Saturday, October 25, 2003

The “Nigerian Scam”

These days I find myself, and I suspect that I am not alone, on the receiving end of a deluge of emails from a variety of individuals; purporting to be deposed presidents, royalty and businessmen residing in various parts of Africa (more often than not Nigeria).

The content of these letters (colloquially known as the “Nigerian Scam”) follows a familiar format:

 Your name has been recommended by a reputable source.

 They have a large sum of money, usually exceeding $20M, which they wish to export from their country.

 They would like an “honest” person to conduct business with.

 They require temporary use of a bank account to facilitate that transfer.

 They offer a high percentage in return for this facility, usually 20% of the capital sum involved.

 All they need are the details of your bank account, phone number and a few other personal pieces of information.

 Contact details are provided, where a “real” person will interact with you.

In case you have not realised it, this is a scam. The perpetrators having duped the greedy and stupid into revealing details of their bank account etc, then empty it; and disappear with the proceedings.

Now, you would think that this was so obviously a scam; that no one would be taken in by it. However, regrettably this is not so; in my experience of fraud investigation you should never underestimate the stupidity, arrogance and greed of your fellow human beings.

The scammers manage to con, a not insignificant percentage of, the stupid and greedy out of some quite sizeable amounts of money. Indeed, such is the success (a testament to the “human condition”), that the number of these letters is on the increase. I find that I now receive more of these emails, than those offering penis enlargement and the more bizarre forms of sexual gratification.

The people who perpetrate this crime are, to use a technical term, scum. The criminal enforcement agencies around the world are doing their best to track them down, but as long as there are stupid and greedy people prepared to open up their bank accounts to these “Hucksters”; there will always be some form of “Nigerian letter”.

I therefore would like to present my “Worse Than Worthless” award to the perpetrators of the “Nigerian Scam”.

I have now started to keep a log of the letters I receive from these people, which shows the variety of ludicrous stories that are used to extract money from the greedy and stupid. The log can be accessed on the Stupid Punts section of my site.

I have edited out the email and phone contact details of the senders of these letters, to protect the stupid.

I would take this opportunity to remind all of you, that before taking any financial investment decision; you should consult a reputable independent financial adviser and lawyer.

Remember if it sounds too good to be true, then it is!

Monday, October 20, 2003

The British Airways Ham and Cheese Bloomer

Usually my “Worse Than Worthless” award is made to an organisation or company. However, I am making an exception in this case; and presenting it to a sandwich.

This particular culinary atrocity has been served to me on two separate occasions on the BA London-Stockholm route, on both occasions the sandwich was “Worse Than Worthless”.

I am, as you can see from the “Frost Bites” and “Accountants Can Cook” sections of my site, a lover of good food and an amateur chef. This sorry excuse for a sandwich failed as a source of culinary delectation on a number of levels:

 The wrapper in which it was presented noted that it would “expire” the following day. This clearly meant that it was not freshly prepared on the day of the flight; instead, I suspect, they are prepared in batches and stored for a number of days.

 On close inspection, having taken a bite, the slices of bread that comprised the “bloomer” had a chalky white luminescent centre. This, from my experience, indicates that the bread has been deep chilled/frozen. Fresh, is clearly not the operative word here.

 The contents, ham and cheese, really lacked imagination. I think that for a return ticket, that cost around £150, we should be entitled to something a little more imaginative. I would note that the alternative, for the vegetarians, were egg mayonnaise baps (which looked as though they had been sat upon). Clearly the menu was designed by the same people who cater for primary school children.

 On pulling the sandwich apart, I noted that there was no spread (butter or margarine) of any description on the bread; even prisoners are allowed butter or margarine these days! I cannot believe that the cost saving made by serving dry bread really makes such a difference to the cash flow of BA.

 The thinly sliced ham (no surprise there), was placed in the middle of the bloomer. However, the slices of ham were so small that they did not reach the edges of the bloomer. The same was true of the plastic pathetic excuse for “mature cheddar” (as it was described on the wrapper), a misnomer if ever I have heard one. I estimate that approximately 10% of the inside surface area of the bloomer had no contact with either cheese or ham.

 Hiding, shamed faced, between the cheese and ham was a solitary sad piece of lettuce; clearly embarrassed to be associated with this culinary abomination.

 Bland, is too complimentary a word to use to describe the taste.

I for one think that it is perfectly reasonable that on a journey of two hours that sandwiches, rather than a full meal, are served. However, the sandwiches should at least be a little imaginative as regards to the variety on offer; and be tasty and fresh.

How can our national airline hold its head up proudly, and present such a poor and embarrassing specimen?

BA, as you know, I have written to you before about this; when will you improve the quality and taste?

Tuesday, September 09, 2003


CPM is a property management company based in the UK, which has recently been taken over by Equity Asset Management.

Two visitors to my site, who live in properties maintained by CPM, have nominated CPM for a “Worse Than Worthless” award; based on the following:

 The hallways are unkempt

 The interiors of properties are not maintained

 Promises of reviewing service charges are not kept

 Helpdesk not helpful

 Telephone and written complaints are ignored.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Croydon Council 2003

Croydon CouncilI, like others living in Croydon, am less than impressed with the 27% increase in council tax being foisted upon us by our local “leaders”.

The leader of the council has expressed “disappointment” at the rise, and states “asking local people to pay a significant increase in council tax is the last thing the council wanted to do”. He then goes on to blame the government and the London mayor for the increase.

