Questions of Cash: I got a sinking feeling over my kitchen subsidence claim

 

Q. I made a claim for subsidence damage in September last year to Sainsbury's Bank on my home insurance policy. My kitchen floor is sinking, which its surveyor said was damage caused by washing the floor! Five months later nothing has happened, apart from a promise that my collapsing house will be "monitored".

I was unable to safely walk on my kitchen floor or use it. I had to replace the floor and install a new kitchen. Sainsbury's suggested I removed trees and vegetation from my garden at a cost of £700. In all, I've spent £6,000 on repairs, paying a surveyor and removing the vegetation, but cracks in my wall, inside and outside, are getting bigger. The ash tree that I believe is causing the problem remains just 3ft from my house. The local council has no intention of removing it, unless persuaded to do so by an insurer. VB, London.

A. Sainsbury's has now repaid you the £700 for the vegetation removal, but is not convinced the damage to your kitchen floor was caused by subsidence rather than what it refers to as "decomposition". It will, though, continue to monitor the subsidence and pay for remedial work when it stabilises.

Subsidence problems are notoriously difficult to deal with and can involve long-term disruption. Sainsbury's has now put a loss adjuster in contact with you and you will need to persuade the adjuster that the kitchen damage was caused by subsidence.

The loss adjuster is appointed by the insurer to represent their interests. Given the potentially very large size of your claim, you might consider appointing a loss assessor to represent your own interests in negotiations with the loss adjuster and insurer. The Institute of Public Loss Assessors publishes a list of members, available at www.lossassessors.org.

A spokeswoman for Sainsbury's Bank says: "We have confirmed with [the reader] that we are monitoring the subsidence on her property and will carry out remedial works as soon as it is deemed as being stable. We have also thoroughly investigated the damage to her kitchen floor and advised that this is likely to have been caused by decomposition and is not related to the subsidence."

One other point though: in your initial correspondence to Sainsbury's Bank you told it that you were referring your problem to this column on the basis of a claimed, but false, personal association with the column's author as a "neighbour". This column is happy to take on readers' problems – and there is no need to falsely claim a personal connection to do so.

Q. You took up my case [Questions of Cash, 23 February] after I transferred my energy supplies from First Utility to Npower. Npower then failed to debit my bank account with the correct amounts. I was promised – and you reported – that this had been sorted out and I would in future be charged the correct amounts.

But my debit on 1 March was again wrong and I paid £120 too little. I needed to get the payments fully up to date to move onto Npower's agreed monthly tariff. I explained this in a letter to Npower on 14 March, sent with a cheque for £120, cashed by Npower almost two weeks later. Now I find that Npower has not operated the direct debit for April, which means I am in arrears yet again. I am at a loss what to do next. JC, Ayrshire.

A. We are promised – again – that the matter is now resolved. A very apologetic spokesman for Npower says: "It appears the original payment arrangement was set up with an instalment plan. However, when the instalment plan was cancelled the direct debit should have been cancelled and reset, which it wasn't. This has now been completely cancelled and we've spoken to [the reader] as well as offering him a £50 goodwill gesture."

Q. I have spent nearly two years trying to locate my Isa that was held with Santander. This contained my life savings. I have phoned, sent letters and emails and visited a Santander branch, obtained information from other banks and took my complaint to the Financial Ombudsman.

Santander eventually "found" my Isa and wrote to apologise – but this was an apology only in the sense that it contained the word "apologise", saying that I "had difficulty locating" my account. It said the possible reason it took so long to find it is because "your account is held on a separate system". There is no mention of compensation, despite the stress I was caused. AF, Hampshire.

A. Santander is not providing compensation because it does not accept it has done anything wrong. A spokeswoman says: "There has been no Santander error in this case. [The reader] requested the closure and transfer of his Santander Isa in June 2007. Confirmation of this was provided to [the reader] and to the Financial Ombudsman Service, who upheld our decision to decline his complaint."

Q. In your column last Saturday a reader wrote about the "former Leeds Building Society". I have been a customer of the Leeds Building Society for years and I've always been impressed with its service. I think your reader means the Leeds Permanent Building Society, which got swallowed up by the Halifax. IC, by email.

A. You are absolutely correct. The reader was referring to the former Leeds Permanent Building Society, called "the Leeds" and at the time one of the UK's largest building societies. It merged with the Halifax in 1995 and shortly after the enlarged society converted to a plc. The smaller Leeds and Holbeck Building Society later changed its name to the Leeds Building Society and remains an independent and successful society.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

    £45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

    Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

    £45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

    Laura Norton: Project Accountant

    £50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine