We asked Keepmoat for their version of events and also to clarify what untruths we told and what crime we had committed, as inferred in their solicitor’s letter. Below is the emails sent to Keepmoat Homes/Keepmoat’s solicitor and their right of reply from Mark Knight (Regional Managing Director). We have also commented on their reply as, and I’m sure you will see for yourself, that their version of events does not corresponded to known facts.
My dissection of and response to Mark’s letter
Dear Mr Knight,
Thank you for your letter dated 8th January which was received by email.
Might I point out that it is littered with inaccuracies, not least my address. It only has three lines in it and yet you managed to get two of them wrong. Not surprisingly the challenge proved too much for the local postman and the letter never arrived. Although I am confident that it’s within a four mile radius.
For your reference, I have responded to your letter paragraph by paragraph and provided information based on my purchasing experience on a website
I make no apologies that in retrospect you may be embarrassed by your response when faced with the evidence available – none of which was contested when you were given the opportunity and has therefore been republished as undisputed fact.
Your letter of 8th January is available along with my considered response at http://www.mykeepmoathell.co.uk/right-of-reply
Dear Mr Simmons
I am in receipt of your e-mail of 17 December 2013 which has been passed to me by my colleague Vanessa Burling.
I note that you have raised numerous queries and concerns regarding your proposed purchase of Plot 42 at our Brearley Forge development in Sheffield to which you have asked for a response.
This is perhaps the only aspect of your response that is accurate, however after reviewing the questions I posed again, I’m wondering if you had the same list since the majority have been overlooked – again. These were first asked of Vanessa in early September so it’s only taken four months so far to not address them.
I understand that you initially reserved Plot 42 with a view to selling your own property by way of Keepmoat’s Easy Key Scheme on 24 May 2013. I am informed that you were unable to proceed with the purchase due to the sale of your own property being unable to proceed and so the Solicitors, who were acting for you in relation to the proposed purchase were notified, firstly of our decision to extend the deadline date for exchange of contracts and when that date was not met, they were notified on 31 October 2013 of our decision to re-market the property.
The first time I was given a date for completion was on 17th October 2013. You wanted completion on 25th October. You had advised my solicitor on the 16th October that you wanted completion on 31st October – a point which my solicitor immediately raised as impossible and unrealistic. If we’re being completely honest, any extension provided was for your benefit also as the property was not completed.
In case you are unfamiliar with your Easy Key promise, It’s copied below. Congratulations – you achieved 1 out of 6. Strangely enough, I’m guessing that’s the one where you get commission. After I did all the leg work, your staff managed to get my property to market in just over 3 weeks. I honestly believe that if I hadn’t stepped in my property would never have been marketed.
EasyKey: Helping you sell up and buy new in a matter of days
Have a home to sell?
- We arrange for estate agents to value your property – X
- We handle all negotiations of your sale – X
- Your estate agent’s fees paid in full – X
- Your advertising fees paid in full – X
- We’ll recommend reputable solicitors and mortgage advisors – √
- We’ll provide friendly support every step of the way – X
Discover a stress-free move when you buy with us. – Really stress free, so giving us two days to sell our house is stress free?
It is Keepmoat policy to keep a copy of the Consumer Code in each of our marketing suites. If you have any particular issue with regard to why you were not given a personal copy of his Code, then I would be happy to receive your feedback.
Then your site at Brearley Forge is in breach of your policy. For what it’s worth, I compulsively pick up literature. I have multiple copies of all that was available from the many visits I made. I have only one copy of the Consumer Code of Conduct for Home Builders which was not acquired at the Brearley Forge site. Never-the-less, I should have been GIVEN a copy on reservation – a point of the code which you failed to achieve.
With regard to expenses, I understand that payment has already been issued to you by our Solicitors for re-imbursement of your reservation fee and the expenses you advised you incurred in relation to the Easy Key Scheme. I am advised that this cheque has now been cashed. I am also advised that you have provided documentation regarding the mortgage application fee. Again, I am happy to honour this agreement to reimburse this expense but before I can do so, you will need to provide confirmation that the fee of £315 has been paid. A receipt or written confirmation from your lender will suffice. In order to conclude the issue of expenses, please also arrange for a copy of Wilford Smith’s invoice to be sent to me and I will arrange for payment to be issued.
Thank you for your cheque which covers the reservation fee – which you were required to reimburse considerably earlier and my fees incurred for EasyKey which I should never have had to pay. You are correct, this has now been cashed. I’m sure you are aware that I was in a position to complete, that a valuer assessed the property and therefore, the non-refundable valuation fee of £315 must have been paid. I can only assume that you are being awkward just for the hell of it. A copy of my bank statement showing the outgoing payment was sent to your solicitor two weeks ago – I trust that this was acceptable – However, to date there has been no response. Solicitor fees and financial advisor fees will be forwarded in due course.
