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Stockport Truck Centre - work done without permission & excessive charges

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Hello all, and thanks for taking the time to read this & please help f you can, it will be much appreciated in these worrying & depressing times.

 

Background

I started out self employment going into mainly car recovery and some repair work.

My ex partner who is on good terms with me as we have a son, asked her family to help and she bought me a recovery truck to kick start the business of which she still retains ownership but it's loaned to me for free.

 

The truck needed an MOT.

Some work was needed so with my credit card and some money scraped together I worked on the truck repairing and replacing what was deemed needed.

 

Suffice to say a lot of work was done (receipts for parts) and I know know the truck quite well now.

I booked an MOT at the end of the work and took it in.

 

Problem

On June 11th 2017 I took my truck to Stockport Truck Centre in Hyde, Greater Manchester for it's MOT.

 

Unfortunately it failed on a some of minor things (namely a blown bulb, a side marker not working (wire had broken), and headlamp aim (new headlight had been fitted),

 

the major failing point was the rear brakes having little to no effort on the footbrake.

The handbrake worked fine (important later on).

 

As it failed on the rear brakes, the tester gave it a PG9 which is a safety issue meaning the truck could not be driven away. I had to have the truck recovered

 

I went into their office to ask if they knew someone to have the truck recovered back to the garage where I carried out the work so I could attend to the brakes.

 

This is where I met Ian the director who said if I wanted I could let them take take a look at it and see what the problem is.

 

I had an idea already what the problem was.

I said this to him and he said the mechanic is not in till Monday (It was a Saturday).

I explained I was on a very low budget so might be best I do the work myself.

 

He said his mechanic can look at it on Monday then let me know how much it will be before any work was carried out. Because of what he said I left him my number and details to let me know and I left.

 

I didn't hear back from them on Monday

I called and the receptionist said someone will get back in touch.

I called again on Tuesday and was put through to Dave the service manager.

 

He in effect said hes still looking at it and hes trying to find the fault.

He said he's replaced a pipe and cleaned a caliper.

He also said he the way he's doing it is checking things as and when he or someone else has the time as it's not a job. I said ok.

 

I called a few days later having not heard from him and he said he's cleaned some more parts and freed others and tried this and that and in the process 2 brake pipes burst so he's had to change them and now he's also changed a calliper.

 

All this time I was just saying right and ok, thinking once he finds the problem he will then say it will be X amount to fix and I could then agree to it or say no. I now realise I was being very naive.

 

On the last call with him he said after all that that it's still the same problem and there is only one thing left (The load sensing valve) which is what I had originally said it would have to be.

 

He said that part is not available anywhere and someone was charging him £400 for it but he refused it. He said leave it with me i'm going to try something.

 

When I came of the phone I phoned around and found a new one for £95 pattern part but with a few days wait.

 

The next day Dave called and said the truck is ready.

It's been re-mot'd and ready for collection.

I was shocked because I was not expecting that.

 

I asked him what will the bill be as he had gone ahead and done the job anyway and the submitted it for the retest? He said £2395. That was an even bigger shock.

 

I went down to see if and asked why so much and why go ahead and do work without getting my permission especially after I had been told I would know the price first and be able to agree or disagree before completing any work.

 

I said as he claims to have changed a caliper and brake pipes I would pay for those.

I would also pay reasonable labour to change them.

I offered to pay £637 which is all I could come up with and which was more than fair for the work he had done.

 

He said because I had not objected over the phone after telling me he's trying this and trying that, that meant I agreed to the work being carried out at whatever cost. He said it was a verbal agreement. I had not told him to stop trying things. I also had not specifically told him DO NOT BUY ANY PARTS so he said I am liable for the bill and if I don't pay I obviously cannot get my truck back and given some time he will be able to claim the truck so I would lose it.

 

I called Citizen's advice and they said as I hadn't specifically agree I should negotiate with the garage and if that fails I should ask for the truck to be put back to how it was. I would be happy for them to put it back to how it was because they have refused my offer. I will then repair the truck myself which in hindsight I should have done.

