Trust – some thoughts

Yesterday I posted a tweet that said this:

Trust is an under-rated value metric that defines so much of what we do, I think. Trust in your own decisions, plus other peeps/orgs

This was after being at a point in my life and with the organisations I am trying to scale at the moment, and how my lack of trust in myself was driving some of the decisions that I later regretted because I should have trusted my own abilities.

Followed by a small crisis of self where I questioned whether I just had trust issues, and so I did a little drawing of those I would trust with my life, my children, my house, my business, my decision-making process and for advice. I found that actually I had a very broad base of people who I trusted without question – and actually I naturally chose to trust people initially, only withdrawing faith when burned.

I am relieved about this, and it was an interesting thing to consider when I thought about organisations and institutions and how they design services – and how they design services in the main with a lack of trust – but that things were changing and so on. Open data, open organisations, all the things I like to think about, indeed live.  It was an interesting thought process anyway – feel free to ponder on!

Today

So today broke with a letter from Hackney Council with a parking violation fine, with photos, from my old car that I had presumed was safely in locked storage in Ripley, Surrey, indeed I had declared it SORN last April. This triggered a series of events that progressively eroded my newly found trust in trust and still lingers on as I write, with a continuing saga of ever-more ridiculous and illogical happenings.

Stop reading here if you just want to navel-gaze trust – from here on is a little bit of a venting post…

What happened before today:

1. I had a car that I was choosing not to drive any more as it had had a tiny crash :), it was super-expensive to run yet was not worth losing my no-claims bonus for and so I wanted to keep it, but not do anything with it for a little while as it was a classic, not worth much but a classic all the same

2. I went to the garage I had traditionally bought all my cars from and explained I wanted a small, practical car and was no longer going to be driving the *dinged* beast (they sold me the beast in the first instance)

3. They asked if I wanted to leave it in their lock-up, said the lock-up was huge and they didn’t mind but it would be officially off-road until I decided what to do with it – I trusted them and believed that they meant the words they spoke

4. I bought another car from them, gave them the keys to the beast and went on my merry way – I trusted them and showed my ongoing trust by buying another car from them

5. Several months later, I decided I would go get the beast and do something with it, now I had some time

6. The garage told me that I was not allowed to have the beast back, that they had taken it upon themselves and had fixed it and were hoping to sell it for £1995

7. They said that I could have the beast back if I paid them £860 for the work they had chosen to do, or I could sell it to them for £300

8. I called the police

9. The police said it was a civil matter until and unless the garage actually sold the car they could do nothing. They recorded the details and gave me a reference number, but said I should keep them posted and alert the DVLA

10. I explained to the garage that I was not paying the ransom, that I had reported this to the police and I expressly was not allowing them to sell the car for any amount, let alone £1995

11. They then said that they would sell it to recoup their costs in fixing the car – a job I had not commissioned, they had not asked permission to do. I said they were not allowed to sell it, they said they would scrap it then and so on and so forth (with swears) Imagine if that happened to you when you popped your car in to get the starter motor fixed, or sommat. When you go to collect it they tell you that they have popped a new engine in (without asking) and it would cost you xxx to get the car back, they sell your car and… or if it was your house, and a roofer came and fixed your roof without asking then sold your house to pay his bill – you see where I am going…

—–  a brief pause in the story, I chose to not continue the row, it was a stalemate, the police couldn’t help, I was not keen on fisticuffs at dawn with a used car salesman so I decided just to leave it all until it was thrust in front of me again, as I knew it would be ——-

And so here we are today. This car that they said that they would scrap, that I still own, was photographed in Hackney at 08:08 on the 27th January 2012. I had declared it SORN, as far as I knew it was in a lock up being held ransom when all that had happened was they had offered to keep it in their lock up, with no time period or charges.

I called them, no response, and then called the police and then this happened:

1. The police said that it was horrific but that it was a civil matter and until they sold the car, no criminal offence had taken place, but a civil one had and told me to contact the CAB

2. The garage *texted*(!) to say that they had sold the car

3. I called the police and said that they had now claimed to have sold the car so it was now a criminal offense right?

4. They said it was still a civil matter and could I call the CAB and DVLA

5. I called DVLA who said that someone had taxed the car but that it was still legally in my name

6. The CAB said that it was a criminal matter but referred me to Consumer Direct to see what advice they had

7. Consumer Direct said that it was theft, therefore a criminal matter and I had to go back to the police but that they would report the garage to Trading Standards, but were keen to emphasise that they wanted me to keep them in the loop

8. Meanwhile the garage was now sending me text messages saying that they were transferring a debt to the bailiffs for the cost of them fixing my car (without my permission) and storage of the car(!) ending with a final text that told me to f*** off and they would see me in court

9. I called the police again and they are having a little think and said they would call me back

So now, my trust is eroded. I have no faith that anything will happen by anyone. The car people who had my regular business over more than three cars and the justice system, which seems to be so lily-livered that they cannot see this series of events for what they are because, presumably, they do not trust that what I say is true – even though I have raised the same story officially over many months and have a car that is legally mine, being sold (maybe, who knows) or at least driven without my permission.

