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!

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

Post Moving Day Reflections – 10 days in

Its been just over a week now since we moved into our Persimmon home at the Pastures in Brundall. With the mix of Christmas and family things as well as the unending task of emptying packing boxes (And the continued lack of broadband) its been difficult to get some time to write up the progress we’ve made since moving day. This morning is the first chance I’ve really had to reflect on where we are from two weeks ago. So coffee in hand below is a bit of a brain dump of everything that’s occurred since moving day and the bits that are left to resolve.

Regular readers will know that we were hit and miss as to whether we’d actually get in the house by December. With our rental agreement running out and Christmas literally round the corner it was looking likely that we’d be spending December and the New Year living with family rather than living in our new home. In the end we managed to exchange just in time. We were the lucky ones, there were plenty of people (Including a few friends) who have now seen their completion dates shift out to late January and February next year (I’ve been there so I understand how annoying that is!)

On 19th December we exchanged and on the 20th we actually moved in. Me and my Father laid a floor in the new lounge on the 19th so needed the day to do it (It did indeed take an entire day and I’m still waiting for the feeling to come back to my knees)

We’ve continued to find issues since moving day, none of which I’d say are showstopper problems that really stop us living here but there are a few where what Persimmon have said, and what the resulting action taken has been are continued evidence that whilst the guys on the ground here will try and work wonders, they continue to be let down by their head office that literally doesn’t seem to know what its hands are doing…

  1. Broadband Install – remember a few blogs ago I mentioned how we were told we absolutely must place our broadband order by the first week of December in order to guarantee installation before Christmas. Remember how I said I was doubtful we’d get it? Remember how the broadband company sent an engineer all the way up from London to connect us? And remember how he left empty handed when he found Persimmon hadn’t completed all the ducting to the property? I remember, because 10 days in we are still without broadband. Which is a massive pain in the arse for me working in IT and having the ability to work from home taken away from me. We seem to be trapped in a bit of a loop with the whole broadband situation at the moment. The provider (Seethelight) have been let down so many times by Persimmon and having their engineers unable to install customers homes that they are now refusing to send any further engineers until their own project manager has reviewed the work Persimmon have done. Only then will they call an engineer to connect homes. In order for their project manager to do this check they need Persimmon to call them to say the works done. Once again I’m having to join the dots for Persimmon to call the broadband supplier to get them to check Persimmons work before they send an engineer to finish the install.

On an additional footnote when I said how important having a broadband connection was to my own work I was told expressly by one of the Persimmon senior guys that if they couldn’t connect by Christmas Eve that they would give us a dongle to use until broadband was installed. At the time I expressed doubts about this. Which seems to have been right as when I popped into the office on site to enquire was told that we’d have to go and buy one out of our own pocket (These dongles normally require 12 month contracts – like Mobile phones as it’s a cellular network you are using) and then claim the expense back from Persimmon. Which is completely different to what I was initially told by the senior guy. Considering we had to wait 6 months beyond our original completion date for our home to be built I’m not confident I’d be seeing my cash this side of Summer 2015, so I’ve not bothered. In the meantime we still sit without broadband or a home phone line because basic communication between Persimmon and one of its suppliers is broken and relies on customers doing the legwork for them.

  • Back Garden – our back garden looks a bit of a tip at the minute. Because there has been a fair bit of rain the ground is completely bog like. As a result the landscaper we have booked to do our back garden can’t complete his prep work until Persimmon rotarvate the back garden. I’m confident this will get done once the construction team get back on site, but its not helped by point 3 below…
  •  The garage gutter downpipe – at the moment our downpipe from the garage gutter is about 30cm’s away from the actual downpipe drain connection. This means every time it rains all of the water from the garage roof drains down the pipe right out into the garden, and because the garden has a slope we now have the beginnings of what looks to be an impressive DIY swimming pool at the foot of the garden. This would be brilliant if:-
    1. We had planned for 30% of the garden to be a swimming pool
    2. The neighbours didn’t mind the escaping water/swimming pool flooding their back garden as well

As it stands point 3 is making point 2 in our list a drawn out affair to get done.

  • In our utility room we have a waste pipe under one of the cupboards which I’m assuming was put there if we had paid for (From the expensive extras catalogue) a utility room sink. As we preferred the additional space we didn’t pay for an extra sink and now have an open waste pipe in the utility room cupboard that gives off a wonderful smell of sewage.
  • The Solar Panels – regular readers will know the farce we had with the solar panels where the contractors placed them on the wrong side of the roof. It took me contacting Persimmon for them to be moved. Because the entire estate was only connected to the national grid on 19th December there hasn’t been an attempt to connect the solar panels in any of the properties on the estate yet. We were told this would be done on the 23rd So far we are still waiting and missing out on plenty of surprisingly good sunlight for December.
  • Front and back door locks – extremely stiff, to the point of only me being able to do the locks on them. Which makes it difficult when both me and my partner need to go to work at different times.
  • The front door privacy viewing glass is full of condensation and loose in the door. On top of this there are some pretty large gaps in the front door that let in quite the draft in the wind. Also, first thing in the morning the front door is literally dripping with condensation. I’m collecting some impressive pools of water at the bottom of the front door at the minute and I’m pretty sure point 6 and 7 are linked.
  • A few other annoying little things like the downstairs toilet lock not working, the downstairs light switch to turn on the upstairs landing light doesn’t work, the en-suite shower panels are loose at the bottom of the shower cubicle and things like screw covers in the kitchen are missing which makes it look a bit shabby.

