on September 26, 2012
Amazon's reviews are a brilliant marketing service. But, with so many responses varying from "Greatest thing since sliced bread" to "a piece of junk," deep thinking and reading between the lines becomes essential. In regard to this Suncast Patio Serving Station, I needed a portable place near my grill in order to prepare pizzas. Rather than build one, I was greatly attracted by Suncast's offering. But, some of the reviews claimed it was impossible to construct. Trying to balance the positive and negative reviews, I forged ahead and ordered this Patio Station. It arrived with no imperfections, but when i set about assembling it --- mindful of the terrible warnings of a few reviewers --- sure enough, at step one I could not force Door B's hinge post into the bottom panel's corner hole. Attempts at hammering did not work. I was just about to file down the hinge post when I took a more careful look at the assembly directions. "DUMMY," I recoiled; you've got the bottom panel upside down. The picture clearly shows that the smooth (slightly textured) side faces right. It's going to be facing up when this is finished. After that stupid mistake --- and do not second guess the instructions; they are spot-on accurate --- I had no trouble in snapping this Station together. It is very cleverly designed; a Lego-savvy 4th grader could put this baby together in a remarkably few minutes. I am now grilling with this station as my prep and serving center and is exactly what I have needed to turn out a perfect grilling --- especially pizza. I recommend this product with my highest rating.
on March 25, 2011
Despite what other reviewers say, this patio preparation table is difficult to assemble. It is not complicated but it takes a lot of pushing, squeezing, pounding to put the parts together - not for the faint of heart. It took my wife and I about 1 1/2 hours to assemble it. In the process we used several screwdrivers, a small hammer and hair dryer. A hair dryer? Yep. The plastic was warped and difficult to handle. By warming it up it made it possible to get the pieces together. The screw driver was not for screws but for prying and digging to get things to fit. The hammer finished the job.
My suggestion is to allow the unassembled table to warm up before assembling. Ours was delivered in cold weather and had been on the UPS delivery truck all day. We started to assemble the next morning but it still was not warm enough. Several pieces were warped which made it difficult.
Now that it is together it is fine.
on June 2, 2011
Before purchasing this Suncast product, I read every single review on it at Amazon's website, as well as 4 other websites. So I was very aware of the numerous complaints about warped pieces, difficult or nearly impossible assembly, and doors that are difficult to open and/or close. I even went so far as to call Suncast and ask them about the warping and the problem of not being able to disassemble the product if you need to return it. The rep I talked to did NOT acknowledge these issues (even though I told him that I had read the same complaints at multiple websites). He insisted that Suncast prides itself on producing excellent quality products. He then gave me his name and personal email address and told me that if I had any problems whatsoever after purchasing, to email him and he would "take care of it".
In spite of the Suncast rep's promise, I decided that, to be on the safe side, I would order two cabinets instead of one. That way if there were any warped or faulty pieces in the 1st box, we could swap those pieces out with pieces from the 2nd box, instead of having to disassemble and return the 1st one, place an order for a 2nd one, and then wait another 1½ to 2 weeks to receive the 2nd one.
When we received the 2 cabinets, I opened one of them and carefully began unwrapping and examining each piece, while checking them off the inventory list as I went along to make sure there were no missing pieces. The further I got into the box, the more surprised and happy I was because the parts looked to be ok. But then I pulled out 2 of the largest pieces -- the left side panel and the right side panel. Both were definitely warped -- quite a bit. I continued though and can report that there were no missing pieces and, although the 3rd largest piece (the back panel) was also a bit warped, everything else in the box was in good condition. There were a few tiny scratches on the "ceramic-look tile" top and leaves, but they were not too noticeable. I was also very happy with the coloring of the cabinet -- something I was concerned about after seeing a lot of color variations in pictures of this product at the various websites I had looked at. I wanted the brown tone in this cabinet to be more in the taupe category than orangish-brown shade, and it is. The coloring of the ceramic-look top blends nicely with the coloring of the cabinet & handles.
