Friday, 10 August 2012

A Diary of a Moving Story - Part One

June 12th 2012 - How it all began.

Weight: 7st 4lbs
Fags: 13

Viewed large bungalow near Chard today. Great location for our rural business enterprises - close to A303 - good connections and not far from the coast. The bungalow has an annexe attached, several large outbuildings, and two paddocks. It’s being refurbished, and there is still plenty of work to be done, for example, the paddocks need to be cleared of nettles; rubbish needs to be cleared from the driveway and garden area; plus there are some large gas canisters in the outbuildings that need to be removed, but the letting agent [Chloe Small at Smiths Gore, Taunton] has promised that this will be done before the start of our tenancy. She has also confirmed that all the remaining building work will be completed; that the property will be properly cleaned; that carpets will be laid throughout including new vinyl in both kitchens and utility room; 500 litres of oil will be added to the tank, and that the septic tank will be emptied. Smiths Gore have a good reputation as a managing agent, so I'm sure this will happen, plus Chloe seems to be very professional.
I wouldn't ordinarily plump for a bungalow - but at the back of my mind I’m thinking about my parents - they might have to come and live with me one day so an annexe would be useful. This could possibly be a very long let because the Landlord is the Highways Agency - they own thousands of properties across the country that have lain empty for years due to road improvements being abandoned, but apparently there is now some kind of Government initiative to make these properties habitable again.
I don't love it, but it could be a practical home for the next five years before we decide to buy again.


July 9th 2012 - The point where if we'd had any sense we would have run for the hills.

Weight: 7st 3lbs
Fags: 15

Went to visit the bungalow to check how the work is progressing. Norman, a security guard who is employed to look after empty Highways Agency property, is there to show us round. There is no sign of Chloe Small. Sadly, due to the unprecedented amount of rain we've had over the weekend, the bungalow has let in water - in fact there's a great big puddle in the annexe living room - it's a good job they haven't yet laid the carpets. There is also a large area of water on the one of the kitchen work tops - we can't fathom where this has come from.
We also note that no rubbish has been cleared from the property and that the nettles in the paddocks still haven't been cut back.
On our way back home we visit the Smiths Gore office in Taunton to report our findings. We meet with Chloe Small and Lucy Back [a rural surveyor], they assure us that they will have the dampness addressed, nettles cleared, carpets laid and everything shipshape for when the tenancy begins on the 25th July. I look Chloe Small in the eye and tell her that if there is one thing I can't put up with then it's the smell of damp in my belongings. She assures me that she does not want the tenancy to begin with an ongoing damp problem.
At this point I want to pull out, nothing has been signed and I suggest to Mr Blue that we ask our current Landlord if we can stay put, even though we have given him notice that we will be leaving by the 31st July. Unfortunately, Mr Blue has a lot more faith in Chloe and Lucy than I do.

July 10th 2012

Weight: 7st 2lbs
Fags: 17

Spend time surfing Rightmove in an effort to find an alternative property. Spend time trying to persuade Mr Blue that the bungalow is a bad idea. Mr Blue is worried that we don't have time to make alternative arrangements - for the expansion of his business he needs to be in Somerset. He is still convinced that Smith Gore will keep their word.

July 16th 2012 - The point where I make a horrendous mistake.

Weight: 7st 2lbs
Fags: 16

We ring the Smith Gore office to check that the damp problems have been dealt with, they assure us that their contractors have fixed some broken tiles and cleared the down pipe and gutters. We are told that the leaks in the kitchen have also been fixed. We are also told that security guard, Norman, has been airing the property and turning on the heating each day to help dry it out.
I sign the tenancy agreement on the bungalow and write a cheque for over £2,000 for the deposit.

