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!

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

The House Inspection

Today we finally managed to see our (almost) completely built house purchase from Persimmon. My initial expectations for the property visit were that we’d find lots of outstanding problems we’d be putting up with once we sign the legal exchange in two days time. Surprisingly enough the visit was actually without too much issue.

I won’t name names here but the guy who took us round the house is probably one of the first genuinely apologetic and honest people we have dealt with at Persimmon. He apologised repeatedly and actually gave me a much better understanding of the issues he and his guys on the ground have had to deal with. Needless to say that it’s the mismanagement at the senior levels that has resulted in about 25 families on the estate missing their original completion dates.

Along with the above the fact Persimmon have taken on far too much work than they knew they were capable of means many families who had planned to be in their homes for Christmas are now being given dates of January and February next year.

There were a few minor issues but nothing of the catastrophic level I was anticipating before we checked the house. The good thing for me was the fact that the guy showing us round committed to all of them being resolved by Friday, which is something we’ve not had from our many previous dealings with the head office team.

Needless to say we now go into the legal completion on Friday with far more confidence than we’ve had for the last 6 months of the build.

I’d also like to say that I’m very quick on this blog to point out failures and stupidity. I’d like to take some time out on this blog now to thank a few people from Persimmon who have continued to try and get resolutions for us. Again I’m not going to name names here because like any large organisation these head office departments don’t like their staff to be following anything other than the corporate line. Hopefully you’ll know who you are if you are reading this (My site stats show at least a few Persimmon IP addresses are indeed following this blog)

To the lady in the sales office who has continued to try and chase things down for us and been a friendly voice at the end of a telephone line for us repeatedly over the last 6 months, thank you. Its never been an issue dealing with you and your patience has been impressive in fielding what must have been hundreds of phone calls weekly from all the families impacted by these delays.

To the guy who took us around the house yesterday and was probably the most honest and apologetic person we’ve dealt with at Persimmon, thank you. You gave us some straight answers and couldn’t do enough for us to put right some of the few teething issues we have remaining.

To all the workers who have pulled weekend shifts and late nights to try and get the estate into a liveable place for families in the run up to Christmas, thanks. The incompetence of the senior management at Persimmon shouldn’t hide the fact that you appear to have done a top job in getting these houses into a habitable state.

I’ll continue to update this blog after moving day with any post move observations. Keep reading and commenting!

Persimmon Complaint – an example of over promising and under delivering

I’ll give you a bit of backstory to this letter I’ve just sent below as it will help you understand the level of annoyance I have with Persimmon.

 

Persimmon are a big house builder in the UK. Their chief exec earns £2 million pounds a year for building homes across the UK. They have shareholders they have to please as well as the many hundreds of thousands of customers who put faith in them delivering on their promises. Unfortunately you don’t need to search far on the www to find out just how poor they are at doing the latter which doesn’t seem to impact their ability to do the former.

As a customer of Persimmon me and my family have been to hell and back with these guys over the last 10 months and its still not over. If you’ve ever seen A Christmas Carol where Scrooge doesn’t seem to care that his staff are practically out on the streets over Christmas you’ll get a sense of the direction this is headed with Persimmon.

I’ll let you read the complaint (To which I’ve not yet had a reply)

Good Morning Mr Fairburn

 

You don’t know me and its doubtful my details or current situation have ever cropped up in conversation with your colleagues but you can rest assured your name and more importantly your company’s name has been mentioned by me and my colleagues repeatedly, and mostly not in the nicest of terms. Before I get ahead of myself let me introduce me and my family. Me and my partner (Kate) have lived in Brundall for years renting a property just round the corner from your new development (The Pastures). As our property is rented we’ve had years of fun and games with the landlord of the property trying to arrange repairs and simple stuff like making sure the boiler works in the winter. Making it a bit of a pain to live in, but this doesn’t concern you.

 

What does concern you is the fact that when we saw the big adverts online and in the local press about a new housing development being placed in Brundall we wanted to make sure our name was on the list for a property. So we got on your email distribution list for updates, queued for the first day of the sales office opening (When all it involved was a small portakabin sat on a muddy field) and basically set up camp outside the sales office. When we viewed the designs for the properties we settled on one of the four bedroom homes (The Castle) and paid our £500 deposit in February 2014 with a commitment from Persimmon that we’d be in our shiny new home by July 2014. I’m sure you’ve moved home yourself Mr Fairburn so as you can imagine this was an exciting time for our little family as we started planning things like furnishing and extras from your (expensive) catalogue. Heck I even popped the question to Kate during the run up to July, everything was going great. Can you see the but coming yet?

