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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 48194
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I had a meeting with a representative of Anglian Home

Customer Question

I had a meeting with a representative of Anglian Home improvements to discuss a potential order for a conservatory. The initial price quoted was £35000 and I told the representative I was expecting £10.000. The meeting went on for several hours and a specification was drawn up which I signed initially and gave a cheque viewing it as a specification rather than an order but I then immediately said I could not go ahead as it was to expensive and I would consider an alternative such as my completing groundwork for which I required a specification. Their surveyor gave an indication of the groundwork and I did not accept as it would have been expensive and affected the warranty. I confirmed in writing that the agreement was cancelled within the 7 days allowed but I am told this was not received. As it was only a confirmation of what I had told the representative that the initial agreement was cancelled my argument with the company is that this is the case but the company are now statin that as I did not accept the alternative offer there was no variation to the original offer and the contract still exists and they wish ro exert a penalty for cancellation of some £6200. My case is that I had cancelled verbally and that their offer of an alternative accepts this and my deposit should be returned and it be accepted the contract was cancelled. I would very much appreciate your advise and any suggestions as to what further action I should take if they press the case in court or refuse to pay back the deposit.
Yours Faithfully,
Allan Robertson
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Do you have a copy of the cancellation you sent them?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, because I posted the original letter. I am relying on the discussion with the representative
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

OK, thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you in a short while. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Also, please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for your patience. Legally for there to be a valid contractual agreement there must have been an offer, an acceptance and some consideration. These do not need to have been agreed in writing and verbal discussions can be just as binding. So the key here is whether you had been given an offer, which you subsequently accepted and did not cancel before the required cancellation period.

So you need to consider whether the discussions you had with them amounted to an offer and acceptance – were you offered a service which you accepted or was it just an expression of interest on your part. Was the specification a formal offer or was it just information about the work and did not amount to a formal offer.

I think you have valid grounds to argue that the initial offer which you had accepted was cancelled because you indicated that it was too much for you and you advised them you would not wish to proceed any further. Asking or a specification instead does not mean you vary the terms of the original acceptance, rather you have cancelled the original deal and then subsequently, as a new act, have expressed an interest in the specification for alternative work. The non-acceptance of the specification of the new work does not mean the original deal was not cancelled , if you had already done so at the start.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the rights you have should they decide to take this further, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

Ben Jones and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. At this stage you cannot be forced to pay anything – they are just requesting money from you and it is up to you if you pay. They can only try and force you to pay if they take you to court and win. There is no guarantee they will go that far. They may threaten you but never actually take the formal step of going to court. If they do decide to go to court then this will be in the small claims court which is good as it is a relatively informal venue and even if you lose you will not have to pay their legal fees. So the risks are quite low. You will of course have the chance to put your side of the story and they will need to show that what they are claiming is a valid argument and that the costs they are after are fair and reasonable. So continue negotiating with them and refusing to pay – they may get annoyed or become threatening but remember that unless they sue you and win, you cannot be forced to pay anything. If they do win then at least you know you were legally obliged to pay them but I would hope it does not get to that.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ben,
As it appears that the company will continue I would like you to inform me what rights I have if they decide to go further and also supposing I indicate that I will advertise the situation and their claims which I could do by paying for advertisement in the local press. It appears that their selling tactics are to offer very high prices and then bring them down by 30-50% if a potential client indicates they are high. Can I and should I claim back my deposi and would I have to claim it in thre small court if they retain itt
Many thanks, ***** ***** take up your time but as you can guaes it is a worrying situation
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I managed to print off your last answer so no need to repeat
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

No problem. If it is you who will be taking this further to recoup the deposit then you can indeed consider the small claims court for this. I suggest that you adopt a tiered approach where you take each step at a time and give them opportunities to resolve this. Often such companies would rather part company with you and retur your deposit rather than risk the bad press that may come from this and lose thousands more in potential sales, but you cannot guarantee that.

If you wish to take this further, then 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: replied 1 year ago.
Ben, Thank you very much for your patience and the answers to the questions, I at least feel better even if I don't eventually win but it appears that I have a reasonable case. You probably do not live this way but please send me your e-mail in case I have to come back for more advice as I would wish to continue to work with you and if required pay another fee
Regards,
Allan
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Any answer on me saying I will advertise their actions. Publicity could hurt them and I would only use what has happened
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hi Allan, if you need further help from me please simply post a question for my attention (for Ben Jones) on this site and it will get to me. In terms of publishing what happened that is legal as long as you strictly stick to factual information only and not form any opinion of them that is personal - in other words, let the facts speak for themselves. You wish to avoid potential defamation

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ben thank you for all of the advice. We will see where we go from here and if I need any further advice I will ask you for it. Your support and answers to my queries were excellent.
Kind Regards,
Allan
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Many thanks, ***** ***** best for now