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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 12088
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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A builder I was planning on using has gone into liquidation.

Customer Question

A builder I was planning on using has gone into liquidation. I had paid just over £8k deposit (200 on credit card, the rest by bank transfer) for a contract that included further staged payments at the completion of certain phases (footings and groundwork complete, main extension watertight, rest of extension complete, final checks complete). The total of all 4 phases came to £32k.
I am registering a Section 75, but fear the card company will immediately say the contract was over £30k - even though:
- the contract is for a mixture of services
- there are stages where I have no obligation to continue (there were no T&Cs in the contract I accepted
- there are certain items that I was looking to remove which I was informed by the firm that I could adjust as I went along.How should I position the claim with Credit Card firm to ensure success (and / or should I prepare for Ombudsman)?
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  JGM replied 4 months ago.

From what you say the contract wasn’t for a fixed price of £32000 and the £32000 was an estimate or a total price for a “menu” of services which you may or may not have purchased from the builder. If I am right in that then you should ha able to put up an argument. The fact that there was a mix of services doesn’t matter if all of these are under an umbrella of a single contract. The fact that there were stages beyond which you didn’t have to go is again an indication that the contract wasn’t necessarily for £32000 and that you were looking to make savings. You should indicate to the card company that you had only accepted a certain amount of services totalling £x at the relevant date and that the contract is only worth that amount. See what the response is and if it is not in your favour put in a claim to the FSO. I hope that helps. Please leave a positive rating so that I am credited for my time.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I have been trying to check if there is any precedent for this. Does the fact that there were no specific T&Cs binding me to the full amount make any difference? Effectively it was a quote - with a staged payment schedule at the bottom, which I then accepted, and received an email back from the builder to accept - who then issued me a receipt for the 200 credit card and 8000 bank transfer. Is that deemed a ‘contract?. Thanks
Expert:  JGM replied 4 months ago.

A contract is an offer and an acceptance. You have an offer and acceptance. So you have to ask what did you accept? Did you accept an offer for the builder to carry out £32000 of works for you or was it an initial lesser amount?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I accepted - by paying a deposit - to retain the builder to complete an extension and other works, with those works spread over stages - after which further payments were due. During the dialogue - which I have on record, items were added, and removed, and the builder acknowledged that there might be further changes. I’m kicking myself for not ensuring the total, including VAT, was not 30k or less - but naively thought that these were multiple services - and there was nothing in T&Cs saying that the full works would be done / fixed.
Expert:  JGM replied 4 months ago.

If the contract value states on the face of it £32000 then you may be in a got of difficulty here under s75. It very much depends on the wording. Happy to look if you want to scan it to me. I can give you a confidential email address where only I will be able to see the document.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Good afternoon. Apologies for delay.Details of CHI are on the attached. The 'Contract' document is in essence a transcript of our email correspondence, as well as a way of embedding documents, and then for me to 'electronically' sign and date stamp. The contract, as you will see has 'zero' value.The last embedded document, which I have attached as a separate document - are the details of the last negotiation we got to - as there are a number of items added, removed - and indeed - more were to be removed. Inside that embedded cost schedule - is an outline of different 'stages' of payment. After the deposit, the next stage was to be paid once all the ground works were complete, and then after the extension was secure, and then after internal aspects were completed. It was constructed this way to allow amendments to the breakdown of works.I was led to believe this was a building company - they have a website etc.YOu are correct in your assessment - it appears there are a number of creditors who have not had work done - as shortly after paying the deposit, I received a liquidation letter. This matter is referred to police, as it looks to be a scam. They registered with the Federation of Master Builders, they were Barclays Accredited (apparently falsely), they ob obtained my details through Rated People, who are also investigating them.Whilst all this goes on - I wanted to pursue for my outstanding amount under Section 75, thus leaving M&S Credit Card to effectively become a creditor. Hence my note to you re the contract amount.Regards