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Storm Desmond, profiteering?

David Sparkes

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From the Facebook page of Middle England Green Lanes - GLASS.

Any thoughts or alternative views available?

The poster writes:


Having been in the Lake District over the weekend where Storm Desmond was an uninvited guest at Bryn and Megan’s wedding I feel I must post something about a company who I believe exploited numerous guests who attended the wedding.

This company is called Kannku Off Road Adventures at Victoria Forge, Victoria Street, Windermere, LA23 1AD who realising that many people were stranded and unable to drive through the flooded roads transported people to Merewood Country Hall hotel at £95 per trip, even though these trips were only a couple of miles in length!
One journey costing £95 included getting Bryn’s dad, who is in a wheelchair, to his hotel a couple of miles away and then the driver didn’t even help get him and his wheelchair out of the 4X4 and into the hotel, even though the surface water was up the side of his wheelchair. We were lucky, having negotiated a £40 charge for a trip that Google maps shows as only 0.6 miles long.

I feel that this company should be named and shamed for exploiting vulnerable people and pressure should be applied on them to donate their profits from the day to charity or a disaster fund for those affected by the floods.

This company probably received over £1000 just from the guests at the wedding so how much they actually made on the day/night must have been enormous.
So come on please share and hopefully Kankku will do the right thing.

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My only question would be are they licensed and insured for passenger carrying for reward as either private hire where they must be pre-booked or hackney if you just jump in? In their situation I would pay it and be happy I had somewhere warm and dry to sleep.

In the bad weather of 2010 I drove nurses to work by arrangement with the NHS FOC and was happy just to do my little bit. They offered fuel money at the end but I declined. In 2011 they phoned and asked if I would do the same except this time they wanted me to have police checks, they wanted evidence that my vehicle was road legal and that my insurance covered me for business use all at my expense so I declined.

If your charging everything should be above board, if it's helping people out then it's up to the individual how far your willing to go out of your own pocket.

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I cannot read the linked post on FB as I am not a member of the group concerned.

However I agree with David - profiteering is not acceptable behaviour when others are suffering from natural disaster. When people are stranded, they often have no choice in what measures to take.

In this instance it may not have been an emergency, but this was a couple's wedding we are talking about - THE most important day for them, that has no doubt been spoiled not only by the weather, but far more so by the reprehensible actions of Kankku.

I would have been offering to help those less fortunate at no cost, as I did a couple of winters back when we had severe floods in Surrey and Sussex, and I evacuated a family from their home. Such gestures of goodwill often lead to generous offers from grateful rescuees, but I certainly don't expect anything.

The large number of 4x4 Response and other similar volunteer organisations provide a valuable resource in assisting our emergency services, yet do they go about demanding mercenary fees?

I have driven past Kankku's base when I have been travelling in the Lake District, and seen their brightly coloured vehicles lined up at the side of the road. They are ideally placed to assist with the situation. They chose to act in the way they did, and chose to charge heavily at the same time. I think it is the excessive fee that grates more than anything.

The opportunity to have saved a bride's day, and possibly received some fantastic local publicity from would have been a winner.

Imagine local media publishing something like 'Local off-road tour company saves couple's wedding day in the face of Storm Desmond'....

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Neither the Kankku company (nor the attached garage Windermere Auto Centre) are particularly well thought of by local residents, nor is the man in charge of it all.

As none of their vehicles carry local authority licence plates for their use as taxis I would lean toward their actions being 'less than charitable', especially with as many other people in the region offering time, skills and equipment to help those affected and asking nothing in return.

Transporting wedding guests (family who don't want to miss out or ruin the couples special day) when your service is the only one available and charging heavily for it does seem a little suspect to me.

Yes they've offered an 'off road recovery service' chargeable at a base rate of £80+VAT for a number of years, but I would argue that transporting people along a flooded road does not fall under that definition.

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MickyW; you didn't miss anything by not being able to access the page, I had copied the post in full, and there were no other comments.

Cynic-al; Your experience with volunteering mirrors mine, in that since they introduced the red tape I've backed out.

Thankyou Dave Turnbull, the relevant part of the newspaper report is below; I have added this to the Facebook page I copied my original post from.

Extracted from a report in the Northwest Evening Mail, December 8th, 12.03 pm.
Kankku owner Nick Fieldhouse has since offered to reimburse any wedding guests.

Mr Fieldhouse said: “On 5th December Kankku mobilised staff and vehicles from 5am as part of our normal 24 hour 4x4 off road recovery service charged at a flat rate of £80 + VAT. Under extreme conditions, we made multiple recoveries and helped over 20 guests make their wedding at Merewood Hotel.