If you apply this abuse of trust to any situation, any property and see the chain of events, then it is clear that this car is stolen. It was held to ransom and now stolen. But no one can work from a basis of trust with me, that what I say is true.

And my own trust in people has caused this whole situation to occur. Had I been less trusting and insisted on written agreement that they were taking my car for an unlimited period for no money, signed and so forth I may have a better hope of proving all this. But even then, this can all be faked can’t it? I imagine I would still be in a terrible situation.

Meh – that’s off my chest, but yes – trust, for me it is going to be an issue for a while. And if I end up in court over this as the defendant, which you can completely understand may well happen, then bring me twiglets in jail.

*update to post* 06/02/12

The Police have been in touch over the weekend, which was very diligent of them. They have spoken to the person in question at the garage and say that he is basically claiming that he sold it because I had left it there so long and that he had repeatedly asked me to take it away. Half true, he had said that I could have my car back if I either sold it to him for £300 or paid for the work £860 he decided to have done to it in order to sell it. He had not been in touch with me at all in between the break down of those discussions and me being sent that photo of the car violating a parking order, during which time he decided to sell the car.

So, basically: I had not paid his ransom, so he sold my car – blaming me for leaving it there, but he would not allow me to take it away! Crazy

Luckily I had kept all text discussions with him and have turned these over to the police so that they can see for themselves. They have said that these messages do back up my side of the story but there is still no way to prove intent. So the police can do nothing. They say that he has clearly broken civil law and that I should instruct a solicitor and take him to court.

Kidnapping a car must be illegal.

Anyhow, another point. I have been inundated with appalling stories of other people, many far more vulnerable than me, being taken advantage of in similar fashion and I know that I am moaning about a very small thing that I could have ended by just paying the guy some money. Some of the horror stories I have read and heard are so sad and make me very angry, but makes it all the more essential that I try to stand up against this. But anyway 1. I did not have the money to pay him. 2. It was a principle.

The question now is do I name him?

23 responses

  1. Aagh – what a ghastly story! However, I’m not sure you’d get anywhere unless you had a default position of trusting people – I mean, it would just make life so difficult. I’d suggest getting an independent valuation of the car as it was when you left it with them (based on age & condition) and claiming that amount off the garage (via https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome)

  2. ianal but I’m pretty certain that the Police are in error and this is criminal (as well as civil in additional parts, concerned with contract law). Given that you still have the registration documents I would suggest that you call the police and tell them you’ve just discovered your car was stolen. Whoever has it at the moment has no proof of ownership, after all, (unless they bought it at a market under certain conditions) and advised them that you hadn’t seen the car since whenever it was, so that it must have been stolen between then and yesterday. On the work-done-but-not-ordered, invite the garage to show your signature authorising the work, and tell them to f*** off if they can’t.

    • Yes, I know, I can do some stuff to prove them wrong, but I have to prioritise everything I am trying to do right now. I am angry, it is an abuse of trust, but the car is worth naff all so by expending time and effort on this, which may well all end in naught is a huge commitment for revenge. And unless the police accept that it is stolen and is a criminal offence, I may as well just bend over and take it

  3. I should point out that I bought this car *the beast* from them in the first instance for £5995, I am sure I over-paid, but I loved it and I was working and it was all fine. So they have won on several occasions with this car and as far as this world is concerned, I guess maybe they can have old documents that they can resurrect – not sure, but it’s an unholy mess

  4. At least we will have cons who code.

    This sort of thing drives people to destruction. Britain does not have a reputation as a nation of small minded shopkeepers for nothing.
    I’m glad you blogged it. Please try to treat it as a game and don’t let it get you down.

    Rent ‘Brazil’ and ‘Falling Down’ for background.

    Alternatively if there’s a bureaucracy insurrection I’m in!

    Angus

  5. Well, Emma, they do sound like (excuse my french) a bunch of total tw*ts. I hope that in some small way, the consensus of humanity being thus, a small fraction of your faith in it is restored.

  6. Oh Em,
    Incredible series of events. Had over by a tradesman you chose to trust and let down by the authorities we all feel we should be able to trust.
    Ultimately, they’re wrong, you’re not. Don’t let it stop you trusting, but keep letting it make you angry until its resolved. Grrrrr!

