My Wife, Ayshea has been unhappy with where we presently live for some time. It was ideal when we moved in, but circumstances changed, our first child came along and living here has become much more difficult in the last few years. That’s not to say we live in a bad area, I quite like the area, but the lay of the land means we live at the top of a steep hill and as a non-driver, it’s becoming difficult for Ayshea to negotiate with a toddler.
After searching online, Ayshea identified two developments in a more ideal area. Both were in planning stage and no bricks had been laid. She enquired at both developers to find out expected prices and searched the council and developer websites for plans of their respective builds.
We identified a build that was in our price range on a Keepmoat development and made arrangements to visit the sales office. At this point the site was no more than a portacabin for the sales office and the first few houses were partially erected.
We made arrangements to meet a Keepmoat Sales Executive on Sunday 12th May. We arranged childcare and arrived at the office a few minutes early, but it became apparent after 20 minutes that no Sales Executive was going to arrive. We tried the mobile number that we had for the sales office, but no answer. We collected our child and returned home disappointed. An exchange of emails occurred and we were advised that the Sales Executive had a stomach bug and couldn’t make it to he office, although as Keepmoat had our contact details and knew of the appointment we are disappointed that we were not contacted and advised. In hindsight, we believe that we were simply forgotten about.
We arranged another visit the following weekend, again, dropping off our child and arriving a few minutes early. We parked up outside the sales office to again find it closed and locked up. We waited a while and around 10 minutes after the office should have opened up, the Sales Executive, Mandy Merrin arrived.
We gave her a few minutes to open the office and then entered. We were already aware of the type of build that we wanted and were shown the the floor plans and the locations of this particular build on the site. At this point, the site plan was showing simply the shape of the plot and a coloured rectangle to represent the type of build. There were no further details on the plan. We were at no point made aware that any of the plots vary significantly from the plans and artists impressions provided. At this point, all plots of the build that we wanted were available and we could have picked any of them. We took a copy of the literature and returned home to discuss the pros and cons of each plot.
On Monday 20th May we sent an email to Mandy Merrin, the Sales Executive we had met the previous day and advised that we would like to reserve plot 42 and I would be at the sales office first thing on Thursday morning to pay the reservation fee. I arrived as arranged, paid the £250 reservation fee and left with a green slip of paper confirming my reservation.
There was no further information conveyed regarding the plot and I was given no reason to believe that I had reserved anything that varied from the floor plans I had been previously shown or the artists impressions that were available.
Then came the Keepmoat Easy Key saga. A story so epic that it has its own page. I’d recommend reading this before allowing Keepmoat to market your existing property.
Some days later I visited a financial advisor to make mortgage arrangements and I was advised by him that the developer should have provided me with an application form for the government Help to Buy scheme.
I returned to the sales office to collect the form, however, Mandy didn’t have any. I had to return a few days later once Mandy had ordered some and had them delivered.
On Saturday 3rd August I received a call from Mandy advising that I had still not selected a kitchen for the new property and could I come in the following day to select one. I told her that it shouldn’t be a problem. However, I was unable to arrange childcare so I emailed her and advised.
Sent 03/08/2013 12:51
I’m struggling to arrange child care for tomorrow. I’ll keep trying to sort something out but if I don’t make it I’ll call you next week to arrange another appointment.
I received a response saying that it was not possible.
Sent 03/08/2013 13:07
We can’t wait im afraid the site manager requires the choices for Monday so it really needs to be done or I will have to choose the kitchen for you can you not get here today? It doesn’t take that long if you wanted to bring your child with you?
So, I am given one day to arrange to view available kitchens and make a selection. Why Mandy waited two and a half months and only informed me with a day to spare I can only assume is down to her poor management. I visited the sales office with my wife and child the following day, however, selecting a kitchen proved too difficult with a toddler running around. I have an understanding manager, so I took an extended lunch the following day, arranged childcare and visited the office again on Monday with Ayshea and selected a kitchen. We decided that there wasn’t enough drawer space in the default configuration and asked if a cupboard could be replaced with a unit the same as the one existing drawer unit. We were told that it was possible and specified the location where we wanted it to be. This drawer unit would be at an additional cost of £50 on top of the £500 fee we were paying for an upgraded kitchen.
The build of my property was obscured by another property and I was unable to monitor how the build was progressing, however, on 24th August I noticed that the road leading to the property had been partially opened and I was able to drive to a location where I could see the property for the first time. I was viewing the side of the property and it was immediately apparent that there were no windows where there should be some. The position of the door confirmed to me that the property was built to the mirror of what any reasonable person would expect. That is to say that everyone I have spoken to agrees that when being presented with the floor plans above, the party wall should be the one with no windows.
Being built at this orientation means 37% less windows than the plan and a bathroom with no window whatsoever. I consider this to be a pretty significant variation from the literature provided.
The following day, I drafted an email to Mandy asking why the property had not been built to plans provided. Despite working there every day and being able to see the property from all the show homes, Mandy seemed oblivious to the fact that there was a difference. The email chain only confirms that the property had been misrepresented.
Sent 25/08/2013 12:39
I drove past plot 42 yesterday and as the side road now has limited access, I was able to view the build progress of the property for the first time.
I am disappointed to notice that the build differs substantially and detrimentally from all brochures, documents, artists impressions and the show home which I have been granted access to. I also believe that this deviation from the provided plans will negatively affect the value of the property.
To allow me to make an informed decision on how to proceed, can you please provide copies of all available documentation for plot 42, including floor plans, wiring diagrams, plumbing diagrams, appliance installation and ventilation. I believe that I may need to make modifications to the property to bring it up to the standard of which I was led to believe I was purchasing and need to pursue tradespeople for potential costs.