"Our off road vehicles are specially prepared to traverse deep water and this enabled us to assist where others could not. Our service often includes recovering vehicles from open fell ground and floods, and what appeared to be a normal call-out service soon developed into an operation amidst unprecedented conditions and as a good will gesture anyone wishing to be reimbursed should give us a call.”

Hopefully this closes the matter.


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There is another side to this , its not cheap owning and preparing a vehicle to deal with adverse conditions , and as a a previous poster mentions its no longer good enough that you are happy to help out in emergencies, they want their cake and eat it as well now.

I have personal experience of similar "demands" where its all by their rules , as if it is them doing you a favour by making use of your assistance , this was particularly noticeable after having lived in Australia for a number of years , a whole different approach .

Kankuu were a bit over the top , but I am sure there are many who have suddenly had neighbours become good mates when they need their vehicle towing out of snow etc , or ramblers who don't mind traveling in a landrover when they sprain an ankle whilst fell walking .

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I think the reporting is a little one sided, they are a business not a volunteer service.

If they got called and asked to turn out to provide transport, I guess if they agreed to terms upfront then who is to blame?.

It does smell like a little later on , after they no longer needed the help they then started to think about the amount of money. I wonder had the wedding limousine simply broken down if they called a taxi firm would they have got free transport?

As the day and events unfolded maybe it turned out slightly different than they expected.

Living and operating in a rural community is all about helping one another and expecting to be helped when needed. I've spent many many hours towing cars out of ditches and helping stranded motorist but equally I've had a fair bit of help in return. Certainly not a pro rata rate as I tend to be better prepared than most ( cos it's part of the type of work I do ) but I've been grateful for assistance.

If it's bad weather and someone needs help I'm not going to drive past and I'm not going to seek payment but I might have gate crashed the reception :-)

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My point in 'sharing' the original post is that I knew there would be other views, some which I hadn't thought of, or not given much weight to, and I thought it would be a useful exercise to gain a more rounded picture.

So thankyou for sharing your experiences.
As always, we will never really know what the initial consultation was about, single trip or 'bulk buy' etc, so I certainly don't want to be dogmatic about this occasion, but I hope we can be better prepared about the different possibilities if we are ever in a similar situation.

When I was, in a small way, a manager of a team that interacted with the general public, I'm afraid the assessment 'How will this be portrayed in the Sun', was a pretty strong guidance as to what solution we should adopt. :-)


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Contrast their actions with those of other residents.....


Keith Harriman and about 15 others laboured long into Saturday night to clear away debris James Glossop/The Times​

Mike Wade and Gabriella Swerling

Farmers from a picture-book Lake District village defied police advice to save their community from the floods that devastated much of Cumbria.
As residents of Braithwaite, near Keswick, struggled with ropes and tractors to rip away broken trees and debris blocking Coledale Beck they were ordered by police to stop. The locals’ answer, said Keith Harriman, a 59-year-old farmer, was “sharp and to the point”.
Mr Harriman and about 15 others, laboured long into Saturday night to clear away debris that had blocked the beck and caused a terrifying “tsunami” to break over the village earlier in the day.
On Sunday morning, with their village submerged in mud, the men were still working hard to prevent a second catastrophic flood, by clearing tree roots and broken wooden footbridges from under Braithwaite’s stone bridge, when the police arrived.
“We had one guy in the bucket of a JCB in the middle of the river, trying to put a chain round a huge piece of wood,” Geoff Davidson, a local volunteer, said.
“You can imagine the reaction. The police said: ‘You haven’t got this man on a rope. You haven’t done this, you haven’t done that. What if he goes down the river?’ Sadly health and safety people, rescue services, they just have to abide by the rules.”
The villagers made it clear that they would continue, whatever the officers said. “You don’t pussyfoot about,” said Mr Harriman, of Keskadale Farm. The police left after about 20 minutes.
Later, when a senior officer from the Environment Agency arrived he was advised to “look the other way” as villagers shovelled mud back into the river, against official practice.
In nearby towns, many others were angered by the authorities’ response to the second heavy floods in six years. In Keswick, Richard and Sheila Callaghan surveyed the wreckage of the cottages they run as holiday lets.
“This is our livelihood,” Mrs Callaghan, 55, said. “The Environment Agency are not interested, we are completely left to it. As for the politicians, they do a token photoshoot and that’s it.”
At Fagan’s gift shop in Cockermouth, devastated by floods in 2009, Sonja Moor, 43, praised an “awesome” community response, as locals helped in the clean-up. Even the manager of the local Aldi had given a 50 per cent discount on essentials she needed after she was flooded out, she said.
In Braithwaite, Daisy Sowerby, 67, was the most fortunate survivor of the floods on Saturday. With Keith, her husband, and Margaret Parker, 74, she was in the doorway of Bridge House when a huge tree trunk and two wooden footbridges, swept downstream by the torrent, thumped into the village’s pretty stone bridge, immediately blocking the flow. “The water just ricocheted off the tree and flipped back like a tsunami,” she said.
The three struggled to reach the back door through a metre of filthy water. Mrs Parker, who had a hip replacement in September, escaped with Mr Sowerby, but his wife was trapped, the force of the flood pressing the door against her leg.
With the water at his wife’s neck, Mr Sowerby, a builder, dashed to his van, found a crowbar and smashed the back door open. “Terrifying isn’t the word,” Mrs Sowerby said. “ I’ve never done so much praying in my life.”
Ruth Denby said that she was shocked by the response of the rescue services to the plight of her 93-year-old neighbour.
“About 4pm [on Saturday] we rang the emergency services to help get Gladys out, but we heard nothing for three hours,” said Mrs Denby. “Then I messaged my daughter on my iPad. She phoned Keswick mountain rescue. They came out and saved her.”
Daphne Eddington, 55, proprietor of the General Store, had seen her business swamped when the beck burst its banks, but marvelled at the heroic work of the farmers.
She said: “You still couldn’t walk here [by the shop] on Saturday evening because the current was so strong. But there were the guys with their tractors and spotlights trying to unblock the bridge. You feared for their lives. Between the riverbank and this shop was a three-foot high rushing torrent.”
Superintendent Mark Pannonem, of Cumbria police, said that the conditions had been had been “extremely challenging for emergency services”.
He added: “We were made aware of the situation in Braithwaite but to ensure the safety of the local community we advised them not to enter the water.”

