In early July 2012, I had put down a £1,000 deposit for a flat in Hackney with estate agent David St. James. 3 days before move-in, the landlord, according to the agent, changed his mind and decided to take the property off the market. DSJ promised me via email a refund after ten working days (and that I was entitled to a full refund as the withdrawal was not my fault), yet ten days passed and no word and no money refunded. After I declined their 'offers' (aka UPSELL) to find me a similar flat (ones more expensive and not in a similar location), I was treated curtly by the estate agency afterwards and they did not reply to my emails and refused to tell me why I couldn't possibly speak to their accountancy department (if they answered at all. They claim THEY can't even talk to their own accountancy department as it is in another building and, apparently, they do not own phones). All my attempts to contact the agency were denied, so four weeks after their passed refund due date, I had a lawyer write a letter to the agency on my behalf, threatening (politely) to take them to small claims court need be.
Neither the lawyer nor I heard any response regarding the letter. I also filed complaints with the agency's complaints email address, to no reply and filed complaints with their governing body. Finally, my father, in America, decided to call the estate agent on my behalf (as a nearly 30-year-old woman, I am not exactly in the habit of my father taking care of my problems for me anymore). The agent told my father that the refund had already happened (it had not). My father called back again, and the agent told him, very condescendingly, that according to their governing bodies, they actually had 30 business days to refund me, legally, and they simply TRY to do it in 10. When my father asked where that is written, he told him flippantly, 'you can google that yourself, sir.'
Whether it was a miracle or simple 'luck', later that day I received an email from the accountancy department saying that my refund was put through (7 Sept, received 12 Sept, 4 weeks after requesting the refund, 23 days tardy) and I should have it in my account in 3-5 business days, which they, finally, followed through on, though not without more unconstructive emails. David St James has the least helpful and unprofessional customer service I have ever experienced in my adult life. They did not come through with refunds when they said they would, they failed to reply to correspondence once they had my money, and said they 'reply to emails in 24 hours' yet most emails I sent were never replied to at all. As an adult female, I should NOT have to have my father call on my behalf to get a response from a legitimate company.
As a teacher with modest income, a £1,000 deposit is a debilitating amount to go missing from one's account when one has to scramble, last minute, to find a new place to live and put down an additional deposit with yet another estate agency. In my opinion, this whole experience was humiliating and infuriating.
Edited upon request by Yelp on behalf of 'someone'.
This user has arrived from Qype, a European company acquired by Yelp in 2012. We have integrated the two sites to bring you one great local experience.