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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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My 24 year old son took his laptop and mine to be repaired

Customer Question

My 24 year old son took his laptop and mine to be repaired at a local Tunbridge Wells shop, Assured Computer Co in late November. A week later he got a notice saying one was ready and subsequently the second and that he had a week to pay. He didn't collect the repaired computers. A week or so before Christmas I asked him to chase up the computers and to collect them. He then told me the shop had its blinds down and a sign in the window saying "We are moving."
However it gave no further details. I said to him he shouldleave it till after Christmas as perhaps the shop would then re-open or give details of where it was moving to. It has since closed down altogether.
I did some chasing after Christmas and eventaully made e-mail contact with the business. He, without ever revealing his name, said that I could have the laptops back on payment of the £169 repair fee, plus an additional £100 for late payment.
I said I would pay the repair fees and no more.
He said that he was entitled to the repair fees plus £100 for each item, but would waive one of the excesses as a goodwill measure.
|||||I said those terms and conditions were not available in the shop and in any case the shop was effectively closed down so how could we have paid and collected etc.
He said the terms were clearly visible on the website and then sent me this: “Where fees remain unpaid for more than seven calendar days following notification of such fees by email, ACC reserves the right to retain any related equipment and/or media as payment for works completed. ACC reserves the right to then proceed with disposal, by recycling, resale or other means, of any related devices and/or media without further notice. In such an event, ACC shall be in no way accountable or responsible for any losses, including loss of data, resulting from such disposal and will not be liable for any compensation or refund to Customer. In some cases ACC may choose to pursue collection of unpaid amounts via a debt collection or other agency, in such cases a standard fee of £100 per repair applies to cover internal administrative costs. Additional fees may apply, such as legal and court costs.”

I said I would give him the repair fess and £25 as a goodwill gesture.

The last response I got from him was as follows: All dealings with our company are bound by the terms and conditions on our website, these terms have been assessed by Trading Standards as both fair and easy to understand, we also consulted our legal representatives during when formalising these terms. The fact that you are now prepared to spend money on a solicitor, which you refused to spend on the fees you have accumulated by not settling your account in a timely manner, is noted for our legal defence.

It is also noted that you have posted more than once on Twitter, to the effect that you are having trouble recovering property from us. Our legal representative has advised that this is libellous on the grounds that it is only your refusal to settle your account in full that has prevented your property from being returned. These and any further online posts are being monitored and recorded as necessary. You are reminded that our terms allow us to make a £100 charge per overdue repair, as an act of goodwill only one charge was levied.

It is our understanding that the equipment in question is the property of Bertie Odone and of his brother, and not yourself. Perhaps you will advise your solicitor as to your grounds for legal claim in relation to its recovery.

We have given you ample opportunity to settle your account in full but you have refused, choosing instead to make a much belated and inadequate offer of payment that you knew to be unacceptable under our terms, along with an outright refusal to pay the charges accrued. Complying with our efforts would have avoided wasting Court time, where you now seem intent on doing exactly that. Any Court will look favourably on those who have sought to avoid the expense of their involvement, we extended you the courtesy of offering to accept late payment without further penalty to this end. This offer is now withdrawn.

We opened a dialog with you because you indicated that you wished to settle your account with us, since it has now become clear that this is not your intent we are no longer prepared to discuss this account with anyone other than the account holder.

Since you do not have an account with us any further threats or other communications will be filed for legal defence and will not be responded to. Please note that such communications may also result in legal action under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
Best regards,
Assured Computer Centre
Customer Services

Please could you advise on what I should do next to recover the laptops?

Many thanks,
Toby Odone
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Would you please summarise the facts and I will try to help?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

FOR JOMO 1972


 


Here are some facts as requested:


 


29th November 2012 - My son took two laptops (a Toshiba C660 and an Acer) to a Paul Pursglove at the Assured Computer Centre no. 139 Camden Rd for debugging and general software clean up etc. A receipt for the computers and an agreement of a price of £119.99 for the Toshiba and £49.99 for the Acer.


 


E-mail to my son From: "Assured Computer Centre" <[email protected]>
Date: 7 December 2012 16:12:27 GMT
To: <[email protected]>
Subject: 1693 - Toshiba Laptop Rebuild Completed


Your laptop rebuild has been completed and is ready for collection.


 


Please be advised that we cannot currently accept VISA credit or debit cards – available payment methods are cash, Mastercard or bank transfer.


 


The amount due is £119.99, collection is required with one week or a storage fee may apply.


 


Please also note that we are still waiting on the password for your brother’s laptop in order to complete the tune-up.