 

CAB asked me to write to the garage but i'm not sure how to word the letter.

I can't afford to even pay and mark it under protest as i've read on the Internet. So i'm stuck.

Had sleepless nights.

 

That truck was supposed to be earning me some money and everything has gone into it.

I'm now left sitting around unable to do anything and having to refuse jobs of which I desperately need the money.

 

I cannot afford a solicitor and according to what Dave has said about me not saying stop or anything, that constitutes an agreement and I would lose any court case if I could afford to go to Court inn the first place.

 

I've got the invoice from them and according to the invoice they've charged me to replace a couple of items which I personally had bought new just before the MOT (have the receipt) and fixed onto the truck so I know they are being dishonest. Most of the jobs done did not need doing. The value of the truck is £3000 so to charge the £2300 to fix just the rear brakes is ridiculous.

 

I'm very confused and distraught.

Is there anything I can do, is Dave right?

Have I just lost my truck?

Please help.

 

I also forgot to add that the person who recommended I take my truck there as it was the closest MOT centre was with me and drove the truck to STC.

 

 

He was present and can confirm that Ian the director had said no work will be done unless they know & tell me the cost and I agree it.

He is just as baffled and is willing to complete a witness statement.

 

If I have a hope and can do something then please let me know.

Please forgive the typing errors.

I should have checked before posting.

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The problem is certainly that you won't be able to get the truck back until the matter is resolved. And as you have already appreciated, you will be losing money in lost business until that time comes. It is unlikely that you will be able to claim consideration for loss of earnings while you are sorting out the mess.

 

This means that although you say you don't have the money to get the truck back by paying under protest, I'm afraid that this is your only immediate solution. Let me warn you also, that once you start taking firm action against this company, they are likely to start putting pressure on you by adding a daily storage charge.

 

So frankly, by hook or by crook – you need to get the truck out of there and that means paying the money they ask so that at least you have your vehicle and you can start working again.

 

Now in terms of challenging the bill, what we need to know is – if you had carried out the work yourself, what would it reasonably have cost. Is the £2300 that they are asking a reasonable sum if you assume that all the work they did was necessary?

 

I think that you are going to end up doing one of two things. You can either try to negotiate a reduced settlement with the garage and in return for that you would probably agree to give up any rights to continue any claim against them, or else you will have to bring a small claim in the County Court for the recovery of your money. I don't expect that you will get all of your money back. The court will expect you to 4 feet a reasonable amount of money for the work that has been done. But of course a very important question is – how much of the work which they did was necessary.

 

You have already suggested that you had identified the actual cause of the problem immediately that they have carried out an amount of other work before they eventually identified the problem as being what you had diagnosed in the first place.

 

So we need to analyse very carefully the value of the work they have done, the value of the work that they should have done – and how much it would have cost you if you had done the work.

 

It sounds a bit complicated but once we get these figures sorted out then would be able to give you a clearer view.

 

You must sort out getting the truck back. Believe me, they will start adding storage charges – and that will be done simply to pressurise you.


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Thank you Bankfodder for responding.

I believe all that needed doing was the Load sensing valve which would cost £95 plus one hour labour to fit it.

 

 

If I work on their labour charge of say £60ph the cost should have been £155.

I offered £637 which would cover any additional hours, a caliper and brake pipes if they had been necessary which they weren't.

 

 

My concern is that I sincerely believed the director's promise of giving a price & getting the go ahead before any work was done.

 

 

I feel tricked that they went ahead anyway and said because I never stopped them over the phone that that constitutes an agreement.

Is that really so?

 

I could not raise the amount after trying because i'm unable to get a bank loan and even tried a payday loan and they cannot help.

 

 

I really am unable to raise what they ask for and feel it's very unfair for them to put me in this position when I trusted them.

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Well I don't know what to say about getting your vehicle back. I'm very sorry. It is a problem that you will need to deal with – and I've already explained to you the possibilities of the storage charge which will just start to drive the problem upwards.

