The dirty secrets of bathroom fittings industry

The renovation industry is full of dirty tricks, dodgy practices and sometimes feel like down right scams (not all, but the danger is there). In fact, it is one of industries with the highest number of complaints in the past decade. However, there’s no way to avoid it; we can only be smart about it.

At some point you will need to buy bathroom fittings – these are defined as taps, shower mixers, toilet bowls, bidets etc. Therefore, this post should be able to help you save some money – and be smart!

Please read this post before you go shopping!

There are some dark secrets about the industry that you should know.

1) NEVER pay full price.

Never believe the sticker prices. Also never believe the prices they quote you. These shops are ALWAYS on discount. This is a standard industry practice, at least from our experience. We’ve been to more than 8 shops across the islands (Yishun, Woodlands, Geylang, Balestier, Tampines, Ubi, you name it) and we can say it is consistent .

The “standard discount”, if you are only buying a few items, is about 20-30%. You can get up to 50% if you’re buying more from a single shop. There are some items which have “controlled prices”, so they wouldn’t be able to give you discount on them. For example, retailers are not allowed to give discounts on EFenz ceiling fans. However, if you are buying a large number of items, they would be able to give you discount on the final bill.

2) Most European sounding brands are LOCAL

This is important. When you begin your shopping journey, you will notice a trend – Shop A will carry a lot of Brand X, and Shop B will carry mostly Brand Y, and so on. To list a few examples, Hupfarri sells mainly Otto, Bathroom Warehouse has h+m, Bacera has Luxes. Then there are European sounding brands such as G. Ferretti and Fidelis. Some even put “Italy” or “Germany” somewhere convenient even though they do not have any links with said country.

While it isn’t a crime to have a brand that sounds European/foreign, the way some of these companies position their brands is unscrupulous. Take for example the IXISS brand. On the local website, it tries to pass itself off as a premium or high quality German brand. However you would find NOTHING in German/Germany on this brand. On the other hand, you will always be able to find information in the brand’s country of origin if it were a genuine brand. Some example of such brands include Grohe, Hansgrohe, Kohler, Gessi, TOTO (freaking expensive), American Standards, Duravit, Villeroy & Boch, and the list goes on.

While I may be willing to pay a premium for import stuff, I am not willing to give even a single cent to dishonest businesses, and I suggest you stay away from them too. Some local brands that do not try to pass off as foreign brands are Otto, Rigel, Pozzi, Tiara (toilet bowls) and Inspire (toilet bowls).

3) Don’t stick to the major retailers

If you do a search online, you will see some big names. Blogs will point you to shops along Geylang and Balestier roads. Here’s what we learnt: smaller items, such as bidet sets and angle valves, are more expensive at these large retailers, even after the bulk discount. Still, these big players are a one-stop shop and lets you see the most within a short period of time.

We stumbled upon a shop that mainly sells to plumbers. They are not a showroom and is literally a shop to buy what you need, so you will need to know what you want. They do have catalogues to refer to, but that’s not the same as the real thing, is it? While they are happy to take something out from their store to show it to you, it will be much easier if you had an idea of what you’re after. This place is great for stuff like shower hoses, shower heads, bidet sets. I suggest paying this shop a visit after visiting the big boys. They’re called Vic-3 Marketing – see, even the name doesn’t sound like they sell these stuff!

We also bought other stuff such as shower heads and shower rail from a neighbourhood hardware shop. And no, we do not get a kickback or referral fee – this is pure sharing is caring. Influencers are rewarded to say nice things about the things they post – we don’t.

So yes, while we bought most of our bathroom fittings from Heritage Bathroom Gallery, we could have bought more of our stuff from VIC-3 if we knew about them earlier. But at the end of the day, find something that you fancy and make sure the price is reasonable. Visit a few places to give you an idea of what the prices are like.

We will be launching a “$ave or $plurge” series soon, to share if we feel what we bought was worth the money, or we should have saved/splurged instead. Stay tuned!

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