It’s funny how little things slip your mind until a spark is relit about incidents that were all part and parcel of the sad tragic tale of working at Tyntesfield.
Just recently, I happen to noticed a piece of paper that stood out amongst all the pile of evidence of incompetence, sadly amassed in a cardboard box. This box is affectionately called, The NT Pandora, written in different coloured crayon. I wondered why I would be saving a children’s maths diagram nestling on the top of the pile. I browsed over the content glad that I did, as it brought back memories of a act of stupidity and incompetence by Head Office. Oh my God, it’s us they cry from the swivel seats of power.
This is where I name and shame another National Trust department. It’s about time some other department had a bashing and today it’s property rental. I will dedicate this to all the National Trust tenants that have suffered in misery at the hands of the National Trust.
It was some time after the Trust took over the estate that that I received a letter demanding I pay my rent. As my rent was always paid on time, I was a little put out by this. Phoning the appropriate department I informed them I had paid and could they look into this mistake. I would like to make clear that this incident took place before the switch over to direct debits.
What could have been easier, a professional team up there in head office employed for their skills in administration, this was going to be a piece of cake to them.
Then the next threatening letter arrived. We have not received your rent and you are now 2 months in arrears. If you have paid since receiving this letter please ignore this demand.
Well computers are not the cleverest of things when it comes to looking at grey areas, so I ignored it – after all I had the brains of the National Trust sorting it out.
It was not long after the next letter came with red writing – very nasty looking – reminding me of red sky in the morning landlords warning. So once again I contacted the same office.
It seems that they had not been receiving my cheques and that’s why the shirty attitude kicked in. Then the argument started on the phone. I said I had sent them, they said I hadn’t.
The nice lady on the other end soon started to change her attitude, becoming very assertive -lovely word “assertive” covers all attitudes up to mild aggression. Apparently, there was no record of them receiving payment and I was now in the land of deep doo doo. The National Trust is a charity, they sang at me. And, it’s bad tenants that undermine all the good work they do. Repeat Chorus several times.
I let the condemnation carry on until I decided to finish the song with my perfect cadence – if I haven’t been paying my rent, how come I have the bank statements that show the National Trust have been cashing my cheques? Not only had this taken the wind from her sails, I assumed from the quiet silence she had also fallen out of her crow’s nest. I will look into it she replied. Don’t take too long over it said I, I’d hate to think of someone misappropriating funds to the National Trust. That’s my one weakness. When I take someone down a rung, I can’t help kicking the ladder away as well.
Then the next letter came. It seems that they have been cashing my cheques, but due to a paradox of time and events, I still owed them one day rent. No sorry about the fuss, we still owed one solitary days rent, or so they thought.
So raiding the crayon tin, I set out on paper, timings and payments all broken down and highlighted in different colours. The text was so simple, even an idiot with the IQ of property manager could grasp it. Basically, all the pretty numbers said I don’t owe you a penny and that’s the letter I sent.
It was soon after I opened a reply thinking this is probably an apology, very sorry kiss kiss. But the red sky in the morning looking bit of paper shouted – hello, as you have failed to pay your rent, we are instructing the courts to recouped money to the amount of ££££.
By now my sense of humour had taken a turn for the worse. It was back on the phone demanding I Speak to someone without their head up their backside. Yes it was my turn to be assertive.
I know it’s not the best opening line, and it’s hardly the way to meet and greet people, but at this point in time needs must.
The conversation was not the most productive as it seems they were unable to understand the figures we sent them. After exasperating all avenues of trying to help them with simple arithmetic, I proclaimed, send in the bailiffs, and I will see you in court after, to claim compensation.
This issue was brought up in front of the property manager with my union representative while dealing with other issues. ‘I will take this matter up’ the manager proclaimed. I replied no thank you they will listen to me, the tenant, or the courts. ( all highlighted in in a fed back note by property manager)
The bailiffs never arrived. A pity really. Mind you, I can’t think for the life of me what they could have removed to cover one day rent for a National Trust property. These days if you owed one day’s rent that would equate to a new car.
I did receive a letter sometime after. Apparently the computer made an error. Because computers are obviously free thinking beings and not operated by employees. But this still couldn’t excuse the poor mathematical skills of staff.
This is no means the end of the NT cock ups. The two gardeners had the same problems with council tax. The National Trust had not paid it, the threatening letters kept coming, and finally the bailiffs were on their way.
As luck would have it, a new sheriff had taken over control of the estate and personally took charge. The mess others had concocted was sorted, then flowers were delivered as a means to say sorry for all the stress and anguish caused.
I suffered a lot more through gross incompetence over the years, and yet never got so much as a sodding daisy. Yet thinking about it, being able to expose their bloomers, is certainly a bloom for me.
So to all you doubters of this story, why don’t you look up the National Trust’s tenants association online. This was set up to help tenants with the stupidity of the National Trust.