Recently, I was emailed to find out the best time (on a specified day) to arrange a call with a manager. This managers call was to then arrange a call with a supervisor. The call with the supervisor would be to arrange when he can visit. (If this is sounding convoluted to you, that’s because it bloody well is!). All now, we’re still waiting for a ‘surveyor’ to visit, but I’ll get to that later.
So in my reply, with the time I was available to speak, I also included (with a list of 9 dates and times i’d be available for the visit):
“If this is to arrange a visit with the supervisor, might it be easier to include him in this correspondence, and we can coordinate to confirm a date at the same time?”
I got a reply the next day, with confirmation that the area surveyor will be able to attend, on the last day I provided availability for. (The range was from the 6th – 20th, they selected the 20th). I replied that, it’s later than we would have liked, but we accept.
All of this has even managed to happen, following this brief summary of events:
- We reported a problem (a leak, and suspected blockage), last year 2022
- It dragged on, and was finally ‘resolved’, around Sept 2023
- – Found we had limescale buildup due to the hard water. Pipes hadn’t been cleared since 1994.
- – Found that the waste pipe, feed pipes, plumbing connections were loose. We had 7 different plumbers in our house, on different occasions. Twice, we had 2 turn up same day, different times, skills, and info.
- – I made a complaint about the piece of plastic they tried to call a bath panel, and after they decided to close it based on a snippet the contract manager sent over, I reopened it, and included managers in my follow up. There was already photographic evidence, that had clearly been ignored, but reattached.
- – they eventually fixed the leaks, and replaced the bath panel. Similar to the one that was ‘stolen’ by a previous plumber, literally one of the many Jack’s we were sent. (My Mum started calling them all Jack after a while!)
We thought the saga was over. We were wrong!
- After returning from a holiday early November, we found the problem had reoccurred.
- it’s important now to point out, that despite being advised of attendance, and requesting a surveyor on numerous occasions before, no one from our housing association inspected, or confirmed the leaks were done. I’d caveat that with our neighbourhood housing liaison has followed up with us, to confirm it had been resolved. It was she that had also tried, and failed to get a surveyors inspection. There’s like 1 surveyor between 4 regions, or something crazy like that!
- Another important factor – the location of this leak. I’ll add a few drawings, as the photos may be unclear or too revealing.
- We requested repairs as a matter of emergency, via online form, and call centre.
- We were then left without power for 2 days. While we and our landlord seemingly fumbled around in the dark.
- I had an excuse, having just started the weekend in the dark, and approaching a very busy week ahead. My battery pack had depleted to one bar, and phones were down to 30-40%. I was spending most of my time calling, being on hold and chasing my landlord. I spent most of that waiting, in the cold, and the darkness. Thinking about how helpless I felt, and truly was.
- We were eventually placed in a hotel by a different department altogether. They helped as much as they could with arranging the repairs needed.
- Despite how many times we provided information to callers, via email, a variety of different colleagues. And even having gone through many data protection protocols.. no one seemed to have a clear picture.
- No one had all the information we had provided, together with the information they’d have on record, together with what they may know about the Building/repair history. I had more of a clue than them, and yet, no one was listening to me. Unless I copied in a senior manager.
- Eventually, I raised another complaint about the whole situation. It was distressing, and painful for no reason. Despite best intentions, no one was actually helpful. The help we eventually got, arguably we should have received in the first instance..
- Because all of this makes me think – if I’m going through this, or finding this so difficult – what about the more vulnerable people. Like my Mum, my Dad, my neighbour with cancer and the one that can only use phones with buttons. I could go on.
- This was why I made my complaint, and requested a surveyor actually attend to confirm the issues are resolved, but that there are no damp, leading to mould issues. We basically still have a wet, rotting ceiling above a high risk electrical relay.
- I eventually ended up making a complaint, about the way my complaint was handled. Or not. I kid you not, if you typed into GPT, “write me a response to this complaint”, and pasted my complaint in – GPT would guarantees give you a better, and even friendlier response than what I received. I did give the complaints handler props on their ability to tick boxes though. (I have been involved in scrutiny and improvement of complaints processes, ironically)
- I replied to let them know that the response was inadequate, (plus evidence as to why) and their follow up was even worse. So I copied in a Senior Manager (now not many residents have the info, or are connected or involved enough to feel they can do this. They shouldn’t even have to). I escalated the complaint, and kept the complaint handler included. I also tend to copy in the neighbourhood housing liaison. If they’re not going to be kept in the loop internally, the least we can do is to keep her updated on our end.
Now the issues still remain unresolved. They now want to prioritise that the leak, and safety issues we’ve highlighted, are closed, before specifically addressing my complaint.
My complaint addressed things like, how inadequate the emergency call centre is, the questions raised and answered, the data protection protocols that doesn’t serve to keep us from harm, the disconnected information and subsequent poor decisions made, the lack of due care, contractors sent with no info, or ID, etc, etc. I highlighted the fact that, should my Mum, or I have been dependent on power for something like a ventilator to breathe – no one would have had this information. I won’t delve into our specific health considerations, but safe to say, they were not considered. The electrician took our cut off fuse, so if anything does go wrong, that mechanism to safely disconnect power won’t work.
We raise issues because past issues aren’t closed, or adequately resolved. Yet, our issues can be closed without due attention, investigation or even basic understanding of what the complaint is actually about!
I don’t want a nice response to my complaint, that shows you’ve responded to each part. What I want is for you to acknowledge these issues, that there’s room for improvement, and involve me in either making those improvements, or demonstrating they’re happening (actions!!)
Let me know if I’m asking for too much here.