Well that makes it alright then doesn’t?

Forgive me “Dear Leader” if I beg to differ.

The role of any elected council is to manage the finances effectively and efficiently, and to minimise the impact of fiscal shocks on the local economy.

Where a source of revenue is significantly reduced (eg central government funding), it is your duty to make adjustments to the cost base. It is only the most cowardly kind of “weasel” who passes on responsibility for meeting the shortfall to others (in this case the local taxpayers/electorate).

Leadership brings with it both privileges and responsibilities. It is your responsibility to face the, albeit difficult, fact that you need to reduce the cost base. Your action in avoiding this responsibility (ie forcing the electorate to reduce their own personal cost base) has negated your right to hold office.

I have perused your council “propaganda sheet” (paid for by the electorate) and note the following increase in expenditure planned for 2004:

3.3 refuse
1.0 recycling
0.25 domiciliary care
0.18 safer roads
0.55 child support
0.5 road safety
0.15 contact centre

This represents 5.5% of the total tax bill for 2003. Cut these and you are on your way to negating the need to increase the council tax. Not too hard, is it?

Now get on with it, and do the job you were elected to do; or face electoral oblivion.

Friday, April 18, 2003

The Gadget Shop

23 April 2005

Gadget Shop have gone bust, see

Below I present the email correspondence between myself and The Gadget Shop, relating to a citrus juicer that was purchased for me as a Christmas present by my partner Eva.

The handle of the product snapped in two after only a short period of normal usage.

Gadget Shop refused to supply a replacement, or make a refund. Whatever happened to the principle of "the customer is always right"?

I have edited out individual’s names, and arranged the emails to show the latest first. To go to the first one click here.

14 July 2003

Extract of letter to the Trading Standards Office:

"...Dear Sir/Madam,

I wish to register a formal complaint against The Gadget Shop (144 Whitgift Centre), with regard to a citrus juicer sold to my partner just before Christmas.

The handle snapped in two after only a short period of normal domestic usage.

We promptly attempted to return the product and packaging (the latter clearly states that the product was purchased from Gadget Shop); but the shop would not provide a refund or replacement without the receipt, which we have unfortunately lost.

I have engaged in lengthy correspondence with the company (see attached), which has been detailed on the “Worse Than Worthless” section of my website, but to no avail.

Please note that we still have the product and all its packaging.

I believe that consumer law entitles me to a refund with, or without, a receipt. Please can you help?

Thank you in advance...."

To The Gadget Shop
From Ken Frost
12 March 2003

Thank you for your note.

As the product cost £5 it was paid for in cash, therefore no cheque stub can be produced.

FYI, I will forward the emails to Watchdog for their opinion on this.


Ken Frost

From: The Gadget Shop
To: Ken Frost
Subject: FW: Citrus Juicer 15903
Date: Wed, 12 Mar 2003 15:17:09 -0000

Dear Mr Frost

Further to your email message here below, I have now spoken to, who is not prepared to offer any form of compensation for this item, without proof of purchase.

The branding on the box is not proof of purchase.

In order to make way for new items, the Juicer is now discontinued with The Gadget Shop. However, we were very happy with the quality and performance of these juicers, and likewise thousands of our customers who purchased the same item, have had no reason to complain.

We are aware that your girlfriend no longer has the receipt, however if she has a bank statement showing the transaction or a cheque stub, we will review the matter.

We can only apologise that without any proof of purchase we cannot help you.

Yours sincerely

Customer Services Manager

From: Ken Frost
Sent: 06 March 2003 12:39
Subject: RE: Citrus Juicer 15903


Thank you for your note.

In light of the delayed response from your Operations Director (owing to his absence); I will give him the chance to write to me by 5pm Thursday 13 March, before I forward details to the parties mentioned in my earlier email.

He can also address these issues in his response:

With regards to quality; I trust, and assume, that you will be withdrawing this product from your catalogue as it is clearly not "fit for purpose".

May I also enquire, since you appear unwilling to believe that we purchased this from your store, where you believe that I purchased it from?

With your company's name so clearly marked on the box, if it was not purchased from a Gadget Shop, it must be trademark infringement by another retailer?


Ken Frost

From: The Gadget Shop
To: 'Ken Frost'
Subject: RE: Citrus Juicer 15903
Date: Thu, 6 Mar 2003 11:46:11 -0000

Dear Mr Frost

We are sorry to read that you are not happy with our response.

We regret, we do have strict returns procedures in place, and cannot override these.

The supplier details are for quality purposes only, this is not proof of purchase.

However, we appreciate your comments, therefore we have passed your email to our Operations Director, for his remarks.

Mr is away from the office until next Wednesday, therefore we will contact you again on his return.

We are sorry that this matter cannot be resolved sooner.

Yours sincerely

Customer Services Manager

From: Ken Frost
Sent: 05/03/03 18:51
To: The Gadget Shop
Subject: Re: Citrus Juicer 15903


Thank you for your reply, I note the contents.

However, I am afraid I do not accept your reasoning, viz:

1 The product has been clearly listed on your website as being supplied by you.

2 The box of the product clearly states:

"15903 Product supplied by The Gadget Shop Limited East Yorks HU13 OLH Please retain this information for future reference".

3 I would, by definition, return a faulty product to the vendor that sold it; why bother with a company that did not sell it?

4 The product is faulty and of poor design, it breaches the sale of goods act as it is not "fit for purpose" or of "merchantable quality".

