M&S Shipping, Careless Movers, tedious Insurance claims.

Discussion in 'Army Pay, Claims & JPA' started by KnightsofRowallan, Dec 10, 2009.

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  1. [A bit of a rant coming & some questions]

    I moved house for the umpteenth time this summer. In retrospect I realise I shouldn't have bothered applying for removals. I should have just bought a couple of 10lb sledgehammers and cut out the middleman and just reduced all my furniture to matchwood myself.

    I won't name the removals company (you can all take a guess) and in fairness its not always the company that dictates if the move will be a disaster but the blokes who rock up on the day that make the difference.

    I had two young men tip up for a 2 day pack. There were a number of combat indicators that this was not going to be a smooth move. A couple of examples: trying to get a mattress out through an upstairs window instead of bringing it down the stairs or the staple gun fight in the kitchen my wife had to stop, etc, etc.

    Once everything was on the truck it seemed to take up a lot less space than we had expected. We later learned this was because they had managed to fit more in each box by not wrapping anything. Cue lots of damage. Things like wine glasses, not wrapped, in the bottom of the box with 2 bookshelf stereo speakers on top (incredibly none of the glasses had shattered). Many of the boxes just looked as if they had emptied a cupboard straight into it. Plenty of stuff is now chipped and scratched. They guys delivering where gleaming and were absolutely mortified/embarrassed at the state of the packing.

    There is much more, but if I go on it just makes my blood boil.

    After complaining, the removal company sent us a cheque ‘as a goodwill gesture’ and ‘not an admission’. They said it was so my wife and I could go out and have a meal on them (their actual words).

    Now entereth the second villain of the piece. The insurers.
    When we put in our insurance claim (a well known company many of us use) they said that they have to knock the value of that cheque off our claim total. WTF!!
    Q1 - Does this sound right? I saw it as a private arrangement between me and the movers. I know the game is the insurance pay you as little as they can get away with, but…….

    Also seeing as the packers didn’t wrap or protect our belongings properly (I have photos) surely they are in breach of contract as they didn’t execute their responsibilities properly?
    So even if they have lots of disclaimers saying they accept no responsibility/liability/couldn’t give a to$$
    Q2 - Surely there must be some sort of effective recourse?
    What hacks me off is these clowns are paid to move your furniture without damaging it. They trash it. YOU have to claim off YOUR insurance. YOU have to do the weeks of trawling around, getting quotes etc etc etc (this is complicated by being overseas), get d1cked about by the insurers who don’t want to replace anything, just give you compensation.

    In short, I work hard to buy a nice sofa, the mover mongs scratch it because they don’t do the job properly, but because I can still sit on it the insurers won’t replace it, I get some paltry cash offer instead, which is whittled down by the excess etc. I then have to sit there and look at my all my chipped and damaged furniture. Meanwhile the movers carrying on normal jogging, It also turns out when the insurance types approach the movers they get a max of £40 per item. So why should the movers give a sh1t? They can virtually do what they like. Complaints to M&S shipping seem to have no effect.
    Q3- Is it worth dragging these clowns into court and trying to extract the difference between the compensation and replacement cost? So I could at least replace the furniture so I don’t have to sit looking at scratches and chips?

    I have had enough of these jokers. There must be more people out there being seen off by this system, I hear horror stories all the time. I propose we unite and do something about it all.

    [rant off & deep breath]
  2. A similar issue arose with a colleague on his final move. He send a letter threatening legal action penned by a lawyer. I suggest you do likewise if you have a friendly Solicitor/ Barrister/ legal type dude. The movers and insurers are both weasels. I hope it works out. They are due to smash most of my belongings in the next few months.
  3. ViroBono

    ViroBono LE Moderator

    The liability disclaimer that removal firms include in their terms and conditions should exclude negligence. There is nothing to stop you bringing proceedings against them in the County Court for breach of contract. You can do this yourself. However, it's not worth threatening them with this unless you intend to follow through.

    Initially, send them a letter headed 'Letter Before Action'. Set out why you consider them to have breached their contract (i.e. that they were negligent in failing to ensure that the staff they sent carried out the job in a manner that could reasonably be expected). Reject the 'goodwill' gesture and set out what you expect them to do to remedy the breach, and give them 14 days to do it.

    If they fail to respond satisfactorily, issue a claim. If the claim is for less than £5k, you can use the Small Claims Track, and issue the claim online. If it's for more than £5k, issue at your local County Court. In Small Claims you cannot usually claim costs; in other tracks you can claim costs (which are limited, as a Litigant in Person, but can still add up).

    However, a decent Letter Before Action should show tham that you are serious and may well trigger a more sensible response.

    Incidentally, get some decent pics of the damaged furniture - ithey will be very useful to show a judge what the cretins did.
  4. Dont forget to write into soldier mag and tell them about it so you can get a condescending reply from the Brig :)
  5. The_Duke

    The_Duke LE Moderator

    You have two separate contracts in place here - one for the movement of furniture and one for insurance for goods damaged in the move. Each should act independantly, but they may be linked later on (see below).

