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I wonder if you can please help me, hope im in the right part of the site.


I have been working as a decorator and handy man. I started a job for a company before christmas, they were going to pay me to pain the inside and outside of their offices. In december they gave me a £250 deposit most of which I would use to buy pain and other bits and bobs. I paid for them before the vat went up to save a few pounds.


Due to the snow the building work was not finished and so when i was due to start in january i could not. I managed to get another job but after two weeks they were still not ready and then another two weeks later i heard nothing so popped in to make sure. When i got there the guy didnt want ot talk to me and said that he was on his way to a meeting and could i call back. I said that I just wanted to see when i could start the work and he insisted that i go.


The next day he phoned and said that there had been a 'change of plan' and could I just drop the deposit money back to him when i was passing. i said that this was out of order and that I had shelled out for paint and had been waiting to do the job.


Today I received a letter on their headed paper sent by recorded delivery saying that i would be taken to the small claims court if I didnt send back the money within 7 days.


Sorry that this is long winded!!!


Anyway, can someone ask for their deposit back? Do I have a leg to stand on? I think that he is bang out of order but I have only started out on my own recently and this is the sort of thing that makes me want to give up.



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I don't think they can get back something after breaking a contract like that.


Is the cost of the materials you bought come to exactly or under £250 or is it more? if it's more, then send them a bill for the remaining materials.


You can, of course, inform them that if you can find a job that will use the materials, then you will deduct and return an amount equvalent to what is sold minus an hourly rate for measureing and calculating their job.

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I will use the materials up over the next few months so all wont be lost but its too late to take the stuff back so Ill have to take that on the chin. The thing is, i gave them an invoice that just stated deposit and the amount, when I spoke about materials before they said that this wasnt agreed and the deposit was a retainer for work not done even thoiugh they know I tried to do it. I guess the builder on site offered them a better deal.


Whenever I have bought a car or house a deposit is non refundable and I was kind of hoping the same would apply to me?


In the future could clever wording on my invoice or is this one of the pains of being out there on my own?

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Woah! Back the hell up there

- what are you talking about "next time"?

You ain't lost this one yet!



Just because this little mob decided they'd try the heavy card on you doesn't mean you just roll over for it -

if nobody's mentioned what the deposit was for then they've got exactly the same job trying to say what it was for now as you have.



Spend ten minutes writing out a polite reply stating that,

as per the binding verbal agreement they made with you at the time,

you've purchased the materials for the job from the deposit paid,



and say that if they now wish to cancel the contract between you both then unfortunately they will forfeit the sum paid.



Invite them to take whatever advice they feel they need to,

but respectfully point out that in the circumstances you do not feel a repayment would be appropriate and if they feel otherwise you would be happy to defend their action.

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(a) You're not going to court, because they won't be stupid enough to issue a claim,

(b) if they are that stupid, they won't win because the verbal contract you made with them about the purpose of the downpayment is just as legally binding as if it had been written down and sworn in blood - the only difference is that it's obviously easier to prove a contract when you've got a signed copy of it. And since you don't have a written copy, they don't have a written copy. Which means its your word against theirs. And, in this court, that will then come down to the balance of probabilities, and the balance of probabilities is that the upfront payment to you as a sole trader is more than likely to be money to cover the costs of buying materials. Which in short equals a win for you.

© (with certain specific circumstances aside, and no your case isn't one of them) there is no reclamation of costs in the small claims arena.


So in short, they won't take you, if they do take you they'll lose, and if they don't lose all you have to pay is the sum they're already claiming from you plus their court fee which for the sum you're talking about is about £40 I think. If you're still not convinced, pay them. And then immediately stop working for yourself, because you seriously ain't cut out for it...

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