 

Probably the only thing you can do is to begin a small claim in the County Court.

 

You say that you had a witness which was made by the director. I suggest that you contact your witness straightaway and get him to put it all done in writing.

 

The witness statement should be in this form:

 

 

 

This is the witness statement of XXX who lives at XXX.

 

I know the claimant in this case because – we work together – we are old friends –, whatever is the case.

 

On the XXX date I visited the premises of XXX company along with the claimant. We had gone to XXX company because of a problem with a pickup truck belonging to the claimant.

 

The claimant spoke directly to XXX who I understand as a director of the company. I heard the entire conversation. There was a discussion about the likely cause of the problem with the truck. The claimant was worried about the cost of repairs and he made it clear to XXX that he would not want to go ahead with any work without first knowing the price of the repairs. XXX reassured him by saying "blah blah blah blah" and it was on that basis that the claimant left his truck with the XXX company.

 

I can confirm that no agreement was given for any work to be carried out – and certainly not without a firm price being agreed in advance.

 

I believe that the facts contained in the statement are true and I'm prepared to give evidence in court.

 

Signed

 

Date

 

You should up on this forum about bringing an action in the Small Claims Court. It's not difficult but you need to know the steps you need to have an idea of what to do in advance. We will support you all the way if this is what you want to do. Please be aware that there are some fees involved but if you win – and there is a high chance that you will, then you will be awarded these fees. However, if you lose then you will lose your fees – although you will not incur costs of the other side because this is a small claim. In small claims cases loses do not have to pay the costs of the winners other than the court fees and reasonable costs of travel.

 

If you are very short of money then you can apply to the court for a fee waiver. You do not need to be on benefits to do this. However it can take some time for the decision to be made and of course none of this gets you your truck back and gets you working again.

 

If you are convinced that you want to take a small claim, then we will help you and you will have to begin by sending a letter before action/letter of claim to the company giving them 14 days to settle with you or else you will start a County Court claim without any further notice.

 

It is just possible that this might persuade the garage to deal with you and to negotiate some kind of settlement. However, the chances are that they will consider that you are bluffing and then you will have to issue your action. If you're not prepared to issue the action then don't send the letter of claim. Don't bluff because you will simply lose all of your credibility and then you are finished.

 

As I have said, we will help you all the way – but I'm afraid I don't have any solutions for getting your truck back. If you were able to find the money to pay for the truck then could pay it under protest and then issue the claim for the recovery of the money.

 

I'm not sure what else to suggest


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Thanks again, your advice is clear. I'm going to try again to negotiate and see if they will be willing to reduce it so I can get the truck back. Thank you so much for your advice. I will keep updating as I go.

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Incidentally, even if you manage to negotiate a figure to get the truck back, you may still then be able to proceed against them for some more money back – so don't give up hope.

 

It's not guaranteed, but if you do make a negotiation then let us know all about it and will see if we can help you squeeze a bit more out afterwards. However, make sure the truck is in your possession first.


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I've just sent this email to them:

Dear Dave,

Following advice I am asked to consider the time & effort it will take to escalate & resolve this that it is beneficial to negotiate with you first and foremost. I'm willing to negotiate a reduced settlement to end the matter so I can resolve the matter once and for all.

You said my offer of £637 was unacceptable and doesn't cover your costs. As explained before i'm having problems raising any significant amount because I was not expecting to be put in this predicament. So can you come back with an amount to resolve the matter considering the situation.

Thank you.

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Well that is a very decent and conciliatory note. I would have taken a harder line – but you will probably get further with your approach – at least to begin with.

 

Let us know what happens


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Can you prove that you bought and fitted the parts that they also fitted as per your OP as that could amount to fraudulent activity and may be another way of looking at it as I am sure they do not want the police investigating? If you can prove it, then keep it under your hat for now and use it as a last resort.

