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Whilst our investigation shed favourable light on the legitimacy of the room charges’ height, along with their right to be administered, the main question from students, “where is my money going if it’s not being spent on fixing my room?” wasn’t answered. Also, whilst the explanation from a Residence Officer emphasises the fairness of the procedure, my own dealings with my residence department when I complained against charges I was given contradicts a few key points. Photographs of offences are checked and a charge is made based on them, we were told. Yet, when I appealed against a £6 charge for rubbish left in my room, it was cancelled in the absence of any photographic evidence whatsoever. Had I not appealed, would I be paying for a mess that didn’t even exist?
I was also charged for some staples in my notice board left behind by a previous occupant, which I didn’t note on my inventory – yet another addition to the stories of people being fined for someone else’s handiwork. Of course, as our expert pointed out, legally the University has no obligation to spend the money fixing the damage, but it’s in the interest of fairness that they do so, otherwise it leads to innocent residents taking a lot of blame.
I was lucky in that my appeal put an extra £56 into my account. If you know you’ve been wrongly charged, then make sure the complaint to your residence department is fully loaded – address the charges point by point, detailing every inaccuracy and your stance on the fairness of it. Be sure to persevere – ask for photographs and testimonies, even ask for them to consult central residences’ historic fault records to check if a piece of damage has been left by someone else. If they can’t, they are likely to cancel certain charges as a goodwill gesture. But remember, you’re no bigger than what you believe you’re complaining about if you try to be deceitful. If you’ve left your shower tiles caked in someone’s blood and spliced all your woodwork in half, take the penalty on the chin and don’t try to worm out, or the procedure will be exploited and you’ll ruin it for everyone.