 

But then nothing. We didn’t hear anything from Persimmon or your sales team for weeks (Actually months), what had been a steady stream of look at this and come in and pay extra for these things suddenly became an empty bag of nothing. You didn’t even want us to pay anymore money for anything from your (expensive) extras catalogue. At first I was pleased, assuming you’d gotten all the blood you were going to get out of this particular stone. However when I eventually got through to the sales office it quickly became clear why you’d gone all shy on us.

 

The build had been delayed until August. Whilst it wasn’t a particular surprise (I mean delays happen all the time right?, I’m sure when your own home was built that you put up with delays of over 6 months right?) it was a little annoying that it was little old me who had to get the information out of your sales team (Who I’m assuming were far too busy trying to get new customers to sign on the dotted line, rather than worrying about the poor saps who’d already forked out for their deposits). But we persevered, it couldn’t get any worse now could it? (You’ll start to see a pattern in this tale of woe shortly)

 

So we get into July and the barrage of ‘come look at the extras you could buy’ in the (expensive) extras catalogue started again so I happily assumed everything was okay again. It was during one discussion with your sales team about something along the lines of why you were charging £250 for a mixing tap when I could go and buy one from B&Q for less than £100 when one of the sales team suddenly dropped into the conversation that the build was still on track for the end of September!!!!!!

 

Having picked myself up off the floor (I’ve perfected this routine since dealing with Persimmon) I asked when the build date had slipped again and why? A pretty simple question to ask I would have assumed. After all I’d assume if you didn’t pick up your 6 figure bonus at the end of another successful year for you and your shareholders you’d wonder why? The answer it seems was something to do with delays, lack of experienced builders and contractors etc. etc. It was at this point that I assumed your sales team had made the assumption I was telepathic and had picked up on their thoughts over the last few weeks and understood we wouldn’t be moving into the house in August. Unfortunately Mr Fairburn I am not telepathic, if I was I’d have made sure I won the Euro Millions a few weeks ago and gone and bought a house from Bovis or Wimpy, better yet I’d have worked out exactly the date we would actually get into the property we’ve been waiting for, for almost a year. So again we were left in the situation of having to replan and all of the other stressful stuff that comes with a house move (I’m sure you’ve been there haven’t you? Or do you have people that do this sort of stuff for you?)

 

By this point I was getting a little nervous that we’d not get in before Christmas, I jokingly suggested this to the sales team in August. We had a good laugh about it at the time. Little did I know eh?

 

Anyway I digress. We discussed the delay again and I made it clear that we’d have to give 3 months notice to our horrible landlord who doesn’t like keeping the boiler maintained in the winter that we’d be moving out come October (The new completion date you’d pretty much signed in blood with us after the latest delay) So we merrily went away and gave notice to horrible landlord bloke that we’d (Happily) be moving into a new home in October. With our notice given we went on our way, safe in the knowledge that you guys (However poor the experience had been so far around basic stuff – like picking up the phone to us) couldn’t make anymore mistakes. Hopefully by now you’ll see my continued hope and faith that you’d pull this out of the bag has been seriously abused by Persimmon.

 

So we get to September, the weather was great down here by the way in September (Meaning no pesky delays to the build – what with you saying the roof trusses would be on in September weather permitting). After driving past our house on the way to work in mid September I noticed that the roof still wasn’t on, I thought I’d give your team a quick call to find out whether it was still on course for end of October for completion. The sales team said they’d check with the build team and get back to me. I waited, and waited. October was a few days away now. I’d grown an impressive beard waiting by the phone for you to return my call, as a bonus I lost 2 stone in weight from not eating, so eager was I to pick up the ringing phone as soon as you had an answer from the sales team asking the build team whether we were still on track (The sales team sit about 150 metres away from the build team on the site). Wondering whether they’d been some sort of natural disaster that had sucked the construction team into one of the big holes you’ve been digging on Cucumber lane for the last 12 months I called again. Again the sales team seem to have assumed I’d gained telepathic abilities in the 2 weeks I’d been waiting by the phone for them to return my call (That’s two weeks worth of euro millions jackpots I could have won!). They assumed I’d been told that the completion date was now looking like mid November due to having found a big power cable running over the property.