    As VB says, reject the goodwill gesture straight away and continue to pursue action against the removals coy as suggested. Your action against the insurer is slightly more complicated as it is governed by the terms and conditions of the contract.

    Unless you have "new for old" (which is unlikely in the case of removals insurance), the contract will operate under the policy of restitution. That is, it will put you back into the position you were in before the accident took place. You had a sofa that was safe to sit on (but without scratches). You now have a sofa that is still safe to sit on (but with scratches). In the absence of new for old, you can only expect to get an amount paid which is assessed as being commensurate with the loss of value/enjoyment caused by the scratch. The insurer may even opt to have your furniture repaired by a repairer of their choice rather than give a cash value.

    Why do they do this? Because too many people in the past have used insurance and "removals accidents" as a way of refurnishing their new place with shiny new kit at insurers expense. Insurance fraud is not a victimless crime - the cost to insurers is passed onto genuine claimants like you by way of much tighter controls on what they will pay out for.

    You are not entitled to betterment - coming out of it better than you went in. That is why the insurer will remove any monies obtained from the removal firm from any amount they will pay. The insurer has rights of contribution or subrogation against any claims they have paid or will be called to pay.

    Contribution means they can share the cost of the claims with any other interested party (ie the any other insurers who may cover the goods) such as your household insurance. Subrogation will allow them to take action in your name (but for their benefit) against anyone else who may have liability. In this case, they may pay your claim in full, but take action against your removal firm to recover the monies which they would not have had to pay if the removals firm had done their job properly.

    As always with personal insurances, if you are genuinely unhappy with the answer from the insurer, follow the complaints procedure shown on your certificate. No matter how many people advise you to go straight to the Financial Ombudsman Service, don't. All they will do is bat it straight back down to the last stage of the official complaints procedure sthat you have followed to allow full review at all stages of the procedure.
  6. Is this correct? I thought that any such 'Goodwill' payments are to reflect the stress, inconvenience and additional personal administration caused by the removal firm's negligence. The payment from the insurance company is for replacing/repairing your property. How can the insurance company deduct monies paid to recompense you for other purposes?
  7. ViroBono

    ViroBono LE Moderator

    The removal company specifically stated, when sending the 'goodwill' payment, that they do not acept any liability. They are, therefore, denying that they were negligent, or that any stress, inconvenience and personal admin resulted from their actions.

    Insurance is intended to put the insured back in the position they were in prior to the loss; if the removal company paid any money as recompense for damage to goods, the insurers could legitimately deduct this.
  8. VB,

    So in this case the insurance company should not be deducting anything - correct?
  9. ViroBono

    ViroBono LE Moderator

    In my view, they should not deduct the value of the cheque - not least because KnightsofRowallan should reject it.

    Even if the insurance pays the claim in full, KoR could still sue the removers for his uninsured losses - insurance excess, distress caused etc.
  11. Very similar happened to us in our last move; they managed to damage every single major item of furniture that we own. Literally. It was actually quite impressive, I don't think my kids could have done more damage if I had let them loose with claw hammers.

    Similarly, I knew all was not right when my wife discovered them manhauling our oak dresser into the truck without bothering to unpack the contents, which included all of our china tableware.

  12. The_Duke

    The_Duke LE Moderator

    Sorry, in the attempt to keep it brief, I left out some detail. Any payments in respect of damages for which an insurance claim is also made could be deducted. Of course, the insurer may have a reasonable point that the monies offered - "goodwill" or not - are a payment to reflect the damages caused, and are therefore subject to the principle of contribution. There is a healthy degree of scepticism about the extra contractual payments, as they aim to prevent the wronged party from claiming against the liability insurance of the movers - which of course would reduce the liability of the property damage insurers. Hopefully that explains why they would seek to deduct it from any payment made under the insurance, as by taking it and not making a claim against the movers, you have made the financial position of the insurers worse.

    The key point is to resolve the issues concerning liability for damage first, before getting caught up in extra-contractual issues such as small amounts which the company is attempting to direct you to use for dinner etc.
  13. Gentlemen, thank you for your input and time. It has been very enlightening.
    Sadly I banked the cheque about 3 months ago and Mrs KoR and I had a very nice meal. After the fiasco of the move I had 2 hopes of stopping her, although we did debate it slightly but felt the letter was quite clear.

    I take your point about the insurers being out of pocket. However as I saw it the money was a goodwill gesture from the movers to re-compense us for stress, hurt feelings etc. All things which the insurance expressly does not cover.
  14. The_Duke

    The_Duke LE Moderator

    You are correct, the insurance does not cover those things. The cheque was however designed to placate your anger towards the movers, and hopefully stop you going after them for the damage their staff had caused to your property through their negligence.

    If you don't get anything from them, you will therefore seek to get everything paid by your insurers, which results in them paying more than if the costs had been recovered from the movers, which is why they want to take it into account.

    As long as you have not accepted the cheque with any conditions attached (ie with a waiver of liability, no claims to follow clauses etc) they you are still well within your rights to go after the movers for damages. If you do so, then their £50 gamble that you will be bought off for the cost of a cheap meal has failed. If ever there was an incentive to go after them, being thought cheap enough that a £50 meal is enough to see me off would be enough for me! :D
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