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Buying building materials online

November 14, 2011

Both my better half and myself are too old to be true digital natives, but we Do buy loads of stuff off the net. Never afraid to order stuff from the Internet relying on the two week return policies and credit card safety net, we have been ordering a lot of building materials online. Our most expensive purchase is still the Kastor fireplace we purchased from Netrauta 3 years ago. But since then we’ve been ordering paints, pipes, electricity cables, ventilation components, and god knows what from online shops including netrauta, taloon.com, sähkökaluste, ykkösrauta, pintanikkarit, and lakkapää.com. Typically, we go always for the cheapest offer and have it delivered to our home, which works quite well.

Let’s share some of the experiences buying building materials online:

1) Taloon.com: Taloon.com has a wide selection of building materials but is seldom (close to never) the cheapest deal among the online stores. Taloon.com like most of the other online shops deals most of the times only as webfront for companies such as Onninen that do not serve private consumers directly. We have ordered ventilation parts from them twice. The stuff was always delivered very quickly (2 to 3 working days). When Onninen delivered accidentally too few pieces of some stuff, Taloon.com customer’s customer service was quick to respond and additional parts (now even a surplus as already delivered parts where not discounted for) where delivered again in 2 days without additional costs.

2) Sähkökaluste.fi: Here we buy most of electric parts including heating cables, power cables, switches and so on. Offers the lowest price of the online shops I have been searching through. Approximately 5% to 10%  cheaper in average than Taloon.com. Delivery is through matkahuolto which works fine as pick up from local Valintatalo. Customer’s service is also okay (even if lacking a bit the professional tonality in the email communication). When we returned some of the heating cables to switch from Ensto Tassu S to DeviKit cables even later than the 2 weeks return time limit, sähkökaluste discounted the full price of returned goods on newly purchased goods.

3) Lakkapää.com: These guys I use only for special parts with odd dimensions that I don’t find anywhere else such as floor beam attachment pieces (Finnish: palkkikengät). No problems to report. Works smoothly.

4) Pintanikkarit: They seem to have exclusive rights to sell Bloom paint products in Finland. It’s still significantly cheaper to buy from pintanikkarit than from your local K-Rauta (especially if you get free delivery) but otherwise I’m missing a bit competition here. Maybe, the stuff is cheaper to buy from Estonia.

4) Ykkösrauta.net: This club I used only once (and that’s about as much as I’ll intend to use them in the future!). The company behind the online shops verkkorauta and ykkösrauta.net.  Both of them have the same web shop back-end and almost identical product offering yet sometimes different prices. Tell me the logic behind that. Anyway, here is my experience with them: I order for some 1100 Euro Vallox BlueSky stuff from ykkösrauta.net. Ykkösrauta gives the order forward to Onninen who then ships the stuff through the logistics company TimeCap to your delivery address in Southern Finland. TimeCap is not exactly the best delivery company. TimeCap’s driver pretty much drives up in your front yard without letting you know and hopes that you are home. If he doesn’t meet anybody at home, he calls you once. If you don’t answer in the first attempt (because you actually might have some work of yourself to attend to), the driver leaves with all the stuff, returns it to Onninen and claims that the customer was not available for delivery. He did not try to call few hours ahead of delivery to check whether you are at home, he didn’t send you a SMS to inform you in advance, he didn’t leave you a voice message, and he didn’t try a second time. Typically, other logistics/delivery companies do one of those things. This is ridiculous considering that Ykkösrauta is not able to quantify better than 1 to 5 delivery days from order and has no delivering tracking abilities on their web site. Anyway, two Euro pallets full of stuff went back to Onninen. Only when I check from Ykkösrauta 7 days after order where my stuff is, the told me that the delivery company has attempted three times to reach me, which is unfortunately just plain nonsense. I don’t know who is making up facts here (Onninen, TimeCap, or Ykkösrauta/Starway) but the logistics chain doesn’t work. I cancelled the order from Ykkösrauta, got my money back into my bank account, and ordered the same stuff for 40 Euro’s higher price from taloon.com. Funnily, also taloon.com orders the stuff again from Onninen who delivers through TimeCap. The same driver delivered the stuff 2 days later with my better half being at home to accept the delivery. Again, it would have been nice to have some heads up to manage the storage of two Euro pallets but that seems to be impossible with stuff coming from OnninenTImeCap. So, what makes the difference ultimately between taloon.com and ykkösrauta.net? Customer service!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Santtu permalink
    November 20, 2011 10:48 am

    Indeed very informative and good post for those of us about to head against same companies…

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