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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Appalling treatment from my home insurance provider

Three weeks ago, I reported a home emergency to my insurer, Aqua.
Storm Katie had come and wreaked havoc on the flat roof extension behind our house, with water pouring into the top of the ceiling join, down the walls and out of the light switch.
Storm Katie in our Kitchen
Naturally this freaked me out as I was worried for three days whether I would get an electric shock if I turned the light switch on. So I didn't. My kitchen was out-of-bounds.
Light Switch of Doom
We reported this on the Bank Holiday Monday (28th) to Aqua and understandably were told there was a high volume of repairs being requested. I was told someone could not come out on the Monday (28th) but someone could come out on Tuesday 29th.
Water damage to the paintwork
This was confirmed later on the Monday by CET, the home emergency repairs team. Late on that day we were told CET could not come but they might come on Tuesday 29 March. They did not confirm a time but expected it to be in the afternoon. They told me I would receive a call.
I asked my boss if I could work from home but as nobody called me I actually went to work in the morning.
On the morning of Tues 29th March, from the office (using my mobile), I spoke with J- at CET to book a time for the contractors to come.
It was she who told me nobody could get out to me that week. I asked her what she meant. This was when I told her: "What do you mean you can't get out to me this week? I don't live in the Mull of Kintyre, I live in Surrey."
She said the weather might be too bad in the coming week to allow contractors onto the roof, and that I was looking at Monday 4th as the earliest.
She also promised me over the phone if the weather changed and got better, CET would call me to book an earlier appointment. 
As it transpired, the weather on Thurs, Fri and Sat that week was dry, no wind at all, and totally beautiful. Nobody from CET called me at all as promised.
Because I am a journalist, I have transcripts of all conversations. So I have a note I called S- at Aqua on Tuesday 29th and told him J- at CET had told me nobody could come out on the Tuesday (which was when the CET were supposed to call in as they had promised on Monday 28th, the bank holiday).
He told me I could "ask for someone else" to come in and do it - ie get my own contractor. It was he who confirmed the booking for Monday 4th from 8am to 12pm.
This was repeated several times to me in that call and in subsequent calls, that Monday 4th April, a CET contractor would call between 8am to 12pm. Ie, in the morning of the Monday.
Eventually my husband got involved and called our insurance adviser, Profile, who said he would sort someone out that day (Tues 29th) to come in. A little while later, a man called R- at Asprey rang me and said someone from Asprey which is a CMC (claims management company) would come at half 3 and would do an assessment of the work, which would be at no cost to me, and covered under the policy and would carry out formal repairs. But they would be coming from Blackburn so it may take time.
I rushed home as soon as I heard that at 1:30. 
The guy came (nearly 2 hours late, gone 5pm and when it was getting dusky outside), in jeans, a shirt and a jacket, used my step ladder to look at the roof. 
He merely said it would not be covered under the policy. I asked if he had seen our policy. He said no, but usually flat roofs are not covered under home insurance. I said had he spoken with Aqua and he said no, he worked for Asprey.
So he basically interpreted a policy he had not seen, without even talking with my insurer, and did no emergency repairs. He did not check that the light switch was safe for me to use.
I called up Aqua again the next day and asked when someone would be coming out. They confirmed (I think this was a chap called P-) at 8am-12pm on Monday 4th April to do the emergency repairs.
So I booked 4th April off with my boss and EXPECTED that someone would turn up at 8am-12pm as they had promised.
Moreover, I confirmed this on the Friday 1 April (April fool? I certainly was beginning to feel like one) and the person to whom I spoke at Aqua (I did not get this person's name) again confirmed CET would be sending someone at 8am to 12pm.
I had to confirm this timing because on the Friday the clinic called me and said I would have to go in and have my bloods and the scan done in the late afternoon of Monday 4th April. I said I would confirm that the contractors were coming in the morning, which would enable me to be free in the afternoon. 
That is why I was in contact with Aqua/CET on Friday 1 April to confirm the CET contractor was coming at 8am to 12pm, before I booked the hospital appointment for 3:45 on Monday. Only when it was confirmed to me that CET contractors were coming in the morning between 8am and 12pm did I book the hospital appointment.
