Delaying my property purchase & it could fall through

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Guest's review of Cunningtons Solicitors -


“Delaying my property purchase and it could fall through”

Written on: 06/11/2013

I have edited this review because on 23rd September 2016 I
was contacted by the Review Centre as Cunningtons complained to Review
Centre to remove my review originally posted in 2013. Rather than
withdraw my complaint I have now updated this review to include a lot of
additional information on the poor experience I had with this firm. I
have fact and date checked everything to ensure accuracy and ran this
past a lawyer in my office to ensure that I am not making any defamatory
or untrue statements.

This was my second property purchase with Cunningtons Solicitors and it was my last. I will never use this firm again.

I am a qualified accountant and my wife a teacher. We are a
polite and friendly professional couple who like most people just want a
relatively straightforward life free from any unnecessary stress. We
never go out of our way to create an argument or uncomfortable situation
and when someone is rude to us are usually so shocked and taken aback
that we are stunned in to silence and it is only later when the dust
settles that we wish we had said x or y or expressed our unhappiness
with how we were treated.

Treatment of Customers

The PA for our assigned solicitor requested my wife and I
attend Cunningtons offices to provide original documentation to verify
our identity and there was also one deed related to the mortgage that we
had to sign in front of the solicitor and she also needed to explain to
us what we were agreeing to by signing it. All to be expected and very

I travelled on the train from London, leaving work early
to reach their Braintree office. My wife drove from Upminster with our
one year old son. I informed the PA when I reached Braintree Station I
was just a few minutes away and we would be there soon.

On arrival at Cunningtons Office the receptionist took our
documents to make certified copies. I was then told by the receptionist
that our solicitor was too busy, would not see us and we needed to take
the mortgage document to a local solicitor and pay about £50 and it
signed there.

I felt this was not acceptable when I had made an
appointment with her PA and we had travelled a considerable distance to
make this appointment. It is my opinion that the receptionist also felt
this was grossly unfair. After I asked if there was any other solicitor
available at this solicitor’s office the receptionist again went in to
our solicitors office. The receptionist informed us our solicitor would
try and see us but couldn't guarantee it.

My wife, our one year old son and myself waited for an hour.

It is the opinion of my wife and I that when we did
finally get seen by our solicitor she was extremely rude, especially to
my wife who is of Indian origin. To the best of my recollection she said
“I have just returned from holiday, have a lot to do and do not have
time for this”. I felt her general demeanour and attitude was rude and
sulky and not what I would expect from a qualified solicitor.

Not wanting to upset the solicitor and give her have any
reason to delay the purchase of our home we bit our tongue and remained
polite and courteous until we left the office. It was only once we left
my wife and I discussed how shocked we were by the solicitors’ demeanour
and lack of professionalism.

Delays Processing my Property Sale and Purchase

My property chain had a deadline and it must have
completed by the 15th November 2013 due to holidays, validity of
mortgage offers and wanting to move in good time before Christmas. Due
to some other issues earlier on in the process, which were not the fault
of Cunningtons, the entire chain was at risk of falling apart and
everyone was aware things needed to move quickly and I felt most people
were doing their best to ensure things did move quickly.

The contract pack was received by Cunningtons on Wednesday 30th October 2013.

As at 6th November 2013, an entire week later. Cunningtons had not responded to the sellers’ solicitor.

The purchase was delayed as a result and it was very
fortunate that the other people in the chain were patient and I did not
lose out on the purchase.

I am not sure if the delays were due to inefficiencies or
taking on more work than they had the staff for and I feel the firm
should look in to the causes in an attempt to improve the experience for
customers at what is often a very stressful time.

Due to what I felt were unacceptable delays I requested
from Cunningtons a copy of their complaints procedure on 6th November
2013. I contacted the partner named in the complaint procedure and
expressed my concerns with how things were being handled.

The pace of work then picked up and the transaction did then complete in December 2013.

Handling of Customer Finances

Upon completion of the transaction Cunningtons retained
£1,000 of my money for “mortgage redemption”. I did not have a mortgage
on the property I sold and so Cunningtons withheld this money from me by
mistake. I had to raise this as another issue to get this money back
and ensure I was not charged their usual transfer fees for sending me
back my own money.

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