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Victorian Plumbing- gave refund after legal threat to sue them - ***resolved - refunded***

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It's me again! :)

 

Two months ago, we ordered a bath unit (the sink, cabinets and marble top) from Victorian Plumbing.

 

They delivered on time but one of the units was defective. After the silly song and dance with a customer service clown, they sent a replacement unit, at a great delay. We had to send our plumber home after paying him.

The replacement unit was also defective...

 

At this point, we are about a month without a bathroom. Lucky the old toilet dish is giving us some graceful end-of-life...

 

They now delivered another unit, which wasn't defective - but it's the wrong one!

All this time, we are wasting days with unnecessary CS emails...

 

They have finally pushed me over the edge. I've really tried to make amends with them. Even offered to receive a partial refund, which we even cut in half because we wanted to get it over with...

 

However, they very strongly insist on spinning us through CS and aggravating us with "we do apologise but you can go away

Sorry for any inconvenience"

 

Everything via email and I keep those.

 

I have finally decided to lean on on them and told them they must do right by us or we will sue them and claim for legal expenses, court fees, statutory interest, etc...

 

Question: regarding legal expenses,

can I hire my friend,

who is NOT a solicitor (he is an employee for a bank) to help me with that and then claim for the money I paid to him?

 

I could really use his help with handling this matter as I suffer from Autism and I sometimes go totally catatonic :(

A solicitor in my town is 250+VAT p/h and my friend would charge 200 net p/h

 

Also, as a bonus, we'll take comfort in knowing that the offending party didn't just spin us up for the whole process of suing them only to eventually pay us exactly what they owe us. Effectively meaning we are at a net loss because we got what we paid for, but after a significant delay and stress on us.

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Thread moved to General Legal Issues Forum...please continue to post here to your thread.

 

Regards

 

Andy


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I'm afraid that you won't be able to claim anything for hiring a friend or even a solicitor to do this for you. It would be a small claim and the rules there are that win or lose, nobody gets their expenses paid other than the court fees.

 

However, from what you say it all seems very straightforward. Under the Consumer Rights Act you are entitled to reject the contract completely if there is a defect. Clearly supplying the incorrect or defective items is good enough for you to reject out of hand.

 

You should take control and simply write them a letter and send it to them saying that you are asserting your rights under the Consumer Rights Act and that you are rejecting the materials they have supplied and that they should arrange to collect them as soon as possible – in any event within seven days.

 

Additionally if you want you can bring a small claim to give you a certain amount of compensation for any losses you may have suffered. An example of this would be the money you had to pay the plumber but also any other expenses such as telephone calls et cetera.

 

From what you say they haven't completed the contract yet so the 30 day period doesn't even begin to run. Tell them to pick up everything and to give you your money back.

 

Put this in a letter as I have already said. Tell them that you want everything collected within seven days and tell them that after 14 days (seven days plus a further seven) if they haven't picked it up or if they haven't refunded you then you will sue them in the County Court without any further notice to them.

 

Only make this threat if you are prepared to carry it out. However it is very easy and we will support you all the way and help you draft claim which will be very simple.

 

Your claim will broadly be:

 

The claimant contracted with the defendant to supply bathroom equipment value £XXX on XXX date – reference number XXX.

The defendant supplied incorrect items and also defective items. The claimant has asserted their right to reject under the Consumer Rights Act but the defendant has refused to comply.

The claimant claims £XXX cost of materials, £XXX wasted expenses on plumber, phone calls, et cetera. Plus interest.

 

Sent the letter and at the same time registered with MoneyClaim online and start getting used to the website and drafting your claim. You can save it as you go along. There is no need to issue it immediately.


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Ah, I didn't know I can't claim for legal costs, thanks!

It's a bit rubbish really. Right now, the system is tuned to make life easy for the vendors. They can mess up, put the consumer on stress for a few months and, just before the judge drops the hammer, turn all good, give the money back and walk out not a penny poorer.

While the consumer will have spent a lot of his (and YOURS!) time and probably all sorts of costs (tracked mail, driving to preliminary hearing, etc..) he won't be able to get back (or at least will probably not worth his time to get back).

 

Anyway, I will change my approach here according to your advise, thanks again!

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Ah, I didn't know I can't claim for legal costs, thanks!

It's a bit rubbish really. Right now, the system is tuned to make life easy for the vendors. They can mess up, put the consumer on stress for a few months and, just before the judge drops the hammer, turn all good, give the money back and walk out not a penny poorer.

While the consumer will have spent a lot of his (and YOURS!) time and probably all sorts of costs (tracked mail, driving to preliminary hearing, etc..) he won't be able to get back (or at least will probably not worth his time to get back).

