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Home Observatories UK


Steve Lintott
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I placed an order for a fairly standard observatory from this supplier, back in Sep 2020. They warned me it might be a few months due to supply difficulties.

I hadn't heard anything from them by Feb 2021, so sent an email. Nathan said they hoped to start on my order in March. Since then nothing.

Tried calling both phone numbers last week and emailed but still no response.

I even paid extra up front to help them through Covid.

Here's what I received in Feb 21

Hi Steve,

We are still here and working. Lockdown has made a few things difficult but we are still managing to get installations out.

Looking at the schedule though, we should be on to your build in the next couple of weeks. Provided that all goes well, the weather was very conducive to work last week.

But I will be in touch as soon as we are starting your build.

Kindest regards

Nathan

 

Edited by Steve Lintott
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14 hours ago, Steve Lintott said:

I placed an order for a fairly standard observatory from this supplier, back in Sep 2020. They warned me it might be a few months due to supply difficulties.

I hadn't heard anything from them by Feb 2021, so sent an email. Nathan said they hoped to start on my order in March. Since then nothing.

Tried calling both phone numbers last week and emailed but still no response.

I even paid extra up front to help them through Covid.

Here's what I received in Feb 21

 

 

Steve,

There have been several threads discussing HOUK - Some waiting almost a year after ordering for their observatory to be delivered and erected.  These threads also discuss the lack of communication which seems to be the main bone of contention as most customers are patient and willing to wait for the end product.

https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/373850-are-home-observatory-uk-still-in-business/

https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/381735-home-observatories-uk/?tab=comments#comment-4127799

Most of the threads got locked as it's against forum policy to "bash" a supplier...  But I believe one customer was considering court action to recover his substantial deposit.

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Well other than actually going there in person, if they choose not to deal with customers telephoning or emailing them then there isn't much more  you can do to get an update on when you might get your order completed.

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I am the customer mentioned above re court action.

I cancelled my order with HOUK in June. Since then they will not even reply to emails.

  • I served a letter before action in early July
  • I proceeded to court action against Gareth, he has ignored this and missed the deadline to respond to the claim.
  • I have requested a default judgment CCJ
  • Should he also ignore this I will move on to debt recovery.

I know that he is aware of this situation as he has moved onto jobs that were due after mine while retaining my deposit payment.

I built my own observatory which took a couple of weeks and am up running, I will add a post about this soon.

Steve

 

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4 hours ago, KY Cygni said:

I am the customer mentioned above re court action.

I cancelled my order with HOUK in June. Since then they will not even reply to emails.

  • I served a letter before action in early July
  • I proceeded to court action against Gareth, he has ignored this and missed the deadline to respond to the claim.
  • I have requested a default judgment CCJ
  • Should he also ignore this I will move on to debt recovery.

I know that he is aware of this situation as he has moved onto jobs that were due after mine while retaining my deposit payment.

I built my own observatory which took a couple of weeks and am up running, I will add a post about this soon.

Steve

 

It's not sounding too good if he's ignoring the courts... and through efforts of various people he is probably aware of this (and previous) discussions so it's strange that he does appear on the face of it, burying his head in the sand, hoping it will all go away. 

Good luck Steve, and hope you get your deposit back soon

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15 minutes ago, malc-c said:

It's not sounding too good if he's ignoring the courts... and through efforts of various people he is probably aware of this (and previous) discussions so it's strange that he does appear on the face of it, burying his head in the sand, hoping it will all go away. 

Good luck Steve, and hope you get your deposit back soon

Thanks Malcolm, its a damn shame its got this far, theres no need for any of it. Being as reasonable as possible I emailed  him at every stage to give him every opportunity to act. I’m hoping the CCJ will nudge him to see sense before debt recovery.

 

 

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Steve, to be fair none of us really knows any background to his state of affairs, and we can only speculate or comment on what we read or hear about from others, but you are right that this is all so, so sad.  Especially as those lucky enough to have received their observatory from HOUK have certainly praised him for the quality of the product and the way the installation went.  For the sake of replying to a few emails or taking a few hours a week to ring his customers to keep the in the loop he could have saved himself all this grief without a CCJ hanging over him...  - So sad.

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Sad to hear this since they did a tremendous job on mine in 2016.   Even then, it took over a year from order to installation.  In their defence they are excellent tradesmen and I have not had a single issue with it.   As a wooden structure with moving parts, in the UK damp for five years, that is good going.

They lost their secretary and main admin person who had her fingers in all the admin to cancer - Julie - last year.  I was very sad to hear this.  Nathan, who is a carpenter, told me this and said they are overwhelmed with the administrative side of the business.

Edited by kirkster501
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4 minutes ago, kirkster501 said:

Sad to hear this since they did a tremendous job on mine in 2016.  They are excellent tradesman and I have not had a single issue with it. 

