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Alex J.
Alex J., Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitors 2 years plus PQE
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Can I claim a

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I thought it best to register and reask my question. My question is very simple am I wasting my time taking the following to a small claims court. I used a commercial fee paying site (Tax Return Gateway) on 24 Jan to file my tax return thinking I was using the official HMRC site. Ignoring my foolishness of using a site designed to mislead I paid £650. This sum was presented as my estimated tax bill which I was told had to be paid for the tax return to be accepted. On paying this it qickly became apparent that this was not the HMRC site with a confirmation mail sent me detailing the T&Cs sating I had no right to a refund once service had started by my completing my application. I was not presented with a service charge nor was given a proactive invitation to accept terms. Within 2 hours I filed my return with HMRC preventing the company filing, email my account termination, referencing Distance Selling, withdrew permission for my personal data to be used (which was used after I withdrew - raising potential DPA issues) and requested a full refund, backing in writing by recorded delivery. Letters and numerous emails have gone unanswered and I have given notice be recorded delivery of my intention of legal action by 14 Feb. My concern is that T&C were available on the site, which since I completed my application, advises that I cannot get a refund.

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

Thank you for your question and welcome.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will assist you.

Did this company actually provide you with any service?

You mentioned the distance selling regulations, did you claim these within 7 days?

Kind regards

AJ
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Alex,


 


Thank you. On completing Tax Return Gateway's form on 24 January I recieved conformation from them at 12:54, this included an attachement on cancellation rights, esentially saying I had no rights to a refund. I emailed them at 14:23 on 24 January terminating my account under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Act, requested a full refund and advised that they did not have permission to submit a tax return on my behalf and that I had filed my own return directly with HMRC. Also on 24 Jan I sent the same by signed for post to their registered company address.


At 18:01 on 24 Jan I received an email from them saying that they had a problem with my submission. I responded at 18:28 thanking them for advising that they could not process my return, that I had terminated my account at 14:23 and had expressly withdrawn my permission for my for my information to be used. I advised also that I had tried to call them but the recorded answer advised that it was not in use and to email or write.


At 19:00 24 Jan I asked for confirmation that they were in receipt of my cancellation, that my termination is being processed and that they understood that they could not use my personal information and asked when I could expect a full refund.


My mails have not been responded to as have other chasing mails and letters, including my giving notice in writing of my intent to take legal action by 14 Feb, again sent 'signed for'.


On Thur 6 Feb their telephone came to life and I finally spoke to someone. He advised that service started as soon as I had completed the form. I asked what service I had gotted for £650 and was told that my form had been checked, i asked for a full refund and was advised that under their terms service had started and no refund would be given. I asked was my form checked and an attempt to post my tax return made before or after I had sent my cancellation at 14:23, he eventually said it was after at 18:00. I wrote my notes of the meeting and emailed them asking for any errors to be corrected based on the transcript of the recording of the conversation or any other time stamped record. I have heard nothing.


You may be interested in this as background. This is one of many:


http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/comment/article-2545463/JEFF-PRESTRIDGE-How-copycat-website-taxreturngateway-duped-reader.html


Kind regards


John


 


 

Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

Thank you.

What I would suggest you do is write to them as follows:
1. Say having had the displeasure of using their website you believe that their sales practice is at worst fraudulent and at best a misrepresentation of who they represent;
2. Say you only entered into the arrangement on the basis that you believed to be contracting with HMRC;
3. In any event you are entitled to cancel any online service or contract within 7 days of signing up to it and having exercised this right in writing and therefore you are entitled to a full refund;
4. Say they have quite clearly not provided you with any service what so ever and their continued insistence that they have is bordering on dishonest as they have not provided any evidence of the service.
5. Say that if they do not give you a full refund in the next 48 hours your will (i) Make a complaint to Trading Standards and (ii) reserve the right to start a county court claim and claim costs and interest for doing so.
6. Say that you reserve the right to bring to any courts attention their failure to respond to any of your correspondence despite being given ample opportunity.

You can start a money claim here www.mcol.gov.uk and www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/‎ this is the trading standards website. I would contact Trading Standards first as it might save you alot of time and money in the long run and they have probably dealt with this issue before.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

AJ
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Alex,


Thank you. My concern if I go to court is that the T&C's imposed on me, saying that service starts instantly and that I have no righs to a refund, is argued by them to negate my consumer rights. If this is the case, does this make any claim based on my consumer rights futile?


Thank you


John

Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

Thank you.

Potentially they could argue that because they informed you before hand that the cooling off period does not apply however excluding a consumer right is a serious matter and if they wanted to do this they would have had to make it abundantly clear and not just put it in small print.

Also I do not believe that they would be allowed to exclude the cooling off period where they have quite clearly mis represented who they are.

This is way a complaint to Trading Standards will be a good starting point. It will be slow but you do not risk the cost implications of bringing a court claim.

Kind regards

AJ
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks again. XXXXX where the company is based advise they have had many complaint and are now refering all callers to Citizens Advice. I will do this. But if I threaten action in 48 hours, it feels like I need to follow this through.


The company will of course argue that they did not misrepresent, since all that information was on the web site if I had cared to look. What they did mis represent is service charge as a tax demand.


Final question (as I feel I'm overusing your service) is cost implications of a court case, my understanding is that these will be negligible via the Small Claims Court or would I have to take another more costly route.


Regards


John

Expert:  Alex J. replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

Thank you.

Because this is a small claim the cost implications are limited if you lose and in all likelihood they will probably try and settle it before going to court.

If you are going to go through with court then give them 7 days to respond as this is required by the Civil Procedure Rules. The letter needs to start putting pressure on them and telling them they cannot just ignore your correspondence.

Kind regards

AJ
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