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Well I have receipts for the parts bought and I fitted them prior to the MOT but I don't know if that is proof enough. They might say I didn't fit them although that would not make sense but nothing makes sense anymore. I'm waiting and hoping for a reply that they will negotiate but since I started emailing rather than speaking over the phone, it looks like they don't want to communicate with me anymore so I don't know what to do if they don't reply. How long should I wait? I'm at the end of my tether.

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I understand very well that you don't know what to do – but I'm afraid that I think you will need to put together a proper plan – and stick by it.

 

You have emailed a very decent note. I think that if you don't get a response by Tuesday afternoon then you should implement your plan. This means that you have between now and Tuesday to decide what to do.

 

Frankly I think that the only thing you will be able to do will be to threaten a legal action. I have already said that you shouldn't threaten legal action without carrying out your threat if your deadline for action expires without any satisfactory resolution.

 

I'm sure that this is not the action that you want to take – but frankly I think that you won't have any choice. You can apply for a waiver of fees – but as I have said, that will take a long time.

 

As far as I can see, you will be suing for about £3000. I'm not sure what the fees are for an action of £3000 – but it might be £250. In addition to that there would be a fee which has to accompany a directions questionnaire which would be sent to you several weeks after the court papers have been served and assuming that he had filed a defence.

 

I think that the fee for the directions questionnaire is about £150 – but somebody will come along soon and give you a more certain figure.

 

It is up to you whether to sue for the money straightaway or else to somehow get the money so that you can retrieve your truck and then sue for your money. However, they will amount to the same thing in the end – although if you get your truck then clearly you will be able to start earning.

 

One thing that worries me is that if this person you are dealing with decide to get a bit funny, then your truck is at a certain risk and of course in busy garages, things can get damaged accidentally. There can even be disputes about whether damage was already there or whether it was because while it was at the garage. I'm sure you see what I mean. You probably think that I am very negative – but I'm afraid that it always pays to look at the worst possible event and be prepared for that.

 

I would suggest that if you have no reply on Tuesday morning then you visit him on Tuesday afternoon and try to talk to him reasonably. At the same time, ask to see the truck and then take photographs of it – all around and inside as well if possible. This will allow you to check that it is still in its original condition and also it will give you evidence of its condition in case it picks up any dings during the period of your dispute.

 

Have you obtained the witness statement from your colleague?


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It seems that I was very over the mark in respect of the claim fee - https://www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/court-fees

 

I'm still not sure what the DQ fee is


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I might be completely wrong, but as the truck belongs to your partner, she could go to the garage and claim her property.

Can a garage hold a third party vehicle if the person who took it in for repairs doesn't pay?

Again, I might be completely wrong, so advise please.

Another thing the op could do is pay by card under duress and then dispute the transaction.

Possible?

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https://www.moneyclaimsuk.co.uk/small-claims-court.aspx

 

It seems that I was over the mark on the DQ fee as well. That is £40.

 

In addition to that there would be a hearing fee – if the matter actually goes to trial. In your case it will be about £165. Check the link I have posted above.

 

If you do begin a legal action then I would suggest a claim for Conversion. This basically relates to his refusal to give you back your property. No doubt he would put in a counterclaim to say that there was a contractual matter and that you owed him money.

 

The important thing at this point would be that he would realise that you are completely serious and that maybe the matter had gone further than he expected. He might then be prepared to settle down and negotiate a proper outcome.

 

If you issue the claim in 14 days – which is the usual. After the initial letter of claim, he will receive the claim papers a couple of days after that. At that point he would know how serious you were and he might start talking. Of course he might go the whole way and decide to take it to trial.


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I might be completely wrong, but as the truck belongs to your partner, she could go to the garage and claim her property.

Can a garage hold a third party vehicle if the person who took it in for repairs doesn't pay?

Again, I might be completely wrong, so advise please.

Another thing the op could do is pay by card under duress and then dispute the transaction.

Possible?

 

I don't think that paying by card and then disputing the matter would work. Apart from anything else, I gather that there probably isn't enough credit on the card to make the payment.

