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Rowlinson Rustic Seat

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£139.00 Best Offer by: amazon.co.uk See more offers
1 Review

Manufacturer: Rowlinson / Type: Garden Bench

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      23.06.2010 12:25
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      Great-looking, inexpensive arbour - but an unholy pain in the neck to erect

      The Rowlinson Rustic Garden seat is a small garden arbour that despite its relatively budget price - it's available, for example for £109 from Homebase (plus £6 delivery) and for the same price at B&Q - is quite an attractive piece of garden furniture. The product does however require some home assembly, which has turned out to be so onerous that I've knocked one star off the rating from what would otherwise have been a four-star dooyoo review.

      We purchased this particular arbour partly because of the price; a dispute with a party-wall-sharing neighbour meant that the free-standing trellis we'd planned to set up as a support for a wisteria plant against the (extraordinarily ugly) shared wall never got past its planning stages. The trellis looks to be a good shape and size to support our plant, and at £115-odd the price of the arbour was only slightly more than the cost of having the trellis fitted by a fencing specialist. Secondly, we were attracted by the size of the arbour - it's 232 cm at the highest point of the 'arch' but only 56cm deep and 154cm wide, so it won't take up too much of the garden.

      The arbour is delivered as a series of semi-made-up wooden panels, which come embedded in a near-impenetrable matrix of thick, shrink-treated plastic sheeting secured with package-tie tape (the stiff yet flexible stuff they use to break into cars with). Despite all the plastic 'protection' our arbour when it arrived had a number of loose parts, also splits in the wooden posts, and also signs that it had been stored in damp conditions - weird green blotches of wood-preservative dried in small crystallized patches all over. As is most garden furniture of this type, it's made from FSC-certified, pressure-treated wood (and comes with a 10 year guarantee apparently, though there's no literature included on how we would go about claiming back on that) and although this piece of furniture is going to be outside in all weathers, it would have been nice for it to have started out in as-new condition at least!

      The instructions for assembly are limited to one side of a sheet of A4 paper - a good thing in the sense that not too much carpentry is require to set it up, but not so good in terms of the instructions being difficult to locate in the first place (we thought for a long time there was nothing included, before noticing a small folded sheet secured to the bottom of one of the legs of the arbour). Though the arbour comes with all the fittings required to build it - ie L-shaped metal braces and lots of long, metal screws - the screw-holes aren't pre-drilled or marked where they should be placed, which makes assembly of this arbour much less straightforward than it would be for a 'proper' piece of flat-packed furniture. This lack of markings / screw holes wouldn't be a problem for anyone with the slightest trace of home-DIY nous, but unfortunately when it comes to 'free flying DIY' me and my partner - although we're very good at building up flat-pack stuff (if I say so myself) - lack even the most basic carpenter-ing ability. This means that assembling this arbour has meant us digging out our old spirit-level, tape-measure, set-square and power drill - as we're going to have to mark up and drill the holes for the screws ourselves, and this introduces a massive margin for error. This isn't what I bargained for at all.

      Given the state of the arbour when it arrived - ie with splits in the wood, and some of the decorative elements fallen loose - plus the unexpected difficulty we've encountered in putting it together, I wouldn't give this more than three stars out of five. It's good value and attractive, but it's been more trouble than I bargained for setting it up.

      I also have to mention the confusion / general uselessness of the Homebase home delivery department where delivery of this arbour was concerned. I got a call from Argos - who apparently handle Homebase's deliveries of this item - to say it would be delivered 'sometime during daylight hours' on June 10th (they couldn't be more specific). This was a bit confusing to begin with: a different company from the one I'd dealt with contacting me to say that 'something I'd ordered over the internet' would be on its way. Then on June 10th after waiting in all morning for the delivery, and then watching the big Argos delivery lorry merrily sail past our house without stopping, it took me four calls to Homebase customer services to find out what was going on: I got disconnected on two of the calls, told by the third assistant that 'the best he could do was arrange a call-back within 48 hours' (this for an item that I was specifically waiting at home for which was supposed to be delivered THAT DAY). On the fourth try, when I'd given up trying to find out about the order and phoned in instead saying I wanted to complain about Homebase customer services, a very helpful lady finally made some enquiries and found that the delivery wasn't coming via Argos after all. (The arbour was, predictably, delivered about 20 minutes after I made the final call).

      So, Homebase customer services on their home delivery service: zero out of ten for most of that.

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