Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A Week Off

We’ve been in Cyprus for the last week; we needed a break (and it’s been a long time coming). Amanda’s sister lives there and they (the sisters) are all that remains of their birth family (I still have both my parents and three siblings). According to all sources (that’ll be the ex-pat community) it’s been the warmest, fairest start to May for a lot of years. A dust storm that usually blows north east across the Mediterranean, from North Africa around the end of April (the 29th to be precise), failed to materialise, and we’ve spent the entire week on various beaches north and south of Paphos, in spectacular weather. We’ve done a bit of everything: swimming, snorkelling, cycling, kayaking and the obligatory long walks, we’re knackered ... however that’s good knackered.
I’m starting this post in the departure lounge of Paphos international airport while waiting for a flight home, so things may change as I complete this tomorrow.
Before we left, we’d had a survey done on our home for a prospective buyer (of this I’ve made no mention until now, because these things are want to fall through). Effectively we are six weeks into what appears to be a very positive offer, on what could be a very quick sale. But; there are always buts. When we bought this place the survey came back with half a dozen provisos and a recommendation that we have a full structural survey or abandon the sale. Some of the provisos the surveyor mentioned were wholly inaccurate such as: an unsupported but removed chimney breast in the kitchen down stairs. Had the guy followed his own measurements he would have seen that the people who had the kitchen fitted, had just run a partition from the edge of the “alleged” missing chimney breast to the outer party wall, to make everything square for fitting kitchen cupboards, he’d cited that he thought there may be subsidence ... but he didn’t spot the damp, and so on and so forth.
The surveyor I saw a week and a bit ago, noticed the inconsistent external boundary and internal measurements and questioned me about them; in particular the “apparent”” absence of a chimney breast in the kitchen. I watched him check for damp, and either the beep noise was off, or the job we did last summer was as sound as I hoped it would be.
I guess after last year’s run of bad luck I’m just being a bit paranoid, and expecting bad luck, a bad report or some other upset to throw us off course again. So today is a big day, it’s phone the estate agency day, and phone the van re-sprayer day. I don’t like doing fingers crossed, I don’t like the worry of having other peoples opinions or their need to generate additional income fucking things up, but one has to be prepared thus. By way of explanation, our surveyor was doing a valuation survey. When it was booked in, the lady in the “call centre” said it was just a “valuation survey for now". That is a very telling statement, and it comes back to what’s wrong with this countries current business ethos. The subtext of the call centre reps phrasing strongly suggests that the surveyor needs to complete the survey and in doing so, find a way to push for either a Home Buyer report or a Full Structural survey, thus generating additional income for the umbrella organisation farming out the work to the individual surveyors (I suspected this so I asked the surveyor who he worked for, he said he was independent).
It’s that shite again ... some smart Alec somewhere has set up a company with a staff of hundreds of call centre agents fielding calls from estate agents and buyers, fixing prices for surveyors to do work, and taking a small margin off the top. But instead of being client focused, and getting the market moving, they are focused on generating additional work from the basic survey to increase their margin ... the problem with this is, that as soon a buyer see’s the chance that they may have to spend extra money on additional surveys ... they pull out of the sale, or as happened to our seller, and may now happen to us ... you have to put your hand in your pocket to cover the buyers additional fees because the surveyor’s remit is to drop in certain key words that make the mortgage lender put a stop on the mortgage until you’ve spent more money with the surveyor.
Clearly this isn’t a new practice, but when you add in the “call centre effect”, suddenly you are dealing with a purely process and profit driven machine. As I’ve blathered on about elsewhere, this ethos, despite all the bullshit in the “About Us” section of these web fronted, call centre centric businesses, about client care, customer satisfaction, core values blah blah fucking blah, there is one thing that’s key ... generate additional income, no matter the cost to the client.
Rant over. Time to make some calls.

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