Monday, 19 September 2011

All Moves Insurance Fraud

OK, so I don't normally do this, because it's not really the subject of the blog, but since we don't have a blog entitled All Moves removals company in Nottingham insurance fraud, this one will have to do.

Let me tell you the sorry tale... It's a very very long story, so I'll cut it down dramatically. It's taken 16 months to sort out, and it's a lesson for anyone suffering at the hands of insurance companies.

And in particular, if you are looking for a removals company in Nottingham or Derby then you'll definitely want to read this.

In April 2010 we hired All Moves, a removals company from Arnold, Nottingham, to move house from Derby to Hartlepool. Because of problems with a house purchase, they took all our stuff into storage for a month.

On the day of the move, three teams of porters were involved. Richard's team arrived at 7:00 pm and started taking out half packed boxes, dropping stuff down the stairs and knocking over a gold lamp. At around 9:00 pm, Damien's team arrived to pack all of the fragile stuff, because we had paid extra for their packing service in order to get the extended insurance. The third team went to Nottingham to pick up some leather chairs we'd bought second hand.

So far, not great but OK.

When All Moves arrived in Hartlepool in May 2010, things were a bit wrong.

The TV wasn't in the protective case that they promised. It just had blankets draped over it. The porters put it in the back room, on the floor, screen facing the wall and right up against the wall. An odd place to put a TV, I though, so I turned it round. Big scratches on the screen with finger marks, as if someone had tried to rub them off.

I then started checking everything. A box with a computer in, soaking wet. Clothes stuffed in the van covered in black oily dirt - not in the hanging boxes they promised. Statue chipped. Furniture scratched. Bed broken. All hidden by the porters.

So I made a list, the porters countersigned it and I spoke to All Moves' owner, Gordon Rafferty. He told me to send a list for the insurance claim. His porters took the list back with them.

I called to follow up and he told me I couldn't claim because I'd left it too long. I pointed out that he had a list within 24 hours of the damage being discovered. He told me that wasn't really a list, it was just a rough thing. I offered to let my solicitor handle the claim. He accepted that it was, indeed, a list.

Then, we found that a box had been looked through, locks on jewellery cases broken and 3 items were missing altogether, worth about £450 in total. I spoke to Gordon who goaded and threatened me that if I didn't report it to the police, he would. So I did.

Then the insurance fraud began.

The loss adjuster came and interviewed me. He looked at all the damage. He alleged that my claim was fraudulent. I showed him the photos I took of stuff, damaged, in the removal van. Did I sneak out and put it there while no-one was looking?

The total value of everything that was lost and damaged was £3,778.

The insurance company, AXA, made an offer of £628 on the basis of a clause in the contract that limited their liability to £50 per item.

I rejected it on the grounds that we had paid for the extra insurance, and therefore that contract term was irrelevant and their liability was unlimited.

They refused to increase their offer on the grounds that I had signed the contract.

I said that I had never even seen a contract.

They said that I must have done because I signed it.

Here's the contract:

Now, they sent a really, really tiny scanned image. But even on that I could see that wasn't my signature.

But if it's not my signature, whose is it?


I pointed this out to the loss adjuster. Shortly afterwards, he replied with proof that I had signed the contract. Two letters from All Moves' staff, saying that they definitely remember seeing me sign the contract. A year later! After all of those moves, they remember me signing a contract a year later! Here are their letters:

Now, do you see anything unusual?

Well, Richard's says that Laura filled out the contract, Damien's says that he always does it. But that's not the most interesting thing.

Right at the top of this post, I explain that Richard arrived two hours before Damien. How can they both have seen me sign the contract?

I told all of this to Graeme Blackie, the loss adjuster from Cunningham Lindsey Marine. Several times. He ignored me every time. He did not once respond to the discrepancy in the 'evidence' and the fact that I had never signed nor seen a contract and could not therefore be bound by its terms.

In fact:
  1. If I hadn't seen the contract then I couldn't be bound by its terms and therefore All Moves' liability could not be limited
  2. If I had seen the contract then the fact that I had paid for the packing service to get the additional insurance meant that All Moves' liability could not be limited
A no-win for them? No, they kept on pushing, and bullying.

I spoke to the Citizens Advice Bureau who were excellent. Their advice was to go to the small claims court, which I did.

Next, I started getting letters from All Moves' solicitor, saying that I should be lucky to get the £628, and if I knew what was good for me, I'd accept it. They asked for an extension to the time limit to prepare their defence. I think that 16 months was plenty! They responded to the court saying that they had no idea what my claim was about and asked for it to be dismissed! But they increased their offer to about £1000.

Then the solicitor rang me and told me that the judge would look very dimly on me because I had refused their increased offer, and that it was more than generous considering I didn't have a leg to stand on.

I told the solicitor that his client, Gordon Rafferty of All Moves, clearly wasn't sharing all of the facts, and I'd hate to have to embarrass him in front of the judge.I pointed out the discrepancy in the letters.

The solicitor 'ummed' and 'ahhed' and said that he had to go and look into it. He sounded genuinely panicked. He also said that this was therefore a case of insurance fraud on the part of Gordon Rafferty of All Moves, because he had lied in order to change the outcome of an insurance claim. And to cap it all, he said that Gordon Rafferty had originally demanded a public apology from me!!! From me!!!

Now, I could speculate as to what really happened, that wouldn't be fair. And it would be mere speculation, because no-one will ever know the truth. I could speculate that All Moves didn't bother paying the increased premium to AXA, so while my claim was unlimited, their liability wasn't and they didn't want to pay the extra.

I could speculate that they had absolutely no idea why they didn't have a contract from me, so in desperation they had their staff write witness statements. And because those letters were blatant lies, the staff couldn't remember seeing me sign a contract, because they couldn't even remember that they arrived 2 hours apart and so couldn't both have seen me. But let's say one of them did. Then I'm bound by the contract that says that the liability is unlimited.

And I could speculate that I know where they took the contract paperwork, and I know why. And I can prove that the person who lives at the address on the contract didn't sign it either.

And still they tried to bully me into backing down!!!

I made a proposal of £2,000 to settle in 7 days. A few days later I received a proposal of £2,000 to settle in 14 days.

I accepted. 16 months and many, many hours, letters, phone calls and emails later.

And all I had to do to get a fair settlement was go to the ends of the Earth to prove that All Moves owed me some money for the damage that they caused through their negligence and failure to use the protective packaging that they had promised, and for the three things that mysteriously vanished while in All Moves' safe storage.

And I wasn't even demanding the full amount of the insurance list!

What do you think? Was I being unreasonable??

Here's the message. Stand up for your rights and don't let people like this push you around. Don't be scared by solicitors. Don't pay any attention to insurance loss adjusters. Stand your ground, stick to the facts and keep calm. And never give in.

1 comment:

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