Sunday, 21 November 2010

BW is still trying to deceive it's residential moorings customers

Having lost a complaint about clarifying boaters' eligibility for Houseboat Certificates, BW is attempting to move the goal posts.

Earlier this year I 'won' a complaint against BW. Their current terms and conditions* claim that: 1.4 "Houseboat" means a boat which is not used for navigation and is kept on a British Waterways long term mooring with planning consent for residential use."

Unfortunately BW's evidence to Parliament prior to the 1995 British Waterways Act and their own subsequent interpretation, negotiated with national user groups at the time, makes it quite clear that this is not the case and that anyone who moors at a properly established BW long term mooring should be entitled to claim the better legal protections that apply through having a Houseboat Certificate (instead of a Standard Cruising Licence). In evidence of this, numbers of Houseboat Certificates increased to over 300 in during the years following the '95 Act.

During my Stage Two complaint, when I produced evidence of what they had said to Parliament and boaters at the time, BW conceded that they had got it wrong. During the course of the complaint they most amusingly admitted that they could not find their papers from the Committee hearings on the Bill that became the 1995 Act and could I direct them to the appropriate records!

However following a short interval during which the results of the complaint were discussed with the main national user groups representing boaters, they then refused to commit to publicising this finding. Rather than concede gracefully they only agreed a timetable to publicise the decision after I complained to the Ombudsman.

However during the Ombudsman complaint Sally Ash admitted that, if as result of the case, more residential customers came forward and claimed the Houseboat Certificate they are entitled to, BW would attempt to deny these new applicants the same rights that existing HB Certificate holders enjoy. In particular BW intend to attempt to undermine the right to sell your boat on its mooring (by assigning your Houseboat Certificate). Sally has apparently arbitrarily decided that the cut off date for claiming the existing rights is 31 July 2010 - which as you will realise is several months ago.

She proudly revealed her thinking to myself and the Ombudsman in mid August! So much for openness and accountability. "We will change the rules and only then tell you they've changed".

The effect of BW's 'proposal', (that is a joke, as they have clearly made their minds up already!) is to in effect create a two tier system for Houseboat Certificates and I would encourage any of you who live on long term BW moorings to contact BW to check your rights.

I don't think that what BW proposes would stand up to a serious challenge. The 95 Act makes no provision for this two tier approach that BW are espousing and it seem fundamentally unfair that BW should be allowed to apply two differing interruptions of the same legislation simultaneously.

All this seem to me to amount to a blatant attempt on BW's part to try to ensure that those who might be assisted by the complaint decision are denied one of the important rights they should enjoy.

Time to defend the rights that Parliament intended we boaters on BW residential moorings should all have, which BW have been systematically denying many of their residential moorings customers.

(Or am I the only one why give's a damn?)

* 17 October 2011 - This complaint was successful and so the origional link to the offending BW document  no longer works as they have re-written the terms and conditions. I've created a page link to show the detail of the my complaint which lead to this enforced change of heart. If anyone still wants to see the offending terms and conditions I have the BW PDF file available.

1 comment:

  1. keep up the good work simon, the ice wharf houseboat licence holders are behind you!