To this end please be advised that, over the coming weekend, I will be taking the following actions:

1 I will copy all correspondence relating this matter to the BCC's "Watchdog".

2 I will copy all correspondence to The Times.

3 I will post all details of this correspondence to a special page, dedicated to poor customer service, on my website

You have until 5pm Friday 7th March to comply with my request for compensation.

Thank you.


Ken Frost

From: The gadget Shop
To: Ken Frost
Subject: Citrus Juicer 15903
Date: Wed, 5 Mar 2003 16:51:12 -0000

Dear Mr Frost

We thank you for your e-mail message.

After consulting with a supervisor regarding your faulty product.

Unfortunately, with no proof of purchase we are unable to offer a refund on this item. We do require adequate proof that a contract was made with The Gadget Shop regarding this sale.

We are sorry that we could not help you further on this occasion.

Once again, we apologise for any disappointment and inconvenience caused.

Yours sincerely

The Gadget Shop Customer Services

The Gadgetshop Ltd

Dear Mr Frost

We thank you for your email message.
Your previous email was opened and referred to our Supervisor for advice on the matter. I have taken the liberty of copying this further email for the same purpose.
You shall be contacted again shortly.
We apologise for the inconvenience.
Yours sincerely
The Gadget Shop Customer Services

From: Ken Frost]
Sent: 01 March 2003 14:17
Subject: RE: Citrus juicer product 15903
I would appreciate an answer to this note sent to you, and opened by you, on 24 Feb.

Ken Frost

To The Gadget Shop Customer Services
From Ken Frost
Date 24 Feb 2003

Dear ,

Thank you for your note.

Please note, as already stated, we do not have the receipt.

However, the box clearly states that the product was supplied by the gadget shop.

Regarding date of purchase, you will have to exercise some trust and take our word for it that it was bought this Christmas.

I reiterate my view that the article is not fit for purpose.

In light of the above I expect a full refund.

Thank you.

Kind regards,

Ken Frost

From The Gadget Shop
To: 'Ken Frost
Subject: RE: Citrus juicer product 15903
Date: Mon, 24 Feb 2003 12:59:25 -0000

Dear Mr Frost

We thank you for your e-mail message.

We are sorry you have not received a reply sooner, we have been inundated with email messages, and unable to reply in good time.

Unfortunately, we are unable to offer an exchange or gift vouchers without a valid proof of purchase. We require this proof to confirm this was purchased from The Gadget Shop and is within its 12 month guarantee.

However, we can confirm you are able to return this to us along with your receipt or a bank statement as your proof of purchase.

We apologise for any inconvenience and thank you for your interest in The Gadget Shop.

Kind Regards

From: Ken Frost
Sent to The Gadget Shop 22 February 2003
Subject: Citrus juicer product 15903

Dear Sir/Madam,

Please be advised that my girlfriend purchased the above, as a Christmas present for me, from your Croydon branch.

After one month of normal use, the handle snapped in two.

She took it back to the shop to get her money back, and was told that as she did not have the receipt neither a refund or replacement would be possible. She was told that she should contact customer service.

The store was not prepared to help her.

I have the following observations:

1 The product is clearly of poor quality and will not stand up to normal domestic usage, ie it is not fit for purpose.

2 The store's policy wrt to returns is not satisfactory. The product and the box were returned, there is no reason why the store could not have provided a refund on the spot.

Please advise me as to what you intend to do to redress this situation.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,

Ken Frost

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Equity Asset Management

This company acts as property manager for a number of residential apartment blocks throughout the UK. They were, unfortunately, property managers for my apartment as well.

In October 2002 damp patches appeared in the ceiling of some of the rooms of our apartment. It appears that there was a leak in the roof of our apartment block. The problem became steadily worse; when it rained water flowed down the back of one of our built in wardrobes, and a hole appeared in the ceiling of our airing cupboard.

I am aware that there are many people who have had problems with Equity. I have drafted a proforma letter which you can send to Watchdog, newspapers and ARMA (Association of Residential Managers) etc; to alert them and others to the activities of this company. To download it please click here.

Those of you who are still struggling with Equity may like to visit a special Forum dedicated to helping people, it can be located by clicking here.

Below I present a selection of the emails between myself and Equity, as I struggled to make them fulfil their duties as property managers and repair the damage to the roof and my ceiling.

However to my view there is one key issue that should be addressed, aside from the repairs and customer service issues, which affects the entire property management industry.

Namely, the fact that anyone can set themselves up as a property manager; the voluntary membership of ARMA does not work (witness Equity’s departure from ARMA) . This, to my view, is a recipe for disaster and malpractice.

I advocate that a professional body, similar to the my own professional body (the ICAEW), be set up. Managing agents would have to belong to it before they would be allowed to conduct business. Membership would be restricted to those who pass best practice professional criteria; failings could be reported, and those judged not to have met the criteria be disbarred from trading as managing agents.

It is one thing to buy a non functioning washing machine or car, they can be replaced. However, when managing agents neglect their duties to maintain your home they are messing with your life. If you agree with this view, then lobby your MP (use the Fax Your MP box on this site).

By way of a post script to my troubles; you may be interested to know that Equity were featured on the BBC1 programme Watchdog on 2nd Decmeber 2003. A brief overview of the piece can be viewed by clicking here.

The emails are arranged in reverse order, I have edited out the names of individuals. To go to the first one click here .