If I need to escalate this issue higher, please advise who I should contact.
Sent 29/08/2013 10:15
You have not done the plot schedule yet which I need to book in with you when are you available this is where I go through the plans etc with you im not sure exactly what you mean? And what do you mean modifications you have to have permission from Sheffield city council to do any of this please let me know so I can book you in
The modifications I am considering are the installation of a Solartube and don’t require planning permission. I have never heard of a plot schedule up until this point and have no idea what it is. I googled the term, but it doesn’t seem to be a common developer term. Nevertheless, it is apparent that Mandy has no idea that this property is different from others of the same description and therefore, she must have mis-sold the property. After the Easy Key Saga, I am not best impressed by Mandy’s abilities and opt for the sarcastic approach.
Sent 29/08/2013 12:24
I am very surprised that you are unaware of the difference between plot 42 and the sales literature, show home, artists impressions and everything else I have has been made available to me. All communication has indicated that all Loxley properties are the same (although I appreciate some would be flipped to accommodate the end of the terrace that they are on).
As it seems you are either not aware, or have omitted the information, I would suggest going into the bathroom of plot 42 and see how far the window opens.
As it stands, I will require access to the property at your earliest possible opportunity to see if it is acceptable in it’s current configuration at the currently offered price.
Sent 30/08/2013 14:09
You cannot gain access as it is still under construction yours in a row of three this is why it is different so there is no window in the bathroom and you loose a window in one of the bedrooms it is best to book you in during the week and I can arrange for the site manager to take you in due to health and safety they have to assist you plus any questions you have he will be able to answer. Sometimes when you buy off plan then look at a show house you automatically think it is the same but our literature does state that it does not bind or imply that the layout will be as indicated and as I mentioned to you this is when I book you in to do the plot schedule. Hopefully we can resolve this and you will be happy what you are purchasing but I will need to know ASAP because I will have to cancel the kitchen with it being an upgrade and the extra unit you ordered if you are wanting to cancel I will need to know by Monday can you get to site on the Monday? There is no other day as plasters are here Tuesday and there are no children allowed on construction site too please could you let me know if you are to attend the best time is morning from 10 onwards
Now I need to explain several flaws in Mandy’s response. She states that the house is built to a different orientation as it is in a ‘block of three’. Why this is relevant I don’t know. The artists impression at the top of this page shows the house style that I have bought at either end of a block of three. Houses that have already been completed and are right next to the sales office are in blocks of three and have windows where you would expect them. In fact, every other build of the same style has windows on three sides regardless of the end of the terrace – In short, Mandy’s response is a lie.
Mandy states that I automatically expect it to be like the show home. Well, I expected it to be like the plan, you see, I bought off plan and the show home wasn’t there at the time. Just prior to the show homes opening, Mandy called me and invited me to view the show home telling me I would love it and it’s just like the one I bought. Again, incorrect information.
Part of Mandy’s job role is to know what she’s selling. I’m the victim of her misrepresentation and she’s treating me with utter contempt and trying to imply that I am stupid. However, her email does say that she hopes the situation can be resolved, so I arrange to meet her at the sales office. We record the conversation discreetly on a mobile phone. The conversation is in two parts as Ayshea accidentally hit the stop button while sitting down.
Download (Right Click > Save As)
Download (Right Click > Save As)
As you can tell from the conversation, Mandy kept defaulting to the ‘Plot Schedule’ which had only been mentioned for the first time 3 days earlier. Bear in mind at this point that we had reserved the property over 3 months ago. We escalated the issue and spoke with the Sales Manager, Suzanne Gagen two days later. Again, the conversations were recorded, however the first conversation we had with her failed to record. This part of the conversation again revolved around being told that the property was built in reverse because it was a block of three. When it was pointed out at the site map that several other blocks of three were not built as she described, Suzanne got quite heated and I had to ask her to stop shouting at my Wife. This is referred to later in the recorded conversations where I ask her to apologise for it. After this conversation we entered the property with Site Manager, Steve and his assistant Andy. The recorded conversation picks up after we have toured the property and returned to the sales office.
Download (Right Click > Save As)
Download (Right Click > Save As)
So, to summarise the conversations;
Suzanne did get angry and shout when she was made to look foolish infront of her colleagues.
I have attempted to offer solutions
– I stated that I would purchase a Solartube and asked for it to be fitted as part of the build
– I offered to reside in the property until another Loxley was available, at which point a transfer could take place by simply transferring land registry documents
Suzanne, on the other hand, feels that she is doing me a favour by allowing me to change a kitchen that I have paid extra for and seeing if she could contribute towards the cost of a solartube, but makes no promises. Again, no apology is made for the poor service and a half-hearted apology has to be dragged out of her through gritted teeth for shouting at Ayshea.
I was also giving Mandy more credit than she was due when I was stating that the plot schedule was mention a week and a half previous. It was of course only five days earlier.
On 2nd September I received a call from Vanessa Burling, The Sales Director. We had a pleasant conversation and for the first time I was offered an apology. I explained that all along I was looking for solutions to the problem. Vanessa stated that she could not rebuild the property the other way around and I advised her that I was not naive or daft enough to think that that was a feasible option. Vanessa, in my interpretation of the conversation, told me that she was prepared to cover the costs of providing and installing a solartube in the bathroom, would reimburse me the fee I paid to upgrade the kitchen and would arrange to have the walls painted white instead of magnolia, which should help with lighting. I asked if she would be prepared to cover the cost of installing a large mirror in the kitchen also, but this was refused on grounds that she wouldn’t deal with cosmetics. Alternatively, I could withdraw from the sale and she would reimburse my out of pocket expenses. I advised I would get back to her after discussing with Ayshea.
