Long distance, short shrift

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 February, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 February, 2000, 12:00am

AFTER seven months of long-distance wrangling with the managers of his London flat, a Hong Kong consultant is angry, drained - and still owed $62,000.

The consultant, who wanted to be named only as Peter, said he hired a property management company last July which seemed 'on the ball' and had an office downstairs from his apartment.

But after a constant struggle to squeeze information - and money - from the firm, he suspects it is fraudulently using his rent money. He is pursuing a case in the British Small Claims Court.

'There are two theories - one is cock-up and the other is conspiracy,' Peter said.

'If there have been a whole series of cock-ups, it's one of the most ineffective, irresponsible and incompetent organisations that it has been my misfortune to be involved with.' He said the company said it had a tenant almost as soon as he contacted it, but for one reason or another it never signed anyone up. Other tenants were 'found' in the next few months, but none moved in.

All the while the flat was left empty, until finally the managers dropped the rent and a tenant signed up, paid a deposit and began paying rent. But four months later, Peter had still not seen any money. He is now owed GBP5,000 (HK$62,000).

'It's proved to be extremely difficult and irritating. Whenever I rang they were never there,' he said.

'I'd ring and ring and ring and leave messages - they never rang back.' The sales office made excuses and apologies but the money never arrived.

'I tried to contact the accounts office and got the same kind of run-around,' Peter said.

'They said the manager had gone to a funeral, he was out of the office, still at lunch . . . and after about 2pm they switched their phones to an answer-phone that said they were too busy to answer the phones or were doing their annual accounts or something.' Peter bought the flat from Hong Kong as an investment, and has never actually seen it.

He is confident that after going through the courts, he will get back all the money he is owed.

'But what I can't recover is wasted time and the extra grey hairs it's given me.'