Hotpoint delivery driver taken ‘hostage’ by angry Norfolk customer
17:56 24 November 2010
Archant Â© 2010
A surreal drama was played out in a Norfolk cul-de-sac as an angry pensioner held a delivery driver “hostage” in a dispute over a faulty cooker.
Ivan Langley, 72, was so incensed at the service he received from Hotpoint that he locked their driver Anna Hawes in his bungalow, saying he would not release her until the company provided him with a new, fault-free cooker. Police were called to Mr Langley’s house in Blundeville Manor, Newton Flotman, near Norwich, by Miss Hawes’ concerned bosses.
Mr Langley, who is registered disabled, was angry after a second replacement cooker, delivered to his home after his original “blew up”, was dented.
When he was told a further replacement would not be available until next week, he locked the door of his house and told Miss Hawes she was not to leave.
An Evening News reporter and photographer were allowed into the house during the bizarre two-hour stand-off yesterday, which only ended after a police officer helped to broker Miss Hawes’ “release”.
Miss Hawes remained cheerful throughout her “ordeal”, drinking coffee and enjoying a laugh with her captor while attempting to hammer out the dent in the back of the oven and connect it.
“He just said that he was not going to let me go until he gets what he needs,” said Miss Hawes, who had been making her eighth delivery of the day.
“Nothing has happened to me to this extent before. I’ve always managed to talk my way out of it. It has been a bit of a pain but I’m taking it in my stride. I know he means me no harm and it’s not me he has got the problem with.”
It was not altogether clear how Mr Langley planned to detain Miss Hawes had she been determined to escape, but she was delayed in making subsequent deliveries in Bunwell, Attleborough and Watton before heading back to her depot near Northampton.
Retired lorry driver Mr Langley, who revels in the nickname “Ivan the Terrible”, lives in the specially-adapted bungalow with his wife Sally, 72, who is also disabled.
He said he had been driven to take direct action because of “diabolical” service from Hotpoint, after he bought a £470 electric cooker last month.
“That blew up a few days later and tripped all the electrics in the house. They delivered a second one, but the same thing happened,” he said.
“When the third one was delivered it had a dent in the back. They told me I wouldn’t be able to get a replacement until Thursday next week. What are we supposed to do in the mean time? I don’t want this one blowing up as well.
“I don’t make a habit of this but I’ve had enough. Anna has taken it very well: she’s been treated with respect and we haven’t beaten her up or anything. We’ve even offered her a bed for the night.
“It’s been quite funny but there has been a serious point behind it.”
Mrs Langley said of her husband: “He’s a very easy-going bloke, but Hotpoint have been so bad it’s driven him round the twist. You wouldn’t want a cooker that doesn’t work, would you?”
Miss Hawes’ boss contacted police and an officer was despatched to the Langleys’ bungalow. After speaking to Mr Langley, Miss Hawes and her boss on the telephone, an agreement was reached and the driver was allowed on her way. No arrest was made.
Miss Hawes said: “It was all pretty strange. That’s an afternoon I won’t forget in a hurry.”
Hotpoint, based in Peterborough, is owned by Italian company Indesit. A spokesman said the matter was being looked into but was unable to give further information.