“I have found your narrative as to what has happened to be measured, credible and reliable and I have seen evidence to support your contentions” – Caroline Keir
Complaint Number 10368
I am writing in response to your complaint received at Hay Avenue on 10/07/19. Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention. Your complaint is related in the following paragraphs and you asked that we investigate and respond in recognition of these issues.
I would first like to thank you for taking the time to meet with me on 7th August to discuss your concerns. Our normal timescale for responding to complaints of this level is 20 days but in this instance, the first available time you to meet with me was outwith that time frame
At my visit we had a long, productive discussion about the nature and extent of your concerns and I have summarised them as follows:
• Your address has been recorded on our system in such a way as to mean that much of the mail from us does not reach you. We did not take steps to alter this despite your several requests over 25 years. The implications of this have been significant – you have been subject to abandonment procedures, serious arrears actions and failed repairs (including the contribution it has made to the delays in fixing your ceiling) – all because you did not reliably receive our correspondence. We have seemed to question your own reliability rather than take on board the postal address issue and these matters have been the cause of deep and significant anxiety, distress and frustration.
• You suffered a ceiling collapse in your bathroom in November 2018 that had still not been repaired as of the date of your complaint, some eight months later. You have had no overhead kitchen, box room or hall lighting since the collapse and the electrical failure caused you to be alarmed about the potential fire risk. You pointed out the electrical failure to the operative who initially attended to make the ceiling safe but no further action was taken with regard to this. The shower door was irreparably damaged during the collapse.
• You weren’t offered any help to get rid of the wet and damp caused by the upstairs leak and had to access a dehumidifier and pay the extra electricity yourself.
• Trades operatives have not consistently followed the right visit procedure, resulting in the failures of repairs appointments. Variously, you haven’t been called in advance of their coming, haven’t had calling cards left in the event of no response to door knocking (on the occasions when you weren’t home, having not received any letters telling you of an upcoming appointment). Most recently, you experienced an instance where you have been waiting all morning quietly near to your door for the arranged visit, only to be told once you have called to ask why nobody has come, that the operatives knocked but no one answered. You state emphatically that this was not the case – and that the operatives neither knocked nor left any card. You observed somebody slightly later, outside your flat, just before the repairs service called you to describe your door (as proof that they had attended). You believe this to have been an attempt by the operatives, to cover their earlier non-attendance.
• An asbestos survey carried out in June 2019, to the affected bathroom ceiling area caused you great alarm and anxiety as you had been covered in dust and rubble on more than one occasion in the previous eight months (the ceiling kept producing fine dust and some rubble fall that you were exposed to when showering) and the timing in commissioning an asbestos report after such a delay, and immediately prior to repairs work getting underway, made you feel that you may have been exposed and additionally, that the safety of the operatives was more important than your own.
• Rubble and dust fell on you after the ceiling had a temporary baton put in that was designed to prevent further collapse. The baton was only put in after you made a specific ‘make safe’ request to the visiting operative and it did not prevent further collapse.
I have included all of the concerns we spoke about and you talked about the impact on your health and wellbeing. I believe the distress and anxiety felt by you has been profound and long lasting.
My own actions so far have included:
• I have thoroughly investigated all our systems and records and spoken with managers and staff who have been involved. I have listened to relevant phone conversations and checked written communication.
• I have arranged for your address to be altered on our system, so that any post from us is less likely to be undelivered. I have tested this twice by sending you some mail and you have affirmed receipt. I do hope this resolves the postal unreliability in the future.
• I have worked with our Repairs Manager to make sure the outstanding repairs have been undertaken and I understand the final touches to the ceiling are scheduled for a day convenient to you.
• I have requested that your shower door be replaced and this is currently with the Repairs Manager for action – thank you for sending photos, we will try to replace like for like or as close to that as we can.
I have found your narrative as to what has happened to be measured, credible and reliable and I have seen evidence to support your contentions.
I am therefore upholding your complaint in full and I want to take this opportunity to apologise wholeheartedly and unreservedly for a prolonged series of service failures. We will share lessons learned among colleagues and that will I hope, ensure these kind of issues don’t arise again for you or anyone else.
In light of the above, I want to offer you recompense of £700 for our failures and for the resulting distress. I know this can’t erase the difficulties experienced by you but I offer it with all goodwill and intentions.
This is the final stage of our complaints procedure. Our Director of Customer Experience is satisfied with my investigation and has approved my response to your complaint. If you are not satisfied with our decision or the way I have dealt with your complaint, you can ask the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO) to look at it. You can contact the SPSO on Freephone 0800 377 7330 their full information is also in the leaflet we sent you. Please note that the SPSO cannot normally look at complaints: where you have not exhausted our complaints procedure; more than 12 months after you became aware of the matters you have complained about; and complaints that have been or are being considered in court.
Thank you for your time and input. I assure you that we will strive to provide you with the best possible service in future.
Financial Inclusion Manager
Note: I was initially very pleased by the response rom Caroline Keir, who was sympathetic, open minded and willing to accept that Castle Rock Edinvar were responsible for the problems. Unfortunately, due to the actions of others, the action plan She put in place to rectify the issues became an exercise in ineptitude and utter incompetence!