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I think there's a distinction between "taxiing" and "rescuing".

Rescuing someone from a flooded car, getting them to dry land and presenting an invoice for £95 is one thing. Taking people who had to get somewhere who otherwise couldn't is a service. This is a service so paying for it is no big deal. It's supply and demand - the fact that there may not have been very many vehicles that could make the journey (low supply), and the journey "had to happen" because it's a special occasion (high demand) contributed to this.

It's still a short term business decision though. If they were playing the long game they could have done it all for free then reaped the positive publicity. Now though, the end result is the same with some ill feeling.

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Did they raise their prices and did they get approached by the customer for a service, I dunno?

Point is a wedding isn't exactly a life and death emergency. However unpalatable it could have been postponed.

Charging 95 quid to tug an ambulance out of a flood wouldn't be a good thing.

I'm not saying it was a good or bad business decision but it certainly wasn't a rescue !

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Weddings are a big cost and a lot of planning. If I was driving and saw a bride next to a broke down limo and she said can you give me a lift to the church a mile away and I go sure for £80 I can that's a bit mean. What I think happened here is the company has a £80 call out fee to pull your Land Rover out of a ditch. They were called to get the guests to the hotel and ran the £80 call out cost per guest for a relatively short trip through a very big puddle. Someone's looked at that called it a bit mean, the company have too and probably agreed it does look a bit mean and offered the money back. To me doesn't look that intentional and the company has offered the money back. I think they just didn't have a bulk ferry transport charge code in place.

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My god, seen this carp all over FB, too many people take it for granted that any private business must oblige them their services FOC "just because ############" (#= fill in your desired reasoning here).

Private businesses are profit making organizations, emergency services are paid for by your taxes!

Does this #### mean that when Dynarod come to back flush your drains from the silt post storm and a few days after water subsided you get it for free?

Vehicles and equipment cost money, drivers wages comes from companies earnings, ok charitable exceptions can be made but WTF is wrong with people expecting private businesses to do charitable work for free.

No doubt the company reimbursed based on the negative publicity, sorry but if it were me I would happily release a press statement telling them to f### off, I run a business not a charity and perhaps they should have thought before they left home, not left home, needed assistance then balked at the bill.

WTF is wrong with people?

will read second link above when a little bit more calm.

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Weddings are a big cost and a lot of planning. If I was driving and saw a bride next to a broke down limo and she said can you give me a lift to the church a mile away and I go sure for £80 I can that's a bit mean. What I think happened here is the company has a £80 call out fee to pull your Land Rover out of a ditch. They were called to get the guests to the hotel and ran the £80 call out cost per guest for a relatively short trip through a very big puddle. Someone's looked at that called it a bit mean, the company have too and probably agreed it does look a bit mean and offered the money back. To me doesn't look that intentional and the company has offered the money back. I think they just didn't have a bulk ferry transport charge code in place.

I imagine it was along the lines of a secretary answering the phone to an unusual request, fits it into the pricing structure in place and job done. Retrospectively it does seem mean and the gesture of refunds for the sake of the companies reputation seems like a fair and probably sensible thing to do; it IS very different from one of us chancing upon a stranded bride.

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