Monday 4th April dawned, a little blustery. I called Aqua first thing and they confirmed CET would be sending someone between 8-12 but I would have to call CET to get a more definitive time.
I spoke with A- at CET, who said the contractors had "this booked as an all day job. The sub-contractors are coming at 3pm".
THREE PM!?!?!?
I was astounded. How could this be, when five different people from Aqua and CET had all confirmed to me over the phone (and recorded in their own phone conversations) the contractor would arrive between 8am and 12pm that day?
I told her I could not be there at 3pm as I had a hospital appointment. She said: "Do you want me to cancel?" I said: "NO, I am not cancelling! I was told 8-12 and I have kept that appointment. I am not cancelling, your contractors are because this is the first time I've heard 3pm."
In the end - as their phone records will show - I asked if they could come about 6pm.
Nobody came; I called Aqua and spoke to F-, who said Aqua had it written down as 8-12. She put me on hold while I spoke with CET. She said CET had it down for 8-12. 
I called CET again and spoke with yet another person, who said: "You cancelled the appointment" - totally disingenuous - and then acknowledged there had been a mistake. She told me she would flag this as a complaint and someone would call me from the complaints team. She also told me I could call HER back - when I suggested that as I've been the one wronged, they should be calling me as courtesy, she repeated that I should be calling them as "they were busy".
I did not call
Nothing happened on Tuesday 5th.
Wednesday 6th, while I was on the underground, I noted a missed call from a private number. I thought nothing of it.
No calls from CET, no emails or calls from Aqua.
Finally I got my husband to call them on Monday 11th April. He put in a complaint and then.... 
Today at 12:22, while I was in a meeting with my managing director and my line manager, my phone rang. I recognised the number and took the call. It was F- from CET, calling me to rebook the appointment.said "Wait a minute, what appointment?" She said: "We came but there was nobody at the property". I lost my temper for the first time and said: "This is bollocks. That is absolute bollocks". She called me out on my swearing, for which I apologised, several times. However it was untrue. "Nobody at the property". Every phone record will show that I was at the property at the appointed time - 8 to 12. 
Plus my hospital is 5 mins up the road from me by bus and 12 mins walk from my house. I could not have been gone more than 45 mins altogether, it was only bloodwork and something a little unmentionable. 
Add to this I had made CET and Aqua aware of the situation and rescheduled for after 6... 
I explained to her I would not book anything until I had had my complaint resolved. I also reiterated it was CET and Aqua's fault for failing to tell me, on five different occasions, that the appointment was an all-day one. In fact, they told me five times it was 8-12.
She said "P- called you on Weds at 9:45". So that was the missed call! Mystery solved.
However as I explained, simply calling once, not getting through, and then not repeating it again for five days is NOT complaints resolution. It is not TCF. Aqua had my email and phone number. They could have called me. I said I wanted to have my complaint dealt with, before I booked CET to come look at my roof.
She promised a nice lady would call me back and get it resolved. I have not had a call back from CET.
What I did get was a call from UKA 24/7, a chap called R-. He told me Aqua had called him to ask his contractors to come and look at my roof. I explained the situation and said I will not book anyone else until I get my complaint resolved satisfactorily by Aqua/CET.
Aqua has not spoken with me.
Unless you have spoken with me, you have not contacted me.
I am here now, my phone is on loud in the office (sorry guys) and I have not had anyone speak with me. 
And for the record, I am NOT calling people who should be calling me to apologise for:
  • Lack of contact
  • Lack of communication
  • Failure to give me correct information
  • Failure to treat me fairly as a consumer, especially when I had raised a complaint
  • Making promises that have not been met
  • Failing to adhere to the FCA's TCF standards
  • Failing to fulfil the BIBA code of conduct

What do I want? I want full roof repairs, not emergency. I want these carried out by R and his team at UKA 24/7, and I do not want to pay the £500 excess.
And yes, I intend to complain to FOS, write this up as a news story and request on-the-record comments.
After all,  I am a life and protection specialist insurance journalist. Probably not the sort of person an insurer wants to keep mucking around.