Saturday, May 29, 2004


SATURDAY, MAY 29, 2004

I was feeling pretty stupid a few days ago. I had gotten energetic and packed away all my winter stuff…it had been pleasant and sunny for several days, and I figured it was only going to get warmer. Then I realized that I would need some of those long sleeved things for our trip to Prague….especially considering the fact that it’s going to be cloudy and rainy while we’re there. And then, it rained here, and today it’s cool and windy…it feels more like the beginning of April than the first of June. Yesterday I had to put on a sweatshirt, and I never did really warm up. Plus we’re to the time of year where it can be warmer outside than it is inside…and this is especially true when you have stone walls that are three feet thick!

I forgot to write about an interesting situation that occurred the other day. We were having lunch in Ternana’s and I saw a little boy who looked American, and he also had on a tee shirt that said “Cardinal Football”, so, being from Louisville, I thought of the University of Louisville Cardinals. Art saw the boy’s mother, and struck up a conversation. They were from California, and Stanford University also has the Cardinals as their mascot. This family was staying in the area for two weeks, and luckily for them they had found both Ternana’s AND Stefania’s (the gelateria). As we stood there talking, another man came up to us, stuck out his hand and say “Hello! How are you?” Since Art was closer to him than I was, I followed Art’s lead and shook the hand of the man who had taken our money and given us ZERO service when we bought our house…yes, it was Graham!

I was astounded that Art was being so nice, but I chalked it up to the fact that we were in Ternana’s, amongst nice people who really wouldn’t want to hear the kind of tongue-lashing that Graham deserved. And here was Graham, acting as if nothing had happened or as if we were good friends or satisfied customers. He told us that he was showing a house in Ospedaletto to the couple sitting in the corner …he must have a lock on the houses in Ospedaletto.

For those of who came in late, Graham is the owner of the real estate company we used when we bought our house. Once we had paid him his commission, which is paid BEFORE the closing, he pretty much ignored us. We ended up getting more help and more information from the real estate agent representing the seller. This agent, Donatella of Tecnocasa in Marsciano, has since become our friend. She was the agent from whom Graham bought his house, and once she heard about the way Graham was ignoring us, and the extra charges he was adding, she was astounded. Although Graham’s website says that using his company is no more expensive than using a regular realtor, this is NOT true. They even charged us to receive money into their bank account for the deposit on the house!!! I won’t mention the company name or web address, because I DO NOT want anyone to find them and get ripped off like we did.

The fact that Graham is English and that we are Americans was also a big contributing factor to our problems. First of all, he had NO CLUE what questions we would have…questions concerning the difference between a house and a sale in the U.S., and the same in Italy. For residents of Britain or other EU countries, these differences would not be as great, but we, as Americans are a completely different matter. For the most part, we’re used to frame construction and 110v electricity, and houses that are less than 200 years old. We’re used to shingle roofs and windows with screens and storm windows. We know how the bank/mortgage system works. We know what questions to ask, and what things to look for. We know what a house inspection will cover. In Italy, none of this is the same, and Since Graham in English, he didn’t even know what he didn’t know!

So, back to Ternana’s….we chat with Graham as if we are old friends, and after a few minutes he finally says goodbye and returns to his table. Then…Art turns to me and says “WHO was that?” !!!!!!!! So I tell him…”that was Graham! Didn’t you know? Didn’t you figure it out when we was talking about Dorrie and showing a house to those people?” And of course he says no. He thought it was just someone he had forgotten…maybe he thought it was Adrian, the Englishman we had met a few months ago, I don’t know. I told him that I was surprised by how nice he had been, and told him that I was just following his lead. Of course now he’s getting upset, and saying “Well, if I had known that was Graham I certainly would NOT have shaken his hand! He’s lucky I didn’t punch him out!” And so on…..

I guess when you’re in business like Graham, everyone has to be your friend…at least until you get their money. I think he was just being nice to us so that he could tell the people he was with, “See? I sold them their house and look how happy they are!” What a load of crap! As mentioned in previous blogs, the other two couples we’ve met who also used Graham have both said that they too were quite disappointed with his service, although they didn’t have as many problems as we did. So, if you do know this company, please do NOT use them! And if you’re looking for a house in this area, and are looking at websites, it you run across a really nice looking website, you might want to contact me just to make sure you’re not getting involved with this jerk.


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