July 25th 2012 - The tenancy begins

Weight: 7st 2lbs
Fags 18

We meet with Chloe Small at the bungalow to check in, although we are not going to move our belongings until the 26th. Norman the security guard is still on site as he has not been given notice to leave. The inventory is still being done, but by a different company.
The bungalow is still filthy, although Chloe Small believes it is acceptable. Dead flies hang around the window seals and sills and dust from the building work is clearly visible on some walls [the inventory later describes most of the property as being moderately dirty]. The property smells strongly of damp and gloss paint. As we are shown around the property we discover that four windows cannot be closed properly because the hinges are broken. Carpets have been laid but there is no new vinyl in either kitchen. We tackle Chloe over the cleaning and the vinyl, she tells us that these things are no longer going to be done as she considers both the cleanliness and the floors to be of an acceptable standard. The property is exactly as it was when I first saw it on 12th June. The nettles in the paddocks have not been cleared and rubbish still surrounds the property. There are still gas canisters in the outbuildings. I have suspicions that the damp problems have not been addressed either. I start to cry. Chloe relents regarding the cleaning and says she will contact a cleaning contractor so they can clean it on the morning of our move.
Chloe gives us two sets of keys, but explains that a couple of keys are missing because they are still with the builders, or lost.
I ask Chloe for copies of the electrical safety certificate and the chimney safety certificate, she says she will email them to us later in the day.
Chloe Small leaves the site describing the situation as 'the check-in from hell'.
I look around the property by myself and test to see if the lights are working. I discover that the lights only work in the annexe area of the property. Norman tells us that this is because the property has two electricity meters and only the meter for the annexe is switched on. The electricity meters are located high up [above 6ft] in the dining room behind a covered area. We do not have a chair or ladder to stand on to inspect them, so we trust that the electricity can easily be switched on, but wish that Chloe had told us about this before she left.

July 26th 2012 – Moving Day
Weight: 7st 1lb
Fags: 25

The removal men arrive promptly at 8.30am, they have our belongings packed and ready to go before 12 noon. We leave shortly after them, after we've packed a few essential items into the car [tea, kettle etc]. On our way to Somerset we stop off for lunch and to get some money from the till. It’s a very hot day, possibly the hottest of the year.
We arrive at the bungalow before 2pm, the removal van is not yet there. The cleaning contractors sent by Smiths Gore are still inside cleaning, they have made a good job of it, evidenced by buckets of black water. They have been working for four hours and describe the place as filthy, they can’t believe that Smiths Gore were trying to get away with not cleaning it properly. Our removal van arrives before they have finished so they don’t have time to complete their work.
The removal men start to bring in our belongings. When some chairs are brought in, I ask Mr Blue to turn on the electricity in the main part of the building. Mr Blue stands on a chair so that he can reach the electricity meter cupboard. On inspection he discovers that the meter for the main building is a key meter and nobody has seen fit to give us the key. Mr Blue rings the Smiths Gore office to find out where the key is. He is told that it is still with the building contractors and that they will try to locate it, in the meantime they suggest that we run an extension lead from the annexe to the main building. We are still being moved into the property, we have no idea which of our many packing boxes contains the extension leads. Mr Blue goes to B&Q to see if he can get an extension lead. He returns with the longest extension lead he can find but it is not long enough to reach from the annexe to where the Smeg fridge freezer* has been placed. At this point I can no longer contain my anger, I ring the Smiths Gore office myself. I lose my temper. I tell a woman at their office that I am really fucked off with them because I have no electricity in the main building, and although the extension lead was a helpful suggestion it just doesn’t work. I find out that I am speaking to a temp, I tell her that I don’t care who she is and that I just want someone to shout at. I go on to tell her that if she has any sense that she should leave the building she is working in, right now, because Smiths Gore are a pile of crap and that they will skank her over just like they have skanked me. I hang up.
No, I have no idea where I got the word ‘skank’** from either. I am far less eloquent verbally than I am in writing. I am not ashamed of my outburst.


And this is where I am going to end part one of this post, because as I am typing I can feel my blood pressure rising. I know what happens next, and it is far, far worse than what has gone before. Plus I have written over 1,723 words, which must be something of a record for a Scarlet Blue post. If anyone has read this far – thank you.

*when moving a fridge or freezer, always leave it for 45mins plus before switching on again, this is to let the gases settle.

**Skank:- When something is taken without paying, either stolen or given to for free (when not deserved). Usage example: He totally skanked the money off of his mom!!! – from the Urban dictionary.

Property: Gesuda
Letting Agent: Smiths Gore
Landlord: Highways Agency

65 comments:

  1. You poor dear! I'll keep reading! xx

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  2. Dear Miss Scarlet, my blood pressure and anxiety went up just reading it! It must have been god-awful having to put up with that idiocy in real time.

    [fluffs pillows]

    There. There.

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    1. Thank you, Mr Lax! Yes, in real time it was painful... and part two is worse than this.
      Sx

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  3. oh honey..."I tell her that I don’t care who she is and that I just want someone to shout at." That made me laugh after reading the thoroughly unprofessional experience of it all.

