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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46794
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Just after Christmas, I contacted a cosmetic surgery hospital

Resolved Question:

Just after Christmas, I contacted a cosmetic surgery hospital in Birmingham with the idea of having a gastric band operation. I spoke to (several times) and subsequently met on 3 January a representative in their London offices who booked me in for the op at he beginning of the year - in fact due to have taken place on 4th January - The date had been booked over the phone. I paid in full for this operation, £4,495.

On the same visit on 3 Jan I met the doctor due to have done the operation the following day in Birmingham - indeed the representative was booking a car to pick me up later that evening in Oxford where I would be to take me to Birmingham.

The doctor rightly said that i hadn't done the preparation diet for the operation and that weight wise I was borderline for such an operation. The pre op diet is a specific diet usually done for two weeks and therefore he wouldn't operate till I had done it. It is the first I had heard of any prep diet. I felt very uneasy that this diet had never been mentioned and told their representative on the spot that consequently I wished to cancel altogether and asked for a refund. She agreed saying at the time that a refund might take a little time… Innocently I thought this was due to the holiday period.

I had a follow up email apologising for not having let me know about the diet. Proof of misinformation if nothing else. In short I have been chasing the money ever since. Fob off calls etc etc.. It has been two months - I have on more than one occasion been told that the money would be reimbursed directly to my bank account - nothing and none ever responds to me. The only person (other than the doctor on 3 Jan) I have ever managed to speak to is the London representative - the Bimingham hospital where the accounts department and complaints department are never respond and even the telephonist has a very hostile attitude. What can I do?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

Did you sign a contract and did it have a cancellation clause in it?

Customer:

Yes I did sign a contract - in which it says that I received an information booked and that "I need to read through each section". Annoyingly I do not have the booklet to hand just at the minute - and indeed will not have access to it till the weekend. I do not see any cancellation clause on the reverse of the document - but there is a lot of small print which I would have to go through.

Customer:

I am skim reading it and it does say that should I wish to cancel all monies are fully refundable.

Customer:

Pre booked appointments for cosmetic or bariatric surgery may be cancelled at any time prior to consultation and will receive a full refund including deposit. Cancellations after consultation will be refunded in line with 5.2 above which I will type out …. this does not apply to dentistry...

Customer:

5.2 Cancellations of bookings - we recommend that you consider all aspects of your procedure for at least 7 days afar your Consultaion with your practitioner. For up to 7 days following your Consultaion should you wish to cancel for procedure the deposit and any monies paid for your procedure are fully refundable with the proviso that the Company has been notified by recorded or guaranteed post to Scheduling Department… The Hospital Group, Bromsgrove.. The Company reserves to right to retain any recoverable costs incurred in arranging transport After the 5 day period of reflection the following monies would be retained/payable to fray some of the costs incurred.

Customer:

Cancellation made 2 weeks prior to surgery date 25% of total cost

Customer:

Cancellations made 8.14 days prior to date of surgery 50% of cost

Customer:

Canellaiton made 7 days or less prior to surgery 75% of cost.

Customer:

Obviously everything happened in one afternoon - the payment had been over the phone prior to meeting Rep and doctor in London but the consultation, doctor not taking on to do the operation and my cancelling were all on the same afternoon.

Ben Jones :

ok so as far as you are concerned you have followed the cancellation procedure as stated and are still within the time to get a full refund?

Customer:

So what do I do - how can I get them to issue refund? I have had many telephone conversations and email exchanges but nothing.

Customer:

As I said at the outset - I had an email from London representative (a few days after my consultation) apologising for not having informed me of pre op diet - surely that if nothing else screams negligence? I have the name of the "complaints" person in Birmingham whom I have emailed - doesn't respond. The London rep who I have spoken to many times says that "it is out of her hands". I told her yesterday that I would be putting it in the hands of solicitors.

Ben Jones :

Whenever a dispute arises over money owed by one party to another, the debtor can be pursued through the civil courts for recovery of the debt. As legal action should always be seen as a last resort, there are certain actions that should be taken initially to try and resolve this matter informally and without having to involve the courts. It is recommended that the process follows these steps:


 



  1. Reminder letter – if no reminders have been sent yet, one should be sent first to allow the debtor to voluntarily pay what is due.

  2. Letter before action – if informal reminders have been sent but these have been ignored, the debtor must be sent a formal letter asking them to repay the debt, or at least make arrangements for its repayment, within a specified period of time. A reasonable period to demand a response by would be 10 days. They should be advised that if they fail to do contact you in order to resolve this matter, formal legal proceedings will be commenced to recover the debt. This letter serves as a ‘final warning’ and gives the other side the opportunity to resolve this matter without the need for legal action.

  3. If they fail to pay or at least make contact to try and resolve this, formal legal proceedings can be initiated. A claim can be commenced online by going to www.moneyclaim.gov.uk. Once the claim form is completed it will be sent to the debtor and they will have a limited time to defend it. If they are aware legal proceedings have commenced it could also prompt them to reconsider their position and perhaps force them to contact you to try and resolve this.


 


Whatever correspondence is sent, it is always advisable to keep copies and use recorded delivery so that there is proof of delivery and a paper trail. The court may need to refer to these if it gets that far.


 

Customer:

So, if I understand correctly - I should write to them (letter I presume - not email) asking them to reimburse. 10 days later - and assuming no reimbursement and/or no contact I can go online to www.moneyclaim.gov.uk and they should hopefully respond.

Ben Jones :

yes correct, once they see a formal claim has been made they may reconsider their position, if not you can proceed with the formal claims process

Customer:

From the hastily copied clauses of reimbursement which I typed above - are you happy that I am indeed sure a full refund? (At no point in any conversations have they ever said that I am not)

Customer:

At this stage, with the trail of emails I have already - and endless telephone calls can I bypass (pun!) the initial letter and go straight to www.moneyclaim stage?

Ben Jones :

well you were entitled to cancel within 7 days of the initial consultation so can rely on that. I suggest you send one final letter where you mention that court is the next step if no refund is issued

Customer:

Ok I will do. Thank you very much. Is there any specific wording I should or should not use in this initial letter to them or just outline the facts again?

Ben Jones :

Not really, just be to the point, what you are owed, when you want it by and what would happen if they do not pay.

Customer:

Ok, thank you very much for your help.

Ben Jones :

You are most welcome. Please take a second to leave a positive rating for the advice I have provided as that is an important part of our process. Thank you and feel free to bookmark my profile for future help:



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Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46794
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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