21 October 2003

Following a further exchange of emails and phone calls, I am pleased to say that Equity and I have reached an agreement; without having to resort to the services of a lawyer.

15 October 2003

It turns out that the "outside" insurance company now handling Equity's insurance matters are in fact part of CPM (see the CPM section on the "Worse Than Worthless" part of my site.)

14 October 2003 update

Equity claim on their website that they are members of the General Insurance Council. Well I think the GIC needs to know what has been going on. Here is a little email I sent this afternoon:

"Please be advised that I wish to make a formal complaint about the handling by EAM of a claim for negligence I lodged with them 3 months ago.

I have repeatedly followed up the progress of the claim, yet have been fobbed off by various members of staff telling me it was under investigation.

The final exchange of emails took place last week; I was told that their insurance dept was shut, and that I should write to an outside company.

Equity state on their website that they are proud members of your organisation. Yet they have failed to respond in either a helpful or prompt manner.

I have the following questions:

1 Why do you allow them to be members of your organisation? I trust that you will be withdrawing their membership.

2 What will you do to help me claim redress?

The full details have been recorded on the "Worse Than Worthless" section of my website

Note, I have been in dispute with this organisation now for a year wrt to the water damage to my apartment. We sacked them for negligence in June yet clear up procedure is still being undertaken.

I will be taking legal steps against Equity, and ensuring it receives maximum publicity.

I hope, that at the very least, you will withdraw their membership.

Thank you in advance

Kind regards,

Ken Frost

14 October 2003

By way of an update, I recently wrote to all the major broadsheets, BBC and ITV breakfast shows, Watchdog and Which.

I received a response from Which to today which said, amongst other things, that:

-They were sorry to hear about mine and others poor poor experiences with Equity Asset Management.

-They were very grateful to my taking the time and trouble to detail mine, and others experiences.

-They will draw the attention of their research staff working on reports in this area, to these matters.

-If they need any further information to assist them in the preparation of future reports, they will be in touch.

It is slow process, but I think we can achieve something with this.

As ever, I would be grateful for input from victims; and assistance in bringing the dossier to the attention of other victims and ex employees who may wish to contribute.



8 October 2003

Equity responded with a fob off, I batted it straight back to them:

">From: Equity

Dear Mr Frost

*** is no longer with the company and all our insurance matters are
being dealt with by:

Associated Insurance Services Ltd
P O Box 176
EN11 0ZA

please, therefore, direct all future communications straight to them as they
will handle any potential claim....

My response...

Mr ***,

The claim was lodged against Equity three months ago.

I have been fobbed off by *** and ****, who both advised me that an insurance company was dealing with it; and that I would be told in due course when it would be resolved.

Three months is long enough for you to have resolved this.

I have no intention of wasting further time chasing this matter.

I expect this matter to be resolved, by Equity, within 7 working days.

After that I place this in the hands of my lawyer.


Ken Frost"

7 October 2003

I have the feeling that I am being ignored, how foolish of them to do that!

I dropped them this one liner today (a copy of my note of the 30th was attached):

"I expect you to respond to this."

30 September 2003

Fear not I have not forgotten my chums at Equity, here is an extract of an email sent to them on Sunday, then again today (as they did not answer it the first time):

"Please can you advise me as to the reasons for the delay in Equity settling my claim against them for negligence, submitted 3 months ago?"

I will update you when I get a response.

1 September 2003

Equity's verabtim response to my query re progress of negligence claim (note they have given up using "Dear" or "Regards"):

"Your claim has been referred to insurers and we are awaiting the outcome. "

30 August 2003

Your Assistance is Required!

Dear All,

As noted in earlier posts, I propose to compile a dossier which outlines:

 The structure of Equity and its associates

 The performance of Equity and its associates

 Any other issues you consider relevant.

I will submit this dossier to a number of organisations including, but not limited to, the following:

 Government bodies, such as the OFT

 The media (including Watchdog)

 Any other relevant organisation.

In my professional experience as a chartered accountant, Head of Internal Audit and Head of Forensic Audit within a number of international organisations; one single document that presents issues/shortcomings in a consistent and professional manner will, at the very least, spur an improvement in the subject’s (Equity in this case) performance.

In order to compile the dossier, I need your assistance and input. I wish to include your experiences of dealing with Equity.

In order to ensure that they are presented in a consistent manner, I have drafted a one page form which you can download here .

You can use this form to summarise the salient features of your dealings with Equity, and its associates. Once complete, please then email it to me.

Please understand that for the dossier to be credible, to its intended audience, you will need to provide your name and a method of being contacted.

Please let your neighbours, and any other relevant parties, know of this exercise; the more sources the greater the impact.

Should you have any suggestions, please feel free to let me know.

It goes without saying that I will be very grateful for any input you have.

Thank you.


Note for Equity, if you are genuine about wishing to improve your performance; then go to the "In Your Face" section of my websiteand click on the article "An Idiot's Guide to Assessing Organisational Performance".

This is a high level checklist that can be used by organisations to identify risks and control weaknesses.

Run through it and draw up an action plan based on the results.

29 August 2003

Time to rattle their cage again, extract of email to Equity:

"Dear ...,

Please can you advise me as to when Equity will be settling my claim against them for negligence?

Thank you..."

5 August 2003 afternoon

The mud has been cleared:

From me :

"..Thank you .

I look forward to hearing from Equity, in the near future, wrt my claim against them.