Upon opening the 2nd box to pull out the left and right side panels, I could see that they were not warped as badly as those in the 1st box, but nonetheless, they were warped. I decided to let my husband look at them, since he would be the one assembling the cabinet, and see if he wanted to try assembling it with the 2 less warped side pieces or take up the Suncast rep's offer to "take care of it". When my husband compared the side panels from both boxes, he saw something that I had missed. Both of the "Left" side panels had a crack in the exact same location (indicating it was a problem with Suncast's mold or something in the production and NOT a result of poor packing or rough shipping and handling). He felt that due to the location of the crack, it would probably completely break during assembly or some time after. As a matter of fact, one of them was already cracked enough that it had separated. So we decided to contact Suncast and see what they offered to do.
Rather than emailing the Suncast rep, I decided to try and reach him by phone. That part was easy enough since I had his name, but after 2 days of leaving messages in his personal voicemail box asking him to call me and not ever getting a returned call, I decided to try and reach someone else. I was told he no longer works for Suncast (even though it had only been 2 weeks since I spoke to him and his voicemail greeting still said he was not in right now but to leave a message and he would return your call). It took a few more phone calls, more voicemails, and another day and half, but I finally talked to someone who immediately told me they would ship replacement parts to us at no charge (and they did not need to have the defective ones sent to them). There was no hassle at all and we received the replacement parts 7 calendar days later.
The replacement pieces that Suncast sent were also warped but not nearly as much as the ones we already had, and there were no cracks, so my husband decided to he would begin the assembly.
It took about 1 hour and was pretty easy, but we could see how it would be difficult if the parts were any more warped. The only tool we had to use was something to pry open the 1st door that we closed mid-way through the assembly so we could check the alignment of things. The instructions don't say to attach the door handles until the 3rd to the last step, but it really should precede putting the doors on the cabinet. Without a handle on the door, once we had closed it, there was no way to open it again and continue the assembly. In order to get it open, we had to insert the tip of a screwdriver into one of the screw holes for the handle and pull the door open - which bent the plastic around the screw hole. So we would advise putting both door handles on before attaching the doors to the cabinet.
We are happy with the overall appearance and size of the cabinet and with the quality of the casters and how smoothly it glides when rolled. The only complaint we have is that both doors have to be slammed REALLY hard (sometimes twice) in order to close them (while holding onto the cabinet), and opening them requires a hard pull (also, while holding onto the cabinet). With the 2 locking casters in the unlocked position, the cabinet would definitely roll if we didn't hold onto the cabinet while opening and closing the doors, and with the casters in the LOCKED position, the cabinet starts to tip over if we don't hold it while opening and closing the doors. It is obvious when looking at the alignment of the 2 doors that the reason they are so hard to open and close is because they fit too tight in some areas (due to the warped side panels). Likewise, both doors have gaps in other areas, and the top of the lower door is not flush with the cabinet, which will probably result in some rain getting inside the cabinet.
I took off 1 star due to Suncast's apparent lack of concern about the well-known warping issue and the hassle of having to order 2 cabinets to get enough pieces that were not defective, and a 2nd star because, even with the replacement pieces that were shipped directly from Suncast, they were still warped enough to cause the doors to not align properly, which will mean always having to use two hands to open and close them - not very convenient when barbecuing.
I am considering ordering the Style #866 square air conditioner cover at The-Cover-Store to keep our Suncast cabinet looking nice and to protect it from rain & snow. The dimensions of this cover seem to be a fairly good fit for this cabinet. The cover is 24" L x 24" W x 30" H and the cabinet is 23" W x 22" D x 34 H" (leaves down). According to patio furniture & grill cover measuring information provided at more than one website, it is best to leave a few inches of ground clearance so that air can properly circulate underneath the cover and condensation can be avoided.
In fairness to Amazon, I want to state that I did not order this product from Amazon. I chose to order from a website with a local store, knowing that I would be returning at least one of the cabinets.