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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71132
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi I am having a bit of a set-to with a repair company who

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I am having a bit of a set-to with a repair company who can about 3 months ago to fix an x-ray developer at my dental surgery
The engineer said he didn’t know the problem and intended to replace one part at a time until it worked !
I said that sounded expensive and I didn’t want to spend more fixing an old one than it would cost to replace it.
He came twice with parts and they didn’t work but the company have charged us for travelling time and time spent in the surgery. Now the final bill has come it is more than a new one wold be, but when we’ve queried it, they said they had authority so we have to pay. I actually spoke to the guy so I know that’s not true, and I think we shouldn’t have to pay for time while the engineer experimented with different parts.
They sent the parts they didn’t use back and we were refunded but we have still been charged for his time.
Do you think if they threaten me with small claims I should stick to my guns and say go on then, and I’ll countersue for loss of earnings?
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
why has the bill increased please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

because he kept trying new bits until he found the one that was faulty and really it was his travelling to and fro on several occasions.

I told the engineer that I didn’t want to throw good money after bad on an old machine unless they could fix it quickly and cheaply then the onus was on the engineer to give me two quotes before he started.

One to supply a new machine and another quote to repair the old one.

Accepting that the old one may have been an unknown quantity he should at least with his experience and expertise given me the benefit of his knowledge

Under the provisions of the Supply of Goods and Services Act, the repairers are under a duty to carry out the job with reasonable care and skill.
I think that if they have charged you more for repairing this than a new one would cost they have clearly breached that term of the Act.
I agree with you that the engineer should have said that it was going to cost more money to repair than a new one would cost.
You would not be able to recover your loss of earnings unless the job repair was inordinately delayed and you stated that outset that if this wasn’t fixed by a particular date, it would cost you money. In addition, you would have to prove the amount of money that you had lost as a result of this and proving that on its own is not going to be easy and would require an opinion from a forensic accountant.
It may be that regardless of who was fixing this machine the only way of fixing it would have been to carry on doing what they did and replace each part one piece at a time. I cannot help feeling that you have been charged for the engineer going through some kind of learning curve.
It would seem to be not unreasonable for the engineer to come once and fix this unless the machine is so complicated that it would require more than one day to fix it. If it required a part that he did not have with him, then I think it is unreasonable to charge you to lots of travelling simply because he did not have the necessary parts with him on his 1st visit.
My suggestion would be to send them a cheque for what you agree this is worth and tell them that it is in full and final settlement of all claims in this respect past present and future. I would also tell them that if they do not accept it in full and final settlement, they should return the cheque to you and issue Small Claims Court proceedings which you will defend and you will counter claim for loss of earnings. I don’t think you have much chance of succeeding on the loss of earnings matter but they don’t know that at this stage.
It is always better if the cheque comes from a 3rd party such as a solicitor or an accountant and not from the business although it can come from any individual not involved with the business.. The reason for this is that if the cheque comes from a 3rd party the 3rd party is deemed to have taken over the debt and that if they cash the cheque and then set sue for the balance, it is seen (in legal terms) to be “a fraud”” (not fraud in the usual sense) on the person who paid the debt.
Make sure that you mark any letter sending a cheque or making any other kind of offer without prejudice save as to costs in that way they cannot produce it in court to try to prove to the judge that you have admitted any liability.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

that's great, many thanks

No problem and all the best.
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