Ayshea wanted a little more time to think about the offer and also wanted to make Vanessa aware of the service provided by staff working under her. I forwarded her an email with the above recordings attached.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me earlier and apologies that I didn’t get back to you today. My Wife, Ayshea, feels she needs a little more time. I have forwarded an email from her below which I hope clarifies why.
We are aware that installation of a solartube is likely to be time critical and will update you sooner rather than later.
From: Ayshea [mailto:ayshea@______________.co.uk]
Sent: 02 September 2013 19:52
To: Mike Simmons
My husband has already spoken to you and I am aware that you have made us an offer. We are thinking about this but understandably after the way I was spoken to I’m still in shock and very upset.
I am reluctantly writing this as part of me just wants to forget it happened. I have some recordings of conversations that I had with your staff which I would like you to listen to. I know that I can not make you listen to them but I feel that how they spoke to us was unbelievable and I would really like you to.
Unfortunately I missed the part where the manager shouted at me as I was not recording at this time.
On both Monday and Saturday your staff were aggressive and on Monday very condescending and patronising. The sales manager, Susanne, again suggested that the reason for the plot being orientated with the door on outside wall was because it was in a block of three – I pointed out on the large map in the sales office that all the other blocks of three with Loxleys had the windows she started shouting at me. This is reminiscent of the Saturday with Mandy, as when I pointed the same fact out to her she became angry at me and tried to stop the conversation. All I wanted is for someone to explain to me why I had not been told, the reason for the orientation is irrelevant to me – what mattered is why no one had thought to mention it. The answer to this was that we had not done a plot schedule, my response was why had this not been done sooner – the answer was that is how it is done.
Today we were also asked by Susanne if we really expect the party wall to have windows. Well the simple answer to that is no, I expected the orientation of the Loxley to be like all the others – with the door/stairs on the party wall. She was trying to suggest we are dumb. It was also suggested by her that it was our fault that the “plot schedule” had not been done yet because Mandy had asked us to do it and we had not booked it in yet. Apparently it should have been done within two weeks of reservation. Mandy only asked us to book in a plot schedule after we raised the point about the missing windows – that was last weekend. At every point Susanne used whatever we said against us. At one point we were discussing the solar tube but my husband pointed out there is a lot of wood up in the roof (there is a lot more than what I am used to seeing probably because of the join between the two houses). What was meant by this was the tube probably would have to angled but it should be do-able. Her response? Well of course there is a lot of wood up there it is a roof. She could not resist trying to make us look stupid.
There is a lot more to this and I really hope that you listen to the conversations. The above is just part of what was said.
Due to aggressive behaviour by both of them, directed towards me, I, if we do go ahead with the purchase, would like nothing more to do with either of them. I would like any other meetings, including the plot schedule, to be made with another member of your staff – I think under the circumstances this is a small request. We live in _________ and can visit your staff at the Amaranthus site if needed.
I would like to point out that during the meeting with Mandy I was physically shaking. After Susanne shouted at me I had to take a minute for visiting the show home. Your site manager, Steve, and his assistant, Andy, were great and never patronised or made me feel threatened. However, he could sense we needed some time so they left us in plot for 42 to talk. After they went I went to the back of the house, I did not want them to hear me, and I broke down in tears. I do not like being bullied and pressurised into making a decision.
I am sure after reading this, and hopefully listening to the recordings, you will understand that we need to take a little time. Not only are we buying a home from you we also have to think about if things go wrong. If there is a problem do we have the reassurance that, one, we don’t have to seek help from Mandy and Susanne and, two, that you will help us and not blame us if a fault occurred with the property due to an error on your part.
In the meantime, I had contacted my solicitor to advise him of the issues. He asked me to clarify in writing.
To assist you in understanding the issue, the plan we were shown when purchasing is here;
In knowing that the property was an end town house, I made the reasonable assumption that the wall on the right of the plan having no windows was the party wall. At no time was it indicated otherwise by the sales executive and all properties of the same build have been built with this wall as the party wall, with the plan mirrored depending on the end of the block the property was on.
The build on plot 42 has the wall on the left of the plan as the party wall, which only became apparent once I could see the build last weekend.
For reference, the plan here is similar to the one from which we picked the plot from;
Although not obvious when we reserved the property, plot 42 is elevated above plots 43, 44 and 45 and privacy for these plots is the reason cited by the site manager for the build being reversed.
The resolution offered by Vanessa Burling of Keepmoat is to install a solar tube to the bathroom to allow daylight into this room and to reimburse a £550 kitchen upgrade that I paid for which they have now offered to install free of charge. I requested a large mirror in the kitchen to aid with the loss of light from the missing window, but this was refused.
I appreciate that this is difficult to communicate by email so if you require clarification on any points, please feel free to contact me.
My solicitor contacted me again and asked that I ask Vanessa to confirm her offer in writing. I emailed Vanessa, but never received a response. I am unsure whether this was chased by my solicitor.
For completeness, my solicitor has requested that you provide confirmation of your intended resolution to the issues raised in regard to the orientation of the build, resulting in four windows being omitted.
Please copy myself, my solicitor (Mike – michael@w________.co.uk) and your solicitor in to your response.
Although not totally satisfied with the outcome, getting the light issue in the bathroom was at least progress.
