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Guest 10110001

Holiday Park charging £293.75 to connect & disconnect caravan from meter electricity

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Guest 10110001

Until recently I had a static holiday caravan on a pitch at a holiday park, and have seen that I have been charged three instances between 2004 and 2006 the sum of £293.75 for connecting our static caravan from metered electricity and £293.75 for disconnecting the caravan from electricity.

 

While I accept in the pitch agreement there is an authority for the holiday park to charge fees for disconnecting and reconnecting the caravan from mains electricity I think the charge is too high and therefore disproportionate to the true costs of either party.

 

I am looking at Laura Sanders of Goldsithney v Yorkshire Bank Plc where a Court ruled that fees of more than £12 for ‘bouncing a direct-debit’ is disproportionate to the true costs of either party and made them illegal under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations. The ruling became retrospective for 6 years as legislated under the Limitations Act 1980.

 

Can I apply to a court under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract to obtain a refund of three lots of £293.75?

 

Can I ask the court to set a prescribed maximum?

 

Is there a precedent already sets a prescribed maximum for connecting or disconnecting a dwelling from metered electricity?

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I think that you will find that a private individual is entitled to set his own charges for a service.

The situation with bank charges is a different matter as they are PENALTY charges, and therefore reclaimable.

The charge for connection and disconnectiion is not a penalty charge, it is a charge for a service that the site owner supplies.

The only remedy that I can think of is to find a different site

Sorry.

 

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The charge does have to be fair and reasonable. They could argue there is a cost to get an electrician to do the work, however nearly £300 per occasion means the electrician is being paid for almost 20hrs work! Assuming you have no further use for the site, I'd suggest you write, pointing out the amounts paid and stating that the fees charged appeared disproportionate to the service provided, and ask them to justify the cost.

 

Be matter-of-fact and reasonable, and don;t threaten. If they agree to a refund of sorts, decide whether to accept - if they don't, then you can let a court decide, and then move on to the next phase.

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I am looking at Laura Sanders of Goldsithney v Yorkshire Bank Plc where a Court ruled that fees of more than £12 for ‘bouncing a direct-debit’ is disproportionate to the true costs of either party and made them illegal under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations. The ruling became retrospective for 6 years as legislated under the Limitations Act 1980.

 

You seem to be confusing a few issues:

Laura Saunders v Yorkshire Bank:

a) was dealt with in small claims, so didn't set a precedent

b) was won by default (YB didn't enter a defence)

c) the £12 threshold was not set by courts, but by the OFT in April 06

d) the £12 threshold was relating to credit card charges.

e) the £12 threshold is relating to the level at which the OFT said they would take legal action themselves against c/c providers, and was at no point deemed to be a level below which charges would be acceptable.

 

The UTCCR are one of the regulations on which we rely to reclaim our bank charges, but the laws relating to penalties go back over 100 years, and are well documented, both on this forum and outside it.

 

If you do decide to try and challenge the electricity connection bills, I strongly suggest you do a lot more reading so that you can be seen to actually understand the legislation you would be relying on, or they will give you the runaround.

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Guest 10110001
The charge does have to be fair and reasonable. They could argue there is a cost to get an electrician to do the work, however nearly £300 per occasion means the electrician is being paid for almost 20hrs work! Assuming you have no further use for the site, I'd suggest you write, pointing out the amounts paid and stating that the fees charged appeared disproportionate to the service provided, and ask them to justify the cost.

 

Be matter-of-fact and reasonable, and don;t threaten. If they agree to a refund of sorts, decide whether to accept - if they don't, then you can let a court decide, and then move on to the next phase.

 

Ive already written to them but they just respond quoting prargraph sections of the pitch agreement which gives authority to charge fees for disconnecting from mains electricity. That authority isn’t denied by me, I just think the fees therein are disproportionate.

 

The work involved is unplugging it from the meter and inserting the blank into the plug plate beside the meter located adjacent to the pitch. its about 15 seconds work and doesn’t require an electrician. They didn’t even take a correct meter reading (i took photographs on the day we vacated and they entered an untrue reading working in their favour).

