Thursday, 28 July 2011

Ben Harp - To Hell and Back Again - Chapter 3

The Surveyor

From the Ben Harp website “Customers are encouraged to make regular visits throughout the build to ensure they are 100% happy before starting the next stage.”

We were very comfortable with the surveyor we had chosen to represent our interests during the build.  He came highly recommended and is well regarded in the industry.  Throughout our ordeal he has been most supportive and has gone to considerable lengths to assist us whilst we were back in Australia.

Although our surveyor managed a very successful visit to inspect our shell at Tim Tyler’s premises he was never able to subsequently view progress of the build once the shell reached Ben Harp at Hixon. Four failed attempts between February and May. There were always excuses and towards the end blatant refusal.

But we are jumping ahead!

We had already booked our flights to the UK and were making efforts to get a delivery date from the Harp’s. Despite the contract specifically stating the customer would be advised in writing of any delay in the delivery date; the reasons why; and advice of a new delivery date, this never occurred. Of course by then we were trapped with more than half of the total price of the boat having been paid. The contract build schedule was only four months which effectively meant the progress payment schedule was also compressed.  This was the main reason why we parted with money so quickly.

Then in March the 3rd Stage Payment of £20,000 was demanded for 23rd March. This would mean we had paid 75% of the contract price. We had seen a few photo’s of the start of the cabinet work. As the surveyors delayed visit had also been scheduled for the 23rd we made the payment less the cost of the canbus system which we had purchased back in December.

Whilst I was away on a business trip Jan received an email from Kelly Harp advising the full payment hadn’t been made. On my return I wrote back advising the cost of the canbus system had been deducted because we had already purchased it at their suggestion back in December and Ben had subsequently requested its delivery. Also, the inspection by our surveyor on the 23rd hadn’t occurred.  Yet another excuse about “confusion over the date and time.  Kelly Harp complained about the deduction of the price of the canbus system and stated the ‘unders and overs’ would be resolved at the end of the contract. At this time we still believed they were working on our boat along with their lies about the progress that was being made. We rescheduled the surveyors visit for the 29th of March and I went away on another business trip.

Yes, you guessed it – When the surveyor visited the boat on the 29th the site was locked and unoccupied. Then Kelly e-mailed complaining we hadn’t made the full stage payment.  We had made the payment and I e-mailed her all the payment dates and amounts asking her to advise which payment hadn’t been received. Eventually she informed us of a £10,000 payment that was missing. It was interesting to note how quickly she could communicate when they wanted money but when we wanted information it was ignored.

So I queried the bank regarding the missing transfer. Meanwhile we had become very suspicious about actual progress on the boat and the lack of access by our surveyor.

I emailed the Harp’s to advise them we had again rescheduled the surveyor’s visit for the 19th April. Kelly Harp wrote back telling us the visit by the surveyor was being refused until we paid the missing £10,000. This threat was intolerable. Our reply stated the surveyor’s visit on the 19th was to inspect work that had already been completed. And was not linked to work scheduled for the next stage for which only partial payment had been received. The surveyor visited the boat on the 19th and found the compound locked with no one present.

Next we received an e-mail stating that because we hadn’t paid the missing £10,000 work had stopped on the boat and that we owed the builder £10,000 and that we would have to pay interest on the money owed.

Our reply indicated we were prepared to pay any interest on money owed but that we would need our surveyor to inspect the boat and confirm the completed work was valued at approximately £91,000 which was being claimed by the builder. We rescheduled the surveyor for 3 May. Yes..... you guessed it. No one was at Hixon when he visited.

Something was definitely rotten in the state of Denmark!

next – The Legal Story


Crew: Mike, Mags, Poppy and Abbey said...

Hi Tom and Jan.

It is surprising the number of people who have passed an opinion on a number of different forums about the treatment you have been given by the Harp's.

Give as good as you got in return.

This low life pair should crawl back under their stone.


M and M

Tom and Jan said...

We are not going to let this stop us. But we do feel obligated to ensure others know what happened so they can avoid our errors.

T & J

Ellie said...

Thank you for going public on this. These problems with the narrowboat industry need to be exposed, too many people have been turned over but have done nothing about it, for whatever reason. I do hope you pursue this and get your money back, too many of the b**tards think they can get away with it, go bust and start trading again. Well done for pursuing it, don't give up. And don't let them ruin your dream.