Monday, 5 May 2014

Mooring customers still being screwed by Canal and River Trust

I've been tracking the state of play with vacancies at Engineer's Wharf for several years now and latest observations from the CRT moorings Auctions site re-confirm that CRT are simply lying to us when they claim that prices of directly managed moorings are market led.

As of today there are yet again two vacancies advertised, but the reserve prices have been increased since I last reported vacancies in Winter 2013. The current vacancies have reserve prices of £5292 pa. Agreed this is a modest increase of just over 1% compared to the reserve prices I reported in Sept 2012 but the facts are the same: The berths are it seems unpopular and/or have high turnover, but instead of lowering prices and getting them in use, the price goes up. 

There was one attempt in 2011 to follow policy when the reserve was dropped but still no takers when the reserve dropped to £4500 pa. Since then the price has kept being inflated despite almost continuous vacancies at the site. This is of course just more evidence of the blatant price manipulation I have been reporting for some time. This effects other customers away from Engineers Wharf because CRT set the moorings increase at other sites by comparison.

But then the way CRT use reserve prices undermines any claim of market price setting. As anyone who understands genuine auctions know, low reserves or no reserves are industry standard to generate interest in goods and services that are hard to sell and work on the principle some money is better than no sale. If the policy of market rates was genuine there would be no reserve or at least much lower reserve than at present and perhaps heaven forbid CRT would get some income instead of having what they presently value as in excess of £10 000 a year of void loss. Over the extended period I have been watching this case the failure to let just these two berths represents lost income well in excess of £50 000 from a single mooring site.

(And if anyone says this is a one off, have a look at the vacancy and pricing history at Clarence Dock in Leeds.)

Then on the other hand there is the reality of being a mooring customer if you do pay for one their price inflated moorings. We has a site meeting (still) following up complaints from 2012 a few days ago.
  • Of the 11 action points left with CRT in Sept 2013 only two had been completed. 
  • We demonstrated to them that repairs that their contractors and they claim had been completed had not been even attempted. 
  • Again we raised questions about the quality of some of the work has been done in the recent past
  • The fact that work is still only done when as now we repeatedly in many instances engage the complaints process. 
  • It was also confirmed that since the re-tender of the contracts in November 2013, no routine maintenance work at all had been carried out from that contract because the existing arrangements where not successfully passed over into the new contracts.

Most amusingly I was told that CRT are actually in the process of setting up a post inspection scheme to check that work that they have instructed (and presumably paid for) has actually been carried out. You mean they have only just thought of that...? Explains a lot!

On the other hand CRT bleat about fundraising and ask us to voluntarily contribute to help them out. Maybe they should concentrate on using the resources they already have more effectively first.

Can't Really Trust'em

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