Kind regards,

Ken Frost

From Equity:

Dear Mr Frost,

With regards to the ongoing water damage claim, the brokers ***
have advised that as we no longer manage the property, they are now dealing
with the new managing agents.

If you have any further queries concerning this matter, please contact the
brokers direct (their details below) or the new managing agents:


Concerning the claim aganist Equity, please note that this is currently
being investigated and we shall contact you once I have further.

Yours Sincerely..."

5 August 2003

A somewhat, how shall I put it?, "muddy" response from Equity:

"Dear Mr Frost,

With regards to your e-mail to Mr ***, please note that we are still
awaiting responses from the brokers/insurers in respect of the water damage
claim and concerning the claim aganist Equity, this is currently being
As soon as I have received any responses I shall contact you.

As you are no doubt aware Equity are no longer the managing agents for the
property and as a result all of the details and accounts have been forwarded
onto the new managing agents, therefore this matte is now out of our hands.

Yours Sincerely..."

4 August 2003

Email sent to Equity today:

"....Ref my last letter to you (dated 2 July), regarding the water damage to my flat, please advise me as to the status of the following:

1. My insurance claim wrt the water damage.

2. My separate claim against Equity for £4.5K for negligence.

3. The promised payment from Equity to cover repairs to my flat whilst the insurance (point 1) was being settled.

I would appreciate a response by return email.

Thank you...."

28 July 2003

A couple of weeks ago I dropped Watchdog a note about Equity shutting down their forum, and their takeover of CPM (grounds for an OFT investigation).

Watchdog have written back saying that they have added this to their Database; they will be in contact should they do a programme about it.

Keep up the pressure, if you have not yet written to Watchdog, then this may a be a good time to do so.

If you have already written, then do it again; it never hurts to give them a nudge.

I will drop them a note suggesting that they may like to buy some coffee mugs and send them on to Equity.

27 July 2003

I have put together a very small range of products, which enable people to "vent their spleens" in public about what they think of Equity.

The design is simple, and not very imaginative, but Equity don't deserve anything better.

If Watchdog, or anyone else in the media are reading this, and want to give Equity an early Christmas present; why not order a few hundred T shirts and mugs, and send them to Equity's head office.

I am trying to think up a good slogan that tells people to sack Equity. However, I can't come up with anything snappy.

If anyone can come up with soemthing better than "Enjoy Life, Sack Equity" , I will send the winner a T shirt.

You can visit the "shop" by clicking here.

4 July 2003

Extract of letter received from ARMA (Association of Residential Managing Agents):

"..I am in receipt of your email of 27/6/03 regarding above.

I have to inform you that Equity Asset Management has been removed from membership as of 26/6/03..."

The letter goes on to offer advice as to where to seek advice from including LEASE (the leasehold advsiory service 0845 345 1993).

Additionally, it mentions a special arrangement with some solicitors who will charge £50 per hour to desk top review your complaint file. These can be contacted via ARMA.

1 July 2003

Extract of letter from Equity:

"...I would advise that any claim of the kind made by yourself is in the first instance referred to the insurers. this is of course the reason why insurance was taken out in the first place. As to your comments regarding the telephone conversation you had with one of our directors on 2 June 2003, we require from you estimates for redecoration works for your home. Only when this information is available can the issue be addressed.

In any situation where a claim is made, liability is not admitted. This is the nromal obligation of the insured...

27 June 2003

Extract of letter sent to Equity and copied to ARMA and insurance company:

"Thank you for your letter dated 23 June. I note its contents.

I have a number of observations including, but not limited to, the following:

 I have, as you note, sent a claim for the current estimated costs of repair to my apartment to the insurers. However, the claim for damages of £4.5K (as per my letter to Mr Y-Regional Director-20 June) is against Equity. You state that it is a matter for the insurers. Why?

 Mr X (Director), in his phone call 2 June, stated amongst other things that Equity would cover the cost of interior redecoration by making a direct payment to me; whilst the insurance claim was being processed (as per my letter of 20 June). Why have you reneged on this?

 You state that your letter does not admit liability. However, Mr X in his call of 2 June and the letter from Equity of 5 June both admit to Equity’s liability. Why are you now retrospectively changing your position?

I would appreciate written clarification of the above points.

Thank you in advance..."

26 June 2003

Received a letter from the Head of Property Management at Equity wrt my claim. Extract:

"...I would refer to your letter dated 20 June 2003, addressed to the Regional Director, which has been passed to me for attention. I note that you have now submitted a claim to the buildings insurers directly to their office in Jersey. A copy of your letter is also being referred to the building insurers.

While I note your suggestion that the matter might be resolved within 5 days, you will appreciate this is now a matter for the insurers but they have been asked to process your claim as soon as possible..."

25 June 2003

Equity Freedom Day!!!!!!

Please read this whilst humming Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" (from his 9th symphony).

Oh happy days, Equity are no more; we now have, from this day, a new managing agent. A group who have taken over blocks previously mis-managed by Equity.

If you are passing The Bedford Arms tonight..drinks are on me. It is VE Day (Victory over Equity day) here.

20 June 2003

Extract of letter to Equity today:

"...Please be advised that today I have received two estimates for the repair to the interior of my apartment, based on the visible extensive damage to date; should there be further damage identified this will of course be subject to a further claim.

I will send both estimates, together with the insurance claim form, directly to your insurance company in Jersey.