Everything was progressing as normal until it came to the time for the purchaser of my property to sign contracts. Inexplicably, my purchaser pulled out of the sale citing on personal reasons, but that he would be able to purchase in the new year.
I visited the Keepmoat sales office and advised them of the situation. After the issues that I had already experienced with them getting my property to market using Keepmoat Easy Key I was somewhat taken aback by their unsympathetic response. I was told that I must get the chain back up within 2 days or the new build property would be placed back on the open market. I am advised that this decision has been made by Vanessa Burling, I quickly come to the conclusion that it would suit her agenda and her budgets if I didn’t purchase the property. After all, she wouldn’t need to install a solar tube for a new client and my complaint would just disappear. Realistically, it is not feasible to sell my house in 2 days and working in the property industry, Vanessa should be well aware of this.
Nevertheless, I drove over to the Your Move office and explain the situation to Sophie. She seemed taken aback by the short timescales, but she did Your Move proud and managed to get four viewings for the property at very short notice. It did yield one offer which was £14,000 below the asking price and £24,500 below the price that I had paid for the property six years earlier. The property was valued at £95,000 so this is a huge percentage of the value. I had to think long and hard as to whether I can afford to accept the offer as this was stretching my finances to breaking point. The added pressure of such a short timescale to consider other options did not help.
After managing to secure a loan elsewhere to cover the shortfall, I reluctantly accepted the offer. I contacted Vanessa Burling’s secretary and advised her that the chain was back up. Within minutes I received a call from Vanessa querying me about the sale and I got a distinct feeling that she didn’t believe me and asked me whether it was a private sale, whether I had sold to friends or family, was the purchaser financially vetted etc. As the property was being sold under Keepmoat Easy Key she should have had this information readily available. I advised her that she would need to speak to the estate agent.
I received a call from Sophie at Your Move shortly after advising that Vanessa had contacted them to confirm that I had in fact sold my property and that she wanted confirmation in writing from Your Move.
I checked my finances on 29th September and noticed that the refund of £550 that was offered by Vanessa on 2nd September had still not been credited to my account. I emailed Vanessa to enquire.
Sent 29/09/2013 21:32
As per our telephone conversation on 2nd September, I am still awaiting a refund of £550 for upgraded kitchen which you have agreed to fit free of charge. Can you please arrange this as soon as possible?
I received a timely response.
Sent 30/09/2013 10:45
Great to hear from you –
If you e mail your card details I will arrange this today
I email bank details as I don’t consider email secure enough for card details to be included.
Thanks for your swift response.
I’m reluctant to transfer debit card details by email as it’s very insecure. If you can transfer by BACS you can use the account below;
Sort Code: xx-xx-xx
Account Number: xxxxxxxx
If BACS is not possible, can it be processed at one of your sites? Preferably Amaranthus?
Vanessa confirms that BACS is ok
Not a problem we will arrange a bacs payment request today – it may 4-5 days for the funds to be in your account
The funds are returned to my account around a week later.
I received a call from Vanessa on 10th October. The line was very bad and I was unable to get a clear indication of what Vanessa was trying to convey. The gist that I received was that it was too late in the build to install a solartube however she was willing to install LED lights instead and was trying to impress on me that they were very low voltage and much brighter than standard energy saving bulbs. I was at work at the time of the conversation so I advised Vanessa that I would consider and get back to her.
It occurred to me later in the day that a solartube does not need to be fitted at the time of the build, so I emailed Vanessa for clarification.
Sent 10/10/2013 21:17
As I kept losing you during our telephone conversation earlier today, I just want to clarify a couple of points. I think you said that the reason the Solartube couldn’t be fitted was because of the current stage of the build. However, we would prefer natural light into the bathroom and as they can be fitted retrospectively I don’t see an issue with you arranging the fitting at some point after we have moved in.
Would this solution be acceptable?
I received a response from Vanessa several days later.
Unfortunately I have checked with our Build Director and the solar tube can not be authorised
Please let me know if you wish to go ahead with the spot lights
It seems to me that Vanessa has promised something that she is not authorised to proceed with. I am assuming that this is for financial reasons, afterall, LED lights cost around £100 retail and a Solartube costs around £1000 retail. With this in mind, I wondered whether she was authorised to cover my out of pocket expenses as she had also said she could do if I withdrew from the sale. These would be way in excess of the retail price of a solartube.
Sent 15/10/2013 19:07
I’m slightly confused as to why you would offer a solution that you then revoke. Promise. Delivered. Eh?
Assuming that it’s due to costs, would I be correct in assuming that your other offer of reimbursing my out of pocket expenses if I chose to withdraw from the sale was also misguided?
Sent 16/10/2013 09:00
Mike I always stated that our build department was looking into the possibility of using a solar tube.
I am very sorry that you feel let down, if you wish to cancel we will reimburse:
Your reservation fee
Any survey fee
Any cost incurred for your solicitors work.
Please let my know a.s.a.p (by this Thursday) if you wish to proceed or not
The problem with this response is that I already know that installing a solartube is possible, I spoke with the site manager about it and was inside the property when it was a shell, so I have seen visually that there is a viable path from the bathroom ceiling to the roof. It is also audible in the recordings that the site manager has discussed this with me. I also know that it was not made clear during our initial telephone conversation that there was only a ‘possibility’ of it being installed, as I would not have accepted it as a resolution.
