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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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In 2014 I bought some flooring panels from a local company,

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In 2014 I bought some flooring panels from a local company, and paid an initial £400 in advance. They subsequently employed a third party contractor to lay the flooring, but did not advise him of the agreed details of the installation (specifically the pattern in which the panels were to be laid). I advised the company that I would not be present when the contractor arrived to carry out the work, but that my girlfriend would be present to allow them access. On arrival the contractor showed my girlfriend a sample board which unknown to her had a different flooring pattern on each side. My girlfriend had had no previous input to the selection process, other than knowing the brand of the flooring I had chosen, so when shown the sample board she agreed that it was the correct flooring. The contractor then proceeded to lay the floor, but in the incorrect pattern i.e. not the pattern that I had specified when ordering (and which was written on the invoice for the original deposit). On my return home I called the contractor directly and he confirmed that the flooring company had not advised him that a specific pattern had been requested. The company subsequently advised me that they could instruct the contractor to relay the floor correctly, but that I would be charged for labour and for replacement of any flooring panels that were damaged during the work. I was unable to afford this based upon the cost of the materials, especially as I was advised that it was very likely that substantial damage would be caused to the flooring that had been laid. After numerous letters of correspondence, and phonecalls from the company, all demanding that I settle the remaining £600 balance in full, I wrote to the Flooring company in March 2015, stating that I had spoken to the Citizens Advice Bureau and subsequently made the offer of a reduced final payment of £300. I stated in the letter that I expected to hear back from the company within 14 days. I didn't hear back from the company until April 2016 (I.e. 12 months+ later), at which point they again asked me for payment of the full £600 balance. My response to them indicated that due to the delay in response and general poor service I was no longer willing to offer any further payment, at which point I have been contacted by a debt collection solicitor on behalf of the Flooring company demanding payment of the reduced £300 to prevent further legal action - namely I would be taken to court for payment of the full £600 plus interest. Can you please advise, based on the above (which I hope is reasonably clear), whether I am legally obliged to pay any further sum to the flooring company, be it £300 or £600? My view (and what I have been advised) is that it was the company's duty to advise their third party contractor of the agreed details of the workscope. The company is arguing that my girlfriend changed the workscope when the contractor arrived at my property (they don't seem concerned that the contractor arrived not knowing the details of the job, or that the contract was made directly between my self and the flooring company). I would be very grateful for your advice so that I can decide how to proceed. Thanks in advance, Dylan

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

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben, thank you. I have just received an email stating I have been charged £79 whereas the website stated it would be £56?

What did the flooring company in regards ***** ***** instructions they provided to the contractor to begin with?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry I don't understand the question.

My apologies; in relation to the charge, you would need to contact the site's administration team to resolve this. Please contact them from here

In the meantime, I will be in touch shortly.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you I will contact the admin team however the above link does not work?

Sorry, I meant to ask, what did the flooring company say in relation to the instructions they gave to the contractor before the floor was laid as these were obviously incorrect?

OK, please try to copy and paste the link instead

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That doesn't work either. Is the full link

I hope this helps. Also, please do provide the information requested. I am in court today so will prepare my advice during the day and get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The flooring company verbally confirmed that they had not told the third party of the agreed fitting specification. And thank you, ***** ***** is now working.

Thank you and no problem at all. I will get back to you at the earliest opportunity. Many thanks.

Many thanks for your patience. You certainly do have an argument that you should not pay the full price, although the fact that there has been no response by them for 12+ months does not mean you can further reduce your potential liability. It is entirely u to them if they wanted to reply to you or discuss any offers on payment – as far as the law is concerned they have 6 years in which to legally pursue an outstanding debt so whether they take 1 week or 3 years to reject your offer and respond, that is up to them.

What may happen here is that you still have some joint liability for the outstanding fees. On one hand they did not advise the fitter of the correct specification so some liability would lie there. However, on the other hand they were instructed that the specification they were ready to install was the correct one. Even though that was given to them by someone who did not necessarily know what they were agreeing to, it would have been reasonable by them to assume that if that person was at the house at the time and did not in any way make it clear that they did not know what they were agreeing to, that their instructions would be valid. That would likely create some liability on your part and the final result could be that the liability is split (not necessarily equal proportions but not far off either).

As far as it stands, the outstanding amount is £600. You could still try and offer them an amount to settle, such as £200-300. If they are adamant that they want the £600 then you may as well take your chances with the small claims court. The worst case is that they get the full £600, plus interest which for a year would be around £50. You may also have to pay their court fees which are approximately £140. However, you would not have to pay their legal fees if they had to use solicitors to make the claim as each party pays their own legal fees. The best outcome would however still be a settlement before any legal action takes place and you should try and do this, but of course if you are also adamant that you do not wish to pay anything, then you may a well have your day in court as the risks are not that great in the small claims court.

I hope this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (3, 4 or 5 stars) as that is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Ben, im going to try and reactivate my old phone as Im sure messages were sent to the third party contractor advising that my partner would be present to let him in, rather than to advise on the job itself. Ill try this tonight, and either way will finish off our conversation tomorrow with positive feedback.

Thank you

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