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Blocked drain in the back garden through which the kitchen and utility room drain, (thankfully no toilets).

 

Local company diagnose a collapsed drain and quote ~£600 for digging it up and replacing it

 

We got Swiftcover involved to see if we are covered. They send their approved people around who provide the same diagnosis (with cameras and wotnot) and confirm we are covered - pay them the excess of £350 and they'll come round and sort it out, taking up the rest of the bill with the insurance company. So far so smooth.

 

Only when the two chaps turn up to do the work, they discover the initial diagnosis to be at fault, and that it was a simple blockage. In less than an hour, they had cleared it and were on their way.

 

Now we find the company has charged their "half day rate" of £400+vat to Swiftcover.

 

We aren't suggesting any impropriety on the mis-diagnosis - but it's a bitter pill to pay £350 for two blokes to do a simple job in less than an hour.

 

We're taking it up with Swiftcover today but I'd be interested in any comments?

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It could be the case that the people who cleared the drain, just decided they could not be bothered. You had two previous inspections advising of a collapsed drain, so i am not sure they would have got this wrong.

 

I bet these two contractors have no CCTV recording of the drain after they cleared the blockage to confirm it was now in proper working order. If they have left a broken drain, it will now just leak into the soil around it.

 

Last time i paid for a garden drain to be cleared, i think it cost £90. And that involved over a hours work, with the contractor also going into the neighbours to clear through their drain as well.

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Thanks for your reply. It was one previous, independent inspection, then the inspection and repair by the insurance company's approved people. The drain is only about a foot under the lawn and there's now no sign of leakage (quite the pond before). There was mention of a cavity in the drain because an access cover that had been paved over and replaced with another one further up. It was in this cavity that the blockage collected, and to a camera might have seemed like a collapse because it would have looked like a void full of crud..

 

Basically I don't really have any issue with the diagnosis or the work. I doubt anyone at any point set out to deceive. I just have an issue with the effective cost to fix the actual problem (though it would be easy to cry foul, it's not a card I want to play... yet)

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Finally had a call back from a "claims manager" earlier, who seemed totally stumped as I took her off-script.

 

She kept insisting that I needed to pay the £350 excess on the claim

 

I kept pointing out to her that they/we have been overcharged and what we'd agreed to pay (and did) for wasn't the job that ended up being done.

 

At one point she asked what I would like for them to do (classic dealing-with-difficult-customer training). I said they needed to take it up with their contractor for overcharging and that we'd be happy to cover a reasonable cost of unblocking a drain.

 

At another point she suggested I needed to take it up with the contractor directly. I pointed out that this company was their contractor, not mine.

 

I also suggested an anlogy of taking your car into a garage for what you'd been told was a new engine, but instead turned out to need only an oil change. Would she then accept being charged for a new engine? (she ummed and arred and ignored the question).

 

Then she'd revert back to point A about needing to pay the £350 excess that is part of our policy - this is also classic training technique of trying to generate a circular argument until the customer gets bored or ****ed off or both - but in this case simply didn't make any sense as she hadn't provided an answer to my query as to how what we/they'd been charged was reasonable.

 

Anyway, I asked to make a complaint, and that will now include this poor effort (they record all calls after all...). Expecting a call tomorrow apparently.... #baitedbreath

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I can't see a complaint succeeding - you made a claim on your policy, they have resolved the issue. The price the contractors charge the insurer is neither here nor there (often for smaller jobs the cost is higher than a local contractor would be, or they work on a fixed fee for a specific type of job). The reason the insurance companies are willing to pay more to them is to fund the customer services infrastructure, complaints and regulatory compliance and the guaranteed timescales that they will be able to deliver.

 

I suspect that the drainage company have also charged for the survey/investigation cost.

 

The only way I can see an argument succeeding with the ombudsman is if the repair is substandard or inadequate. Otherwise you'll be asking them to involve themselves in the commercial relationship between AXA and their drainage contractors - which they won't do.

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Thank you for your reply. but the relationship between AXA and their traders is not my concern. What is my concern is that I paid the excess based on a diagnosis that turned out to be wrong. This diagnosis was the responsibility of the contractor, therefore they initiated the job under false pretences (not deliberately I'm sure). However it is AXA/Swift's job to deal with the outfall as their contractor is their responsibility.