 

If you do decide to try and challenge the electricity connection bills, I strongly suggest you do a lot more reading so that you can be seen to actually understand the legislation you would be relying on, or they will give you the runaround.

 

That’s why I’m here.

 

When you say they will give you the rounaround... Who are you referring to as they?

 

Solicitors don’t really know what to do and hum & harr over the issue and follow up by sending me an invoice for £141.00 a month later.

 

Q1. I would like to know what legislation is available to me.

 

Q2. Is the UTCCR not applicable in the case like this? What about Unfair Contracts Act?

 

Q3. Does the OFT (or anyone else) already set a prescribed maximum for connecting/disconnecting a dwelling from an electricity supply?

 

Q4. Is there already a precedent?

 

Q5. Apart from going back to a solicitor and then getting more £141.00 bills in the mail, what’s the next step?

 

Q6. Can I just open a small claim asking for a refund of £881.24 charged for disconnecting the caravan twice and connectioning it once on the basis that the fees are too high?

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Guest ian cognito

A number of holiday park owners have been reported to the OFT or taken to court for unfair terms, a google search may give you more reliable information.

 

This gives details of unfair terms so is worth a read www.oft.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/62848B0D-3D34-45A7-9BE6-C244E4E4A870/0/oft770.pdf and www.bhhpa.org.uk/ may be helpful.

 

There are also a number of owners associations such as Static Caravan Insurance Mobile Home Permanently Sited Quotes

Caravan park owners seem to think they are a law unto themselves and have a licence to print money, rather like the banks!!

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Guest 10110001

Thanks Janquinny, the OFT leaflet was perfect! it raises dosens of other issues I thought were a lost cause.

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Guest ian cognito

No problems, if you hadn't guessed had a few dealings with these clowns myself!

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When you say they will give you the rounaround... Who are you referring to as they?
The people you pursue or the solicitors acting on their behalf. :-?

I was being polite. If you don't mind me being brutally honest, when I read your post, I thought: "If I were to receive a letter like this, I wouldn't lose one second sleep over it, as this guy doesn't know what he's talking about".

Q1. I would like to know what legislation is available to me.
In the "basic court bundle", I have compiled a summary of law cases relating to penalty charges. The list is by no means exhaustive, there are more cases, but this would be a good start, and you can research the acts further if you want the whole thing.
Q2. Is the UTCCR not applicable in the case like this? What about Unfair Contracts Act?
It may be, you'd have to read the UTCCR and UCTA yourself to decide for yourself whether it is relevant.
Q3. Does the OFT (or anyone else) already set a prescribed maximum for connecting/disconnecting a dwelling from an electricity supply?
Not that I am aware, no. It would be too specific, the OFT tend to examine practices across the board. However, if you go on the OFT website, they have a list of all the subjects on which they have made decisions.
Q4. Is there already a precedent?

On bank charges, which was what Saunders v YB was about? No. The banks have permanently settled whenever there's been the slightest whiff of precedent setting (Mercantile, etc...) and Small Claims doesn't set a precedent. But the law on unfair terms/disproportionate costs is well established in those cases you'll find in the bundle.
Q5. Apart from going back to a solicitor and then getting more £141.00 bills in the mail, what’s the next step?
Research, research, research some more until you are sure that you do have a case.
Q6. Can I just open a small claim asking for a refund of £881.24 charged for disconnecting the caravan twice and connectioning it once on the basis that the fees are too high?
That would be unwise until you have followed the previous step, IMO.

 

My worry in this is that, as Rooster said, the charge appears to be for a service, not for a breach of contract, and therefore, a lot of the law regarding penalties wouldn't apply. On the other hand, the UTCCR do define that a contract that unilaterally imposes a higher burden on one of the parties may be deemed unfair, especially when there has been no opportunity to individually negotiate those terms.

 

So no straight answer, I'm afraid, it's not that clear cut.

If, having read and digested it all, you decide to proceed, you are thankfully at little risk of costs should you lose, unless the judge decides you were being vexatious in your lawsuit, which I don't think would be an issue, as long as you have done your homework properly and present your case in a logical and well argued manner.