 

 

No. This is a complete misunderstanding. Of course it doesn't happen automatically but the law and the procedure is there to allow the consumer to recover their money on a failed contract and all of the associated expenses – but simply not the legal expenses of bringing the claim. On the other hand, the retailer is also unable to recover their costs of defending a claim.

 

The reason why retailers get away with so much is because by and large consumers either don't know their rights or (justifiably) they want a quiet life and so they often settle for second best simply in order to avoid trouble. However, if you are prepared to stick up for yourself then you can get justice and also give the retailer a slap and teach them a lesson which will be good for all consumers in the future.

 

I hope you will realise that so far you have allowed yourself to be led around by the nose. You haven't done yourself any favours – or the other consumers in the world and of course you have brought comfort to Victorian Plumbing. It's really about time you started taking control

 

If you take our advice, then keep us informed step-by-step and we will be with you all the way. That's another thing the retailer doesn't have. They don't have us on their side. You get your advice free – (you can make a donation if you want) but the retailer will have to pay for their advice. Furthermore, when they lose this case as they surely will, they will cause damage to their reputation.


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It's just that everything we (our household) bought last two years was either defective or misrepresented in the advertisement. We have been very vigilant via PayPal and CC protection, where possible, and ALWAYS got our way with the vendors.

In cases where we have been cornered, CAG has helped (once with a broken down car and once with a laptop - thank you!) and I've made a humble contribution to support your good work!

 

But if I were a seller these days in the UK, I wouldn't mind selling any piece of rubbish. 10% of the consumers wouldn't even notice, 50% would notice but (justifiably) choose to live a quiet life, 20% don't know how to press me and the 20% that do know about the CRA: OK, they will send me letters, this will drag on for a few months, I will send an apprentice to push some papers to the judge and if the consumer hasn't agreed to a partial refund (which already leaves me at a profit), I will give them their money back, I'm not a penny poorer.

 

A slap? I wouldn't care, I make money from the above % distribution anyway and since we've settled before the hammer dropped, my abuse isn't even registered anywhere.

Citizens Advice / Trading Standards? They are normally giving the consumer even more trouble than I do. If we settled, they don't care about the case, if we didn't, they explicitly state that they can't claim anything on behalf of the customer and they won't do anything to shut my business down.

 

I am just ranting right now, feel free to ignore if you like to stick to constructive discussion :)

I will just finish with saying I've lived in many countries. Some of them "2'nd" or "3'rd world" and I've seen systems where the local equivalent of Trading Standards aggressively pursue bad vendors, issuing fines and shutting businesses down, putting a personal mark on the CEO against simply opening another cowboy shop under a different brand...

And legal expenses are claimable there.

 

I mean, what you are doing is great but you aren't a government-funded institute. There is no guarantee that you will exist and be able to help to everyone. Your existence is a miracle that makes shopping in the UK bearable. But the official system is such that a consumer can easily get lost in.

 

I will update here to remove this thread once we settle, which now seems far more likely than suing them. If we could put dent on their financials so we don't feel our modest resistance is not for nothing, cool. If it all boils down to months of arguing to get to the starting point, it's not worth it and it's not our fault but it's the system that doesn't care about vendors who like to "have a go" at the consumers.

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I'm sorry to say but that is probably because you are so furious – justifiably so – and getting into rant-mode that you have allowed this to get out of control and that you are being mucked around.

 

We can help you get what you want but you need to treat it surgically.


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I agree, they got the best of me. Apologies for any excessive bad vibes sent down here. I hope my loving appreciation of your work has not been made unclear!

 

We are in a bit of a pickle, because of now, having wasted all our contingency time provision, we had to install the unit.

 

Therefore, the discussion is now about replacing the defective unit and them taking back the 3 (2 defective, 1 wrong) units.

 

They have recently sent us something like this:

"we will send you a replacement and the guy will pick up the wrong unit.

You must re-package the wrong unit or he will not pick it up.

About the defective units, we will not pick them up, you need to deal with it"

 

At this point, I'd like to mention that I have a written request from them to take out the wrong unit out of packaging in order to send them a picture.

I also have a written request, which they acknowledged, that I implore them to inspect the package before sending to me.

 

If it was just repackaging the wrong unit, I'd do that. But take their rubbish out for them? Have they no dignity?

I mean, what if I don't have a car to transport the units and boxes to the kip?

What if I am elderly and I can't literally lug them around?

 

I've replied that I will NOT repackage their mistake for them (again, if it was just one thing and they were being reasonable about it, I would definitely help out).