Best regards,


Assured Computer Centre
Customer Services


 


11th December 2012 - My son Bertie I went down to the Assured Computer Centre at approx. 1600 with the intention of explaining that I would be coming to talk to pay for my repairs but to find no one available contrary to the advised opening hours.


 


 


E-mail From: "Assured Computer Centre" <[email protected]>
Date: 14 December 2012 09:52:41 GMT
To: <[email protected]>
Subject: 1730 - Acer Aspire Tune-up - Completed


This has now been completed.


 


Please be reminded that the Toshiba laptop must be paid and collected today, the Acer will need to be paid and collected by next Friday at the latest.


 


Payment can be made by cash or MasterCard in store, or by bank transfer as follows (these can be combined into one payment if preferred):


 


Bank Co-Operative Bank


Sort Code 08-92-50


Account No. 68373397


A/C Name Assured Computer Centre TW01 Ltd.


Amount Due £119.99


Reference 1693


 


Bank Co-Operative Bank


Sort Code 08-92-50


Account No. 68373397


A/C Name Assured Computer Centre TW01 Ltd.


Amount Due £49.99


Reference 1730


 


Further details on our payment terms are available on our terms page on the website.


Best regards,


Assured Computer Centre
Customer Services


















 



AssuredComputerCentre



139 Camden Road - Tunbridge Wells - Kent - TN1 2RA



0843 289 0295 | www.AssuredComputerCentre.com



 


My son Bertie says he did not open and read this e-mail until Jan 3rd. Although as you will see it was dated 14th December and said that the repairs were complete, and that it would need to be collected and paid for today (14/12/12) - one of the laptops was not ready at this point but a payment would have to be made the following week (by 21/12/12). A list of bank details were given.


 


15th December 2012 (approx) - Assured Comnputer Centre called Bertie asking when he would be picking up the computers. I explained that I was having financial trouble and would not be able to pick them up immediately but would be able to in the next week or so. This was OK'd over the phone.


 


18th December 2012 - I, Bertie's father, happened to ask about that time where my Acer computer was and was told it was at Assured Computer Centre etc. I live seperately from my children and had lent the Acer to my youngest son Ott, aged 13. I went to the shop and saw that the blinds were down and there was a sign on the door and saying "We're moving."


 


 


21st December 2012 - at approx 1530 I went to the shop with the intention of paying for and collecting the laptops. It wqas still closed, blinds covering the windows and a simple sign clearly visible saying "we're moving..." I think there was asign asking for post to be delivered next door. There were no other signs etc. I asked neighboring shopkeepers. They said the shop had been closed for a while and one of them said he had been asked to retain and mail for Assured Computer Centre.


 


I decided to leave things until after the Christmas break on the basis that many shops close for that period anyway.


 


3 January 2013 - After trying to track down info on the contact details through the landlorsds of the shop and others I got an e-mail out of the blue from Assured Computer Centre:


 


"We have been unable to obtain either a response or payment from Bertie despite numerous emails and voicemails. On the one occasion we did manage to reach him by telephone he told us that he was unable to settle the account and was unable to advise when this would be possible, in fact he offered no commitment whatsoever in respect of payment. He had at this point been informed that failure to pay by a certain date may result in disposal of the items in question, he was also advised that he may wish to look to someone else to settle the account on his behalf to avoid this happening but again no response was received.


 


Work was completed at Bertie’s request and in good faith, when payment failed to arrive with us the laptops were scheduled for disposal. At the present time this has not taken place but they are due to be listed for sale online after this Friday 4th January. This will be four weeks from when payment was originally requested.


 


To avoid this happening settlement of the account, including associated fees, should be received in the form of cleared funds as outlined below on or before this date. No further notices or reminders will be sent in relation to this account.


 


Payment details are as follows, the items will be dispatched by courier at no additional charge – please confirm the address to deliver to:


 


Bank Co-Operative Bank


Sort Code 08-92-50


Account No. 68373397


A/C Name Assured Computer Centre TW01 Ltd.


Amount Due £269.98


Reference 1693-1730


 


The above includes only a single collection fee of £100 across the two repairs, under our terms each repair actually attracts this fee individually.