I request that you expedite matters with respect to the claim with urgency; and that you fully explain to them that the delay in making the claim is due to Equity's incompetence, and failings, as a professional managing agent. Be advised that I will not tolerate, or expect, any further delays wrt to this matter.

Additionally, I seek financial redress from Equity for a number of issues including, not limited to, the following:

 The stress (acknowledged by Equity in writing 5 June), inconvenience and disruption (eg putting buckets and towels in and around the built in wardrobe everytime it rains, and not being able to use the wardrobe owing to ongoing water damage) suffered by myself and my partner; arising from the protracted/inexcusable delay, and the ever changing explanations/obfuscation by Equity in identifying and repairing the cause of the water damage first identified, and reported, by me in October 2002.

 The excessive time, effort and energy I have had to devote to force Equity into recognising their responsibilities; and into taking action to perform their function as managing agent viz:

- Making phone calls

- Writing letters

- Writing emails

- Being forced to campaign in the public arena (eg website, Watchdog, ARMA, Sir Teddy Taylor, all national newspapers etc)

- Waiting for, and attending, visits by various personnel from Equity; as plans for inspection and repair were regularly delayed and changed.

 Acting as “point of contact” for various representatives from firms (eg scaffolding, surveying and contract labour) hired by Equity in the last fortnight (even though you had already conducted a full survey in February) to “fast track” repairs, which will (owing to Equity’s incompetence) now be handled by our new managing agents; Equity being (quite rightly) sacked as managing agents. These functions are normally performed by a site manager or surveyor.

 The recognition and admission by Nick Gould (Director of Equity) in a telephone call (recorded) to me on 2 June of a number of points including, but not limited to, the following:

- That the delay has been unacceptable

- That he could not understand how this has been allowed to get to this stage

- That there were no excuses for Equity’s incompetent performance

- Equity will cover the cost of interior decoration by a direct payment to me, whilst they wait for the money to come through from the insurance company

- The issuance of an unreserved and an effusive apology, coupled with an assurance that all matters would be resolved to my satisfaction; including that of payment of compensation.

 You (as Regional Director of Equity) state in your letter of 5 June “the delay you have experienced has been unacceptable”, you also acknowledge “the stress and inconvenience this matter has caused”; a clear and unequivocal admission of liability.

Taking the above into account, the supporting details of which (and more) are fully documented (as you are aware), the sum of not less than £4500 (over and above the insurance claim) will cover my personal damages.

I look forward to, and expect, a prompt and satisfactory conclusion to these matters. To this end I would appreciate written confirmation to this effect within five working days.

Failure to comply will result in further action being taken, the details of which will be placed in the public arena using all means at my disposal.

Thank you in advance.


18 June 2003

I spoke too soon.

Today I was called by Equity to be told that the scaffolding etc has been cancelled.

We have appointed new managing agents who start here next week, and they have blocked Equity touching the place.

So near yet so far!

On the bright side at least we will be free of Equity.

17 June 2003

I received a letter from the Director of Equity Surveyors, and an email from Equity customer care telling me to expect scaffolding this week; to investigate and repair the roof.

Be still my beating heart!

11 June 2003

The chaps from Equity came round today, as promised, to start stage one of the repairs. They fixed a couple of ventilation ducts which had dropped off (back in 2002).

I asked when the scaffolding would appear, and was told that the tenders (deadline last Friday) had not yet been received.

However, I am being "fast tracked" and so another firm has been contacted; and will send a rep around tomorrow to provide an on the spot quote for erecting a tower.

The tower, expected to now be up next week, will serve to give access to the roof; so that the cause of the leaks can be identified. Note that the leaks were reported back in October 2002..

Then "all" that will need to be done (repair wise..subject to other discoveries) is:

1 Arrange for builders to come round and fix the cause of the leaks.

2 Have the inside of my apartment redecorated, and replastered, in the areas where I have water damage. This will include having the fitted wardrobe pulled out, and the wall behind it replastered.

Stay tuned for further news.

10 June 2003

I received an email from Watchdog today, extract:


Your email has been read and added to our database. As we receive so many every day, I'm afraid we cannot call everyone back. If we report on it in the future, you will probably be contacted....."

6 June 2003

Edited extract of letter received from Equity today:

"...We have this week received from ARMA notification of your further letter to them....

I have investigated this matter. You have this week been visited by two senior members of staff who have expedited completion of repairs...

I totally accept that the delay you have experienced has been unacceptable. These repairs are now scheduled to be completed next week....

As you will be aware, the causes of the situation which has arisen in this instance are now being investigated in order to avoid such problems occurring in the future. May I take the opportunity to apologise for the stress and inconveinece this matter has caused..."

Signs of progress; I will keep you updated.

4 June 2004

Received a call from Equity today to assure me that the visit yesterday would not be charged for.

Later received a call from one of the surveyors, to make an appointment for next Wednesday to fix the ventilation duct.

Stage one of the repair work finally commencing!

Maybe I will, by the end of the year, be a happy bunny!

3 June 2003

Two surveyors arrived today. They spent a good time in my loft inspecting the damage; and found, in addition to the roof leak, a problem with a ventilation duct that has detached itself. This is causing one of the damp patches in my ceiling.

The last surveyor didn't spot it, so just as well it has been identified now. Otherwise, as and when the roof is repaired, I would still have damp in one area of my ceiling.

2 June 2003

I received a call from one of Equity's directors today, he was very apologetic; apparently he had only just become aware of my situation.

