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Telecoms Company County Court Claim - Please help!


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Hi There,

 

I have so much to say and this company has angered me so much that I am conscious of waffling too much, but I will make an effort to try and keep it as brief and simple as possible.

 

So, the story starts as standard, I had 10 telephone lines no longer needed and wanted them shut down. Rang and asked company to do this and the person on phone says no problem, have cancelled all those for you, it will be 30 days notice blah blah. Lovely, job done.

 

Until.... a few weeks later a bill comes for £99 termination fees for each line and a bill for remainder of contract of around £300, so they wanted close to £1300 from me. (Bear in mind I only paid about £25 a month for them so a whole years bill was only £300.)

 

Obviously, I wasn't keen on paying 4 years worth of the service just to leave them, so I called back to remonstrate. They said since I was 1 month into a new yearly contract I had to pay remainder of contract and the termination fees. Asked if I could see out the year and just leave at the end and they said I could, but the termination fees would still stand.

 

Anyway, I since discovered that this new 12 month contract was actually an automatic contract renewal they had activated which has been outlawed by Ofcom for small businesses and they shouldn't be doing any more. Pointed this out to them, and after a week or so a new bill comes with the remaining contract bill taken off and just the termination fees listed. (So approx 1k).

 

I then went on to tackle them about these extortionate termination fees and how they could be legal and valid. After speaking to a few different employees of theirs I was told that all these terms and conditions would have been gone through verbally when the lines were set up and thus, I was legally bound by them all. So, I figured I was screwed.

 

But I have since found out that the lines, (originally set up in 2007), were not even done with this company, but another smaller one that was subsequently bought out by these cowboys. And hence I never entered into any contract direct with them and no-one from me of my business were ever told about any terms and conditions. So, I again, pointed this out to them. They simply ignored me.

 

I have sent and logged various complaints with them, email and registered letter, and none of them have been answered or dealt with for 6 months now.

 

So finally, they send me the 1st legal warning letter and it is addressed to me personally and then trading as and my company name. E.G. we will make a legal action against you Joe Bloggs t/a Acme Ltd. I responded to them by registered post with a very strongly worded letter saying they could not threaten me personally with legal action and I would take counter action against them if I received any further such threats as I would deem them harassment. I explained that they were more than welcome to use me as a point of contact on letters, but all claims must be made against Acme Ltd as that was the account held with them and at no time had my personal name ever been attached to that account.

 

This week I have received a County Court Claim for action against Joe Bloggs t/a Acme Ltd for the full debt.

 

Finally, and this is my main question - HOW DO I RESPOND TO THIS PLEASE ON THE DEFENCE FORM?

 

I have various complaints and angles, some mentioned on this page, and some not like the fact that Ofcom, I believe, has also made guidelines against these extortionate termination fees and that any company charging them has to provide evidence to prove the cost to them of cancelling the lines is proportionate to what they are charging.

 

SO, on my defence form do I start listing all the reasons I contest this debt at this point, or should I simply just respond with the defence that Joe Bloggs has no account with the company and also does not trade as Acme Ltd and leave it at that. And then wait to see if they re-do the Court claim and then start my full defence then?

 

Please, please, please if anyone can help with this I would much appreciate it as this company seems to think they can operate outside of the laws and I really want to get it right and make sure I win this against them - not just for the money, but for a moral victory as much as anything- as they are nothing but bullies.

 

Sorry, not really that brief was I! :-)

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Firstly, was the original contract with your company as a registered limited company or were you a sole trader? Is the company a ltd company now?

 

Secondly, as the original telecoms company effectively no longer exists, and they are supposed to allow a manual renewal of the contract every year,

that contract would no longer be applicable anyway as it could not have been renewed.

 

As you have been using the service their is an implied contract,

but the termination fees are not anything you agreed to so there is no chance they can claim for these.

 

Imo The defence should state no contract between claimant and yourself.

 

I would apply to have the claim struck out.

 

They would then have to go after the ltd company and then defence of no contract, no terms, ofcom guidance and unfair terms 1977 can be brought into play.

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Cheers for the reply Steve.

 

It's weird really.

 

There was no original contract or agreement, the lines were just set up on a casual, informal basis by the original company

(ex managing director of it is happy to testify this as I know him quite well).

 

My company is and always has been Ltd, but they don't even know my company name. E.G.

 

My name with companies house is Wile E Coyote Corporation and one of the businesses is Acme.

 

They are trying to take action against my name t/a Acme. The account held with them has always just been in the name Acme.

 

So this casual account got handed to them in the company buy-out, I just started getting billed by them and paid it.

 

They have no idea Wile E Coyote Corporation even exists, which is the name that every single one of my other business accounts is in.

That's how I knew this one was never set up properly as I would have given the details.

 

That makes the county court claim all wrong as it shouldn't have my name and it is the wrong company name

- but I have been in no great rush to point this out to them.

 

I think they are also going to try and claim that by paying the bills I am agreeing to their terms.

 

On the end in tiny print is a bit pointing people to their website but I don't read that and have been told it wouldn't hold up.

 

So do you think I should go to have it struck off for incorrect defendant, or no contract, or both at the same time?

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Hi, they would have to issue claim against Wile E Coyote Corporation t/a ACME and not you trading as ACME. Is the bank accounts of acme registered under the ltd company or did you open them up under your own name because that may change who they can claim against a you may be abe to or not show that acme is not a sole trader company but a trading name of he ltd company.

 

In any event if you did not agree to any contract, and the terms and conditions within that, within the last 12 months they cannot claim that the termination fees are due. And these charges in any event are not in line with oft guidance.

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The bank account is in the Ltd company name. It's a good point though. If they had the sense to look at who had been paying the bills they could easily see the right company name to try and take action against.

 

I am going to respond to have the claim struck off as they have made it against the wrong defendant and also reference the registered letter that I sent them politely pointing this out in May.

 

It seems strange that they have wasted their time doing it in the first place after I explained I was not a sole trader. I can only assume that they thought I was lying to try and hide and get out of it. The way I see it they have just wasted £70 for nothing and will have to start all over again. And then I can begin my full defence.

 

Thanks again Steve, very helpful.

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