    I occasionally ring up service people (gas, electric etc.) and end up in a knock-down-drag-out-fight. Not proud of it but it gets the job done. I've even threatened to write blogs with titles like, "The Escambia County Utilities Authority Sucks Ass".

    That sometimes does the job.

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    1. Thank you for reading, Mr Pirate! I'm a nightmare on the phone... Mr Blue likes to keep me well away from telecommunications as a rule, I am a force kept in reserve for special occasions.
      Sx

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  4. Oh, bloody hell, that's awful, Scarlet! I am now on tenterhooks awaiting part two. My own impending move will be totally anticlimactic compared to yours, which is the way I prefer to keep it. I have been in my new house on several occasions, it is not a rental, and it's all clean and move-in ready.

    I'm so sorry that yours was such a nightmare!!

    So when does part two come out???

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    1. Thank you, Ponita - Canadians have higher standards!
      I'm hoping part two won't be so long... but it'll probably take another 1000 words just to clear moving day. I will try to get it written by mid-week.
      Sx

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  5. see I have this horror of moving....and this post only confirmed that fear.

    I'm almost too afraid to read part II, but I'll be back, I know I will.

    Bxx

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    1. Thank you, Bux - I don't know how I'm ever going to move again. I'm almost afraid to write part two!
      Sx

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  6. Oh Dear The Sequel is going to painful isn't it?I'm sorry you had such Skankness.Have you videoed the executions & will they be on Youtube?

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    1. Thank you, Tony - The sequel is extremely painful, it features plenty of sobbing, bad smells...and dimming lights.
      Sx

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  7. oh my, sugar, OH MY! what a dreadful experience for all y'all! just reading this set my blood to boil, honey and i'm still happy as a clam over the new baby!!!! i can't wait for part 2! xoxoxoxox

    p.s. i know you said it gets worse, but i'm hoping there's some sort of silver lining that's going to show up soon!

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    1. Thank you, Savvy - Indeed, like all good stories, fiction or fact, this story has its villains and also, thank goodness, some heroes.
      Sx

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  8. Ms. S. Atrocious - I thought those sort of services reserved that sort of treatment for student. I go so angry for you. If you need anyone to write any extra indignant letters, or sign a petition, or something I'm up for it.

    On the positive side, beautifully written, I read every word, totally gripped. I can rarely say that about other lengthy blog posts because I'm a bit easily distracted....

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    1. Thank you, Wendy - I haven't written anything this long in an age - probably because I am also easily distracted - amazing how blind fury can focus the mind!
      Sx

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  9. Oh, Scarlet...part of me was laughing.But a bigger part was fuming.
    Skanky agents.Indeed.
    Huge big SX.

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    1. Thank you, Dinah - Oh dear. When I'm angry and on the phone I turn into Ms Ranty-pants. I lose all control of what I'm saying and how I'm saying it.
      Sx

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  10. Dearest Miss Scarlet:
    Oh dear, we just knew that this would be a sad and sorry tale as it centred around a bungalow. We have to say that we have never had any good experiences with these single storey buildings and yours does sound to be the stuff of which nightmares are made.

    And, we can barely contain ourselves until part two. It has all been rather like watching a horror film and although we fear that the details will get even more gory and unpleasant, nevertheless we shall return for more. We do so hope that Chloe [Small by name and Small by brain] will get her just desserts, that Smith Gore will fold, that the electricity will work at the flick of a switch and that you will be treated to a five course dinner at a swish hotel as you are truly worth it.

    Happy weekend!!!

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    1. Thank you, Jane and Lance - I now twitch at the very sight of a bungalow and have decided that if I ever find stairs challenging then I will go the Thora Hird way and install a Stannah stair lift.

      I will have a happy weekend, it's going to be so much better than the last.

      Sx

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  11. Oh love, what a nightmare. I'm ashamed to admit that I'm agog for part 2

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    1. Thnak you, Z - I don't make any phone calls in part 2, but I do a fair bit of glaring.
      Sx

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  12. OMG! I'm so sorry to hear about all that Scarlet, that's one of the worst moving experiences I've ever heard. The utterly devious and unscrupulous Chloe Small should be ground into small pieces and fed to farmyard animals. Just about everything she told you has been a pack of lies. Your instincts were obviously a lot sounder than Mr Blue's.

    When you went there on July 9 and saw how little had been done, and that there were now new problems (two leaks), I think you should have pulled out then. Clearly Smiths Gore were untrustworthy and you shouldn't have had anything more to do them.