 

Your first idea is interesting. I need to give it some thought. I think it would still need a court action. Let me mull it over


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Yes I was worried about the potential for things to happen at the garage so I had gone to the garage the day before I started this thread with a newspaper showing the date and my plan was to take pictures of the truck with the paper visible in every shot.

 

 

I specifically wanted to get shot of the parts that could be visible that he said he changed.

When I went there and asked him if I could see the truck, he said I could not see it.

 

 

I recorded the conversation asking him to let me see the truck and he refused at least twice and said my rights did not extend to me being able to see the truck.

 

 

He was very defensive and very funny with me asking me to leave now.

Wanting to avoid a confrontation, I left.

 

I agree it's best to be negative.

I will wait till end of business on Tuesday then follow your advice.

I have a total that can be raised at the moment of £900 which includes £200 on a credit card.

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First of all thanks for pointing out that the truck is actually owned by someone else. That is very important and it passed me by.

 

In a way it doesn't make a lot of difference to the situation – although it does add a level of complication if the ex-partner doesn't want to get involved bringing a legal action. The proper legal action here is the action for Conversion. This is an action which has to be brought by the owner of the goods and that means that the action would be brought by the ex-partner. If she doesn't want to get involved then it gets a bit tricky.

 

Of course bringing in a new party – the ex-partner into the equation, might impress upon the garage owner how out of control this is becoming. So from that point of view, if the ex-partner was prepared to put her name to a legal action then that could be very helpful.

 

This would mean that if the garage owner wanted to defend it on the basis that money was owed under a contract, he would have to put in a counterclaim that he would have to name the OP as a defendant to the counterclaim. This would make it even more complicated for him and might convince him to start talking.

 

If the ex-partner refused to get involved then the OP would probably have to bring a breach of contract action on the basis that there had been an agreement simply to look over the truck but he had then breached the contract and carried out further work.

Something like that. Needs a bit more thought.

 

You need to talk to your ex-partner


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Hi King, the truck's logbook is in her name. I have no legal understanding at all so if this is a possibility then it's also an option and could get me back working whilst we sort through the problem.

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She knows the situation and has no qualms in being involved BankFodder. I didn't want to alarm her at the time but when they sent the PG9 certificate to the registered keeper, she inadvertently found out so I had to explain the situation to her. She then offered her support so she is willing to be involved.

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Well in that case I would suggest that she starts to take over the problem about the detention of the truck.

 

This means that she should write him a letter immediately and send it special next day delivery and also by email – using her own email address.

 

The letter should be broadly:

 

I am the owner of the vehicle – make and model registration number XXX which I understand that you are in possession of and are refusing to release. For the avoidance of doubt, I enclose a photocopy of the XXX relevant ownership document XXX.

 

I understand that there is some contractual dispute between yourself and XXX bossogasa real name XXX and that you have decided to detain my vehicle to use as leverage on that issue.

 

I'm writing this letter so that you have formal notice that the vehicle belongs to me and that I have nothing to do with the contractual dispute. If you have a dispute with XXX bossogasa XXX then it is for you to solve it either amicably or through the courts by taking a necessary civil action if you feel that is appropriate. However, I am third party party in this matter and your detention of my vehicle because of a dispute with another person is unlawful.

 

I understand also that you have refused to permit and inspection of the vehicle and that no particular reason for this has been given.

 

I'm proposing to visit your premises on XXX date XXX to inspect the vehicle and also to take possession of it and to drive it away.

 

If you do not permit me to take away the vehicle then I shall have to report the matter to the police and if necessary consider a legal action against you for Conversion. Once I obtain a crime reference number, both that information plus a copy of this letter will be provided to the court so there will be no doubt that you are fully aware of the situation.

 

Furthermore, if you fail to permit and inspection of the vehicle and photographs of it to be taken, that information also will be provided to the court and also to the police.

