Updated: Feb 18, 2020
I live in a property that backs onto land owned by the local Sainsbury's store. This land is obviously, therefore, the responsibility of Sainsbury's to maintain periodically so as not to cause damage to their neighbours.
However, they have not been maintaining this land. Some 4 - 5 years ago, my neighbour had to have his entire conservatory knocked down and rebuilt due to tree roots on the Sainsbury's land growing under his fence and under the conservatory, destroying the foundation and the conservatory subsequently pulling away from the house!
Some 3 years ago now, I notified the store that vines were starting to grow onto my fence and was starting to push through the fence boards.
2 and a half years later, the below is what I was left with.
I eventually had to pay a private business to come in and remove the vines from the fence so that I could actually make use of the decking area. I should not have had to incur this cost since the vines are the responsibility of Sainsbury's to maintain.
Having removed the vines, the damage caused to the fence became very evident.
Having had no joy from the local store, despite having reported the issue a further three times I turned to the Sainsbury's FaceBook page and a case was opened on the 4th March 2019.
What follows is what turned out to be a frustratingly drawn out, time and financial loss to me, saga.
18th March 2019
After 2 weeks of raising my case, I finally got an email from the contractor responsible for this particular store and estate, Cushman and Wakefield.
29th March 2019
Having not had any further contact since the email on the 18th, I chased Sunil
2nd April 2019
After sending a further email on the 1st April, I eventually got a response:
4th April 2019
Email update from Sunil / Cushman & Wakefield
10th May 2019
An entire MONTH AFTER the issue was meant to be resolved as per above email, and having now had the case escalated to the Sainsbury's Executive team, I received the following update
17th May 2019
After a couple emails attempting to confirm a date for w/c 20th May so that I could ensure I was present, I finally received the below a week after the last communication from Sunil.
Another email received on the 17th May to confirm that a team would be attending on the 23rd May to resolve the issue.
23rd May - No show number 1
Having cancelled a planned event photoshoot, thereby incurring loss of income of £400 to be present at the house for the repair to take place, the team did not show up! No contact whatsoever from Sunil or anyone else to notify me that they would not be attending!
28th May - 5 days AFTER contractors were meant to be attending, I received the following email after contacting Stephen Ralph at Sainsbury's Executive Team once again.
The new date of resolution now indicated to be Wednesday 29th May.
29th May 2019 - 2nd confirmed date for team to attend to resolve the issue.
Note, that at this point, I still hadn't had an explanation or indeed an apology for no one turning up on the 23rd May as originally agreed.
Having cleared my morning to be available for the team's arrival between 8 am - 10 have I incurred another financial loss of £150!
So having incurred the £150 loss in earnings to be available for the team's arrival, when they did eventually arrive they were not equipped to actually do the work! If you're keeping track, this is now the 2nd day that the issue was meant to be resolved but nothing was done.
30th May 2019
Leanne responded to confirm a new date for the team to attend
5th June 2019 - Third confirmed day for resolution of the issue.
Emails sent to Leanne and Stephen Ralph (Sainsbury's Executive Team)
I then received the following response from Leanne which left me bemused, to say the least!
The email suggests that the team informed me that they were leaving site, which as per my previous email to Leanne is not the case. I was simply informed that the team would be returning in an hour to gain access to my back garden. I, therefore, responded with the following
Response from Leanne
The team did arrive later that afternoon, HOWEVER!
It seems that at this point, the issue was escalated internally to Matt White who got in contact with the following.
What annoyed me about this email was the fact that they were trying to not take responsibility for the vines that had attached themselves to my garage. Stating it originated from my neighbour's side?
Besides that being incorrect, as pointed out in my response below, ALL the vines originate from the Sainsbury's owned land which they have refused to maintain for several years.
6th June 2019
Day 4 of me keeping my diary clear to be available for the repair work to be done.
Team turned up however they only cut back the vines from behind my fence and didn't actually do the fence repair itself! Informing me that they would have to return on another date to do that!
12th June 2019
Having had no further contact about when the team would be returning to do the actual fence repair I had to once again chase for an update.
20th June 2019
8 days since my previous email, and having had no response, once again I was forced to chase up for an update.
Response from Matt
25th June 2019
The team finally arrived to replace the damaged fence! However, there were a few issues as reported to Matt below
27th June 2019
28th June 2019
1st July 2019
Josh attended and had to fix issues in the fence. Turn around a few panels. Fix the gaps between the fence panels etc.
18th October 2019
Having vines growing through the fence and decking again, I notified Stephen.
So to recap.
Issue escalated on the 4th March 2019, two years after first reporting the issue to the local store.
Fence finally replaced and corrected on 1st July 2019. 4 months later!
5 days of my life spent being at the house, 3 of which resulted in either no show or no work actually being carried out.
A financial loss of £700 incurred to me personally during this fiasco.
No response/followup/action taken to my email on the 18th October 2019.
Fast forward to
9th February 2020.
The vast majority of the fence came down during 40mph winds.
My neighbour's fence to the left and right of my property (I'm middle terraced) are totally undamaged by the SAME wind.
On inspection, there are a few issues with the way the fence was erected.
1. The original support posts, which were attached to the posts you can see in the picture above were removed! As a result of their removal (can't figure out why they were removed) ONLY the bottom half of the new panels were actually secured to the posts!
2. The panels were secured with NAILS! Not screws as the majority of people would have the sense to use. Nails!
3. The lower fence you can see in the picture is the original fence erected when my property was built in 2001. It was unaffected by the same winds that blew over the newly erected Sainsbury's fence?
Email sent to Stephen Ralph, Sainsbury's Executive Team
10th February 2020
Email received from Stephen to confirm that a team would be attending that afternoon to repair.
Contradictory email received from Matt White that evening
It was clear to me at this point that Stephen had blatantly lied to me about a team attending!
11th February 2020
As it stands
So as it stands now, Sainsbury's, despite the evidence provided about the incompetence in which the fence was erected (removed posts, nails rather than screws etc) refuse to make right the damage to the fence.
The previous fence, which they had to replace due to the damage done by vines growing from their property stood for 16 years and most recently withstood 60mph+ winds when the 'Beast from the East' swept across the UK.
This newly replaced fence, has completely fallen over in 40mph and as stated is the ONLY fence to be damaged?
How on earth can you excuse incompetence and neglect by claiming it to be 'An act of God'?
Ultimately, had Sainsbury's acted 3 years ago when I made them aware of the vine issue, my original fence would never have been damaged. It would never have needed to be replaced. And it would still be standing now!
Instead, having already incurred loses of £700, Sainsbury's expect me to pay for the repair of the fence despite clear failing on their part to erect it correctly.
And this is why I will do whatever I can to get a resolution to this as it does not feel right that a large organisation like Sainsbury's should be so disrespectful of a persons time, loss of earnings and inconvenience their incompetence has caused. Is it really right to expect someone else to pay for your lack of social consciousness Sainsbury's?
If you have any advice as to how I can pursue this, I'd love to hear from you!