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Guest 10110001

Points taken,

 

How about a simple approach like:

 

Ask for a refund of £881 because the plaintiff‘s stand is that the fees are disproportionatly high and not set out according to contract.

 

I think your right in trying to do the Judge’s work for him and appearing vexatious in presenting it in long-wind format.

 

Do I cite extracts of UTCCR or other legislation in my claim or just use English-language and ask for the money and give my opinion why I am asking?

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Do the terms of the contract not set out the amount to be charged then? It certainly could help if you had signed an agreement that doesn't show any amount, as it would be hard to see it as fair that you give an open agreement to pay whatever they want. One thing about contracts is that they should always set out terms in clear terms, "clear, fair and transparent" as our friends from the banks keep on telling us.

 

I think you are misunderstanding me. Being vexatious would be bringing a lawsuit WITHOUT doing your homework. You are not supposed to "do the judge's work for him", you are supposed to do your own work based on a solid legal argument, stating which laws and statutes you are relying on, in order to show the judge why he should grant you the judgment.

 

It seems to me that you are intent on starting a claim as soon as possible, I repeat that it is not a good idea until you are reasonably sure that you know what you are doing, and have thoroughly researched those cases yourself.

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Would Section 15 of the Supply of Goods and Services Act not cover this situation?


Lloyds TSB, Total Charges £900, Claim Filed for £1379 - Settled

 

Sainsbury's Bank Credit Card, Total Charges £90 - Settled.

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Guest 10110001
Do the terms of the contract not set out the amount to be charged then?

 

No.

 

It certainly could help if you had signed an agreement that doesn't show any amount, as it would be hard to see it as fair that you give an open agreement to pay whatever they want.

 

The signed contract only sets out an authority to make a charge but there is no fee schedule.

 

One thing about contracts is that they should always set out terms in clear terms, "clear, fair and transparent" as our friends from the banks keep on telling us.

 

I think you are misunderstanding me. Being vexatious would be bringing a lawsuit WITHOUT doing your homework. You are not supposed to "do the judge's work for him", you are supposed to do your own work based on a solid legal argument, stating which laws and statutes you are relying on, in order to show the judge why he should grant you the judgment.

 

I need to quote the legislation my grounds rely upon when I prepare my statement.

 

It seems to me that you are intent on starting a claim as soon as possible,

 

The issue has been outstanding since June 12 2006 and ever since all my letters are either ignored or I'm fobbed off with excuses. This is no snap decision to start a legal proceeding. In fact two of the electricity charges date from 2003 and I understand the Limitations Act 1980 allows me to claim back fees levied up to six years ago.

 

I repeat that it is not a good idea until you are reasonably sure that you know what you are doing, and have thoroughly researched those cases yourself.

 

I agree, I spent enough on solicitors now, written dozens of letters and it’s got me nowhere. I am at the point of asking whats-the-point. Just cut my losses and put it down to being a victim of a [problem].

 

I can see why others are roped into scams like it because the [problematic] simply hide behind their corporate identities under the belief nobody will challenge them.

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Guest 10110001
Would Section 15 of the Supply of Goods and Services Act not cover this situation?

 

There seems to me more than one act of that name and Section 15 seems to refer to Guarantees.

 

Can you be more specific or maybe post a link to the legislation you refer to?

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Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982

15 Implied term about consideration

 

1.Where, under a contract for the supply of a service, the consideration for the service is not determined by the contract, left to be determined in a manner agreed by the contract or determined by the course of dealing between the parties, there is an implied term that the party contracting with the supplier will pay a reasonable charge.

 

2. What is a reasonable charge is a question of fact.


Lloyds TSB, Total Charges £900, Claim Filed for £1379 - Settled

 

Sainsbury's Bank Credit Card, Total Charges £90 - Settled.

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Guest 10110001
Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982

 

15 Implied term about consideration

 

1.Where, under a contract for the supply of a service, the consideration for the service is not determined by the contract, left to be determined in a manner agreed by the contract or determined by the course of dealing between the parties, there is an implied term that the party contracting with the supplier will pay a reasonable charge.

