Sunday, November 24, 2013

What GIO does not know could cost it

I arrived home after my first night away since I was involved with a week of LARP in '07. The work I'd anticipated was to be done had not been done. I'd been assured my electrics would not be touched. Instead, all my belongings were heaped in four piles and covered in plastic. My phone was disconnected. My refrigerator unplugged.

The clean up
It took me an hour, but I connected the phone and cleared up a bit. A box soggy with affected material from the raw sewage was left on a cloth office chair. An old similar cloth office chair which no longer had working gas lift was empty. The reason for the sewage affected material not being placed with others similar and 'safely' on plastic was a little bureaucrat was following orders to the letter, not the intent. It won't mean much in the scheme of things, but is an irritant. I'm no longer concerned regarding the sewage material. The reason why I was away was so the cleaners could decontaminate my unit with Ozone. In fact, they were supposed to air out my place before I returned.
The treatment was to take six hours and I'd left at 9 am the previous day. I returned about 11 am the next day. My door was locked, which was a good thing, considering no one was in it. It smelled of Ozone. I found the contact details of the cleaner and one of the builders who'd applied for the contract. The cleaners were apologetic and instructed me to wait outside for one of them to collect the fumigating material. The builder admitted they had been the ones who had provided the original insurance assessor. They hadn't yet been given a contract. It wasn't the cleaners fault. They had followed instructions. I was upset they had not left a message for me at my door warning me when I arrived. Or that I had not been advised to contact them. But that isn't their fault. I had spoken with the supervisor before leaving the previous day and had flagged that locking the door overnight would be an issue. He had had no answer for me then. Fortuitously, he passed me in the evening at my hotel, walking to get some food as dinner was not part of the service. Or breakfast. He had beeped his van as he passed, and had pulled over down the street, but I hadn't much energy from my earlier exercise of walking uphill three kilometres to my hotel from the railway station which was listed as being closer. I didn't go and chat, and so, the next morning, I returned to the locked Ozone filled apartment without a warning being left for me.

It isn't easy for me to reach the refrigerator plug and it took me a few days to find missing items. My bed had been wrapped in more plastic and left in the middle of the room. I needed to call for help to move it to a corner .. but I digress.

I had been promised the cleaners would remove the scum from the bathroom tiles in front of the toilet. It comes directly from the sewage spill. I have tried, and cannot remove the stuff. My vanity had had the kick board removed, and the top had been wiped down. The corner of my kitchen which holds the hot water heater may not have been touched. I am concerned that the sewage parked there, and there is a wet mark on the building facade locating it. But the fumigating should have killed any bad bugs. My concern at the place is it is an entry point for cockroaches. Since the fumigation I have seen four adult German roaches. They must be tracking the sewage material as they vector through it. The removal of the kick boards makes it easier for them to come in.
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What GIO don't know
The sewage spill is not the first from those pipes. I was asked by the home contents insurer if it had been. It certainly was the first of the scale that eventuated. In 2003, on a Friday, I called the strata secretary with a similar blockage as happened on the October long weekend recently. Only that time I took the secretary's word and waited until the Monday. The blockage must have been partial then, as much less sewage leaked. The sewage only barely made it into the corridor. The plumber dealt with it correctly at the time. So when the recent blockage happened, I took the plumber straight away to the pipes that eventually were found to house the problem. Only the new plumber was unprepared to address the issue. It looks like it took the plumber two days to find the blockage I pointed out the first evening I called the strata secretary.
Earlier in 2013, my upstair neighbour had had plumbing work done. An insignificant 20 cent piece needed to sheathe a pipe had not been installed, and so their shower leaked directly into my unit. I called strata secretary who refused to deal with it, but referred me to the owner. I contacted the neighbour owner and they authorised the strata plumber to troubleshoot. Strata plumber told me they had found the issue but could not talk to me about it, but needed to talk to my neighbour owner. Two weeks passed. Strata secretary promised to have my bathroom repainted after lighting failed. Plumber, apparently, never talked to owner. Owner is a builder who got their own plumbers to find the issue .. by cutting through my bathroom ceiling. As expected, strata secretary reneged on their promise to paint the ceiling. However, I got them to bring over an insurer assessor who assured us that strata would not cover it. It was an opportunity for me to pay strata fees. Strata secretary plays a stupid game where I can only pay them if I send my check registered post. But because they showed in person with the assessor, I was able to pass them the check.
My relationship with strata secretary was poisoned in 2004. A leak from my strata pipes appeared like it was coming from my shower. So strata dug up my shower and recovered it. Then they found the leak and sought to charge me for the work. We contacted consumer affairs to clarify who was responsible, but strata secretary played dumb and wore me down, so I paid $1000. Then strata paid for others to have showers resealed. Strata secretary was apparently embarrassed and seems to have bad mouthed me to others. So I stopped attending strata meetings to keep the peace. Strata secretary began playing 'games' like not acknowledging receipt of letters unless I sent them registered post. The cost pushed me to renegotiate my home loan and extend my mortgage. It was then I painted my walls the way they are.
Other issues
Strata required a cherry picker to allow a builder access to roof gutters. About $2000 work cost strata some $60k because o the OHS issues surrounding the work. The builder who did the work had a son who was also a builder and negotiated and completed the work. I believe that son was the same person as the GIO assessor who came on the 24th October. They didn't ask me about what had happened and appeared to me to be playing down the severity of the event. It now turns out that the contractor builder awarded to do the reconstruction was his firm. This concerns me, because I believe the spill was an act of negligence on the part of strata and it is in their financial interest to finagle GIO and deflect complaints. I may be wrong, but I have no direct avenue of communication with GIO. So I am documenting things.
On the morning I returned from my hotel stay, 20/11/2013, Wednesday, I got a letter from GIO regarding my initial complaint of their tardiness addressing the safety concerning the sewage spill. Note, some things will be replaced, but I have lost many things that are irreplaceable. My father's professional library is one. I am in a desperate situation even before the sewage block. The GIO letter said GIO agreed that a mistake was made, and would inform them for future training regarding such issues. At no stage have I been allowed to spell out my concerns here. I do not know if a personal injury lawyer would take my case, maybe it isn't over what would be considered a substantial amount of money. But I would still engage one. If only to help GIO with training their staff in facing similar such issues in the future.
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