On 17th October we were invited again to view the property. We were under the impression that this to view the property with walls in place and to see the bathroom without a solartube which we were now resigned to the fact wasn’t going to be fitted. We were given a full tour of the property by Steve, the Site Manager and a Sales Executive from another site named Stephanie. The property was almost complete, the exception being that the flooring had not yet been laid and the turf had not been set outside. It was noted on Stephanie’s documents that we were expected to legally complete the sale on 25th October. The only problem being that Keepmoat had not advised us or our solicitor of this intended date and being only 8 days away at the time was going to prove a little problematic.
We explained that this had never been mentioned to us and Stephanie said she would make enquiries and get back to us. We also noted that there was no carport on the property, this was a feature that Mandy had stated would be included with all Loxley properties when we first enquired with her way back in May. Again, Stephanie said she would make enquiries and get back to us, although we had already pre-empted the response.
Stephanie, true to her word, did call me back later in the day and advised that a carport wouldn’t be included and that Keepmoat wanted completion by 31st October, again, a tall order.
On the same day I received an email from Vanessa Burling, containing a fax from Keepmoats solicitors dated the previous day. This fax stated that they had corresponded with my solicitor on 3rd and 4th September but had received no response and that they had now been instructed to complete on 31st October.
Sent 16th October 2013
Re: Keepmoat Homes Limited to Simmons
Plot 42 Brearley Forge, Falstaff
We write further to our correspondence of 3rd & 4th September 2013.
We note we await your acknowledgment.
We are instructed to confirm that completion is required on 31st October 2013, subject to contract.
We would be grateful for an urgent update as to your clients’ position and that you are working towards achieving completion on 31st October 2013.
We look forward to hearing from you.
I forwarded the email and followed it up the following day. My solicitor had received the fax, but had not received any correspondence dated in September. It seems that Keepmoat’s solicitor had not chased up non-response to the correspondence sent in September until now. My solicitor stated where we were at and that the hold up was currently that searches had been requested on the property that I am selling, however, Sheffield City Council take up to 15 working days to respond. Once the results are returned, my buyer can sign contracts and I can then sign contracts on Keepmoat’s property. He goes on to state that completion is unlikely to take place by 31st, but should be soon after and he has already informed Keepmoat’s solicitor, so at this stage Keepmoat should be aware or at least have access to this information.
On 23rd October I received a call from Karen at Your Move. She has been contacted by Suzanne Gagen from Keepmoat who has threatened to pull the sale if it is not completed by 31st October. Karen has already spoken to both solicitors before calling me and advises me of the situation. I advised her of the conversation I had had with my solicitor only days before and that I am not in a position to expedite any quicker, She asks that I contact my solicitor and give Suzanne Gagen a call at Keepmoat to ‘Smooth things over’ with her.
Knowing the status quo with the solicitor, I choose not to bother him again and as I ended up staying longer at work that I intended, I didn’t get the opportunity to call Suzanne either. Not that I can give her any different information to that which she already has access to via Keepmoat’s solicitor.
The following day I received another call from Karen. She has again been chased up by Keepmoat who have again threatened to terminate the sale if it can’t be completed by 31st October. As above, they already know that this is extremely unlikely. She again asks me to contact all parties. I formulate the following email to my solicitor and copy in Your Move and Suzanne Gagen of Keepmoat. The purpose of this email is to let all parties know that I am willing to sign contracts at the earliest possible opportunity and that all my documentation is in place.
Sent 24/10/2013 12:07
Karen from Your Move has asked me to contact you regarding _________ Crescent, as she is being chased by Keepmoat.
I have advised them that I have in place my Mortgage offer, Help to Buy authority and my deposit – so everything is in place from my end and I will make myself available to sign contracts as soon as it is possible.
Karen has requested that I ensure that you are maintaining contact with Keepmoat’s solicitor with a view to completing as soon as possible.
As I am at work at the moment, it is not possible for me to make outbound calls, however, I will give you a call to touch base this afternoon or if you need to speak with me, I am able to take inbound calls all day on 07790xxxxxx.
Your Move – Chapeltown
Suzanne Gagen – Keepmoat
My solicitor responds and reiterates the information he had provided me with days earlier.
Sent 24/10/2013 12:54
Hi Mike, the problem with this is the fact that whilst we have issued a contract on your sale the local authority search that your buyers solicitor has to undertake is taking up to 15 working days to come through. Obviously your buyers cannot complete until the searches are back & everything is in place. I would therefore think that it will be another 2 to 3 weeks before completion. Mike
I write a quick response back to my solicitor to explain that the email isn’t targeted at him directly. I already know his hands are tied until the searches are returned.
Sent 24/10/2013 13:14
I know and understand the status quo from our conversation a couple of days ago. The last email was an exercise to demonstrate to Keepmoat and Your Move that the ball really isn’t in my court, hence why they were copied in. Please don’t take it as though I’m trying to put pressure on you. I’m not – I understand the constraints.
I’ve been receiving an awful lot of phone calls over the last few days asking me if I’ve got everything in place and to contact all parties for updates. I was just copying in all parties to show that I am committed to the sale/purchase of the respective properties and am as up to speed as I can be.
Despite the email that I copied Your Move and Suzanne into, on 29th October I received another call from Karen at Your Move. Suzanne has again been in contact with them threatening to withdraw from the sale if I am unable to complete by 31st October. Suzanne already knows that this is completely out of my hands. This deadline is only 2 days away and it seems strange that Keepmoat have never contacted me directly to advise of this, it’s always been via Your Move. As I am their client and am parting with a substantial amount of cash this seems highly unprofessional. Their own website also states that they expect completion to take 7 – 14 days from build completion. I already know that the house was not complete on 17th October as I was given a tour of it.
