19 December 2009

Cheap tricks and low life behaviour rarely pay-off

So Katharine sold her flat. It is a lovely place, in a very old part of town full of historic wooden houses and cherry trees that blossom in summer. The flat has lots of windows and is very light, which was a great starting point for all of the work she has done inside to make it really nice.

When she put it on the market there was lots of interest and the subsequent bidding round was pretty hectic. When the auction was over and the smoke cleared, a young girl called Hilde from Hardanger emerged as the winner. She came to visit several times with her family who brought bags of apples from their farm and Katharine was delighted that the place was going to such a nice person.

It’s a nice tradition in Norway that when a house changes hands, the outgoing person makes sure that it is very clean for the new occupant. So once her stuff had been shipped to the UK, Katharine spent several evenings cleaning and making it nice. She was also leaving several pieces of furniture, including shelves in the store room, a TV stand, a bookcase and a table for the terrace as the new couple had nothing. She had also arranged to sell them the dish washer and some ikea draws at a knock down price to get them started in their new home. She also left lots of cleaning stuff and the spare paint and wall paper that was left over from the decorating. So by the time of the handover on Thursday evening despite being a bit sad about leaving, Katharine was pleased that the place was going to nice person who would appreciate it. She even bought them a Christmas card and a plant as a moving in present.

I was at the flat for the handover and 5 of them turned up. It was the girl, her partner and his family, including two hard looking older women and brow beaten old man. There was a strange atmosphere as soon as they entered. I kept out the way whilst Katharine showed Hilda round and she seemed excited. The rest of the crew just started to inspect the place for dirt. They searched and searched until eventually they found a small strip of dust where the washing machine had been. They ordered Katharine to get on her knees and clean it. This was all very strange, but when in Rome…

Then with undisguised delight the mother took out the dish washer filter which had not been emptied. She turned her nose up in an arrogant and snide way and pronounced that it was dirty! So Katharine, who by this stage was close to tears, got down, emptied the filter and put the machine on to run an empty cycle. At this point I was too angry to stay, so to avoid confrontation I went outside.

Five minutes later the munsters appeared in the street and deliberately avoided me. There was a real atmosphere. Then the girl appeared behind them and without acknowledging me, walked up the street. Next Katharine appeared behind, it was odd that there was no parting gestures but the reason soon became clear. Katharine was livid!

Once the olds had left the room the girl had, rather awkwardly launched in to a prepared speech that the flat was dirty and they wanted money off the price of the dish washer. Katharine had asked her what was dirty beyond the now clean filter and bathroom patch and she said it was all dusty. Katharine ran her finger across the surfaces, there was no dust, the girl was uncomfortable but insistent in a vague way. Katharine, who had managed to stay calm up until this point snapped, snatched the keys off her and threw her out. She seemed surprised, the scheme of turning up with 4 other people to bully some money out of someone who struggled with the language and who they had expected to be alone, wasn’t quite working out.

So we discussed what to do, called the agent, called some friends for local knowledge and considered the options. There was clearly nothing wrong with the flat, they came there with the intention of finding something to create a bargaining chip for the white goods. Everything from the shear number of them, their body language and the atmosphere they immediately created right up to the awkward pre-prepared speech, gave it away. After a brief discussion the decision was easy, two can play at childish games – things were getting interesting.

So we spent the rest of the evening removing all of the furniture that Katharine had been planning to give to them, the Christmas card also went in the bin. Everything, the shelves from the store room, the TV stand right down to the cleaning stuff, was packed up in cars and shipped to my place or given to some lucky friends. We considered cleaning the flat again but it really wasn’t necessary; we just tidied up after the mess we had made moving the stuff and headed to home. It was 2am by the time we got to bed.

Katharine was too upset to meet them the next day so the Agent took over. She went with them to inspect “this filthy hole” and apparently when they arrived and saw the stuff gone they exploded, screaming and ranting. Strike 1! They then told the agent that they “demanded an apology”. She asked why Katharine would want to apologies for removing stuff that was hers. They were so enraged they could not come up with an answer but kept demanding all the same. Oh how I wish I had been there!