Keepmoat does have a complaints procedure. All complaints or grievances are investigated and escalated through our management structure, hence why I have been asked to respond to the e-mail you sent to Vanessa Burling.
Why are you telling me? I’d start by letting your own staff know.
As a matter of policy and procedure every purchaser of a Keepmoat home is required to complete and sign off the technical drawing and sales specifications relating to the property they are purchasing prior to exchange of contracts.
That’s good to know. I consider it lucky that being made aware of the build differences 3 months after reservation reminded your staff to do it. As a matter of law it is a requirement that all properties are accurately represented and that accurate information to allow a purchaser to make an informed decision is available at point of reservation. I feel that your policy as is contravenes legal obligations.
Your request for a solar tube was made to our Sales Team. Unfortunately, due to the stage in the build of the property, as the Regional Managing Director I was unable to agree your request and our Sales Team had no option but to relay this decision to you. I am sorry if you feel that you were given assurances by our Sales Team but l am confident that no discourtesy was intended and I advised that alternative suggestions for a solution to the issue were put to you which included the option of LED recessed lighting being installed in agreed areas at no cost to you. Additionally I understand that you were given the option to transfer your reservation to a different plot on our development in order that We could provide you with a property with the original Window location – this was declined.
Now here’s an interesting one. You are correct, I requested a solartube in your Brearly Forge office and was flatly turned down by Suzanne Gagen. I considered this to be a final decision until I was contacted by Vanessa Burling who in my interpretation offered to cover the costs and installation of a solartube among other things. Note – she offered, I didn’t request it again. I duly informed my solicitor and requested that she provide details of her offer to my solicitor also. She did not. I wonder why that was? It was some weeks later that she contacted me again to withdraw her offer and ask if I would like LED lights instead. LED lights were rejected as we had full intentions of installing a solartube and your Site Manager advised that cable positions might cause problems if LED lights were installed. I’m sure you will be aware, being in the building trade, that a solartube can be fitted retrospectively, so the reason provided regarding the build stage is – quite frankly – bullshit.
If you had taken the time to investigate the issue, you would know that there was a lot more than a single window involved in the complaint. You would also know that you were unable to offer a house with windows in the correct location as I was advised that all properties of the same style were sold. That is unless some of the mid-terraced houses remaining had windows in the party wall – Check with Suzanne and see if she is as patronising towards you as she was towards me.
I am advised that our Solicitors regularly contacted your Solicitors throughout your reservation period. If any information was not passed onto you by your Solicitors, you will need to take this up with them.
I suppose this depends on how interpret ‘Regularly’. We must have different opinions on this matter.
Keepmoat has a policy of communicating with all parties involved in the transaction, especially where a customer is using the Easy Key Scheme as we feel that this promotes transparency as to the status of the sale. If information was passed to you by Your Move which you feel should have come from Keepmoat staff, again I offer my apology and assurance that no discourtesy was intended.
Some might call it transparency, some might call it a breach of Data Protection Regulations as I didn’t sign anything allowing the details of my purchase to be passed on to 3rd Parties. Either way, I had a lot more interest in the property than Your Move and even when Your Move asked your staff to pass the information to me directly, they did not. Forgive me if I sound a little facetious, but how was this discourtesy not deliberate?
Our Solicitors have already confirmed that the delay in refunding your reservation fee was an oversight and as such I can offer no further explanation on this point, save to offer apology and reimbursement.
This is yet another breach of the Consumer Code for Home Builders.
With regard to your outstanding expenses, as stated above, if you provide the information which has been requested by our Solicitors, I will arrange for you to be reimbursed by Keepmoat, as soon as possible. As you Were not in a position to proceed with your purchase of the property, Keepmoat cannot accept any claim for compensation except for documented out of pocket expenses, which We will reimburse in full.
I consider that Keepmoat have met its obligations to you in accordance with the Code of Conduct for Horne Builders. During your reservation period, your contract deadline was extended by 5 Weeks and you were given fair and reasonable notice of the need to complete the sale. This matter has not been referred for dispute resolution under the Code as we have taken steps to redress your issues and have offered to reimburse you to the same level as would be expected under the Code.
I’ve already pointed out how you have not met your obligations with the Code of Conduct for Home Builders and you have acknowledged a breach in this very letter. The least you could have done is acknowledged your shortcomings in this regard.
In considering that I was first advised of a completion date of 31st October 2013 on 17th of October 2013 I am unsure how you arrive at a figure of 5 weeks notice.
