600mm and 800mm ones unfortunately..
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 16,933
    edited December 2017
    That's odd. We've been specifying Duravit on a good 80% of our projects over the last 15 years and never had any problems. Yes, the Starck stuff is definitely trading on a name and priced accordingly.

    Edit: Ah, I had something bigger in mind. You can get something similar from IKEA or Victoria Plumb for <£250, so £168 isn't quite so suspicious if it's discounted to shift last year's model, but you do still generally get what you pay for. How long are you hoping this will last you?
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    1980s BSA 10sp

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 11,086
    rjsterry wrote:
    Yes, the Starck stuff is definitely trading on a name and priced accordingly.
    I thought Tony was the main man anyway. :wink:
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • neebneeb Posts: 4,310
    rjsterry wrote:
    Edit: Ah, I had something bigger in mind. You can get something similar from IKEA or Victoria Plumb for <£250, so £168 isn't quite so suspicious if it's discounted to shift last year's model, but you do still generally get what you pay for. How long are you hoping this will last you?
    Until after I sell the flat I suppose.. :wink: Not sure when that will be though.. Five years?

    Thing is, for that price if it only lasted a few years it wouldn't be a disaster (although I'd rather avoid the hassle of fitting another one..)
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 16,933
    neeb wrote:
    rjsterry wrote:
    Edit: Ah, I had something bigger in mind. You can get something similar from IKEA or Victoria Plumb for <£250, so £168 isn't quite so suspicious if it's discounted to shift last year's model, but you do still generally get what you pay for. How long are you hoping this will last you?
    Until after I sell the flat I suppose.. :wink: Not sure when that will be though.. Five years?

    Thing is, for that price if it only lasted a few years it wouldn't be a disaster (although I'd rather avoid the hassle of fitting another one..)
    That's what I meant: if it's not for 'life' then no need to worry too much. The new owner will probably want to change the bathroom anyway.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    1980s BSA 10sp

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • rjsterry wrote:
    That's odd. We've been specifying Duravit on a good 80% of our projects over the last 15 years and never had any problems. Yes, the Starck stuff is definitely trading on a name and priced accordingly.
    We were certainly disappointed. Purchased directly from the importer for their stuff, and although warranty had expired I took the basins in to see if they’d do something to help, but no luck.

    Of the three loos all installed with identical cisterns in-wall and correctly levelled, the drainage flow is different markedly on one, and it has to be poor casting causing it. The plumber suggested shims to effectively tip the thing down, but that would look like its falling off the wall.

    I like their stuff, but will be very wary of ever buying it for my place again. At the price premium, it should be faultless.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 15,959
    rjsterry wrote:
    There are definitely those that are priced at what certain people will pay, but there is also such a thing as too cheap. If it's cheaper than the equivalent from IKEA, it's probably garbage unless it's just reduced to clear.

    The difference between the low end (unbranded) sanitaryware and the stuff like Duravit is the precision of the casting: the cheaper ones are usually pretty wonky, so a wall mounted basin will hang with a bit of a droop meaning it won't drain properly, or one to sit on a unit won't be flat on the bottom. With the better stuff, if the brochure says it is 485mm wide, it will actually be 485mm wide.
    Whilst I agree with most of that, my experience of Duravit in particular is less than amazing. Purchased a full complement of three basins, three toilets and nearly a very expensive bath for the renos we did. Inside 5 years, two of the basins had to be replaced because the glazing had deteriorated so badly, and the loos are a functionally poor design, and have similar glazing issues becoming apparent. These are all the Phillippe Starck series so not effing cheap either.

    Would you expect Phillippe Starck to be a good brand choice? I would tend to prefer to choose a manufacturer whose reputation relates to the functional quality of product itself rather than simply what it looks like; function over form usually looks better anyway IMO. I'd probably go for good old Ideal Standard to start with in the vague hope that some of their stuff is still made in the UK. Have visited their Hull factory which was fascinating.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • Rolf F wrote:
    rjsterry wrote:
    There are definitely those that are priced at what certain people will pay, but there is also such a thing as too cheap. If it's cheaper than the equivalent from IKEA, it's probably garbage unless it's just reduced to clear.

    The difference between the low end (unbranded) sanitaryware and the stuff like Duravit is the precision of the casting: the cheaper ones are usually pretty wonky, so a wall mounted basin will hang with a bit of a droop meaning it won't drain properly, or one to sit on a unit won't be flat on the bottom. With the better stuff, if the brochure says it is 485mm wide, it will actually be 485mm wide.
    Whilst I agree with most of that, my experience of Duravit in particular is less than amazing. Purchased a full complement of three basins, three toilets and nearly a very expensive bath for the renos we did. Inside 5 years, two of the basins had to be replaced because the glazing had deteriorated so badly, and the loos are a functionally poor design, and have similar glazing issues becoming apparent. These are all the Phillippe Starck series so not effing cheap either.

    Would you expect Phillippe Starck to be a good brand choice? I would tend to prefer to choose a manufacturer whose reputation relates to the functional quality of product itself rather than simply what it looks like; function over form usually looks better anyway IMO. I'd probably go for good old Ideal Standard to start with in the vague hope that some of their stuff is still made in the UK. Have visited their Hull factory which was fascinating.