 

 

She should only send this letter if she intends to go ahead with the actions that she has stated. This may not produce any immediate development but at least it racks it up a notch and will make him start to realise that things might get serious.

 

As I have said before, don't bother to make these threats if you don't intend to carry them out. However, if you don't intend to carry them out then the only thing you can do is pay him his money. This would be the best thing to do in any event in order to start trading again and then go ahead and recover the money to the civil courts.


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Well in that case I would suggest that she starts to take over the problem about the detention of the truck.

 

This means that she should write him a letter immediately and send it special next day delivery and also by email – using her own email address.

 

The letter should be broadly:

 

 

 

She should only send this letter if she intends to go ahead with the actions that she has stated. This may will not produce any immediate development but at least it wraps it up a notch and will make him start to realise that things might get serious.

 

As I have said before, don't bother to make these threats if you don't intend to carry them out. However, if you don't intend to carry them out then the only thing you can do is pay him his money. This would be the best thing to do in any event in order to start trading again and then go ahead and recover the money to the civil courts.

 

Thanks for the template BankFodder. If I don't hear from them on Tuesday close of business then I'll be inclined to send the letter you kindly provided. It would then hopefully make them start taking notice and maybe negotiate. Do we have a strong case despite what Dave the manager said? If I have a strong case and they refuse to resolve this then I would be determined and go on the offensive. I've spoken to and can get work from a colleague to drive for him so that will at least secure an income which takes the pressure of somewhat.

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I'm afraid that I can't really tell you whether you have a strong case. You certainly have a good case – but for instance, I have now asked you twice with you have obtained the statement from your colleague and you have avoided answering. This is unhelpful and it doesn't give me confidence.

 

I don't really know what Dave the manager said. What did he say?

 

I would expect that you will eventually have to settle some money because you have said that you have received some benefits – even though they were apparently not asked for. It certainly helps you that the truck belongs to somebody else. Has this been explained to him in the past?

 

Don't forget, it will be you sending the letter. It will be your ex who will send the letter and it will be her who will have to bring the court action – and it will be her who will have to present her arguments in court if it goes to trial. Presumably she owns the track as a private individual. This will help because this means that she will be suing as a litigant in person and that means that if there is a hearing, then the case will be transferred to her local court and this may oblige the garage to travel and they will find that inconvenient.

 

You have said that this guy is the manager. Who owns the garage? And finally, what is the name of the garage and where is it?


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Sorry BankFodder I'm not meaning to be evasive. I must have forgot. Yes I have the witness statement now from my colleague completed today. I explained what Dave the manager said further up or on the previous page that by not stopping him when he said he was trying different things, to find the fault that meant I was in agreement. It's hard to see on my phone.

I agree I have to settle some money that's why I offered him the benefit of a doubt on what work he actually did and offered to pay £637 which is more than fair for the job. It would have cost me a lot less had I undertaken the work myself.

 

Yes she owns the truck as a private individual. The director is Ian the man I first spoke to who promised to let me know a price before any work was carried out. The name of the garage is Stockport Truck Centre. I apologise if I miss out things, it's just all been overwhelming.

Edited by bossogasa

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Well if your original agreement was with Ian, have you not gone back to him and explained what is happening. As he fully aware of how wrong it is all going and is he supporting Dave completely?

 

I still think it's a shame that they can't be some dialogue here to produce some kind of compromise so that you can get your vehicle back – even if you afterwards try to take some action to get the money.

 

I understand that you knew that Dave was trying to discover the fault and that you allowed him to do so. There is some merit in what Dave says about that. On the other hand, according to you you had an agreement with Ian that no work would be done until a price was agreed.

 

I don't see how these two things square with each other, but it seems to me that eventually there will have to be a settlement. If it goes to court and I can imagine that the court will decide on a settlement.

 

Have you tried having direct dialogue with Ian?


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Yes I've tried emailing Ian him directly but no response. On both occasions I've been to the garage, Dave has always said Ian is not available. All emails have been cc'd to Ian's email. I believe he is supporting Dave fully.

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