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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71158
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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In February 2016 I paid £600 upfront for private

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In February 2016 I paid £600 upfront for private investigators - – for one month’s text messages from a mobile phone.
To date I have not had anything back and when I did chase via email was told they were still ‘working on it’. I have now asked for my money back to which they say ‘I paid for the services and not a result’.
I do not have money for a solicitor but would like to claim my money back through the courts together with money for all the time and stress it has taken to try and get my money back.
Is this something I can do myself?
I have sent them a letter before action to which they text me to say they would be contacting the person whose mobile number I wanted traced (which I said was fine as I had told that person) and they then said that should they return the money they would put it back on the account it came from. Sadly they have not done this.
Any advice would be appreciated.

Did they guarantee a result by a particular time?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi there, sadly nothing in writing, but the cost was £600 for one months worth of information - i can't remember if i said yes to December or January. I read their website and it looked like you would get the information straight away or at least within a reasonable time.

OK. But was there a clear time limit agreed?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
no - i was led to believe it would be imminent because of the nature of the work done - i.e. finding out if my spouse was cheating on me. I did ask the question in early March and they never replied so i sent many reminder emails. I do remember getting a text message saying 'it will take as long as it takes'. and on 31 May a reply was sent saying they did not give refunds.

Sorry for the delay.

If this was agreed in March then I do think you have waited a reasonable time.

Although it would have been helpful if you had agreed a time deadline the default position of the law will be that you only have to wait for a reasonable period of time.

You really need though to make time of the essence in the case. Send them a letter setting down that time is now of the essence in this case. You expect the work to be done within 28 days of the date of the letter and in default you will sue to recover your deposit and seek costs and interest.

If they do not then you can sue at the small claims court.

Can I clarify anything for you?


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
that is great - i will give it a try. I got a solicitor friend to send them a letter before action which they never replied to - in that i stated that if payment was not made within 14 days i would start legal proceedings. should i still go back with another letter stating time being of the essence etc? and if i do and they do not respond am I allowed to go through MCOL without me being a solicitor? many thanks! Janine

Oh yes, mostly people do.

the small claims court is designed for the lay person.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Do you think that i should send a further letter stating that i will give them 28 days to do the work, or should i now begin proceedings through MCOL owing to the previous letter before action not being responded to? sorry - last question. how do i calculate the extra amount of money owed for stress and inconvenience (aside from legal costs)? is there somewhere i can look at this? I was thinking of asking for £1000 in total (including court fees) but not sure if that is too much for a £600 debt?

I would send them a fresh letter before action.

You can only claim your actual fees which would be about £50.

Jo C. and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
many thanks for your help!