 

2. What is a reasonable charge is a question of fact.

 

We do not have a fact. Are you suggesting I apply to the court to make a finding of fact?

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I believe that if you used this for an action against the park then they would have to justify how they arrived at their charge.


Lloyds TSB, Total Charges £900, Claim Filed for £1379 - Settled

 

Sainsbury's Bank Credit Card, Total Charges £90 - Settled.

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s15 of the Supply of Goods and Services Act is the way to go.

 

If the price for the connection/disconnection was not agreed in advance, then you should challenge them as to how they calculated the charge and why they consider it to be reasonable. If they ignore you, then its small claims time and they will have to justify it to a judge.

 

As previously mentioned, if its approx. 20 hours work for an electrictian, then how can that possible be reasonable?

 

I would write to them and point out their obligations under the Supply of Goods and Services Act and see if they will reconsider their charges.

 

If that fails, send another letter threatening court action. Finally, lodge a claim in the small claims court.


All advice is offered in good faith based on my own research and understanding of the laws involved, however I'm not a lawyer!

 

Please dont rely on annoymous advice posted on a public forum without checking it out for yourself first!

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this is a long long shot and dont even know if you will get the answer you are looking for, but why not try asking the question to:

The Camping and Caravanning Club - Welcome to The Camping and Caravanning Club

 

I havent used this site for a while but I know they used to have a forum, maybe someone on there has encountered, maybe won a similar case,

 

they do have a legal section for questions possibly along your line of query:

The Camping and Caravanning Club - Legal Call

 

good luck


.

http://www.findmadeleine.com/

http://news.sky.com/skynews/madeleine

 

If I dont reply to a direct question please feel free to PM me.

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Guest 10110001

Hi Dar3n and thanks for your input.

 

The site you provide only deal with touring and motorised caravans. Mine was a static caravan (mobile home) pitched on a holiday park.

 

GraemeC: I reckon you are right, It looks like a case for the small claims track, but the issues arenly solely over electricity, there are dozens of other issues.

 

The draft statement is now 47 paragraphs long the Judge wont read all that so I may have to run several smaller cases if I can't resolve them with the park owner.

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Guest 10110001

Bookworm:

 

You sound clued up on consumer issues, Can I ask what YOU would do in this situation?

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Bookworm:

 

You sound clued up on consumer issues, Can I ask what YOU would do in this situation?

 

:D Are you sure you want to know? ;)


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Click the scales if I've been useful! :)

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We're in danger of overcomplicating what is a fairly straightforward issue - if a court has to judge what is fair and reasonable, that that's the way to go, however the site owners are still due to be paid for the service provided.

 

You said that it did not need an electrrician to complete the connection/ disconnection...? Iassume this will be just a 16amp (blue) connector from the caravan that mates with a socket at the meter, rather than a fully wired connection? If this is the case, then a fee of £10 is not unreasonable. If fully wired, then an hour of time for an electrcian, at a nominal £25 per occasion is realistic and fair. So, your offer to pay a reasonable amount should be either £10 x ? ot £25 x ? for the service. Remember to remove this amount from your claim, ONLY claiming the overpayment.

 

This will allow the judge to confirm your figures, and order the other party to pay your claim in full plus legal costs, if you don't this could allow the opportunity for a counterclaim that would take precedence. As long as you are being realistic, and pay them a reasonable fee for the service provided, you should get the overpayment back with ease, as it would be difficult for the defender to prove this service was anything other than additional fees with the sole aim of holding the site user to ransom.

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Bookworm:

 

You sound clued up on consumer issues, Can I ask what YOU would do in this situation?

 

Good question.

 

I would read as much as I can on the subject, and make a decision based on my conclusions and the risk involved. I wouldn't start a lawsuit if I didn't think I had a higher than average chance of winning. But once I was committed, I would make sure that my case is as strong as possible to carry me through.

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The Park Homes legal service 0906 586 2135 (they also have website) may be able to help. But the call charges are PREMIUM rate.

 

Now there's a joke if ever I saw one. Complaints about unfair charges by caravan parks and the person who is saying they can help is cashing in by having a premium rate 0900 number.

Isn't that what they call an oxymoron?

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