I’m not often shocked by a company’s misbehaviour. When things go wrong, there’s usually a reason for it: a silly mistake that can be put right. But I do get annoyed when firms only decide to behave reasonably towards consumers when the media gets involved.
I’ve been dealing with a property company recently that takes the biscuit when it comes to failing to respond to a complaint. Frankly, I’ve been flabbergasted by its reaction.
When reader JH of Northampton wrote in with a tale of woe about mouldy and misty windows in his new-build home, I assumed the company concerned – Lagan Homes – would be held accountable.
I was wrong.
JH had splashed out £300,000 on a new-build home, but after moving in he reports: “We had a number of issues and these were drawn out painful things to fix.”
Over time, most issues were sorted out, but then problems grew. Some windows were misting up and mould started growing inside one.
“I contacted the Lagan Group, only to be told that the window company had gone out of business and so there was nothing it could do,” JH says.
“I believe the Lagan Group has a responsibility to put this issue right and after much chasing it sent out a window company to look at and photograph the windows – the company confirmed that the windows were faulty.”
There followed, he told me, months of emails and voicemails chasing Lagan. But all JH got in return were a string of broken promises.
When I contacted Lagan Homes England, I was told: “We do not comment on individual cases.”
I pointed out that if it refused to discuss the case with me, then I wouldn’t be able to report its side of the story. Its response? “We have engaged and worked with the customer you highlighted. Having conducted a robust assessment we provided him with a complete review of his situation.”
That didn’t square with what JH said. He told me he had been waiting four months for a follow-up to a visit to his home when a Lagan representative “admitted the fault”. and he was expecting the faulty windows to be repaired.
I passed that on to Lagan, which said: “Lagan Homes England have not accepted they are at fault.”
That came as a bit of a shock to JH.
“Why would it take eight months to come to that conclusion and also not communicate that thought?” he says.
“Why would the windows have been viewed on two separate occasions by contractors (organised by Lagan) and by Lagan itself, and both agree that the windows were faulty if it believed it had no responsibility?”
I think he has a point, but the questions went unanswered when I put them to Lagan.
The company had pointed out that as it’s more than two years since he bought the home the windows are now out of warranty. That may be true, but I reckon builders have a responsibility to ensure that homes are well built.
This is a sad situation. For the cost of replacing the windows – around £800 – this issue could have been resolved months ago. It seemed Lagan Homes England didn’t agree, so I suggested that JH take Lagan to the Small Claims Court.
But then the firm contacted JH and offered to pay half the cost of repairs. JH asked me what he should do and as he only wants to get his home in decent order, I advised him to accept the offer. A half-victory.
OUTCOME: £400 towards window replacement cost for reader
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