In all its not a huge list of problems for a new house but as I said some of them are common sense things that could be done very quickly whilst some of the others are annoyingly requiring me to get involved to make any progress (Like the broadband). I’m not surprised, not really disappointed even. Just wearily accepting of the fact that we still have more email and face to face conversations we need to have with Persimmon to get stuff done.

The only other thing I can think to mention is that whilst the home is very well insulated, (We’ve barely had the heating on above 15 degrees so far – even with outside temperatures below freezing) one downside of having cavity walls is the internal walls are terrible. Literally plasterboard from what I can deduce so far. Attempting to put up pictures and some light shelving has been a proper baptism by fire. My attempts so far have resulted in industrial strength rawl plugs, filler and liberal use of swear words. As a result I’m taking a trip to B&Q this evening to buy proper plasterboard rawl plugs that expand once they are inserted.

So there you have it, I’ll continue to keep you all updated on the progress we make – I’m hopeful next week should be more promising once we get the actual construction team back on site and don’t need to deal with the head office again.

Fingers crossed

Post Moving Day

I’m writing this on a hastily assembled table of packing boxes from my mobile phone (No internet yet). Its been 3 days since we moved into the property and for the most part its been fairly smooth going. The build team on the site have been fantastic and on moving day when we still had a few things outstanding we literally had a packed house of builders and plumbers rushing round fixing bits and pieces. In summary its fair to say the guys on the site here have done a top job and I’ve found very little so far that I’ve had to list for them to resolve in the new year, mostly typical new home things (Which I’ve listed below)

The difference in dealing with a head office and the actual guys on the site doing the work is markedly different. Head office (Prior to us moving in) didn’t have any firm idea on dates, plans or even the good sense to pick up the phone. The guys on the actual site have regularly knocked on the door to check if things are okay and in particular the site manager has continued to check in on us to make sure things are being resolved as promised. It honestly feels like dealing with a completely different company.

As I mentioned above there are a few issues outstanding. The most problematic one isn’t even to do with the structure of the house. Our broadband (Which I expected to have issues with before we moved in) now looks like it won’t be installed until at least the new year. Which is pretty annoying as we were made to jump through a bunch of hoops before moving in date to get it all set up. After we did we found the ducting for the broadband hadn’t been installed and the engineer sent up from London had a wasted trip. On calling the supplier after we moved in I found that Persimmon had given us a random date based on absolutely nothing of substance. The broadband supplier is so concerned with wasting their engineers time that they now won’t conduct any further work on the estate until their own project manager has visited to check all outstanding work is completed. So it does leave us in a state of not having a clue when the broadband will actually be installed. Not great, but also, not surprising! The promise of a dongle for us to use if the broadband wasn’t installed by moving in date was also a misnomer as it appears the expectation is on us to buy the dongle (You normally have to sign up to a 12 month contract for these) and then claim it back from persimmon. Call me a cynic but as it took them 6 months beyond completion date to finish the house I’m not confident I’d be seeing my cash anytime before June next year if I did this. It also doesn’t explain who pays for the monthly cost of the Dongle…

Other bits and pieces are very minor:-

  •  The front and back doors are very difficult to lock, likely to just be a bit of loosening of the doors needed to fix it
  • The garage guttering down pipe currently misses the pipe going into the ground by a good 5 inches which means when it rains the back garden gets flooded with water
  • The back garden hasn’t been prepared (Mainly due to the wet weather we’ve had recently) which means we can’t lay turf yet
  • There are a few minor touch ups on walls that need doing

But in summary its not a bad piece of work they have done to the property to get it into a liveable state. None of the above are showstoppers to us living here and we’ve been promised that they will all be resolved within the next few days, which I’m inclined to believe as its come from the site manager rather than the head office team.

Our little close is quiet at the moment as our next door neighbors don’t move in until the new year and all of the properties opposite are still being finished.

So this post brings to an end my blogging for 2014. What started as an outlet for my frustration at the level of incompetence of one company has transformed into a useful exchange for like minded individuals who have also been severely let down by Persimmon. Its been extremely helpful to me to know we have not been alone this year in our experience but also extremely concerning that one company can continually let down so many customers with one of the most important processes they will go through in their lives. Buying a house is a massive commitment that requires long term investment. This process is not helped by a house builder who cannot deliver to dates and provides shocking levels of customer service on repeated occasions. As I said in a previous post, tread very carefully when dealing with Persimmon. Although our property appears to be sound and the service we’ve received from the people on site has been top notch its taken a hell of a lot of complaining and stress to get to this point.