As these phone calls from Your Move are almost on a daily basis and the information is the same each time, it’s verging on harassment. I call my solicitor for advice, but he is with another client. I leave a message for him to contact me.
Meanwhile, I send an email to Karen at your move;
Sent 29/10/2013 19:18
As discussed earlier, this information is taken from Keepmoat’s website.
‘STEP 4 Build Completion
Many customers like to see their home during construction. This can be arranged through your Home Sales Executive. However, there will be times when, for health and safety reasons, a specific appointment will need to be made. Around five to six weeks before your home is finished you will be notified of an anticipated legal completion date. This is normally within 7 – 14 days of construction ending. At that point a home demonstration will also be arranged to show you how the heating system, kitchen appliances etc. work. Your home will undergo thorough quality inspections both internally and externally, to ensure that it meets our quality standards. It will also be subject to several inspections by the National House Building Council (NHBC) who will issue a Buildmark Warranty on completion. You will be given the NHBC documentation explaining this warranty.’
It advises that legal completion is usually within 7 – 14 days of the build completion. I assume that build completion is when the NHBC have signed off the house and provided certificates. Note it says ‘usually’, which implies that some completions fall outside the ‘usual’ period.
It notes that I will be notified of an anticipated legal completion date 5 or 6 weeks before the home is finished. I was actually informed on 17th October, probably the same date that you were. Note the word ‘will’ this implies a definite.
As of 17th October, the house was not completed or signed off. The Site Manager advised that it was likely to be signed off the following week.
If the house was signed off on the 17th, which I know it wasn’t, 14 days would take us to the 31st.
So far, Keepmoat have not contacted me directly to advise they will be pulling out. I have only received this information through yourself, a third party. In fact the last time I received direct communication from them was on 17th October.
I’m sure you’re aware already having spoken to Mike [My solicitor], when I spoke to him on 18th October, he told me that he had already spoken to Keepmoat’s solicitor and advised them that it was impossible to complete on 31st due to outstanding searches on __ _________ Avenue. So Keepmoat have been aware for some time and already know that it’s out of my hands.
As I’ve already advised yourself and Keepmoat in my last email, I will make myself available the moment the contracts are available to sign and will head straight over to the solicitor’s office to do so, thereby ensuring the quickest possible completion.
As always, if you need to contact me, I’m available on 07790xxxxxx.
On 4th November, I received an email from my solicitor asking me to confirm a few details about the property I was selling. I addressed these and replied the same evening. So far it appeared that all was still progressing. I have not received any contact from Keepmoat since 17th October.
On 5th November I received a call from Karen at Your Move. She was enquiring about the progress of my sale. I advised her that I had answered a few contract queries the previous day and that I had received no further contact from Keepmoat. She said she would contact all parties for a progress report.
Later in the day she contacted me to advise that she had spoken with Suzanne Gagen of Keepmoat and that Keepmoat had pulled the sale on the previous Wednesday and sold the property to another buyer. The previous Wednesday was 30th October, a day earlier than the date on the letter to my solicitor. Suzanne told Karen she had emailed me – she definitely hasn’t. Besides, she has my contact number and could have called – she didn’t. She now knows that I have received no contact from Keepmoat as the estate agent advised her, yet at the time of writing (evening of 5th November) still hasn’t contacted me. Karen has asked me to contact Keepmoat, however, if they have withdrawn from the sale, it is for them to contact me or to contact their solicitor. Neither has happened.
Infact, Keepmoat are trying to pass messages via a 3rd party that has no interest in the property I am purchasing, only the one I am selling. I am not accepting messages via a 3rd party with no interest. My contract is with Keepmoat and until I receive confirmation via them or my solicitor, as far as I am concerned the sale is still in progress.
I contacted my solicitor and spoke to his secretary. My file was already on her desk for dictation, so it had been worked on on this date (5th November). She is unaware of any issues with my purchase, but will pass the details on to the solicitor.
I maintained contact with my solicitor, but on 20th November he advised contacting Keepmoat as my buyers solicitor was holding things up. I was reluctant to contact Keepmoat due to the poor relations, but we sent an email all the same.
Sent 20/11/2013 14:07
Please see attached email below. I have spoken to Karen at YourMove as she informed me that our buyer already had a mortgage offer so she is double checking to see the state of play with the mortgage offer. I’m still awaiting to hear from her. Everything else is completed, we and our buyer are ready to exchange once the mortgage offer is confirmed. I cannot see our buyer not being offered a mortgage as the previous buyer’s valuer valued it at £89,000 and our current buyer is only paying £81,000.
If our buyer already has the mortgage offer through or will do within a few days, would you reinstate the sale of Plot 42? If this is not your decision can you please advise us who to contact? A quick response would be appreciated as if you will not sell the plot to us then I need to instruct our solicitor to cancel the sale of our house.
Vanessa responded and for the first time Keepmoat advise us directly that the house has been sold to another party. As is Keepmoat’s style, the email contains lies. We were not contacted on 1st November.
Sent 20/11/2013 16:21
We informed your solicitor 31.10.13 and yourself 1.11.13 that the property was being re-marketed, unfortunately we have now re-sold the property, would you like to select an alternative plot?
We take the opportunity to be firm and direct with Vanessa specifically highlighting the Consumer Code for Home Builders, which Keepmoat are signed up to.
Sent 20/11/2013 16:36
You did not inform us on the 1st, we found out on the following Tuesday via our estate agent that you had let someone else reserve the property.
We have received no communication from yourselves since the 17th of October.
Your solicitor told our solicitor that if we could completely quickly you may reinstate the sale to us.