    But it's easy being wise after the event, and easy to make misjudgments and trust people who shouldn't be trusted. I shudder to think what even worse experiences are still to be recounted.

    If I were you, I wouldn't even consider moving into a place that wasn't already ready to live in and not requiring any work except new light bulbs or a lick of paint.

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    1. Thank you, Nick - You are quite right. Mr Blue had his head turned by the outbuildings - you know how men are with their sheds... so he kind of became blinkered.
      Don't worry, he has suffered for his silliness :-)
      And if he ever gets another daft idea, of which I don't approve, then I only have to mutter one magic word - bungalow.
      Sx

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    2. Oh god - men and their sheds. That says it all

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  13. Keep smiling ha bloody haha......I had a similar experience in Guildford and can compeletely sympathise - would you like to stay in our place in Athens?

    XS N

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    1. Thank you, Mr Nikos - This sort of treatment by letting agents seems to be becoming more common. I think I read that the Citizen's Advice Bureau receive more enquiries about rental issues than they do about debt. Which is surprising.
      I'd love a hot holiday in Athens!!!
      Sx

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  14. Jeez - this sounds truly awful. I am on tenterhooks waiting for part 2. *hopes there isn't a part 3/4/5/...*

    Shouldn't Trading Standards (or some equivalent) be told to investigate Smiths Gore??

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    1. Thank you, Allotmentqueen - I hope I don't have to write a part 3... but I have a horrible feeling that it might spread that far.
      I think I have to go through Arla or Rics... more form filling... I will send them my post instead :-)
      Sx

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  15. Thanks to everybody who has left a comment, I will be replying individually in the morning - I think it's my bedtime now.
    Sx

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  16. Bloody Aida this is a nightmare.

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    1. Thank you, Grump - Yes, it most certainly has been!
      Sx

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  17. Oh how nice to see you in my blog roll :)

    As an experienced renter your problems don't surprise me . Dirty, damp properties have once agin become the norm, with renters needing to do work on properties before they can live in them. Greedy professional landlords, greedy unprofessional letting and estate agents. Hmmm, making no money from house sales - who can we screw over now? Oh how about the renters? They are all skanks I'm afraid - still lovely to hear from you.

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    1. Thank you, Dicky - The word 'skank' is so going to haunt me! I came off the phone and I couldn't quite believe I'd used it - I mean... where do these words come from?!! They just bubble up in the rage.
      I'd always been so lucky with rentals, which is probably why this came as something of a shock.

      Sx

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  18. Oh. This doesn't feel good. Did you get the gas certificate? If not that's a £5000 fine for them....

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    1. Thank you, Mr Bene - Thankfully, there wasn't gas at this property... but there was electricity...
      Sx

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  19. Stop the foreplay and let's have action now!

    Bring the solicitors!

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    1. Ha, ha, Mr Mags!!!
      To be honest, we surprised the solicitors...
      Sx

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  20. Crikey Bobby! Sorry to hear what an awful time you've been having

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    1. Thank you, Lulu - And I still haven't got my lovely prints framed, but they are safe in a box, protected by bubble wrap and I know exactly where they are.
      Sx

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  21. I'm so sorry to hear about your awful experience. Moving is hard enough, without having to worry about whether the place is liveable or not. That is awful what that greedy agent and horrible company did to you. I would be livid, too!

    Yes, hindsight is 20/20, but we live and learn. It is so hard to put faith in people, especially when it conflicts with your instincts. It may not comfort you now, but it's true: What doesn't kill you, really does make you stronger (and wiser). And I'm betting you're a whole lot stronger and smarter now. Fearless is what you are.

    I hate cheaters and greedy people like that agent. Most times, I'm a nice, easy going kind of guy. But when someone tries to take advantage of me or hurt me or my friends or loved ones, I fight back and take vengeance! I mobolize the troops and go to war! So if you find yourself needing back up, let me know, and I'll go to war to avenge you and destroy those who've wronged you. You have my support and I'll do whatever I can to back you up.

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    1. Oh, thank you, Mr Swings!! What you say is true, although I am still feeling a little fragile at the minute. I feel like I have made moving into an Olympic sport and that I should be given a gold medal. So far I have been given a bacon sandwich and a bunch of flowers :-)
      Sx

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  22. PS: From this side of the screen, I say the length of the post doesn't matter. This is a big story. Use as many words as needed. I will read them!