I hope all of the readers of this blog find a solution to their issues over the next few weeks and months and wherever you are living during Christmas I hope you have a peaceful and enjoyable time.

I’ll be back in the new year to continue my blog.

Thanks

Less haste and more speed OR one step forward and two back

We finally have a legal completion date for 19th December. Amazingly Persimmon appeared to have dragged victory from the jaws of defeat. However regular readers of this blog will know nothing is ever as simple as this with Persimmon. So whilst we appear to have at least now received an exchange date, we continue to suffer at the hands of what can only be described as institutionalised incompetence on a grand scale. Some of the joys we’ve had to deal with this week include:-

Broadband installation. The Pastures development will (Eventually I guess) have fibre to the door (FTTP – Fibre to the property) broadband which means much faster, more reliable broadband speeds. Having been contacted by Persimmon last week and told we absolutely must contact the broadband supplier by last Wednesday at the latest in order to guarantee installation before Christmas I made sure I paid and signed our contract with the supplier on the Tuesday (Just to be sure). The actual supplier seems to be pretty good, cheaper than BT and Sky and pretty decent customer service (They are called See the Light if you are interested). We agreed an installation date for Monday 8thth December as this was when Persimmon had informed the supplier that they could have access to install the broadband to our house. Unsurprisingly I took a call from See the Light on the 9th December to say that the engineer they had sent all the way up from central London to install the fibre found that a whole heap of work that Persimmon should have conducted had not been done which meant he was unable to connect our property (And many of our potential neighbours properties) to the broadband supply. When he asked when this work would be completed the construction team replied that they had no idea and that they’d probably have to dig the road up again (Advanced warning for all the non Pastures Brundall residents right here – more traffic lights to look forward to, makes that about the sixth time they’ve had to dig up the main road now…). I’d say I’m surprised by this situation but you know as well as I do now that the only thing that would surprise me is Persimmon managing to do something they said they’d do correctly without me as the customer having to arrange it for them.

 

  • Our final bill. As I’m sure long term readers of this blog will be aware I have a bit of an axe to grind with Persimmons business model of trying to extract the very last penny from their customers for little or no benefit. Ridiculously priced items in their ‘extras’ – read required, catalogue (Luxury goods such as TV points in bedrooms and TV aerials and outside taps…) have left me feeling a little bit annoyed by this. Needless to say it appears Persimmons inability to price fairly and realistically also carries across to their habit of charging customers for things they have already paid for. Our final bill came from our solicitor late last week and contained no agreed discount (We have had £1000 reduced from our final bill due to all the issues we’ve had) nor any reduction for the (expensive) carpets we have already paid 20% of up front. This equates to around £1400 they’ve ‘forgotten’ to take away from our final bill they sent our solicitor. Its only because I’m now going through everything Persimmon do with a fine tooth comb that I spotted it. So I’d suggest anyone who is buying a property from Persimmon checks their final bills for any ‘unexpected’ extras suddenly appearing.

So this week has been a mixture of relief that we finally have a date to move in that is before Christmas and also continued annoyance with Persimmons inability to get anything right the first time. The children are excited about moving in (And to be honest why wouldn’t they be, its an exciting time for them). But for me and my better half this excitement is mixed with a 100% acknowledgment that moving in will be just the start of the problems we are more than likely to have with the house. As I’ve said before you need not search for longer than 30 seconds online to see the countless annoyed and let down customers of Persimmon who remain in broken properties with repairs running at incomplete for years into their time in their properties. So although this battle has (slightly) been won against Persimmon the war certainly isn’t over.

So what can we learn from the above?

  • Persimmon cannot do basic maths or paperwork properly – check your final bills carefully for any iffy figures. I can assure you Persimmon won’t be checking when they send the bill to your solicitor!
  • Despite already having to pay us a fairly large reduction of our final bill (That they then forgot to reduce) Persimmon continue to rush and miss things which will just lead to me claiming further costs from them later. It’s a vicious circle of failure because if Persimmon had been half as apologetic as they now are with us I would have given them the benefit of the doubt with these sorts of things. If we’d been kept up to date throughout the build and not had to do all the chasing ourselves I’ve have let them off missing the installation of broadband and lived with it for a few weeks. Instead because of how rubbish they have been throughout the process and how they continue to make basic mistakes I will pursue them vigorously and log every little thing that goes wrong and detail it on here as a warning to other potential customers. Needless to say I’ll also be charging them for my time and effort to find and rectify their mistakes.
  • Just because you receive a completion date don’t assume everything is suddenly going to resolve itself. You’ll see from the above that Persimmon have now had to legally provide us a completion date (Otherwise we could have walked away from the purchase at this point) but are continuing to make silly mistakes, which tells me they only have a little confidence they’ll hit the actual date, meaning corners are going to be cut, things will be done quickly and mistakes will be made, remaining undetected until we move in probably – which is why I’ll be making sure we have someone independently do the snagging for us.

7 days to go now to completion, lets see what else they can mess up…