“Mike, Ayshea, I have spoken to Keepmoats solicitor, she has just checked her post (She’s a couple of days behind!) & Keepmoat informed her on Monday that the property was resold over the weekend. She says that Keepmoat may reinstate the sale to you if exchange can take place quickly. I really need to speak to Mike to answer the questions raised by your buyers solicitor. Mike
______ ______ Solicitors“
I take it that your solicitor should have never told us that you might reinstate the sale?
My understanding is that you have no other Loxleys available at this time, therefore we are unable to choose another plot.
Since you have not refunded us our deposit our reservation is still valid. Therefore can you explain why you will not sell it to us? I draw your attention to the following from the Consumer Code of Conduct for Home Builders
“The Reservation fee must be reimbursed if the Reservation agreement is cancelled.”
“While the Reservation agreement is in force, the Home Builder must not enter into a new Reservation agreement or sale agreement with another customer”
Vanessa dodges the issues with her response.
Sent 20/11/2013 18:36
The new purchaser buying plot 42 is due to legally complete next week, therefore the property is not available on the open market for you to purchase.
If there is an alternative property that you are interested in we can transfer your reservation fee to this plot to secure it, if not we will arrange for the fee to be reimbursed
Please let us know a.s.a.p
The response is unacceptable and we make that clear. It also raises further questions;
Sent 20/11/2013 19:37
You should have already refunded us the fee. Therefore we still have a valid reservation. See the below that I wrote from the Code of Conduct which you (Keepmoat) as home builders are obliged to follow. Please explain why, when we have a valid reservation you have sold the plot to someone else?
If you can transfer a reservation so easily what is stopping you not selling us another house we reserve, so we reserve another one which you don’t sell us and so on?
As our reservation is still valid, plot 42 was not on the open market when you let someone else reserve it. So why can we not buy it? Are you saying that their reservation is more valid than ours? We reserved in May, have waited over 6 months for the house, have jumped through all your hoops, put up with aggressive behaviour from your staff, being miss-sold the house, lied to again and again.
I think you should at least answer these questions and the questions in the previous email. Even though we have a valid reservation it is clear you are not going to sell the house to us. But after all the hassle, grief and stress your staff have caused, I think we at least deserve answers to our questions.
Be aware that we will not be going away so if you feel unable to answer the questions, pass them on to someone that can.
Mike and Ayshea.
Vanessa chooses not to answer the questions, instead asking her solicitor to focus on one part of one question. The response is addressed to my solicitor and I am copied in by Vanessa. Lots of documentation is included that was sent between solicitors. I identify that the email referred to on 1st November was sent to an incorrect email address, so I never received it. I can only assume that the response was sent in such a way that I might be intimidated and disappear.
I advise Vanessa that the response is again unacceptable and my query was regarding the voluntarily entered into Consumer Code for Home Builders and her solicitor’s response really wasn’t necessary.
Sent 21/11/2013 21:52
Thank you for the correspondence from your solicitor. It is duly noted.
However, I’m sure you will recall that my queries related to the Code of Conduct for Home Builders. This is a self-policed policy involving Keepmoat, Myself and the NHBC who provide warranty on your properties. Your solicitor’s input was not required. Nevertheless, please address the below that specifically relate to the Code of Conduct for Home Builders or your own processes.
I have been advised by Suzanne Gagen that you are the point of contact for complaints. Therefore I request that you answer the questions posed.
1. Why was I not provided with a copy of the Code of Conduct for Home Builders at the time of reservation? The Code of Conduct for Home Builders states that you should have given us a copy when we reserved, you did not. We have only recently found out about the code by researching online.
2. Why did it take over three weeks to market my property using Easy Key and why did I end up £318 out of pocket in the process of getting my property marketed using a scheme that promised to cover all costs?
3. Why was Mandy Merrin unaware of your complaints procedure, citing ‘We don’t really have one’ when it is a requirement of the Code of Conduct for Home Builders that one must be in place and all staff must be aware of it?
4. Why, upon being advised that a property had been misrepresented and being provided with a copy of the Property Misrepresentation Act 1991 with relevant sections highlighted, did Mandy Merrin attempt to transfer blame to me and my wife? Why was this stance further backed up by her Line Manager, Suzanne Gagen, despite obvious evidence to the contrary?
5. Why did you say you would install a solar tube and then renege on this? Let’s not beat about the bush, we both know what was said during the telephone conversation.
6. Why did I receive no contact from Keepmoat from 17th October to 20th November when there was clearly important information that needed to be relayed?
7. Why was this important information passed by Suzanne Gagen via a 3rd party, Your Move, who have no interest in the property that you were selling?
8. Why did Suzanne not contact me directly when advised by Your Move that I don’t accept information via proxy?
9. Why upon being advised by Your Move that I had not received an email on 1st November did Suzanne Gagen make no further attempt to relay the information. It is now noted that the email was sent to the wrong email address.
10. Why has no attempt been made to refund my reservation fee? What is my reservation fee currently reserving?
11. If I had made no further contact with Keepmoat, at what point would you have attempted to contact me to initiate a refund of the reservation fee in considering that the ‘Within 14 days’ cited by the Code of Conduct for Home Builders elapsed some time ago?
12. In consideration of the numerous shortcomings by Keepmoat, will you be willing to reimburse my out of pocket expenses (Currently estimated at around £2400) and compensation for the stress and inconvenience caused?
13. In line with the Code of Conduct for Home Builders, do you consider that we have been treated fairly?
14. Considering the nature of the complaints raised, why have Keepmoat failed to advise me of dispute resolution schemes, as required by the Code of Conduct for Home Builders?