They lost their secretary to cancer - Julie - last year.  Nathan, who is a carpenter, told me this and said they are overwhelmed with the administrative side of the business.

That is sad to hear, I remember speaking to her nearly 5 years ago when ordering mine, which the boys subsequently  fitted and is still here, one of my better astronomy purchases. She was a delight to deal with and even ensured payment and delivery details were organised ‘out of normal office hours’.

I hope they sort out their admin affairs quickly, their observatories and workmanship are second to none.

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It is sad news.... but why not communicate that to their customers, or put a notice up on the website stating that the loss of their admin will result in delays.  It takes 10 minutes to type up, and by keeping people informed are more likely to retain orders rather than face court action.  People are sympathetic and far more likely to accept delays rather than not receive anything back to communications sent.

 

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Agreed Malc.

I was very sad indeed to learn about Julie, I had many laughs with her over the phone.  She was the matriarch of that business and organised everything and the lads did the building and fitting.

I do hope they can get this back together again since their carpentry skills are second to none.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

An update

So the court has issued a CCJ against Gareth and directed him to refund me plus court costs.

I really don't want to do this but he has left me no choice, I emailed him one last time to avoid bailiff action but he's ignored  that as well. I tried I really have.

I know if he had got to installing my obs that it would have been a good job but he has blatantly just kept my deposit 

If he sees sense I will report back but from Monday its in the hands of county court bailiffs.

 

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Mixed feelings...pleased for you that the courts ruled in your favour and that you should now receive your deposit back and won't be out of pocket, sad that it came to this and he now has a CCJ against his name.  What I don't agree with is that if you looked at his website you wouldn't suspect that this sort of thing is happening.  Personally I think that is so wrong as more and more unsuspecting customers could be placing orders and deposits and may have to do the same as  KY.

I've also noticed (and I can't recall if I've mentioned this before) that credit cards are not accepted as a method of payment.  If it were then at least people could seek redress through their credit card company rather than having to go through the courts....

@KY Cygni it would be good closure if you could provide one further update when you finally receive what's owed as it serves as time line for anyone else having to go down the same route.

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Hey Malcolm 

Unfortunately there's no guarantee I will get anything at all even with a CCJ, this is the world we live in, people can just take from you and thats it.

I fully believe my deposit has gone.

I am being philosophical,  my obs is up and running, the cost even with court fees, the donor shed and all the power tools I bought is still less than HOUK would have charged. Sad but true.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I paid a deposit of £1990 on the 26th of September 2020. So I'm over a year waiting now. I was told it would be installed before Christmas. Last email from Gareth was in June to say he was talking to Nathan the following weekend and he'd be in touch after that with delivery dates. No communication since. In fairness Nathan was always good at keeping me in the loop and very nice to deal with. But as we know he left in May. I understand Gareth's under pressure and has had some difficulties but I too back the sentiment that it is so sad to see a good business have it's reputation damaged like this. All it takes is 10 mins a month per customer to just ring or email them to keep them in the loop. It really shouldn't have come to a CCJ, it's a separate issue and likely has to do with cashflow but really he has nobody to blame but himself. I'll have to go down the same route myself if this continues for much longer.

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I must admit I'm amazed at the patience of people on here, paying upwards of £2K and waiting a year for a product after the order was placed.... I would have already gone bald having pulled my hair out in this time.

I'm sure most of those customers would be more than understanding about staffing issues or cash flow if they had been informed, which as has been discussed wouldn't take that amount of time or resources to do, and communication with customers is all part and parcel of running a business.

Good luck with recovery of your deposit... sadly I feel that more and more customers will be going down the court route. 

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I doubt I would have been as patient if COVID were not in the middle of all of this. Communication with Nathan was pretty good up till March or so. Although there was an almost complete lack of communication since then with Gareth I try not to judge and would not force anyone to travel to install something had they not felt safe to do so. No idea if that had anything to do with it but I'm over in Dublin, Ireland which complicates the matter. Everything is effectively open again so I was hoping to get a call soon. I'm guessing Steve didn't get his deposit back because of cashflow issues. Makes no sense otherwise. Why ignore a court order if you can just return a deposit. If he had started building the obsy that would be different but he hadn't by the sounds of it. With the CCJ and my wild guess at cashflow problems I suspect that's it for HOUK... and my deposit. I hope I'm wrong. Shame for a business that had at least a solid reputation up till recently to go out like this.

Edited by tdinneen
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  • 2 weeks later...

Has anyone had contact at all recently? There used to be the odd email or phone call to customers but it seems like those have stopped. Ive not heard of an install being done for ages.

On a positive note I got some 1st light test images from the observatory that I ended up building myself.

 

 

 

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