The Fat Lady Sings

Over a month in to our new house purchase from Persimmon and I feel relatively safe in now bringing to an end my running commentary on the process of buying (and waiting) for a home from Persimmon. I’d say its been enjoyable but I’d be lying (badly). The house is still standing and the majority of snagging issues we’ve discovered so far have all been resolved. We have working broadband, a turfed back garden and working solar panels. The majority of this has only been made possible by the people on the site who through the dogged determination of their head office to cock everything up still managed to build our home and fix problems we had.

So in summary what have I learnt over the last 12 months?

  • Never, ever, ever (Cannot emphasise this enough) purchase a new build property
  • If you are silly enough to ignore the above point then please make sure you never, ever, ever (Don’t think I’m joking here) purchase a new build property from Persimmon Homes
  • If you ignore both of the above points then prepare yourself for the worst levels of customer service you are ever likely to experience
  • Take anger management classes. These classes will give you some level of preparation with how to deal with idiots when you undoubtedly have to start speaking to Persimmons head office department
  • Take a creative writing course. This will aid you when constructing the many complaint letters you will end up writing to Persimmons head office once polite phone call discussions have gotten you nowhere. Always remember to send two copies as they are guaranteed to ‘mislay’ the first copy
  • If you are concerned at having to do all these extra things then don’t worry. Its not like you’ll be moving into your new home anytime soon…
  • Purchase a good phone package with extra free minutes. This way when you have to start doing Persimmons job for them when it comes to returning promised phone calls you won’t end up with a large phone bill at the end of each month
  • Consider growing a beard. I managed to produce an impressive set of face fuzz over a two week period whilst I waited by the phone for a call back from persimmons head office. This was of great comfort to me when I woke up in the local hospital from malnourishment as I hadn’t ventured to the kitchen for a fortnight whilst I waited for the phone call that never came
  • See the funny side of things. I took pleasure in the simple things in life, like watching a multi million pound company ably manage to cock up basic common sense situations, like placing solar panels on the wrong side of our house, or constructing a loft hatch halfway over a wall and expecting this to be acceptable. You’ll laugh through some of your own experiences with Persimmon, after you’ve gone though the other emotions. Like pain, suffering, stress, depression and grief
  • Ensure you are on good terms with your current landlord or mortgage lender. So when you tell them repeatedly that you are moving out and then ask to extend your contract or mortgage they are understanding of your plight. Better yet tell them you are buying a property from Persimmon. At which point they will give you at least a 12 month extension to your contract just in case.

Serious stuff I’ve learnt…

  • Stuff gets delayed, deal with it, but when stuff gets delayed repeatedly and you end up having to do a company’s job for them, document it, keep a diary and a record of every single call and letter or email you’ve had to send and where you feel it should have been the responsibility of said company
  • Get them to agree in writing. No excuses that way
  • If you feel you’ve suffered a financial loss then the chances are you have, so claim compensation for your lost time and earnings from the company who have made the mistake. A company suddenly becomes very willing to do stuff once you start suggesting invoicing them for your lost time and effort
  • Don’t accept the first offer and don’t take no for an answer
  • Big companies like this behave and act in the way they do because they believe (Rightly in many cases) that customers are too scared to take them on. Don’t be. You have a ridiculous amount of legal rights available to you that companies like Persimmon hope you don’t know about. Visit your local CAB or find a friendly solicitor who offers the first hour free for advice.
  • Use social media. Large companies hate looking a shower of the brown stuff in front of other customers who haven’t made up their minds on whether to spend their money with a company. By making your issues public and ensuring potential customers of said company can see it you are more likely to get the resolution you want and quicker
  • Read the small print in everything you sign from a company
  • Try and see the funny side of the situation, if you can’t, write a blog about it. It’s a cathartic experience doing this

So there you have it. Practically 12 months after reserving and paying a deposit and six months after the completion date we are in our home and settled. I may occasionally revisit this situation if and when the after sales support from Persimmon requires it.

As for the rest of this blog I plan on continuing to write about the good, bad and ugly of customer service and the companies that get it right or badly wrong. Keep reading and commenting

Updates & Grumpy Youngsters

I read an interesting piece on the BBC News website earlier today about how younger people tend to complain more about poor customer service. I agree with much of what the piece says although I no longer classify myself as a ‘youngster’ at the grand old age of 30 a lot of it resonates with me. Personally I’m not willing to put up with poor service when I’m paying for a product or service, I won’t go quietly either and will use social media to make a song and dance of my problem until its resolved. This blog is one example of that.

