Questions of Cash: I got a sinking feeling over my kitchen subsidence claim
Friday 12 April 2013
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: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
The battle for control of Stieg Larsson's £30m legacy
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
- 1 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 2 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 3 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- 4 Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
- 5 Burglar steals video tapes of child abuse, hands them into police
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£Negotiable: Citifocus: High calibre individual with institutional client serv...
£120000 - £150000 per annum: Cornwallis Elt : Programme Manager, Strategy Lead...
£55000 - £120000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Financial Services Tran...
£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Client based in West London is looking ...
Day In a Page
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A Grade II-listed home with six bedrooms, secluded landscaped gardens and views across Hadley Green
A Grade II-listed mansion with two apartments and a cottage, near Gretna Green
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden
A spacious Grade II-listed family home with annexe and equestrian facilities among four acres of land in Itchingfield
A four-bedroom home with exposed brick walls and open fires in the picturesque village of Northill
A Grade II-listed property with five bedrooms and unique tower, overlooking Hastings Old Town
A charming five-bedroom detached family home, set within half an acre in Kew
A two-bedroom maisonette set on the top two floors of a period building, close to Kentish Town Tube.
Take advantage of the extra space provided by former stables and outbuildings at this five-bedroom farmhouse.
This three-bedroom Victorian terrace is near to Queen’s Road Peckham station, Nunhead station.
A five-bedroom modern house with terrace, swimming pool, Zen treehouse and large carp pond
An unexpected gem with four bedrooms, remarkable vaulted reception and a galleried study area
A five-bedroom house in one of Lymington's most sought after tree lined avenues, moments from the marinas and sailing clubs
A grand early 19th century B&B close to the historic harbour, with four en suite bedrooms
A four-bedroom, 17th century home with walled gardens, a landscaped terrace, cellar and open fires
A six-bedroom house with five bathrooms and four reception rooms spread over 4,000sq ft of luxury living space
A stunning three double-bedroom apartment with two decked terraces in the exclusive gated community, Bromyard House
A 10-bedroom period, family home amid beautiful surroundings in the centre of the Wentworth Estate in Longcross village
A stylish three-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and private landscaped garden, moments from Fitzroy Square
A Grade II-listed Elizabethan barn with landscaped gardens, exposed elm beams and four bedrooms, all with lovely views
A six-bedroom family home, dating back to 1280 with four reception rooms, barn, swimming pool and tennis courts in Harwell
A spacious two-bedroom flat, refurbished to a very high standard with private landscaped garden, close to Kentish Town station
An exceptional two-bedroom apartment with balcony and underground parking in the centre of Richmond
A one-bedroom, luxury, duplex apartment in the grand landmark building, Imperial Hall
Run a fabulous boutique shop, live above it in a one-bedroom flat and let a second one-bedroom flat that comes part and parcel
A Grade-II listed, thatched cottage in Hundleby village, with five bedrooms, a coach house and three and a half acres
A spacious two-bedroom flat in the heart of Hoxton Square with wooden floors and roof terrace
A five-bedroom family home with stunning pool and gym complex set among two acres of land
A six-bedroom period house with heated swimming pool and a separate two-bedroom annexe cottage in Townlake, £795,000
A spacious and contemporary two-bedroom flat arranged over three floors, with garden patio close to St George Square, £600,000
A one-bedroom flat in a beautiful Regency building opposite the beach in Kemp Town, £190,000
A two-bedroom flat with London skyline views close to Surrey Quays. £395,000.
A seven-storey tower with three bedrooms and a stunning roof terrace. Guide price: £850,000.
A 16-bedroom country pile with nine reception rooms, four self-contained flats and a 13th century Peel Tower. £850,000.
A classic six-bedroom Victorian Manse house 10 miles from Edinburgh. £495,000.