In response, I received a further letter from Keepmoat’s solicitor. This time inferring that this website contains untruths and threatening police involvement, which implies that I have committed a criminal act.
To the best of my knowledge, this website is an accurate representation of my experience with Keepmoat. I respond to Atherton Godfrey by email.
Sent 6/12/2013 12:56
Your ref: 5434.655.slp
Dear Ms Pocock,
Thank you for your fax dated 28th November 2013 which was forwarded by Wilford Smith Solicitors. Please note that Wilford Smith solicitors were employed for conveyancing purposes only and are not under instruction beyond this scope.
You will note that the original content of our website has been removed from public view while we review and amend the content.
Your fax states that our website contained untruths, however this statement was not qualified. We believe that the website was a truthful account of our experience in trying to purchase a Keepmoat home and we are concerned that our integrity has been brought into question. In the event that some information has been overlooked, we request that your client, Keepmoat Homes, provide further particulars and we invite them to provide their version of events.
In regards to the recording of conversations. The conversations took place within Keepmoat’s Sales Office at Brearley Forge. This was open to the public where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.
Your fax also states that Keepmoat employees may wish to pursue the matter with the police. This implies that we have committed a criminal act. This is of great concern and we wish to be notified of the crime your client believes we have committed.
Mike Simmons and Ayshea Siddall.
In the meantime, I let Vanessa know that she has a responsibility to her customers and that I am not happy with my complaint being fobbed off to the solicitor again.
I notice that yet again, you decided to let your solicitor try and resolve this situation for you.
Sadly, solving your customer service issues is not something they are likely to do for you.
In my line of work, when a problem occurs we investigate its source and put processes in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again. It’s called Root Cause Analysis. It’s a real pain in the ass and takes a lot of effort – but the same issues don’t recur and they get resolved before they escalate into a major incident. I warned you in early September that things weren’t quite right. I even provided the Root Cause for you, yet chose to ignore the warning.
I refer you again to the questions below. Please respond in a timely manner.
- Why was I not provided with a copy of the Code of Conduct for Home Builders at the time of reservation? The Code of Conduct for Home Builders states that you should have given us a copy when we reserved, you did not. We have only recently found out about the conduct by researching online.
- Why did it take over three weeks to market my property using Easy Key and why did I end up £318 out of pocket in the process of getting my property marketed using a scheme that promised to cover all costs?
- Why was Mandy Merrin unaware of your complaints procedure, citing ‘We don’t really have one’ when it is a requirement of the Code of Conduct for Home Builders that one must be in place and all staff must be aware of it?
- Why, upon being advised that a property had been misrepresented and being provided with a copy of the Property Misrepresentation Act 1991 with relevant sections highlighted, did Mandy Merrin attempt to transfer blame to me and my wife? Why was this stance further backed up by her Line Manager, Suzanne Gagen, despite obvious evidence to the contrary?
- Why did you say you would install a solar tube and then renege on this? Let’s not beat about the bush, we both know what was said during the telephone conversation.
- Why did I receive no contact from Keepmoat from 17th October to 20th November when there was clearly important information that needed to be relayed?
- Why was this important information passed by Suzanne Gagen via a 3rd party, Your Move, who have no interest in the property that you were selling?
- Why did Suzanne not contact me directly when advised by Your Move that I don’t accept information via proxy?
- Why upon being advised by Your Move that I had not received an email on 1st November did Suzanne Gagen make no further attempt to relay the information. It is now noted that the email was sent to the wrong email address.
- Why has no attempt been made to refund my reservation fee? What is my reservation fee currently reserving?
- If I had made no further contact with Keepmoat, at what point would you have attempted to contact me to initiate a refund of the reservation fee in considering that the ‘Within 14 days’ cited by the Code of Conduct for Home Builders elapsed some time ago?
- In consideration of the numerous shortcomings by Keepmoat, will you be willing to reimburse my out of pocket expenses (Currently estimated at around £2400) and compensation for the stress and inconvenience caused?
- In line with the Code of Conduct for Home Builders, do you consider that we have been treated fairly?
- Considering the nature of the complaints raised, why have Keepmoat failed to advise me of dispute resolution schemes, as required by the Code of Conduct for Home Builders?
I received a response from the Regional Managing Director’s PA.
Sent 20/12/2013 13:57
Dear Mr Simmons
I write to confirm that Mark Knight, Regional Managing Director has picked up your email to Vanessa Burling, Sales Director dated 17th December and will be looking into all points raised and respond to each point early in the New Year.
Meanwhile, I had still not received a response from Atherton Godfrey, so I sent them a reminder.
Sent 02/01/2014 16:59
Your ref: 5434.655.slp
Dear Ms Pocock;
Please find attached a page from the ‘Key Facts’ document concerning my mortgage application for the proposed purchase of plot 42 Brearley Forge. This shows a survey fee of £315 was due on application. I wait your client’s reimbursement. I am awaiting correspondence from Wilford Smith Solicitors and McKenzie Financial Services for confirmation of their fees. I will forward these on receipt.
I now refer you to my email of 2nd December 2013, which is copied below for your convenience. To date I have received no acknowledgement from yourself or a response from your client.
If no response is received within the next 7 days I will consider that our version of events is uncontested, that your client has waived their right to reply and the original content of the website will be restored.
Within the seven day period I received a response from Mark Knight. In his letter he makes reference to a document included in my email to Atherton Godfrey on 2nd January 2014. I must therefore assume that he is aware of the content and that this is Keepmoat’s Right of Reply.