Hello and welcome back to Mortgage Advisor on F.I.R.E. This week I vent a little as I discuss poor customer service with a related update regarding my BTL that is extremely frustrating. Also, news on a group weight loss challenge for charity.
Quote of the Week
I have had my fill of dealing with awful customer service. In recent weeks I have had terrible experiences with E.ON, John Lewis, Nespresso, Trading212, Lewis Wadsworth (now Linley and Simpson) and my old bank account provider. I now dread each interaction with a business because I expect it to go wrong. The thing is, it should not be as hard as it is.
E.ON have been absolutely awful. Our electric meter is in a communal room on the ground floor of our apartment block. We are on the top floor. This means that the distance between our apartment and the meter room is too great for a smart meter display to work. Our traditional meter was broken over a year ago and we have not been able to get a replacement. Each time an appointment is arranged from E.ON, they manage to get it wrong. We tried for a fourth time, a few weeks ago, to arrange a new meter installation. I explained that access had to be arranged through our management company and that there was no parking, and so the engineer would need to park down the street and walk a couple of hundred meters. I was told that the engineer would not need access to the property itself and would just swap the meter over in the meter room.
The appointment comes around and the engineer knocks on our door asking to use our bathroom. I refuse. We made a decision to not let anyone in our apartment unless absolutely necessary. It sucks when you need a bathroom, but everything about this pandemic sucks. The engineer then said he needed to come in anyway to test our sockets. I explained we were told this would not be necessary. The engineer refused to complete the work without carrying out this step. As such, the appointment did not go ahead.
Calling E.ON is a stressful experience at the best of times. Wait times are insanely long and then when I do get through, the department I need to speak to is not working. I am frequently promised callbacks which do not happen. Then, out of the blue I receive emails and text messages apologising for appointments not going ahead on dates I did not arrange. From top to bottom, they seem set up to frustrate customers.
Something else that really makes me angry about customer service is how when you call a company, you can guarantee they will have a series of recorded messages telling you that you can find answers to common questions on their website. You would have to have been living under a rock for years to not try looking on the company website first before calling. If you are calling, it is precisely because you could not find your answer. I don’t think businesses realise how much this attitude damages their brand. Customers do not want to hear thirty minutes of recorded messages saying you can find answers online. It’s even more frustrating when you go on their website as a result of that message, have a live chat and are then told you have to call up to deal with that query.
None of this compares to the experience I have had dealing with my old bank account provider though. They are utterly and completely incompetent. I have been lied to and had my calls terminated because their agents did not want to deal with my complaint, which was that funds had been sent to my old account. Every person I spoke with told me a different story about what needed to happen to get the money. It took one agent over an hour to register my complaint, which was then logged incorrectly. It has so far taken over four hours on the phone and I am no closer to a resolution. Compared to my current bank provider, Starling, it is like night and day.
Now that I am back working full time hours, I feel that there is little to update people on. Life is just a simple routine of work, eat and sleep with a (un)healthy amount of TV watching in between. I have been binging a show called This Is Us on Amazon Prime which is really good. It’s a family drama taking place across different times with a non-linear style. The cast is great and the script is fantastic. It is also a show that deals with addiction and mental illness in a realistic way, with no punches pulled.
For over a decade I have been a member of Owlstalk, a Sheffield Wednesday forum, and a group of us have decided to lose weight to raise money for Sheffield Hospitals Charity. We have a Just Giving page (link below) and have, at time of writing, raised over £100 in less than a day. We are hoping to lose at least 100kg between us over the next ten weeks. If you have any spare cash, please consider a donation to our cause.
There was one funny incident this week when I had a cold call from a UK number, but when I answered it was clear the caller was based somewhere in India. The man was very pleasant but completely oblivious. See the image below for an overview of what happened.
2021 Goals – to be achieved by 31/12/2021
1 – Reduce weight to 92.8kg.
2 – Finish 104 new books.
3 – Complete RO3 for my DipFA.
4 – Complete RO4 for my DipFA.
5 – Complete RO5 for my DipFA.
6 – Complete RO6 for my DipFA.
I have not made any real progress with the weight loss, but I hope that this charity fundraising and the fact I am accountable to others will help motivate me going forward.
My reading list is up to thirteen new books for 2021. The latest book was Of Ants and Dinosaurs by Cixin Liu. I have read a few of Liu’s books now and he is a fantastic author. His imagination is incredible and the Three Body Problem trilogy is one of the finest sci-fi works of all time. Of Ants and Dinosaurs was completely, utterly, batshit crazy but I loved it. The book tells the story of the evolution of rivalling dinosaur and ant civilisations on Earth millions of years ago. I can’t say more than that without spoiling it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
RO3 is almost finished, or at least the first run through the textbook is. As much as Liu’s book was enjoyable, RO3 is dull. My exam is booked in towards the end of the month so I am pretty much on track.
Premium Bonds: £150.00 (no change from last update).
Stocks and Shares ISA: £20,453.94 (up £474.42 from last update).
Fuck It Fund: £100.00 (up £10.00 from last update).
Crypto: £110.17 (up £32.09 from last update).
Residential Property Value: £194,909.00 (no change from last update).
Buy-to-Let Property Value: £125,775.00 (no change from last update).
Total Assets: £341,498.11 (up £516.51 from last update).
Credit Card: £0.00 (no change from last update).
Residential Mortgage: £140,665.49 (down £361.00 from last update).
Buy-to-Let Mortgage: £93,163.50 (down £35.57 from last update).
Total Debts: £233,828.99 (down £396.57 from last update).
Total Wealth: £107,669.12 (up £913.08 from last update).
Investment Income in 2021: £4.14 (target £5,000).
It’s always a nice feeling when the assets go up and the debts come down. My ISA has stabilised above £20,000 for the first time since I started this project. The next milestone is to get my total wealth to £200,000. If property values increase over the next few months, this will help in pushing me forward but ultimately the figure for wealth is hypothetical as it depends on someone actually buying the property for that amount.
I have been getting increasingly frustrated with our letting agent, Lewis Wadsworth, this past week. Every time they have contacted us to request money for a repair or a fee for letting, we have paid them promptly. However, it seems that each time we interact with their accounts team a different person is involved. There has been some confusion over what charges still need to be paid, and some disagreement over what we have already paid. So, I went to them with a simple request; provide a full breakdown of all charges and payments since we signed them up as agents. Somehow, they have managed to get this request wrong four times. You can only ask the same question so many times, getting a different response each time, before you start doubting your own sanity. The way their accounts team have handled the payments is just bizarre. An example; assume you are asked for £100 and then a few days later £200. You pay £100 and then £200. However, they allocate the £100 payment to the £200 invoice and the £200 payment to the £100 invoice. Then, you have one person saying you owe £100 and another person saying you have paid £100 too much. This is the sort of crap we are having to deal with. It is extremely annoying when you are paying an agent to manage the property, and you feel like you are having to manage the agent instead.
We are still in dispute with the agent about the current financial position and we have not received any rent yet, as they are claiming there are outstanding invoices that the first rental payment will be retained to cover. It is not that I have an issue with paying what needs to be paid, but rather I have an issue with confused and contradictory communications from the agent. I have this tendency to assume that other people have a basic level of competence when it comes to doing their job. I think this is why I am so often disappointed with the service I receive.
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