The piece also talked about the view that overall customer satisfaction levels seem to be dropping. I’m not sure if this is the case or not. What I do know is that I and many of my friends are no longer willing to put up with sub standard service when we hand over our hard earned cash for something. The increase in the use of digital technologies also has a part to play in the ability of customers to make a company look stupid very very quickly if its done something wrong. Just look at Twitter if you want to see examples of this.

The good thing is that companies (At least the majority of them) seem to be sitting up and taking notice of this and responding quickly and fairly to customer issues. There is still more work to do and I’m sure they’ll continue to be examples of where it goes badly wrong for companies delving into social media in order to deal with customer complaints, but it’s a start.

I’ve attached the link below if you fancy a quick ten minute read of the full piece

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30812500

On the home front we are now a month into the new place and things are starting to settle down.

We’ve had a number of decent results from Persimmon over the last week or two which I continue to put down to the fact that the guys on the site are far and away superior to the staff they employ in their head office. The site manager has continued to provide support and maintenance people to repair the snagging items we’ve picked up on in the first few months.

We also had a bit of a result on the broadband which was finally installed last week (A month after moving in and two months after being told we had to do it urgently in order to have it before Christmas). It hasn’t all been plain sailing on this side however…

We have fibre direct to our property which means we have a great big box in the cupboard under the stairs that the router has to be plugged into. Meaning at the moment if we want a wired connection we’d have to drag Ethernet cables out of the cupboard through the house. Whilst this doesn’t particularly bother me it probably would start to annoy the better half who is a bit more house proud then I am when it comes to looks. It would also probably present a bit of a trip hazard having 4 or 5 wires dragged around the house from the cupboard. So alas I’ve been relying on wireless which everyone knows isn’t as strong as wired. For a 100mb connection we are currently getting around 36mb (On a good day) with ping speeds in the low hundreds (Ping is important and is the time it takes for your connection to send and receive data from the exchange – its measured in milliseconds and anything above 100ms is poor). After calling our supplier we’ve found that Persimmon need to ‘cap’ the phone line in our main room so we can plug the router in that room and then wire up all of our equipment that way meaning the speed should improve. Hopefully this should be done this week.

Its not a massive issue but it shows it does pay to check everything in the property.

On the other hand at least we’ve not been as bad off as some of our neighbours on the estate who were expecting broadband to be installed on the same day as we did. It transpires that Persimmon managed to break through some of the ducting that protects the fibre optic cables for our neighbours. Damaging it and meaning they wouldn’t be able to have their connections set up. Not great

Other bits in the house are slowly being ticked off as completed and the house is starting to feel like a proper home. The walls continue to be my nemesis though and after having spent £50 in B&Q on a frankly ridiculous amount of different rawl plugs I’ve now found that the best approach is to go and buy 100mm toggle plugs in order to hand anything on the walls. Don’t make the same mistake I have! If on the other hand you are short of some rawl plugs then let me know and I’ll post you a few hundred out.

We still have a hybrid outdoor swimming pool/swamp type garden out the back of the house due to the continued wet weather which means Persimmon haven’t been able to rotavate it so far, but again this hasn’t been through lack of effort in trying and I have to say I admired the contractors who came and tried anyway even when their equipment started to sink into the ground. So I’m sure they’ll be more to report on that in the next week or two.

Keep reading and commenting!

Awesome Customer Service

I spend a lot of time on here calling out bad customer service. Its only fair I point out the companies that get it spot on.

We received a package in the post on Saturday from our mortgage provider. I’ll let you see the picture below of what was in it.

Needless to say I was seriously impressed. Halifax don’t need to do this. Especially when they are handing out suitably large amounts of money to customers in order to get them on the property ladder but the below was an extremely nice (And impressive touch). I tweeted them back to say thanks and their social media presence is as switched on as their overall customer service with me receiving a reply within 5 minutes to respond and wish us all the best in our new home.

Well done Halifax, when I next have an issue with my current bank I just might switch my stuff across to you with service like that!

Halifax

Happy *buffering* New *buffering* Year *buffering*

It’s a new year!!!!!!

It’s the same old style of service from Persimmon

Who’d have guessed it?

We have been in our new Persimmon home for about three weeks now. We’ve had plenty of time to get used to it and plenty of time to find a few snagging problems that now need resolving. Persimmon’s construction team have been offsite for most of Christmas and this week has been their first week back so I’m going easy on pestering those guys too much. However its good to see that first day back on site they are arranging for someone to come and check the outstanding items that need to be resolved.