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    1. Mr Lax - I am so grateful for the support that is being shown to me on my blog. I need it, and it is definitely helping me. Thank you!!
      Sx

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  23. Mistress MJ has prepared the Oubliette for the Smith Gore team.

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  24. MJ - Thank you! But I fear the Oubliette will be far too stylish and sophisticated for the Smiths Gore team!
    Sx

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  25. Oh Scarlet. I'm hoping with every fibre of my being that part two is worse for Chloe Small than it is for you. And I'm really looking forward to her being chopped up and fed to farm animals.
    It will all end happily ever after in part ... 3 I hope. Will be reading.
    C xx

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    1. Thank you, Claire - Strangely, Ms Small makes no further appearances, my guess is that someone told her about my ranty phone call and she ran for the hills!

      Sxx

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  26. You are doing a public service writing this. I am so sorry you have had to deal with such rotten unprofessionl behaviiour. They should be deeply ashamed of themselves and I shall spread the word as far as the Taunton folk are concerned.
    PS Tasha was called a skank in 'Neighbours':)

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    1. Thank you, Pat - Indeed! And people should be warned about the pitfalls of renting, even if they do it via a reputable [supposedly] letting agent.

      Sx

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  27. Chloe Small has succeeded in getting my gander up. Do print her works address and lets all send her an anonymous turd in the post. Waiting for part deux with bated breath.

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    1. Thank you, Mitzi! My gander is up and orbiting the moon!

      Sx

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  28. Aw pet you have my love. I've lived in some skanky places in me time. You get to pick a song, what's your request? :¬)

    xxx

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    1. Thank you, Mr Maps - Ha! It's got to be Moving by Supergrass!!

      Sx

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  29. TOTALLY, TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE! I used to subcontract for a property rental agency! I used to be the one who cleaned and inspected properties! And not some hifalutin' agency either; a podunk one-horse operation out in the middle of nowhere. That had STANDARDS. We would have been sued seven ways to Sunday if we'd let a property go in that condition....hell, I'd have been fired on the spot! I am utterly OUTRAGED. 'Skank' is the least of the language I'd have used, Scarlet. Do not give an INCH. They agreed to deliver the property to you in a specific condition, they owe it to you to live up to their side of the agreement. PERIOD.

    (btw: 'skank' here in the U.S. means' slutty, promiscuous, low-class ghetto-rat chicken-headed 'HO. when I read that, I laughed my ass off! you go!)

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    1. Thank you, Ms Nations - Well, yes, this was the problem the Smiths Gore team relied on contractors to do the work, but I have a hunch that they never bothered to inspect it - I can't get my head round it. I mean, how can they expect things to run smoothly when they don't keep an eye on the ball? They completely lacked any form of common sense. I'm still in a state of shock and disbelief about how their office functions.

      My language is colourful when I'm angry!

      Sx

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  30. What a friggin nightmare. Still you lost some weight. Okay maybe not the most tactful comment ever. At 7st 4lb you didn't need too.

    Btw I had no idea there was a Mr Blue.

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    1. Thank you, Mr Joey - Not the best way to lose weight!
      I don't usually mention friends or family on my blog. My blog is 'my thing', usually a place to have fun, but this story is different from anything I've ever written here before and I felt that it was a story that needed to be written properly, hence the inclusion of Mr Blue.

      Sx

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  31. Oh ! I have never heard of your type of skank Miss Scarlet . I am with the Miss Nations skank definition . You should have burnt the damn place down , followed by Smith Gores office :-)

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    1. Thank you, Mr Beastie! I actually gave the place a quick wipe round with a damp sponge and a squirt of detox before I left! One's standards should never be dragged down by others.

      Sx

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  32. Send the cow a couple of bunches of nettles from your as yet uncleared front paddock... Wrapped in rubbish from the driveway...
    Some agency employees can be pigs and thrive on deception... with a "Tell 'em what they want to hear attitude" in hope that you will shut up and take it. Don't! They couldn't give a toss about the tenant's... just so long as they get their bonus at the end of the month. Make their life difficult!
    Big hugs to you and Mr Blue. It is so frustrating when others cause you grief on what should be and exciting time in your life.

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    1. Thank you, Princess - I somehow doubt Ms Small will be in line for a bonus this year :-)
      And I am exhausted... having moved all the way back to Devon - safe haven!

      Sx

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  33. Ooh crikey, I read that right to the end. That sounds shite and I wasn't even cheered up by the mention of your Smeg fridge.

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