Finally, from our point of view it is always disappointing when reservations cannot be completed with customers keen to purchase a Keepmoat home but we often have very difficult commercial pressures as a business to consider and sometimes decisions have to be made which don’t find favour with everyone.
Mark Knight Regional Managing Director
Finally, from my point of view it is disappointing when I have to go to the lengths of making a website to get a response from a company – I usually charge for my website expertise. It is even more disappointing when that company tries to scare off people with valid complaints by asking their solicitor to send a letter claiming that they are lying and inferring that they are committing a criminal act. It is noted that these claims remain unsubstantiated.
From a personal point of view I would be curious to work out which commercial pressure you were desperate to achieve. There’s timescale, financial and customer service targets that I can think of. Well I think we can rule out Customer Service. I know via a freedom of Information request that I was able to complete quicker than the eventual purchasers of the property so that’s timescales out of the window (if the window was included). So my opinion is that we must be looking at financial. It is my opinion that we were collateral damage in your quest for a financial target. Of course, this information will be in the public domain in due course.
To promote transparency, as you so succinctly put it, I like to make my complaints public where I feel that a company has had every opportunity to make amends for its actions. Although you have offered to reimburse me financially, the return of funds does not and never will undo the stress, anxiety and missed opportunities during the sale period.
In closing, I hope that the embarrassment caused by this website’s publication and the obvious lack of communication internally within your company will prevent another customer being strung along to the extent that I was. Remember that if your staff had provided correct information in the first instance, communicated with me effectively, showed willingness to resolve a situation and actually upheld your company strap line this website would not exist.
As the saga comes to a close, was it really worth pissing me off to such an extent over a couple of weeks delay and a grand’s worth of solartube?
The Wife’s Opinion of Mark Knight’s Letter
I have to say that I am underwhelmed by the response from Mark Knight, the Regional Managing Director for Keepmoat. He has completed no real investigation, has made up or been advised wrongly about parts of our story, and again blamed us for not being able to complete on time. But lets be honest most people in our shoes given 2 weeks notice would have struggled to complete on time, it seems to us that the 2 week deadline was given as they knew it was unrealistic and they would get rid of those pesky awkward customers.
In paragraph two he acknowledges we have numerous concerns but misses out several of the points raised on our website.
The third paragraph makes no reference to the 3 week delay that Keepmoat caused due to the incompetence of Mandy who was unable to arrange for the EasyKey to be processed correctly. But presumably from Keepmoat’s view this delay is irrelevant. They also make reference to the 1 week extension they gave and that we were fully aware of the deadline. Yes we were but a one week extension, so giving us 2 weeks in total, was unrealistic and unfair.
Paragraph 4 makes no mention of why we were not given a copy of the code. Keepmoat should have given us a copy, not just had one available in the office.
Paragraph 6 mentions they have a complaints procedure and that is why Mark is now investigating (I use that term because that his what he uses, not because there has been any investigation). But Keepmoat were aware of our complaint in September, this is a very slow complaints procedure and Keepmoat have still not addressed the the aggressive behaviour of both Mandy and Suzanne.
The next paragraph makes mention that all customers are required to sign off technical drawings before exchange. This implies that it was OK for Keepmoat not to give us full details of the property at reservation. Except that the Code of Conduct for Home Builders states that we should be given accurate information at the time of reservation. This also comes under The Property Misdescriptions Act and the Consumer Protection Regulations 2008. So why weren’t we given accurate details of the plot Keepmoat? – I don’t think you know or care and I don’t believe you have even spoken to the staff involved.
Paragraph 8 refers to our request for a solar tube and a potential change to an alternative plot. But again this response does not make sense to what actually happened. We asked for a Solartube and we were flatly told no by Suzanne. She did, towards the end of our conversation, say she would look into the possibility of contributing towards the cost of a Solartube but we didn’t take this offer too seriously though and the offer was never mentioned again. We were then contacted by Vanessa, we did not ask for a Solartube again as we knew that you would not install one free of charge.
The reason we were refused the Solartube was due to the build stage, according to Keepmoat. Except Solartubes can be fitted retrospectively and so we asked for it to be fitted after purchase, we were told no. So what was the real reason, money perhaps? This makes sense when they next offered to fit LED lights in the bathroom. We refused this because we suspected, and our suspicions were confirmed by their site manager, that the cabling for the spot lights might interfere with the installation of a Solartube at a later date. Mark, you would have known this if you bothered to find out why we did not want LEDs. Also LEDs are artificial light, not really the same as a Solartube is it? But they are a lot cheaper.
It is also worth noting that it took you around 6 weeks to tell us that you could not fit a Solartube. Surely you could have looked into this a lot quicker and told us within say a week or so?
