Well, moving house has occupied a lot of my time over the last few weeks. I've experienced good estate agents (Williams Lewis in Chalk Farm), good phone companies (BT), bad phone companies (Bulldog) and a surprisingly rapid response from a management company I thought would be useless, given the state of the place when we moved in.
This has all happened in the last 10 days or so, but being busy moving has stopped me writing about it. I'm on my way to a Christmas party in Oxfordshire, so have the chance to write on the long train journey.
After the move to Didcot in 2004 I joined many other people in the belief that estate agents are a form of pond life...except the independent ones. Maxwell Daly in Didcot were very good (in contrast to Chancellors who seemed disinterested) and Ken Daly probably deserves the flash car he drives.
With a regular income and desire to be closer to College, as well as Iv looking for a place, we decided to move in together. We had some furniture we could move, so were happy with unfurnished or part-furnished properties. I went looking for places, trying to find a flat in West Kensington within our price range, preferably via an independent estate agent. The first place we looked at (and eventually moved in to!) was with Williams Lewis and we had good, friendly service from them.
Chiltons showed us a furnished place which was smaller and more expensive, but well done to them for finding somewhere at short notice.
John Hollingsworth on North End Road took my details but didn't bother phoning me back.
We took the Williams Lewis place in the end. We were a bit slow with the paperwork so didn't get a confirmation until the Monday morning before we were due to move in. There begins the rest of the story...
The flat had a BT socket, with no others and the previous tenant worked from home. Great - just need to phone BT and get the line enabled. I'll make the point here that I've been happy with the service from BT, despite what follows. When I first called BT to check there was a BT line there, I was told that there was. The next time I called, when we had the place, they couldn't find the line based on the postcode. I arranged for an engineer to visit to trace the line and connect it, but the earliest available appointment was 22nd December. Not ideal, but no other real choice.
Once I'd arranged this, I realised that Bulldog might be providing service on the line and might be able to reactivate it sooner. At this point, my day started to get worse and I lost all faith in Bulldog. Initially I was on hold for 7 minutes before getting through to customer services, who said they were tech support only and I should hang up and call back, selecting different options. I got through to a very helpful woman who tried to trace the line, but could only search by Bulldog reference number or surname, not postcode. I had the surname, so she spent a while scrolling through trying to find the line, which she did. I now had a phone number!
Armed with the number of the line, I phoned BT back to see if they could activate it faster - they couldn't. I wanted service quickly, so decided to see if Bulldog could reactivate the line. I got through - eventually - to someone in India over a very dodgy line which kept dropping out. I was told I needed a new 'line'. After a discussion about why I needed a new line when there was one there already, it transpired that my definition of line (the copper wire to the flat) and Bulldog's (a virtual service with a phone number) was different. It turned out, after a talk about local-loop unbundling, that they had removed their exchange equipment and it would take 14-28 days to restore service! Back to BT it was then...
So, moving in day came. The place was dirty, but the management company had fixed the things I'd asked them to and fitted a net curtain. A small leak on the cistern overflow pipe reared its head once it started being used, but nothing major. Then I tried to close the curtains...
The curtains were mounted on a slide rail with a drawstring, at a height of 3m or so from the ground with as span of 2.5m. These are heavy curtains. When I tried to close them, they jammed halfway - pulling them open and slowly closing them again resulted in the entire curtain rail crashing to the floor. I had a phone call 24 hours after emailing the management company to arrange someone to look at it, which is fairly good.
Despite knowing of problems with Dreams, they had a very good mattress so we ordered from them online. We weren't sure we believed their promise to deliver by Christmas, but sure enough they were able to offer delivery within a few days of ordering - even before we moved in! They delivered today, as arranged, within the timeslot they said.
All we need to do now is move the sofa and armchair to the new place - but I have a worry that they won't fit through the door!