    Eh? I purchased Duravit fittings. One of their many product lines (which I bought) is designed by Starck - he's not a manufacturer in competition with them.
  • john80john80 Posts: 876
    The thing you are missing is human nature and national influences. You can't brag at your dinner party about the quality of your bathroom upgrade and then announce that it was a bargain. There is a certain percentage of the population that buy into this mindset in Britain. Keeping up Appearances was funny because people knew people who thought in this manner and comedy is usually only funny when their is a grain of truth to it. A Porsche is worth more than a Ford because there is a limited number of people with money who want something perceived better. In this anology it does actually cost more to make as all your design, manufacture and sales costs are the same to sell a lower number of cars to a wealthy client base.
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 15,959
    Rolf F wrote:
    rjsterry wrote:
    There are definitely those that are priced at what certain people will pay, but there is also such a thing as too cheap. If it's cheaper than the equivalent from IKEA, it's probably garbage unless it's just reduced to clear.

    The difference between the low end (unbranded) sanitaryware and the stuff like Duravit is the precision of the casting: the cheaper ones are usually pretty wonky, so a wall mounted basin will hang with a bit of a droop meaning it won't drain properly, or one to sit on a unit won't be flat on the bottom. With the better stuff, if the brochure says it is 485mm wide, it will actually be 485mm wide.
    Whilst I agree with most of that, my experience of Duravit in particular is less than amazing. Purchased a full complement of three basins, three toilets and nearly a very expensive bath for the renos we did. Inside 5 years, two of the basins had to be replaced because the glazing had deteriorated so badly, and the loos are a functionally poor design, and have similar glazing issues becoming apparent. These are all the Phillippe Starck series so not effing cheap either.

    Would you expect Phillippe Starck to be a good brand choice? I would tend to prefer to choose a manufacturer whose reputation relates to the functional quality of product itself rather than simply what it looks like; function over form usually looks better anyway IMO. I'd probably go for good old Ideal Standard to start with in the vague hope that some of their stuff is still made in the UK. Have visited their Hull factory which was fascinating.

    Eh? I purchased Duravit fittings. One of their many product lines (which I bought) is designed by Starck - he's not a manufacturer in competition with them.

    OK, I get it. Partly misread your post. But surely you'd just assume that this is like buying an Audi and genuinely believing it was a better quality product than a VW rather than just a more expensive way of buying exactly the same thing.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • Rolf F wrote:
    OK, I get it. Partly misread your post. But surely you'd just assume that this is like buying an Audi and genuinely believing it was a better quality product than a VW rather than just a more expensive way of buying exactly the same thing.
    :) Not sure you have got it tbh... and not sure your analogy makes sense? Duravit are not a re-badged version of a cheaper product with a designer name and different box, at least not as far as I'm aware.

    I paid for a high-spec German-made set of stuff. I got nice looking, but ultimately poor quality, short life (IMO) things instead. Paid for a Porsche, but actually got a Daewoo if you want the car comparison.
  • rjsterryrjsterry Posts: 16,933
    Rolf F wrote:
    rjsterry wrote:
    There are definitely those that are priced at what certain people will pay, but there is also such a thing as too cheap. If it's cheaper than the equivalent from IKEA, it's probably garbage unless it's just reduced to clear.

    The difference between the low end (unbranded) sanitaryware and the stuff like Duravit is the precision of the casting: the cheaper ones are usually pretty wonky, so a wall mounted basin will hang with a bit of a droop meaning it won't drain properly, or one to sit on a unit won't be flat on the bottom. With the better stuff, if the brochure says it is 485mm wide, it will actually be 485mm wide.
    Whilst I agree with most of that, my experience of Duravit in particular is less than amazing. Purchased a full complement of three basins, three toilets and nearly a very expensive bath for the renos we did. Inside 5 years, two of the basins had to be replaced because the glazing had deteriorated so badly, and the loos are a functionally poor design, and have similar glazing issues becoming apparent. These are all the Phillippe Starck series so not effing cheap either.

    Would you expect Phillippe Starck to be a good brand choice? I would tend to prefer to choose a manufacturer whose reputation relates to the functional quality of product itself rather than simply what it looks like; function over form usually looks better anyway IMO. I'd probably go for good old Ideal Standard to start with in the vague hope that some of their stuff is still made in the UK. Have visited their Hull factory which was fascinating.
    Ideal Standard have a range designed by Jasper Morrison if you prefer. Pretty sure Starck knows a thing or two about product design, but what WS describes sounds more like a manufacturing fault. Possibly Duravit need to brush up their QA.
    1985 Mercian King of Mercia - work in progress (Hah! Who am I kidding?)
    1980s BSA 10sp

    Liberal metropolitan, remoaner, traitor, "sympathiser", etc.
  • There is also the "discount" to factor in. The single unit may well have an RRP of £1600 but I don't think anyone is expected to pay that. Having just bought a new kitchen I was looking at fairly basic units in more than one place which were priced at £500+. I was absolutely flabbergasted until the various discounts brought the price down by about 80%.
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