  7. On the way to TNMOC today I was listening to Victoria Derbyshire on Radio 5 live. She was interviewing Claire Waxman who was a victim of stalking. She talks about her ‘trust’ in the police and the CPS in not defending her human rights as the victim and although a world away from your car probs Emma, have a listen on http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b01bbg47 – 19 mins in.

    We still have your BBC Master at the Museum and I promise faithfully that you wont be charged for any improvements, even the go-faster stripes we have added … erm and the dual carbs. Oh and if we use it, we promise and promise again to stay under the speed limit ! When you are ready it will be returned to you repaired, cleaned and with a smile + cup of tea from your friends at TNMOC.

    I was also thinking today about the many young people in the UK who have had their trust abused by Government, schools and other agencies over this vocational equivalents issue. They believed in what they were sold and now are being told that their schools persuaded them to take a course simply for the school to get a better league position. I think young people following these courses have been treated badly. Many are working hard and deserve better from all those responsible for this mess.

    You hear tales of lost trust each day sadly and i hope you can resolve your car problem so that you get some justice. Just make sure you tell them that you have an army of people ‘out there’ who admire you for your honesty, care and passion for what you do and if you do nothing else we will all swear never to buy a car from …who are they?

    Keep focused on what is important – those that abuse your trust will come to a sticky end sometime. Lets hope the battery goes flat just as the snow comes down!

    Chris
    TNMOC

  8. Yes you have an issue with trust – you have trusted a ‘profession’ that is up there with estate agents, insurance company employees, recruiters, and many others. The fact is that most people thing that anything considered normal in their industry is fair practice. When my dad had a stroke that left him paralysed, mum (a [75 year old at that time] non-driver) let the garage he bought his car from take the car for sale. She saw it around town many times, biut at each time of enquiry was told there had not been any interest. Eventually they gave her a small amount as the ‘price’ that they sold the car for – this type of activity is not exceptional: it is just considered normal (in the same way that doctors covering up other doctors mistakes, lawyers gazumping home buyers, and accountants ensuring their clients avoid paying fair taxes is also normal).

  9. incredible!
    i’ve been on a few institutional pinballs
    but that is wild…
    at least it wasn’t your only car
    and have enough time-money to pursue it…

    awful
    no idea how you managed…

    wrt trust
    you are talking about institutional trust here
    it’s not like you knew the garage dude or the police dude
    and so
    it is a story of the usual nightmare
    when we find ourselves in the cracks between the institutions…
    and cars find themselves there there first
    it seems…

  10. Emma

    very interesting you see this as about trust, not motivations nor the economic climate – you may actually have been totally right to trust the garage originally, but either different people in charge there or different financial circumstances may have tempted them to take a chance that they can make some money and if need be pay you off, assuming you will have been happy at getting something for nothing [storage] for a while- whilst the Police have all sorts of motivations [resources, political pressures] not to record crime or to downgrade their seriousness, if they can get away with it. From politicians ‘down’ to the rest of us, there is always a proportion of people who will take a chance either bending or breaking rules, ethics or laws.

    As for the parking fine – you can send Hackney council the history above & a copy the [dated] messages from the garage saying they have sold the car, therefore pointing out that any fine is payable by whoever they sold it to, or the garage [if they were the previous owner as claimed if they have sold it], but obviously not you…and evidence that you have reported the car as stolen to the police and to an insurance company, and to DVLA. In the face of such evidence it would seem unlikely Hackney would want to take this further with you. If somebody responsible for a fine who says they’ve bought the car also claims you were driving/responsible for the fine, then there is potentially ID fraud as a further offence being committed.

    lastly, a geeky solution – insert a GPS device in any object you care about of value and [if not regularly seen, look up where it is]-
    -see for example http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/sep/15/gps-software-finds-students-stolen-computer
    [for 'phones as well as backup apps, there are lots of free apps to let you track them, find them if lost, and know if the sim card has been taken out, as well as to remotely delete your data - you really dont want others to have access to all your emails, contact details etc do you - and always use a PIN code for your phone, voicemail etc, dont leave it set at the default! same applies to laptops ]

    good luck!

  11. ps have you tried writing this up as an article for the guardian [interesting to know if they would publish but I suspect not till you have the final outcome, but it does show the dsysfunctional nature of govt / gaps between cracks, as well as wider trust issues - there might be a crime reporter who'd help you write it], then sending in draft to the Chief Constable’s office and to the Mayor’s office, as well as whoever is in charge of Hackney? but maybe first wait to see if hackney and the police are reasonable if you do explain and pursue with them with your various evidence…

    pps at least one force- Surrey- have an app to let you report a crime http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/police-launch-crime-fighting-iphone-app-37661 – might be of use

  12. I find myself desperate to know what type of car it was. Incidentally I once left a vehicle with a garage for twelve years.

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