And if they don't collect their stuff, I will pay a professional to discard of it and charge them.

 

Your thoughts?

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We paid with PayPal

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Okay it seems to me that you need to send a letter before claim and threatened to bring a legal action. Give them 14 days. Only do this if you are prepared to bring the legal action. Don't bluff.

 

Please can you list out here in bullet pointed form exactly what you're looking for – the outcome. Also what is the value of it all? I've rather lost track.

 

Although you can certainly sue them for a refund and compensation, you won't be able to sue them to replace the defective part. Frankly it seems to me that you will be best off cutting ties with them completely and buying what you want from some different seller.

 

That would make the business of bringing a legal action fairly simple. You will simply be asking for a complete refund for all the money you spent, refund of expenses of the wasted time for the plumber – and any other losses. If you have been without a bathroom for a couple months then I would certainly think about putting a figure down for that – although you need to be realistic.

 

On the basis of what you say, the chances of success are better than 95%. However I think you need to start taking control and act quickly – meaning send the letter of tomorrow. That gives a bit more information about the entire value of the problem. Have you identified an alternative seller?


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Well, there aren't other vendors for what we need. It needs to cover a bad tiling work so it has to be this exact size.

Also, because we've wasted so much time dealing with them, we just couldn't wait more living in a shambles and decorators leaning on us, wanting to finish the project and get paid...

 

So what we are really looking for right now:

1. They will deliver a 3'rd unit (which I bet my life will be defective as well). We will choose the least bad one of all and touch it up.

2. We want them to pick up all the wrong and defective units

3. Without us wasting hours repackaging them

 

I reckon this might be a pretty humble expectation. I am not trying to get rich from this.

 

How can I be realistic about being without a bathroom? Sure, we had to play hopscotch around exposed floors, sit carefully on the detached toilet bowl... Nothing with an invoice...

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I'm afraid that the way that the claims system works is that it would be amazing if you have get an order forcing the defendant to do something. I think you should forget it. Civil claims simply deal with providing compensation for things that have gone wrong.

 

This means that you must absolutely find some other solution from some other supplier, cost it up, cost up the value of undoing the problems which have been caused by Victorian Plumbing and then make that the basis of your claim. It's frustrating – but there you are.

 

For instance you seem to be saying that they carried out some bad tiling. Why can't this be redone by somebody else?


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No, it covers some bad tiling, which was done before we even moved in :)

 

My idea is more like threaten them with what I hope is a very real possibility of: me hiring a garbage contractor and charging them for this cost I paid (likely suing them if they don't reimburse).

And then they might come to their senses and actually own up to some of the problems they've caused us

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So, just in: for the fourth time that I've told them I am not going to repackage this, they say that if I don't repackage, their driver won't pick it up.

I really don't feel I should be repackaging this.

Especially since they have done absolutely nothing to come our way, why should I spend 2 hours breaking my back with a 40kg cabinet and who knows how much packaging material?

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In that case send them a letter before action and given 14 days. Tell them that in view of the fact that they are refusing to honour your rights under the Consumer Rights Act you have no choice but to give them a final 14 days to collect all the items and to provide you with a refund or else you will sue them in the County Court for the cost of the items plus additional losses and you won't give them any further notice.

 

Only do this if you're prepared to carry the threat out. It seems to me that you have no other choice


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Mentally: fully willing and not anxious at all (as I know I am in the right and I've already met a judge before about my defective laptop)

Skill-wise: I am happy to have learned from your advice on previous cases and I can sail through this solo.

 

Very shameful it had to resort to this, if they were a little more interested in my problem, they would have saved me AND them a lot of unnecessary nerves.

 

I will send the letter and let you know if any bumps arise.

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Yep, same day they got the mail: UPS guy rushed to us to pick up their rubbish and partial refund suggested by us sent via PayPal.

 

Funny that they remained utterly incompetent till the bitter end because they didn't warn us about the UPS guy - lucky my partner was there.

Also didn't inform us about the PayPal, so I was revving up to write them another bombshell - lucky I checked PayPal before that.

 

Amazing how stupid their customer care people are. Must have cost the company a 200-300 pounds in transport, damaged goods, man-hours...

Had they shown any sign of benevolence at the start, we both would have ended more or less in the green and happy.

 

Thanks for supporting us again. Happy to donate.

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In many years I found that anything delivered by Victorian plumbing is broken, chipped, scratched.

Is it the courier they use or they stock rejected items and resell them?

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The units were manufactured incorrectly. My guess is they work with a very cheap producer.

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Is this resolved now?


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Great. Well done


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