On 7th February 2011, I posted a distillation of a complaint made by myself and my wife against John O’Neill and his staff, of the Western Road branch of Cubitt & West. Here’s that distillation again:
I have recently filed a complaint against John O’Neill and his staff in the Western Road branch of Cubitt & West. My wife made the mistake of engaging him to be our estate agent. We have four complaints, all relating to what John O’Neill promised us would happen when he pitched for our business.
1. John O’Neill lied to us by claiming that Cubitt & West were running an automated system so that if one branch in Brighton noted something on its system, every other branch would know it the same day. In fact, there was no such automated system and his staff were unable to communicate successfully even by email.
2. John O’Neill agreed to use our text to advertise our property but then didn’t bother. When we complained, they then amended the text without asking. When we complained again they said they did this for legal reasons but at the same time removed the amendments. Surely a contradictory excuse?
3. John O’Neill promised that all communications would be sent by email to both myself and my wife. It is important to note here that my wife was actually the client. In fact, 21 times there was a breakdown with their email communications. Five times they got my wife’s email address wrong. They sent emails to an address that didn’t exist. We checked and found that emails sent to this address bounced back – presumably they just ignored these messages from the mail delivery subsystem. We complained a number of times and each time were fobbed off with apologies and sometimes we were given nonsensical excuses, e.g. that the previous email sent to them had only come from one email address! One member of staff tried to insist that we spoke by telephone, despite knowing that my wife was uncontactable; she is an NHS doctor and was busy at work. The same staff member, Ross Williams, even confessed that she couldn’t manage emails!
4. John O’Neill promised that no-one would visit our property without our express prior approval. This arrangement was necessary because, aside from the usual matter of needing to know when our privacy was about to be disturbed, my wife was sometimes on call as an NHS doctor and had to leave documentation subject to patient confidentiality at home. All of this was explained to John O’Neill when he pitched for our business. Later on, when his staff ignored the agreement, it was explained again. On at least two occasions his staff brought people to our home, without gaining our permission first, which is trespass. On one of these occasions we were in and they did not even ring the bell first!
On top of all of that, on one occasion John O’Neill shouted at me on the telephone. Talk about rude! He even boasted that no-one had ever complained about him. His cherry has now been popped. Watch this space to find out what happens next.
We have now received a reply to our complaint, from Cubitt & West’s Senior Operations Director, Jon Lock, in a letter dated 24th February 2011. It is a rambling and contradictory reply. It denies that John O’Neill lied when claiming that he and his staff were very computer literate and later on acknowledges that there would be staff training to fix the computer literacy problems raised by our complaint. He acknowledges that Cubitt & West contradicted itself with regard to its position on the Property Misdescriptions Act. He acknowledges that there was “no excuse” for failing to communicate with my wife, who was their actual client, but then goes on to defend a member of staff, Ross Williams, who insisted on refusing to copy my wife in on correspondence. He didn’t even bother to address the reply to my wife, even though she was the actual client! It is quite clear that he has not investigated our complaint properly because he does not appear to have read the emails we cited. In all we cited 21 instances of miscommunication and he chooses in his reply to deal with only one of these. He also admits that Cubitt & West should not have handed out our private telephone number to a third party without our permission. Despite all of this, he offers no compensation. We expect to escalate the complaint tomorrow.