He is sending yet another surveyor around (tomorrow) to see if they can at least stop further damage before the roof is actually repaired.

30 May 2003

I received a response today, to my letter to Equity. In brief:

“….I will answer you questions in the same sequence as your bullet points.

 Repairs were originally to be done using scaffolding. This was too expensive. A surveyor was then instructed to prepare a formal specification.

 Temporary remedial action was impossible as access was difficult.

 The surveyor established the specification and it is for him to control the tendering process.

 I can offer no explanation as to why the insurance claim has only now been despatched.

 We will explain the circumstances of the delay to the insurance company.

 Estimates for repair can be prepared on the basis of “no further damage”. Final estimates can then be obtained when the repairs to the roof have been carried out.

 As you know the surveyor has requested revised quotes by the 7th of June. Immediately upon receipt of the best quotation, instructions will be given for remedial works to be carried out. A date will be set at that time….”

23 May 2003

My response to Equity's recent letters, which I have copied to ARMA (Association of Residential Managing Agents), Watchdog, The Times and Sir Teddy Taylor:

"..Dear Mr ....,

Thank you for your letters dated 16 May and 21 May, and for sending an insurance claim form (dated 20 May).

I have noted the contents of the letters.

I have a number of observations:

 The considerable water damage to my apartment was first reported to equity in October 2002, and on many subsequent occasions (in writing during 2002 and 2003). You and your customer care team have been made fully aware, on an ongoing basis, of the increasing damage occurring to my apartment ceiling viz; stains, holes, water running down my built in wardrobe and water damage to the walls and carpet.

 Copies of much of the correspondence can be viewed on the “Worse Than Worthless” section of my website

 You visited my apartment, and viewed the damage in Q4 2002.

 A surveyor was finally despatched February 2003.

 Since the visit of the surveyor I have been advised on numerous occasions by you, your surveying department and your customer care team, that the matter is in hand; and that tenders are being sought.

 Your letter of 21 May now states that the tender procedure has been “re-tendered” to a deadline of 7 June.

 The insurance claim form states that I must advise the insurance company within 30 days of the incident.

 The insurance claim form notes that I must include two estimates for repair costs.

 You have observed in your letter, dated 16 May, that there are arrears on my maintenance account. I refer you to my letter of 5 January, which stated that I would withhold payment until a written timetable for repair to the roof and ceiling had been presented to me.

Based on the above I have the following questions:

 Why did it take so long for a surveyor to be despatched to inspect the water damage to my apartment?

 Why have you taken no temporary remedial action to prevent further water damage to my apartment whilst contractors are being appointed?

 Why are you still awaiting quotes from contractors, given the fact that the surveyor presented his report in February and that I have been assured (every time I have enquired) that tenders are being sought?

 Why have you only now despatched an insurance claim form?

 What happens to the insurance claim, given the fact the claim form states claims should have been reported within 30 days?

 How can I present estimates for repairs when my ceiling is still being damaged by water, as a result of the non existent roof repairs?

 When will the roof be fixed?

I would appreciate a clear set of written answers to the above questions within the next seven working days.

Please be advised, that depending on my satisfaction with your response and the outcome of remedial work yet to be performed by Equity; I will consider taking legal advice.

Thank you in advance.

Yours sincerely,

Ken Frost

23 May 2003

Today I received the insurance claim form from Equity. There are a couple of points in it that I will be raising with Equity:

1 The form says that I maust claim within 30 days of the incident. I have been complaining to Equity since October 2002 about the water damage..yet they only send the form now!

2 I must send two estimates for costs of repair. Problem being, since Equity have yet to repair the roof, I cannot have my ceiling repaired as the water keeps coming in and damaging it further. How do we deal with this then?

Equity will be hearing from me.

21 May 2003

Letter received from regional Director of Equity. Key points:

 Please find enclosed a copy letter from the surveyor regarding the roof repairs. (Editorial note: the surveyor’s letter states that the tender deadline is 7 June)

 I confirm that a communication has been received from Sir Teddy Taylor, and a reply sent yesterday.

 Rest assured that as soon as the tender results are known contractors will be appointed..

This letter and the one below raise a number of points which I intend to raise with Equity in the next few days.

16 May 2003

Letter received from Regional Director of Equity. Key points:

 We received notification from ARMA of your complaints concerning dampness in your apartment.

 I have investigated the matter…we are awaiting prices from the contractors for necessary repairs.

 I note that you have previously reported damage to the decoration of your ceiling..arranging for insurance claim form to be sent to you.

 I note that there are currently arrears on your account, I would be glad if you would kindly pay.

15 May 2003

In the spirit of making sure that they do not get let of the hook, I wrote to Sir Teddy Taylor (MP for Southend where Equity are based).

He very kindly wrote back expressing distress at my experience, and stating that he would write to Equity.

12 May 2003

In order to move things along I have written to Watchdog, all the broadsheets and the two bodies which Equity belongs to; ARMA (Association of Residential Managing Agents) and ARHM (Association of Retirement Housing I am not retired!).

These two bodies contacted me today, ARMA said they would contact the MD of Equity, ARHM stated that they have had a number of complaints about Equity and are in discussions with them.

24 April 2003

I have sent the BBC programme "UK's Worst" details of this organsiation.

Lest anyone be in any doubt as to how bad they are, take a look at this site

21 March 2003
From Equity Surveyor
To Ken Frost

Dear Mr Frost,

The surveyor, has identified defects in the roof covering above flats 35 and 36. A copy has been forwarded to Equity Asset Management, who has instructed quotations for the remedial repairs to be obtained.