They said we refused the offer of an alternative plot. Apparently according to them we were offered another plot with the original window location but we declined it. This is incorrect for two reasons.
- We were missing 4 windows not one. I’m surprised Mark, that you are not aware of the most basic facts of our complaint.
- We were not offered another plot with the original windows, as there was none available. We could have swapped to another style of house but not another Loxley (the other styles were not suitable for us). The recordings, which if you had listened to them Mark, make this clear. I’m sure you could also check your records to see what plots were available and see that no other Loxleys were available. You have not even done the most basic checking of facts. Unless another plot was available but your staff did not offer it to us for a reason only known to yourselves?
In paragraph 9 you blame our solicitors for your lack of communication. The reason our solicitor did not contact us on the 31st to advise of the remarking of the plot is because he believed that Keepmoat had. He said it was standard practice for a home builder to contact a purchaser to advise of such details. You also fail to address the fact that you did try to email us to tell us that you had re-marketed the property, except for you sent the email to somebody else not us. You took no responsibility for this as a company, in fact you were so adamant that you had sent us this email that you got your solicitor to send us a copy of the email along with a fax stating that you had sent it to us. You could have checked your own systems to see that the email had been sent to the incorrect person, instead you decided we were in the wrong again – how very arrogant of yourselves. You really don’t like taking responsibility for your own mistakes, do you Keepmoat? Plus in another shining example of the standards you can expect from Keepmoat Homes they have made the same mistake again, except for this time they have got our postal address wrong – both the first line and postcode are incorrect. We only received a copy of the letter Mark sent because a copy was sent via email as well – luckily this was sent to the correct email address this time.
Paragraph 11. Thanks Keepmoat for the generous offer of compensation, oh sorry no – got that one wrong. Apparently because we could not complete on time that completely absolves you of any responsibility for the rest of the shitty service you offered. I will have to remember that one if I ever get a job in customer service again. “Sorry that we acted like complete dicks Sir/Madam but as you could not do what we asked within an unreasonable time-frame you can shove your complaint where the sun doesn’t shine”.
Paragraph 12 is a complete work of fiction. The two week deadline we were given has magically turned into 5. I would like to know when and how we were notified of this 5 week deadline to complete? Because apparently we were given fair and reasonable notice of this 5 week deadline.
I can only assume that Mark as got confused or has been incorrectly advised. Possibly some of the below 3 events got mixed up.
- We were told by Keepmoat Homes on the 17th of October that we had until the 25th of October to complete. This was then extended to the 31st of October.
- Our original reservation ran out in September, but no specific date was given on our reservation form. However, we could not complete then as the house was not ready – it had still not been signed off on the 17th October. So any extension was for Keepmoat’s benefit as well as ours. No written extension was given more that we knew the house was not ready so the reservation carried on.
- When our buyer pulled out in early September we asked our new buyer to aim for completion within 5 weeks. This was an aim which we advised Keepmoat Homes of. Keepmoat made no date clear as to when the reservation ran out until mid October. Also to add when our buyer pulled out we were given 2 days to find another buyer, was this “fair and reasonable” Keepmoat?
Also if 5 weeks notice is fair and reasonable then surely giving us less than half of that to complete is unreasonable? It seems that is a fair and reasonable conclusion, or maybe any time scale; such as two days, a day, a couple of hours would have been fair as long as you gave us notice?
Perhaps Mark, you think if you write a load of bullshit we will believe it because it has come from a Managing Director? Don’t get me wrong that is a good plan (if it was your plan) as most people responded to authority. A lot of people will believe or do anything a manager tells them. I’m sure as a Managing Director you are aware of your power over your staff.
There is one problem though: we are not your staff and we won’t believe you just because of your job title. I would have thought by now what you would have realised writing and talking crap isn’t going to wash.
I will finish by refering to the last paragraph of your letter. “…we often have very difficult commercial pressures as a business to consider and sometimes decisions have to made that don’t find favour with everyone.”
So it boils down to money – finally a bit of honesty. I was starting to think that Keepmoat wouldn’t recognise the truth if it slapped them in the face with one of their, and I’m sure high quality, roof tiles.
We have decided to republish our website including Mark Knight’s letter for the sake of honesty and transparency. So everyone can see the level of service to expect if they choose to purchase a new house through Keepmoat Homes. It is up to the readers of this site to make their own mind up about what happened. We have included correspondence from both ourselves along side Keepmoat’s responses and those of Keepmoat’s representatives. The decision to republish may not find favour with everyone but sometimes you have to make difficult decisions in life – I’m sure you can understand Mark.
Managing Director/CEO/President/Chairman/Superintendent/The Almighty
My Keepmoat Hell.