Saturday, 29 May 2010

Latest dose of Mushroom food

As mentioned in my last post, myself, neighbours on my mooring and many of the other boaters effected, have not surprisingly, asked BW to justify the up to 20% mooring fee increases which have been handed down this year.

We have had an amusing and often contradictory set of reasons given.

The best of these was a reply to one of my neighbours from BW, (later sheepishly retracted) claiming that the improvements and works they had done recently on site justified the large increase. It was quickly pointed out that the works in question had only carried out following a successful Ombudsman compliant about disrepair on the mooring by yours truly and were carried out in order to bring repairs on the mooring up to the standard they should have been in the first place. (Even then the work was only completed nearly two years after the Ombudsman findings and then only when I went back to Ombudsman to complain that the work had still not been done.)

BW have also apparently forgotten that they had written to myself and the Ombudsman previously confirming that the works had already been taken into account in a previous mooring fee increase.

Boaters on another London mooring have this years increase dropped when they looked into comparable figures for their site. When challenged, BW admitted that they had decided not to take into account much lower priced moorings a few yards away from the complaining boaters. Needless to say this independently run site was charging significantly less than BW for almost identical facilities. The existence of such a close comparison at a hugely lower rate than BW were proposing, was it seems conveniently overlooked!

I wrote to BW asking them to clarify in more detail what factors they had taken into account at my mooring. I got what I felt was a pretty evasive reply so I complained. I summarised my complaint as follows:

For the reasons above I believe that BW has failed to provide adequate information to allow any fair opportunity to challenge the moorings increase you are imposing.

Anyway I have had a gem of reply from Sally Ash. Two of her comments really sum it up nicely:

To summarise, you have requested very detailed information relating to the minutiae of our decision process – the type of interrogation one might reasonably expect of an internal auditor. I can see why you might want this information as it would considerably reduce the amount of work you would have to do to develop a robust challenge. In responding, I have to explain why as a general principle, we cannot handle price challenges in this way.

.... There is no objective single formula and ultimately, it is a matter of judgement.

Later on Sally says:

What we don’t agree to do is to facilitate a complete audit of our process for individual sites.  The reason for this is that we simply do not have the manpower, and it would not be sensible use of scarce resources for the position to be otherwise.  

I think that says it all. BW moorings fees are set on the whim of BW. Hardly surprising then that they are reluctant to co-operate with any customers offering a 'robust challenge' to what they are doing or heaven forbid provide an audit of their process!

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