I trust this answers your query.

Yours faithfully,

12 March 2003
From Equity Customer Care
To Ken Frost

Dear Mr Frost
Thank you for your email. I have contacted your property manager who has asked for a little time to clarify the situation with the surveyor and directors. I will keep you informed of any developments and apologise sincerely for the time taken to resolve this matter.
Yours sincerely

11 March 2003
From Ken Frost
To Equity Customer Care

As per your request my details are:

"Property Manager".. has all my emails going back to November.
My direct email address is…
Ken Frost "The Living Brand"

27 Feb 2003

The surveyor came and viewed/took photos of the leaks.

22 Feb 2003
From Ken Frost
To Equity Surveyor

Ref your letter dated 27 January.

Please can you advise me as to when the leaks in my roof, as notified to Equity Q4 2002, will be repaired; and the extensive damage to my bedroom, lounge and cupboard ceilings made good.

Thanks in advance.

Kind regards,

Ken Frost

27 Jan 2003

Hard copy letter received from Equity stating a surveyor would come to look at the leaks.

15 Jan 2003
From Equity Property Manager
To Ken Frost

Dear Mr Frost,
I apologise for not replying sooner but I have been unavailable all day.

It was agreed with the directors last night that the works would proceed asap. I am instructing a surveyor to establish a specification of works so that we are not faced with a similar problem in a few years time. It would appear that the roof gullies were not installed properly when the roof was replaced some years ago.

As soon as I have some specific details I will let you know, and keep you informed of developments

15 Jan 2003
From Ken Frost
To Equity Property Manager

Dear …

The deadline has passed.

Please provide me, by return, with written details of the scheduled repairs to the roof and repainting of my ceilings.

Thank you.


Ken Frost

13 Jan
From Equity Property Manager
To Ken Frost

Dear Mr Frost
Please accept my apologies for the lack of response, your message was passed to a single person in Maintenance rather than the dept. and as they were out, your message was not actioned.

I am seeing the Directors of your block tomorrow and I will agree a repair plan with them

13 Jan 2003
From Ken Frost
To equity Customer Care

Dear Equity,

ref my last email dated 5 Jan.

I regret that you have not had the courtesy, or intelligence, to respond to my last email (dated 5 Jan); or indeed my earlier messages.

In view of the above kindly be advised that should you not provide me, in writing within the next 48 hours (namely by midday Wednesday), with a date that you will repair the roof and damage to my flat; I will ensure that this unfortunate situation will attract the maximum publicity by the following means:

1 I will write to your Board of Directors

2 I will publish the correspondence, relating to the leaks in my roof, on my website

3 I will write to the BBC site Watchdog and all major broadsheets

4 I will publish all correspondence on a website of investors and analysts in the UK FTSE.

5 I will take further action as necessary

You have until the above deadline to comply.


Ken Frost

5 Jan 2003
From Ken Frost
To Equity Property Manager


Please be advised that another leak has appeared in our bedroom ceiling. This now makes 4.

I am disappointed to note that you have not yet replied to my note (16 Dec) requesting a specific date when work will start to repair this.

I find this situation unacceptable.

In light of the above, please be advised that I am taking the following actions:

1 I will withhold my payment to Equity for the 6 months maintenance charge until I receive, in writing, notification of the precise start date of repairs (that will commence within a reasonably prompt time frame).

2 I will, by way of this note copied to …, request that the directors of my block inform other residents of these problems; and that the directors ask the other residents to withhold their payments as well.

3 Dependant on Equity's response I will, if necessary, take further action.


Ken Frost

16 Dec 2002
From Ken Frost
To Equity Property Manager


Please can you advise me as to when the repair work will commence.



Ken Frost

3 Dec 2002
From Ken Frost
To Equity Property Manager


Please be advised that another large damp patch has appeared, this time in the ceiling of our living room.

I would appreciate prompt rectification, including making good the damage to our interior ceiling, of this problem.

Thank you in advance.


29 Nov 2002
From Ken Frost
To Equity Property Manager


Thank you for your prompt reply.

I appreciate the problem of access to the roof.

However, I would like to note for the record (albeit a statement of the obvious) that the longer the problem remains unresolved; the more damage to my property/ceiling/carpet etc and greater the cost.

I look forward to a speedy resolution to this matter.

Thanks in advance.

Kind regards,

Ken Frost

29 Nov 2002
From Equity Property Manager
To Ken Frost

Mr Frost, I am in receipt of your email and confirm that we are aware of the roof leak. However, because of the height of the building repairs cannot be carried out very easily. It may need scaffolding to access the roof area. The block is too high for either a scaffold tower or cherry picker. We are liasing with a contractor about access and will be discussing the matter with the directors shortly.


28 November 2002
From Ken Frost
To Equity Property Manager

Dear ,

I understand that .. has raised the issue of our leaking roof with you on at least two separate occasions, over the last two weeks.

Please be advised that when it rains we have water coming down the back and side of our wardrobe. Additionally, there is a constant leak and damp patch in the ceiling of our airing cupboard (indeed the ceiling now has a hole in it!).

Please can you advise me when someone will come and identify the cause (I imagine tiles have been dislodged from the roof) and, more importantly, fix it.

I would be grateful if you can respond within 24 hours of receiving this note.

Thank you in advance.

Yours sincerely,

Ken Frost