Things continued through the day with the agent telling them the place was clean enough whilst trying to mediate. She said that if they could show what was dirty she would get it cleaned. They found a dusty tile in the bathroom but refused to let it be cleaned continuing to demand money off the dishwasher. Their claim started at 2000 nok and progressively came down through the day until it ended up at 300. This much stress and bad feeling for 30 quid! Katharine called me and I said take it, the shear ridiculousness of the amount beautifully highlighted how desperate they were to save some face. Oh how small and petty they must have been feeling by this stage.

They signed the documents to take possession and announced that they now didn’t want the washer after all. I would almost like to think that they knew all of Katharine’s stuff had been shipped back to the UK and thought it would be really hard for her to take a dish washer on the plane, so she might just leave it. I would like to think that, that was their plan but I really don’t believe they are that smart, I think they are just spiteful and petty and realized that they had messed things up and were desperate to salvage some dignity. If that was the case they had just made the wrong move! The best of yet to come.

So Katharine called Sandy, Helen and myself to go around and take it out. The new owners were not supposed to be their but they refused to leave, all five of them. Fantastic, now we could have some real fun…

It started with Helen walking in and bouncing up to them saying hello. They had no idea who she was but dutifully shook her hand, before it dawned on them that she was there for the furniture. Then Sandy and I took out the dish washer, all the time loudly discussing what childish, pathetic, sad wankers would create this much stress for 300 nok. They listened intently from the other side of the room while trying to be aloof. They tried to retaliate by discussing us in Norwegian. The girl told her bitch mother in law that she was "ready to explode", obviously thinking that none of us spoke the lingo. Big mistake, Helen may sound like she comes from northern Ireland but they should have realized that those striking scandic looks are not from the provinces. She calmly turned and said in Swedish “well why don’t you, it will be fun”. They were all mortified.

The dish washer and last furniture were out in ten minutes. Helen came out to the car while we were loading and told us that they had stopped her taking photos. So I went up, collected the last of the tools and took photos, lots of them, very slowly and very deliberately. They looked uncomfortable but nobody seemed to want to tell me what to do, they just huddled in the corner.

I then turned to them and said “you need to come here, I have something important to show you”. The shuffled over nervously en-mass, there was definite tension in the air. So I pointed out that since the dishwasher was disconnected they needed to blank off the point where the pipe had joined the main before they could turn the water back on. Rather bizarrely they all thanked me profusely and I almost, for a fleeting second felt sorry for them.

But outside we went over it all and it was clear. They were just very unpleasant people. They thought they could pull a cheap stunt and complain about the cleaning and get some money off the white goods. The sad thing is that, in doing so they destroyed all of the good-will and created a horrible situation for the sake of trying to score a few hundred pounds. In the end they got nothing and lost about 7000 nok of furniture which they would have got for free. Perhaps worse they had to stand in their own flat while a bunch of laughing foreigners ripped into them and humiliated them repeatedly. They now have to live in that flat with the air still heavy with animosity.

Our best guess is that the girl was at one stage a nice person and it was her weasely boyfriend and his poisonous bitch of a mother that pushed her into it. If that speculation is true then maybe at some point she’ll see the light. In the meantime it left a nasty taste in all our mouths, but at least we came away laughing and the bully got its arse well and truely kicked.


Pete B said...

Sounds awful. Sociopaths are always a pain, either in climate talks in Copenhagen or flat sales in Bergen. You should have introduced these people to a bit of game theory - the Prisoner's Dilemma would be very instructive for them I think. But how is K after all this?

John said...

Oh I love a game theory - although in this case it wasn't really needed
Anyway Katharine is fine it illustrated A) that she had some great friends in Bergen; B) why she was leaving and C) that bullies can get their dues.
Regarding Copenhagen, did you actually expect anything?

jon said...

Bunch of tossers!

Bekka said...

Not good - what is it with some people!

ruralwalesdirect said...

Well our last move I had to help the older lady move her things out as the van man came alone before we could move in ! she should have been gone some 4 hours earlier it took us two more to remove all her stuff out - and I did not get a tip either for helping them load up the van ... We had to leave most of our belongings out in the dark...

Ah not a patch on your story house moving from hell...
Hope you have managed to get over it and are ready to enjoy christmas