 

I’m not a builder Mr Fairburn, I’ll be completely honest with you. My skills in DIY probably stretch as far as putting up a few shelves and painting the walls when Kate decides she fancies Lilac in the toilet instead of green. I did manage to fix my car the other day after having checked google. I’m wondering whether your construction team need to check google as well? The reason I only half jokingly suggest that is that before you’d moved the very first digger onto the Pastures your team would have noticed these big 5 metre tall structures with long black wires stretched across them. I believe (Although don’t quote me on this) that these things are called ‘Power Lines’ and carry electricity to homes so we can use stuff (Like laptops to write angry emails to CEO’s about rubbish companies). Anyway I digress again. I think the point I’m trying to make is that even with my relatively amateur skills in DIY, I think even little old me would notice when knocking up a structure with two floors to it that the big cables stretching across the site may at some point need to be stuck underground rather than overground in case they delay the building of a house… Just a suggestion

 

So now we have a bit of a situation Mr Fairburn, many weeks ago we’d given our 3 months notice to Mr horrible landlord (The one that thinks maintaining a property is the job of pixies rather than a responsible landlord, kind of like a house builder that believes customers are telepathic and will pick up on delays without being contacted?). At many points in the relationship we’ve had with Persimmon it seems like its been some sort of Pavlov type experiment in how often you can get us to pick up the phone to you. I contacted your construction director to point out that unless we could move in by the end of October as you’d stated that we would be homeless. Your director suggested we speak to Mr Horrible Landlord to see if he’d extend our rental agreement (missing the point that we’d rather insert nails into our eyes than stay in our current property any longer than we needed), he also pointed out that there was nothing you could do as a ‘responsible house builder’ (I took that bit from your website). So now facing the situation of being homeless in the run up to Christmas with two young children and added costs of storage we had to go begging to Mr Horrible Landlord to ask if he fancied keeping us in a home for a further two weeks. This wasn’t the end of it though.

 

In October we got a call from you (Which makes a change from us having to call you). It was a surprise if anything, having long assumed that the customer-company relationship with you involved us having to do all the legwork for you it was a bit of a revelation to find Persimmon picking up the phone to us to give us an update. Anyway, it turns out that your estimate of Mid November had a +/- chance of 150% and that the actual move date would now be Mid December. There are many words I can use to describe my response to this, most of which are probably illegal and certainly not worth repeating on an email to you. Needless to say I was forced to wash my mouth out with soap and water after the call. By now I hope you are starting to see the level of annoyance I currently hold for you and your company.

 

I used to work as a Project manager, and I can honestly say, hand on heart that if I had managed to screw up an estimate as badly as Persimmon have over the last year that I would have been sacked after the second mistake (Lets be honest everyone is allowed one mistake aren’t they). I’m assuming your project managers must have had the day off in class when it came to producing accurate and reliable estimates? If you fancy I can come and teach them how to do it? Better yet offer me a job as a project manager, because if I can get away with so many mistakes then it sounds like the job for me!

 

So at the present time in what is probably one of the 3 most stressful situations a couple go through (The others being marriage and divorce – and we’re already doing one of those) Persimmon have managed to drag kicking and screaming a defeat from the jaws of victory. Our current move in date now sits at 19th December (Even though your team finishes on site for Xmas on the 18th). We’ve already had to tell our moving firm 3 different moving dates (I think they think we are just a couple of kids calling them up for a laugh every time we tell them a new date). We’ve also got to move out of our rented property by 16th December at the latest as Mr Horrible landlord is living up to his reputation. So I ask you Mr Fairburn do you really believe that your company is being a ‘responsible house builder’ and that the performance of your various teams has been excellent? Would you for example want to give even a penny to a company that seems so inept that it doesn’t even notice power lines above a property before it starts building up?

