WARNING: DISTRESSING CONTENT
A grieving mum left with a $6300 cleaning fee after her son died in the family van says she's considering taking the bill - which she says was unexpected and too high - to the Small Claims Court.
"I've spoken to a lawyer, but he said it would cost more to fight than the bill itself", Maree Tinsley said of the invoice to clean the Toyota Hi-Ace van after her son Brad Tinsley took his own life in West Auckland last month.
"So I'm considering the Small Claims Court as another option."
Tinsley received an outpouring of support online - some who wanted to know how they could help financially - after going public in the Herald on Sunday last week about the invoice sent to her by Crime Scene Cleaners. A friend has since set up a Givealittle page to help.
The bill includes a more than $4000 charge for 27 of the 41 hours Crime Scene Cleaners say it took staff clean the van - general manager Carl Loader told her he'd cut the actual bill from $10,000 - as well as other fees which another commercial cleaner told the Herald on Sunday were excessive.
Tinsley, who found her son's body the morning after his death, said he'd emptied his bladder but there was no blood.
The Albany mum's adult grandson paid $500 when booking the cleaning online, with a warning "there could be additional charges for cleaning products etc", Tinsley said.
Upon returning, the van Crime Scene Cleaners' staff told her they'd had "a few issues" removing smell, but "there was no quote, there was no phone call to say 'we've struck a problem'."
Crime Scene Cleaners general manager Carl Loader said last week he didn't want to comment other than to give his condolences.
He later said the van was cleaned more than a week after Brad Tinsley died and there was a strong smell as well as blood and body fluids.
Yesterday, Maree Tinsley confirmed she still hadn't paid the bill. Neither she nor any of her family had been contacted by Loader since going public, but she had this week received an email reminder that payment was outstanding.
Loader didn't respond to a request for comment before deadline.
A friend of her son had set up a Givealittle page to help Tinsley and supporters had donated $850 so far.
The page has a limit of $10,000, so if donations exceeded the $5800 still outstanding on the cleaning bill they would go to Brad Tinsley's two young children.
She'd donated to others' Givealittle pages but had never been a recipient herself, Tinsley said.
"It's quite humbling … [anyone] willing to help me, I'm just eternally grateful."
Talking about her experience with Crime Scene Cleaners wasn't easy, she said.
"It was a wee bit uncomfortable going public. But at least people are going to be aware now … because quite often when these things happen we don't end up saying anything.
"I'm glad I was brave enough to say something."
- Donations to the fund to help the Tinsley family can be made at
Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Helpline: 1737
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