Questions of Cash: My elderly mother's move to a flat has been a nightmare

 

Q. My mother is widowed and 83. She has suffered stress in the last year after downsizing from her marital four-bedroom house. She was persuaded by McCarthy and Stone's marketing of a stress-free move and chose their package, where they sold her property and arranged the move. She decided on Sussex as her new location to be near one of her sons. She now has a second-floor flat, where completion was delayed, the lift frequently fails and a water leak into her apartment caused her to move out while repairs were made.

The worst problem is that her oven is unusable. She had visited several McCarthy and Stone properties and looked at their brochure material. In all the properties and brochures she only ever saw eye-level ovens. The specifications for her flat only had a vertical plan and at no point was she informed that the oven would be at low level.

It was only when she received the keys, in August last year – after the move was completed – that she found that she had a low-level oven. She immediately informed the McCarthy and Stone rep that she was unhappy with the oven position as she cannot kneel or bend down easily and was assured that it would be sorted out. The kitchen is the only area in the flat that does not have disabled access. McCarthy and Stone insist they will charge £1,200 to sort this out. My mum is really fed up and has seriously considered selling the flat. CM, France.

A. The problem has been resolved to the complete satisfaction of your mother. McCarthy and Stone state: "We value greatly our consistently high level of customer satisfaction and, having had the homeowner's concerns brought to our attention, were keen to resolve the issue quickly. We accept that our marketing literature could have been clearer regarding the height of the oven and, as a result, we have been happy to make a contribution to the subsequent alteration costs."

You have forwarded correspondence you have received directly from McCarthy and Stone, which provides more detail of the settlement. "I can accept that there may have been an assumption by your mother about the height of her oven, despite the assurances from the sales consultant that she believed she had adequately explained the kitchen layout," says the company's representative.

"We have learned from this and we now have a procedure whereby we show detailed kitchen plans when a purchaser is considering buying 'off plan' to avoid any risk of misunderstanding about the design of the kitchen or the positioning of appliances. We previously had plans prepared to make alterations to your mother's kitchen to accommodate her oven at mid-height at a cost of £1,200. Although I understand she has chosen to have alterations carried out by another contractor, we would be happy to make a contribution of £1,200 to your mother as a gesture of goodwill." Your mother has accepted this proposal.

There is a light that never arrived

Q. During last winter's storms, the street lights went out. We ordered five small lanterns for £93.85 through Amazon to provide outside light. One was dispatched on 14 February and I received it. Amazon charged for this, but said there would be a delay with the other four and the delivery date would be between 6 March and 15 April. I have now been told the lanterns are no longer available through the agreed supplier and I have been asked to transfer the order to another supplier for different lanterns at twice the price. I am hopping mad. I have been left with a single lantern that I cannot match with others and the return period has expired. SM, Wales.

A. Amazon apologises. It has made a full refund for the supplied lantern and cancelled the order. A spokeswoman explains: "We're sorry we weren't able to provide the other items. We had hoped to be able to source them but, unfortunately, our supplier informed us that the item was no longer available."

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But we'll do our best to help if you have a financial dilemma. Email us at: questionsofcash@independent.co.uk

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