 

I could also mention the fact that we actually visited our house a month ago. And came away with a long list of things that need to be resolved before we even move in. The funniest (I use that term rather than depressing as I’m assuming this is all one big joke being played on us by Persimmon now and that at any point Jeremy Beadle will appear with his mike and wonky arm – except Mr Beadle is sadly departed, although I bet he’d have made a fantastic construction director). For your benefit I’ll list some of the funniest bits here:-

 

  • The Solar panels we had installed. The common perception is that for these to be the most effective they should be facing south on a property so it picks up the full east to west sun. As we live in the northern hemisphere sticking them on the north of the property would mean they’d be over 50% less effective than if they were on the south of the property. Can you guess which side your contractors stuck them? I’ll give you two guesses, chances are someone in your position will only need one though. Needless to say I had to use my google friend again to point out that the best place for them to be situated is south facing. Don’t worry though, it didn’t take me much work to find some evidence of this for your contractors as every single link I found said they need to face south. Anyway they’ve been moved now so all I need to do is add it to the list of cock ups that Persimmon have made so far. That list is pretty long (Possibly as long as this email)
  • The loft hatch in the upstairs landing. This ones a good one as I felt like I’d got one over on Persimmon. Throughout our meetings to go through your (expensive) extras catalogue its been made very clear to us that everything needs to be ‘on plan’ when it comes to the build. Otherwise your external assessors won’t sign off the house as complete. So say for example we wanted a cat flap putting in, we’d have to pay for it. Or a TV aerial? We’d have to pay for it. Or maybe carpets from someone else that’s a lot cheaper (We’d have to wait until the house was completed and we had the keys – even though it wouldn’t stop your own approved carpet company laying your more (expensive) carpets before we got the keys. Anyway I’m digressing again. Your builders decided they rather fancied having the loft hatch in the upstairs bathroom. Which is fine as I’m all for empowering your staff to make the correct decisions based on the current situation, which would be fine in this case if you never want to get into the loft with a ladder. As I’ve not yet mastered the art of levitation it seems a bit silly to have a loft hatch in a bathroom, especially when your own plans show it as being on the upstairs landing. I have asked for it to be moved. Although it seems Persimmon are currently in hibernation mode and all forms of communication out to me appear to be off at the present time. (Was it something I said?)
  • The garage access door. We paid for this about 9 months ago. Remember I’m not very good at DIY? Well I reckon even I could have made a door in a free standing structure by this point using little more than a ruler and a saw, heck I could probably have stuck up a picture of a 50’s pinup and chiselled away at it with a stone carver tool like the Shawshank Redemption, maybe you could be the warden?. Anyway, it would be good if you wouldn’t mind checking that this has now been done, seen as I’ve asked about ten times for it to be done.

 

If you are still reading this Mr Fairburn I hope you understand that this email is a true outpouring of my complete annoyance, anger and massive feeling of failure in having ever trusted Persimmon to build a house for us. If I’d paid a couple of grand I’d have walked away and put this down to a bad decision on my part. Unfortunately this is a £240,000 mistake and as such I expect a little bit of recompense on Persimmons part for dragging me and my family through 10 months of hell in 2014. Every single opportunity you’ve had to make good on promises, to apologise and actually mean it, to speak to us and keep us up to date has been a complete shower of the brown stuff. I’d like to ask if the roles were reversed and I was sat reading this email from a customer, how would I feel? How would I feel knowing that my company has so ably managed to fail at every single point of a customer interaction so badly that I’d caused untold amounts of stress and heartache to a family who gave me their money in good faith and to deliver on my promises. I’d be feeling pretty bad about it. I’d probably want to do something to make up for it. But hey, that’s just me?

 

I doubt you’ll even get this email as it will be sanitised and checked by your ‘executive complaints team’. Its ok, I work in financial services, which are almost as big a bunch of crooks as house builders so I know the deal when it comes to complaining to the CEO of a company. What I’d ask though in the response is that you don’t use the typical sentences apologising for your errors or failings. If you’d really meant those sorts of things I wouldn’t be sat here now writing this novel to you.

 

I trust the above makes clear my current feelings on your company Mr Fairburn, let us hope this doesn’t go viral and show that when it comes to house building, Persimmon are as reliable as a chocolate teapot on a beach in Tenerife.

 

Kind Regards

 

 

Mr Ben Mancini

Plot 56 The Pastures

Brundall