 

Why should I (and AXA) carry the can for a mistake made by the contractor?

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This becomes a contractural issue, which could end up in court, if they chose that route. Of course your argument is that you can only be party to the contract, if you knew in advance what you were agreeing to. They should have told you the cost, if it had just been a blocked pipe.

 

You might have to settle at an amount that reflects the actual work done, as a compromise.

 

Suggest you negotiate, otherwise Insurers could just cancel your Insurance and that would cost you a lot more than £350 in future Insurance costs with a cancelled policy to declare.

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I have absolutely no issue with covering the cost of the job they actually did - and have made that clear from the outset.

 

Understood on the cost of a cancelled policy - thanks. As it happens it's due to expire in a couple of weeks anyway, and actually both my wife and I have car insurance with Axa/Swift too so they stand to lose more than it'd cost them to make good on this claim if we voted with our feet (though I doubt large corporations like this think like that).

 

It'd be annoying to go elsewhere, the web front end of the car insurance arm is really well designed with great flexibility.

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Apologise for stating what you may know.

 

You are already a party to a contract when taking out Insurance and this includes any subsequent contract required as part of a claim. You effectively agreed to be part of a further contract, when making this claim. Where the Insurers have gone wrong is not explaining the terms of this further comtract. They should have told you that if the contractors found out that it was just a blocked pipe/drain, you would still be responsible for the £350 excess, even if the actual cost of work might be less, if you had arranged it.

 

Some Insurers can get quite funny with people in this situation. They can be vindictive and decide to cancel policies providing 7 days notice or just not offering renewal.

 

You could find out from local contractors what they would charge for the work and then write to head of claims at Swift explaining that you are not looking to be unreasonable. You were told certain work was required after their contractors survey and would have been happy to pay the £350 excess. When you actually had contractors do the work, they found out the survey was wrong and the basis of the claim was totally different. You now feel let down by the claims process, when you could have obtained the work locally at a cheaper cost.

We could do with some help from you.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Update: Once I escalated it to a complaint, we had a letter of acknowledgement after a few days and after a couple of weeks I got an email confirming who was dealing with the 'case' and then a followup phone call. AXA agreed to refund our excess and re-write the claim as an "enquiry". From what she said, I think they went after the contractors for their money back. So the result was better than I expected or asked for - well done AXA!

 

The only downside to the whole thing (and again, I never believed anyone was guilty of impropriety) was the way I was dealt with by the 'claims manager' because she clearly didn't have the capability to deal with my issue and should have escalated it herself proactively rather than trying to put me off. They agreed to look into it but I said I didn't need any comeback. It's not as if anyone had been unprofessional.

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I have just come in on all this, the 2 thing's I want to add / question

 

1 your original argument should have been with the private contractor that told you collapsed drain quoting £600 for repair, had they told you it could have been a blockage and a jet clean the drain was £100+ I'm sure you would have agreed to that instead of involving the insurance company

 

2 Now that swift has potentially been refunded and also refunded you, would this leave the drainage company open to reclaim there cost's from you ? (a question maybe not for stunned monkey but for others)

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I don't think the drainage company have any come back, as they were the Insurers appointed contractor. Reading between the lines, i think Axa will just come to an arrangement with the drainage company and will write it off internally, just to get shot of the complaint.

We could do with some help from you.

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I have just come in on all this, the 2 thing's I want to add / question

 

1 your original argument should have been with the private contractor that told you collapsed drain quoting £600 for repair, had they told you it could have been a blockage and a jet clean the drain was £100+ I'm sure you would have agreed to that instead of involving the insurance company

 

If by the private contractor, you mean the local bloke, I don't blame him at all - he privided his quote and diagnosis and on that basis we went through insurance. The insurer'sc ontractor made the same wrong diagnosis as well - again no blame here, there was good reason to make the mistake - but when they discovered the error, should have back-tracked on the whole thing

 

2 Now that swift has potentially been refunded and also refunded you, would this leave the drainage company open to reclaim there cost's from you ? (a question maybe not for stunned monkey but for others)

 

I would have no issue covering a reasonable cost for the job performed, as I've made clear to everyone from the start.

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