 


For clarification, please refer to the following extract from the Payments & Refunds section of our Terms and Conditions, available to view in full on our website:


 


“Where fees remain unpaid for more than seven calendar days following notification of such fees by email, ACC reserves the right to retain any related equipment and/or media as payment for works completed. ACC reserves the right to then proceed with disposal, by recycling, resale or other means, of any related devices and/or media without further notice. In such an event, ACC shall be in no way accountable or responsible for any losses, including loss of data, resulting from such disposal and will not be liable for any compensation or refund to Customer. In some cases ACC may choose to pursue collection of unpaid amounts via a debt collection or other agency, in such cases a standard fee of £100 per repair applies to cover internal administrative costs. Additional fees may apply, such as legal and court costs.”


 


I replied that I wasn't aware of any back and forth with my son etc but that we had been trying since before Chrstmas to pay for and collect the laptops from the shop. I was still happy to do that, but I was not willing to pay the £100 surcharge. He said if the money wasn't paid by the next day the computers would be disposed of.


 


On 4th January I made the following offer: "Anyway to help a speedy resolution of this matter I am prepared today to pay the full repair costs for the computers as stated in your original invoice and to offer £25 as a goodwill gesture. Once you have assured me this is acceptable and will return the two computers I will make this payment.


 


I trust we can sort this amicably."


 


Assured Computer Centre replied Jan 4th as follows: "Firstly, any attempts allegedly made to pay the outstanding amount were made after the amount had become overdue, and after the numerous attempts were made by us to collect these amounts. We have received no BACS payment, although you have had the necessary details for this for some time.


 


Our terms are quite clear, and are in place to ensure that customers do not approve repairs that they cannot pay for. Where overdue amounts cannot be collected the items in question are retained in place of such payment and subsequently disposed of. This is quite commonplace and in no way illegal or untoward.


 


There has been no ‘hasty effort to resort to threats’ - the threat, as you put it, of disposal has always been very real and was notified quite some time ago but ignored.


 


Our store was manned by at least two people at all times until very recently, on more than one occasion when Bertie claimed he had found us closed this was, I’m afraid, simply not the case.


 


We have spoken to Howse associates, who have confirmed that you twice attempted to have them violate the Data Protection Act by forwarding our contact details, on the false pretence that the landlord was also trying to reach us. Any contact made either via the contact form on the website, by email directly or by telephone would have succeeded, so there is really no difficulty in reaching us. Quite the opposite, in fact, given the trouble we have had obtaining any response from Bertie in the past.


 


We are within our rights to charge a collection fee of £100 for each of the repairs, but have as an act of goodwill levied only one charge across them both.


 


As such your offer is declined, we require full payment by 5pm today or the items in question will be disposed of as previously advised.


 


Please notify us when payment has been made and I will have some verify it before preparing the laptops for dispatch, these can be sent out tomorrow for delivery Monday if payment is received today."


 


Bertie got some preliminary advice from the CAB and consumer advise helpline which both advised not to make payments through the unsecured accounts detailed in his emails.


 


My question to you is simply what do we need to do to recover the two laptops?


 


Many thanks,


 


Toby

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Ok. I'm sorry. I should have been clearer

I'm afraid this is too much I formation to consider in this forum as it exceeds the word length and I cannot see it all on my ipad

If you could summarise it then I will be happy to help
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

 


FOR JOMO 1972


 


Here is a shorter version of the facts as requested:


 


29th November 2012 - My 24 year old son Bertie took two laptops (a Toshiba C660, belonging to him, and an Acer belonging to me) to the Assured Computer Centre in Tunbridge Wells for debugging and general software clean up etc. for an agreed price of £119.99 for the Toshiba and £49.99 for the Acer.


 


By e-mail first invoice sent to Bertie on Dec 7th for Toshiba. The amount due is £119.99, collection is required with one week or a storage fee may apply.


 


11th December 2012 - My son Bertie went down to the shop "Assured Computer Centre" at approx. 1600 with the intention of explaining that I would be coming to talk to pay for my repairs but to find no one available contrary to the advised opening hours.


 


E-mail Dec 14 with second invoice to Bertie for £49.99 Acer repair:"Please be reminded that the Toshiba laptop must be paid and collected today, the Acer will need to be paid and collected by next Friday at the latest."


 


It said payment can be made by cash or MasterCard in store, or by bank transfer as follows (these can be combined into one payment if preferred).


 


15th December 2012 (approx) - Assured Comnputer Centre called Bertie asking when he would be picking up the computers. He explained that he was having financial trouble and would not be able to pick them up immediately but would be able to in the next week or so. This was OK'd over the phone.


 


18th December 2012 - Concerned about my own laptop I went to check the status of the store in Tunbridge Wells and saw that the blinds were down and there was a sign on the door and saying "We're moving."


