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'Badly treated' Homeserve ceo campaigns for better customer service and maintenance
A recurring tail defect is making Richard Harpin regret the choice of an AS355N Twin Squirrel which he bought to help him meet his demanding weekly 65-hour schedule as a husband, father and ceo of two companies.

A recurring tail defect is making Richard Harpin regret the choice of an AS355N Twin Squirrel which he bought to help him meet his demanding weekly 65-hour schedule as a husband, father and ceo of two companies.

Harpin, who runs the U.K.-based emergency home repair company Homeserve, works a minimum 5.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. day, then likes to get home and spend quality time with his wife and three young children.

But he reports: "There is an issue with this AS355N that Eurocopter and its representative in the U.K. and Ireland have failed to address properly. The helicopter has been out of action for 82 days in its first year with a tail problem. McAlpine is treating me very badly over this."

He adds: "The AS355N was bought a year ago. The fault involves a crack in the tail which has appeared four times despite being sent in for repairs. I have reached the stage where I am seeking a refund of £2.1m to purchase a more reliable replacement aircraft." Harpin says that McAlpine initially covered the cost of him hiring an alternative aircraft but not the loss of charter business. "McAlpine has now refused even to cover the cost of chartering a downtime replacement. We have lost business and goodwill through our inability to meet charter commitments because the crack in the tail keeps recurring. The crack appeared for the fourth time just after McAlpine reassured me that it has finally been fixed."

Harpin says that all possible steps have been taken to maintain the AS355N in an airworthy condition. The A355N is owned by Harpin Ltd, Richard Harpin's private company, and is on the AOC of Multiflight which is based at Leeds Bradford airport. Charter clients include Newcastle United Football Club. "There is an arm's length commercial arrangement between Harpin Ltd and Homeserve. When the AS355N is not being used on Homeserve business it is chartered out by Multiflight."

Harpin, 42, is a pilot himself, but has a policy of always flying with a full-time commercial pilot. That role is filled by Steve Beaumont, a former captain with Leeds Air Ambulance. Homeserve provides emergency call out and repairs for large companies and also claims to be one of the fastest growing home emergency services firms in the U.K. A focus on helicopter business uses and market shares will now be included in EBAN's 2008 coverage.

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