In the meantime I’ve had the continued pleasure* of trying to deal with Persimmon’s ‘head office’.

Now Persimmons head office has got a pretty dire reputation with me anyway. The sort of reputation that means it has to arrange for paid likes on its social media pages (Read my previous post on Persimmons dodgy social media strategy for the full breakdown). As with most large companies a head office department is just a means of having an address somewhere to send all the complaints they generate about the crap service they provide. In this case my current gripe with the head office is their inability to pick up those things that sit on your desk and ring or alternatively pick one up, use the dialler on it and call our broadband supplier to tell them you’ve done the work you were supposed to have done back in November…

Yes dear reader its your weekly update on The Pastures Broadband debacle.

If you read the title of this blog again you’ll notice my wonderfully witty use of buffering throughout. Which is all I’ve been able to see when having to rely on my mobile phone signal since we moved in on the 19th December in order to connect to the outside world. Its amazing how much we depend on the internet now to carry out our daily lives. For one thing the kids have had to interact with each other (Which is never a good idea) and me and Kate have had to watch terrestrial television for three weeks (Enough to drive any sane person potty). On top of this I do actually have a day job as an IT Consultant (I don’t just write angry blogs you see) which requires a very decent broadband connection both at home and in the office. Regular readers will know we had to jump through a few hoops generated by Persimmon in order to ensure we’d move in with working broadband on our exchange date. So we did all the stuff, signed the contract, paid our installation fee and then?

Waited, and waited.

An engineer got sent up from London and left dejected and disappointed (A typical response from someone visiting a Persimmon site I’m guessing). A bunch of the work the engineer needed to have been done by Persimmon wasn’t done (No surprises there) so he wasn’t able to connect us. Persimmon gave us a magical date of Christmas Eve to have broadband working (A date later confirmed by the broadband supplier as being based on nothing other than a date Persimmon just decided to pluck from thin air) and since then the broadband supplier has said that they won’t waste anymore of their engineers time in sending them up to connect us and others on the estate without Persimmon contacting them and telling them they’ve done the work. At which point the broadband supplier will then send a project manager to actually check the work has been done before they then get their engineers to come and connect us. There are a few failings with this process

  • Wouldn’t it annoy you if one of your suppliers distrusted your work so much that they ensured they sent their own people to check your work before they did their part of the deal? What sort of company would have such a bad reputation for keeping its promises that it required someone to fact check them first….
  • In order for the broadband supplier to kick start their side of the work, they are dependent on Persimmon using the ringing thing on their desks in ‘head office’ to call the broadband supplier. The chances of which are as high as Danny Dyer’s chances of being awarded an Oscar for best actor (This is what watching terrestrial TV has done to me…lasting damage)
  • Persimmon giving out made up dates means potentially there are a bunch of customers on our estate sitting in their homes assuming their broadband will be connected soon. If you know any of these people, best point them in the direction of this blog. If you are a fellow neighbour on the estate and are reading this. Hate to let you down, but you won’t be getting broadband anytime soon. On the plus side ITV have a great show about dodgy builders on this Wednesday – we might see our houses on there!

Anyway I jest a little. The point I’m making is that there are many difficult things that need to be done when building a house. Checking its clear of power lines before building up is one. Giving customers realistic estimates is evidently another one. Getting the logistics right so you don’t run out of bricks is also tough. Paying your builders on site for the hours they did in the run up to Christmas BEFORE Christmas because of your senior managements incompetence in giving out silly dates for completion to staff is clearly another.

But picking up the telephone to ring one of your suppliers to tell them you’ve done the work that you should have done months ago so they can connect customers you’ve buggered about and lied to about dates is obviously beyond the abilities of head office.

So there you have it readers. As a nation we can help other countries land a spaceship on a comet, discover and map the human DNA strand, deliver 4G to cities across the UK, build a new aircraft carrier, open up the Shard, fill the Tower of London with poppies and throw the best fireworks party at New Year, but when it comes to picking up the phone and dialling a few numbers to tell one of your suppliers they can come and do some work?

Persimmon failed…

Again

PS – I’m going to start a petition to give Persimmons ‘head office’ a lobotomy. My hope is that this will increase the IQ of this department significantly, and lower the blood pressure of its many annoyed customers greatly, thereby saving the NHS millions of pounds a year.

*change pleasure for teeth pulling pain and you get the picture