 


21st December 2012 - at approx 1530 I went to the shop with the intention of paying for and collecting the laptops. It was still closed, blinds covering the windows and a simple sign clearly visible saying "We're moving" There were no other signs etc. I asked neighboring shopkeepers. They said the shop had been closed for a while and one of them said he had been asked to retain and mail for Assured Computer Centre.


 


I decided to leave things until after the Christmas break on the basis that many shops close for that period anyway.


 


3 January 2013 - After trying to track down info on the contact details through the landlords of the shop and others I got an e-mail out of the blue from Assured Computer Centre demanding payment and saying if payment not made by cob 4 Jan the computers would be disposed of. The payment demanded included the repair costs plus a £100 "single collection fee of £100 across the two repairs, under our terms each repair actually attracts this fee individually."


A total invoice therefore for £269.98.


 


I immediately replied that we had been trying since before Chrstmas to pay for and collect the laptops from the shop. I was still happy to do that, but I was not willing to pay the £100 surcharge.


 


Assured Computer Centre replied by e-mail on 3/1/13 that if the money wasn't paid by the next day the computers would be disposed of.


 


On 4th January I made the following offer: "Anyway to help a speedy resolution of this matter I am prepared today to pay the full repair costs for the computers as stated in your original invoice and to offer £25 as a goodwill gesture. Once you have assured me this is acceptable and will return the two computers I will make this payment. I trust we can sort this amicably."


 


Assured Computer Centre replied Jan 4th as follows: As such your offer is declined, we require full payment by 5pm today or the items in question will be disposed of as previously advised.


 


On 11 Jan I sent an e-mail saying: I am very disappointed that you are still declining to return our laptops despite my repeated offers to pay for the work you claim to have done on them. I also told him that I had lodged a case with the police and that I would have to resort to legal action if he didn't return the laptops.


 


I received a reply on 11/1 saying: Since you do not have an account with us any further threats or other communications will be filed for legal defence and will not be responded to. Please note that such communications may also result in legal action under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.


 


Nothing has changed since then.


 


My question to you is simply what do we need to do to recover the two laptops?


 


Many thanks,


 


 


Toby

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
So, in short, you put some laptops on for work and didnt collect them at the agreed time?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

FOR JOMO1972
The first one, notified on Dec 7th, was not collected in the time the shop demanded, but my son had a conversation with the shop on the phone explaining why he couldn't collect. When we tried to collect the second one, notified on Dec 14th, the shop was closed with a sign saying "We're moving" in the window and no contact details available.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Ok.

Did you pay by the 4th January?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


No we have not paid anything because Assured Computer would only accept payment if it included £100 over and above the repair costs.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
Yes, probably for storage

Have they disposed of the computers?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


I don't think storage has anything to do with it. According the terms and conditions Assured Computer sent me in an e-mail the: "In some cases ACC may choose to pursue collection of unpaid amounts via a debt collection or other agency, in such cases a standard fee of £100 per repair applies to cover internal administrative costs"


 


As far as Im aware they have not used a debt collection or other agency.


 


I don't know if they still have them. I will ask.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
OK.

They are entitled to hold liens over goods until the bill is paid which is basically what they are saying they will do here.

If they are not claiming for storage then the fact of delay isn't the central issue. The issue is just simply that you haven't paid.

They are entitled to recover their actual costs incurred in the course of recovering an outstanding debt. That will not amount to £100 so you would have a challenge over that.

You have two choices though. The first is to go to court and seek an injunction forcing them to hand back the computers. I wouldn't suggest that. It will be very expensive and there's no guarantee that you would get your costs back since the items have been left with them for a long time and they have not been paid. The second is to pay them off in full and then sue for the £100 at the small claims court. Thats a much more cost effective means of doing this.

Sorry thats probably not the answer you wanted but it is the position that you have and I have a duty to give you truthful and accurate information even though its not what I want to say.

Hope this helps. Please rate my answer OK SERVICE or above and I can answer your related questions.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

FOR JOMO1972


Thanks for this. I will come back to you once I have found out if they still have the laptops. I am sure you will understand that I am nervous transferring money to them when their shop has closed. It is now a furniture accessory shop.


 


The website is also no longer accessible. Accoring to the Companies House website the business has not been dissolved or is not in liquidation. However, I have no idea if the guy will then return the laptops.


 


We know where the man lives so I suppose can visit and offer to pay the money. If however he is no longer in business can we still reclaim the £100 through small claims?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 years ago.
If there is concern over whether they are trading then handing funds over to them is a bad idea.

If this is a limited company then your claim is against the company. If its dissolved then it would die with the company I'm afraid.

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