At the risk of turning into a cliche I have to report my experience of using Neil Protheroe.
For anyone familiar with him my account of events will not be news. These are the essential facts.
In a hurry given a leak under my bath into my lounge I looked at HoL and saw topline recommendations. I failed to follow the threads through to see the bad experiences also recounted.
Neil attended on the same day and made a repair to cold water inlet - a "top hat" I believe- I paid him £95 - he wanted to cash (although I only had 80 and did an immediate transfer for £15).
On entering the lounge the following day it became apparent that a much worse leak had subsequently started and water was coming through (luckily I hadn't removed the bucket from before!).
I immediately called Neil and explained the severity of the problem and he said he would be with me later that day (it was around 2pm at that point and he said he'd be there 7pm at the latest. I was relieved and all was cordial as I believed him when he said he would return, and I've had enough experience of home ownership to know that repairs often don't go smoothly!
Of course Neil didn't come and he called me some time after 7pm to say he'd come the following day instead - Saturday - and he was all reassurance and accommodating. I explained to him that I absolutely had to attend an appointment in town at 2pm, so would need to leave at 1pm. Of course, by 1.15pm he had not appeared or called to say he couldn't make it/was running late.
I called him at 1.15pm and it was then that I realised he had no intention of returning. He was difficult and evasive. After about 5 minutes of discussion the penny dropped - he was an arch dissembler and I ended the conversation - I realised he would not be trustworthy to invite back to my home - and started to think where else I could source a good plumber.
I have texted Neil Protheroe to ask for a refund and he is again showing his true colours. I am pursuing the idea of action in the small claims court, but for me the most important thing is that other people both in Haringey and further afield don't fall prey to this person and his initial "can do" veneer.
On a positive note, via my excellent heating engineer based in Stroud Green I have found an excellent local plumber who was able to make full repairs and is a genuine, skilled tradesman. Feel free to PM me if you would like his contact details. Yes, he is very busy, but he won't mislead you, leave you with a worse problem than you started with, or treat you with contempt. Thank you to all those who had posted honest accounts of what it's like to do business with Neil Protheroe - if only I had read them! - hence I thought I'd start a new thread.
The only people in Britain who are allowed to do this and are protected by law from being sued for slander or libel are Architects. Why on earth are the admins so afraid of being sued by oversensitive local politicians but not local tradesmen?
HoL has useful information on tradepeople, would you expect everyone to say that their service is perfect when it is not?
As someone who has in the past recommended NP it is useful to have this information.
"HoL is not in the business of judging personal tiffs." HoL has moderators who make these judgements.
If we can have constant threads about positive experiences then I see no reason why threads with negative experiences aren't equally valid to give a rounded picture.
I use HOL a lot to find tradespeople. It becomes useless if people are only allowed to post positive reviews and you don't hear genuine experiences -- positive and negative. If Neil wants to reply on here he can but I think SeaSaw's posting is fair enough
Complaints about businesses aren't uncommon (Neil P is a presumably self-employed plumber = plumbing business) and if in measured and honest terms they don't conflict with the T&Cs/House Rules of conduct on HoL (down the bottom).
Two examples. This one started with a problem, described in detail the steps taken to try and remedy the problem, and only when all avenues had been exhausted was the business named. http://www.harringayonline.com/forum/topics/rogue-carpet-shop
This one started with a recommendation, which was rebutted by a comment claiming poor service and extra cost. The original 'recommendees' later posted that the complaint was unfounded and that they were in the process of taking legal action against the critical commenter for defamation. http://www.harringayonline.com/forum/topics/decorator-recommended-m...
How we handle tradespeople recommendations is a tough one. We aim to only have genuine recommendations on HoL. You can be assured that we do everything we can to make this aspiration a reality and we moderate with this goal in mind. Nonetheless we recognise that it's very unlikely that any body of user reviews is 100% accurate.
We start by policing who can join the site. For the last two or three years this has meant that every request to join HoL is vetted. This has resulted in almost zero-level spam posts.
We're then left with moderating the activity of and about tradespeople. Firstly this relates to posts by tradespeople who have joined. More often than not this means reviewing open postings where people miss the warning flags we have in place to the effect that there's no free commercial activity on the site. (The reason we do this is mainly to ensure that the site remains community-centric. Charging for ads also helps to pay for the site costs. All approved commercial posts have a pink strip placed across the bottom of the post).
On occasions, as just last week, we're alerted to activity that looks very much like someone attempting to game the system. In this sort of case we delete any suspect posts and suspend the member. Thankfully those instances seem to be quite rare.
With regards to user reviews on HOL, we believe that the vast majority of those are genuine. Some may end up being misleading simply because users post before allowing the dust to settle. Some reviews may be posted in response to a request from the trader. As far as we're concerned both those types of activity are legitimate and are common to all places where reviews are posted. Nevertheless, we'd advise all users to take a review as an indication but still to carry out their own scrutiny.
Since we allow positive reviews we need to allow negative ones too. Both are useful in building up a balanced picture. Where we notice a negative review, or in cases where one is drawn to our attention, we will check the post and take a view on whether the post is genuine or appears to be either overly personal in nature or seems to be attempted competitor subterfuge. In the very rare cases where we believe that a review is not genuine, we will remove it. SeaSaw's post seems to be very much in line with our terms and conditions
I think feedback both positive and negative has to be accepted as already commented by many here. I would be interested given the community nature of this site for a process to engage with any defendant accused of bad workmanship, behaviour etc. so that they know a negative post about them have been made, therefore allowing them the opportunity to respond. It is possible that Neil may not know about this comment and so may never respond. Some people may even not be social media or internet savvy so again, they may not possess required skills to respond using this media. As a professional tradesman I would want to comment on any negative post as I take my work and reputation very serious hence Terms and conditions of work including limitations and risk etc are provided in writing for work before commencing to avoid such issues as this post. So far so good. So is Neil connected?
Sorry to hear that you had a bad experience using someone recommended from this site. I can say however that I've used three plumbers or heating engineers gained from this site and all have been good. For the record, from my personal experience I'd wholeheartedly endorse:
Stroud Green based Plumber Michael Cosgrove
North London Plumber/Heating engineer Pete the Leak
Ladder based Heating Engineer Daniel Servante
Thanks Hugh. What you say is very helpful. I have had a mixed experience from HoL recommended plumbers too though so maybe this will help aswell :The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering, 64 Station Lane, Hornchurch, Essex RM12 6NB, United Kingdom. Tel: 01708 472791 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org The CIPHE Head Office is open 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Thanks Hugh. Sometimes it's the case you need to find a plumber in a hurry so it's really useful to know you have good experiences with those 3. It's good to have options!
Is one of those the chap on a bike Hugh?
Also I'd add plumber Charlie Rumens to your list - ex-ladder but defected to the Gardens I think :)