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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 28902
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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We run a small company, yesterday we have been visited by

Customer Question

Hi we run a small company, yesterday we have been visited by company "helping with council rates reduction" called ***** ***** Associates. A representative came for a non obligatory visit as she said, we had a chat during which they asked money upfront promising big relief on council rates. We fell for similar scam years ago, paid and never won anything so we were very careful. Eventually we said goodbye promising that we will think about it and let them know if we want to go ahead. 5 minutes after the representative left we emailed them saying that we do not wish to continue. Unfortunately the papers have been signed on the other side there was contract, according to which they are requesting £400 fee for breaching the terms. We explained that this is not what was agreed and they did not have to carry any costs because we told them instantly we do not wish to continue. They have poor reviews and it is clear that this is their routine. The question - is there no cooling off period that we can call in our case?
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: Coventry
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: Exchanged few emails
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: It is all briefly explained in my first message
Submitted: 8 days ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
The email message we have sent instantly after the meeting:Hi we thought about it and have decided not to proceed, like we have explained on the meeting today we do have some bad experience with companies charging upfront and decided not to risk ever again.__________Their reply:Upon the free on site assessment and after our surveyor had discussed their findings with you, you were given the option to enter into a contractual agreement with ***** ***** Associate
It clearly states on the front of the contract that you have read and understand the T&CS printed overleaf and also explains our services and full fee structure.
It is your responsibility to read all paperwork upon signing it, we cannot be held responsible for your negligence in this matter.
As this is a business to business contract there is no cooling off period and the fee becomes payable upon the contract being signed.
I have provide a copy of the signed contract and T&Cs in my previous email.
Failure to settle your account will result in late payment charges being added to your account at an 8% rate as stated in the T&CS you adhered to upon signing our contract.
I trust the above is clear and I look forward to receiving your payment._________
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
We have later replied:This was scheduled as no obligation visit and no contract has been made between us, also no work has been done for us at your end, we only had short chat during which we have explained that we fell for a scam that looked very similar to the services you are offering, we have promised to think about it and let you know, we have sent you an email few minutes after you have left the premises, we are not going to pay a penny for what now clearly looks like a scam. You have left asking us to let us know as soon as possible if we wish to proceed and we have informed you minutes after you visit about our decision. This email only ensures us that we were right thinking there is something dodgy here and our decision to not have any dealings with WRA was correct. During our chat we asked how the process looks it was explained to us that this is just a courtesy visit and you will wait for us to give you a green light before any work can commence from your end.______________And this is the reply we were given:Hi MarcinFurther to your email requesting cancellation,Please find attached a copy of the agreement between ***** ***** and Coventry Spares Ltd also attached is a copy of our T&Cs. I have also attached the email stating the fee, which was sent prior to the meeting-taking place.The survey and administration fee of £995+ VAT (per property), is for a 10 year service (2 rating periods) we do also take 25% of the first years savings only. We will also appeal your rates in 2022 free of charge inclusive in your first initial fee. We would also lodge free appeals on your behave if anything was affecting your trade like road works, building works and things like gaining entry into your premises. If you decide to move to new premises, we would contest the rates there free of charge also.Our contract states the fees, services, and states you have read and understood the T&CS printed over leaf.T&CS:2.6 Without prejudice to any other rights to which the Supplier may be entitled, in the event that the Customer unlawfully terminates or cancels the services agreed to in the Service Specification, the Customer is required to compensate the Supplier a fixed nett fee of £349.00 to cover all cost committed up until said cancellation.2.7 For the avoidance of doubt the Customer shall be liable to compensate the Supplier for any expenses incurred by the Supplier as a result of the Customer’s failure to comply with its Obligations agreed under of these terms and conditions.2.9 If the Customer disinstructs the Supplier at any stage of the check challenge and appeal stage the Customer will be liable to compensate the Supplier a fee of £349.00 to cover all costs.No late payment charges have been added as of yet, however if payment is not made interest will be added to the account at an 8% rate as per the T&CS you adhered to upon signing our business-to-business contract.
Expert:  Joshua replied 7 days ago.

Hello and thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 15 years’ experience. Please be aware that although I will endeavour to reply to you promptly, I am also in full time private practice and so I may not be available to respond immediately and it may also take me a few minutes to prepare a reply. The site will notify you as soon as I respond. I look forward to working with you to answer your question fully.

I am very sorry to read of the above and I imagine what a difficult position it must be. I will certainly try to clarify your options.

I am a little unclear on the above narrative; from the narrative, I understand that you advised the representative that you would think about it and be in touch but later on in the narrative there is a suggestion that you did in fact sign a contract and then email within a few minutes to advise you have changed your mind. Did you sign an agreement please?

Customer: replied 7 days ago.
the lady kept saying she was only to assist us and it is up to us if we want them to help. I questioned the upfront fee and she answered that the council is not allowing them to collect it afterwards which seemed not right. We said we will think and let them now before she left and she assured us that she will wait for an answer. All the paperwork was filled in by her but based on the information she was given and my colleague scribbled unreadable signature at the bottom of the form, this was the only instance he touched it and, obviously all T&C that weren't mentioned are on the other side of the contract. The whole narrative was different to what contract states unfortunately there is no record of the conversation and the contract is signed. We have informed them 5 minutes after the visit that we do not wish to proceed. I have attached contract earlier.
Expert:  Joshua replied 7 days ago.
  1. Thank you. "my colleague scribbled unreadable signature at the bottom of the form" - so do I take this to mean that your colleague did sign the agreement?
  2. If so why did they sign the agreement if you had decided as you say to think about it?
Customer: replied 7 days ago.
ad 1. Yes he did signed the contract unaware that he is signing it, I know it is not an excuse and it was stupid.
ad 2. He did not know that it was the contract and the decision was verbal this was discussed only not written.So yes the contract was signed we just wanted to know if we can withdraw from it if we informed the other party minutes after the meeting, the cancellation fee is for the costs incurred and clearly there were none, is there a legal option for us to cancel it?
And if we do not cancel, is it defendable in court or once the contract is signed nothing can be done?
Expert:  Joshua replied 7 days ago.

thank you. I regret I am about to say what you probably expect which is that your colleague has left your business in a very vulnerable position. As you know from what you say is experience, there is very little protection in respect of business contracts in the same way as there is for consumer contracts and one should never sign anything as a business without having read all of the terms and taking one's time to do so is it is a good starting premise that you will be bound by the terms however unfair one reasonable those terms be. That is not entirely true as there are some restraints on unfair terms but they are relatively few and far between.

it is not clear to me from what you say what your colleague believed they were signing. If they have been told what they were signing was something other than the contract then there may be grounds for claiming rescission of the contract on grounds of mistake-that your colleague was operating under a mistake as regards ***** ***** being signed and the other party knew of this mistake and took advantage of it. Another basis, again depending upon what was said may be misrepresentation if the terms of the contract were misrepresented to you. However, it should not be underestimated that a challenge on these grounds would not be straightforward as being a business contract, the court would expect your business as a party to the contract to be relatively sophisticated and there would need to be a relatively well formed argument to justify why this document was signed. Arguments that may be accepted as a consumer would not typically be accepted under a business contract.

if you consider that you could form a well reasoned justification as regards ***** ***** contract was signed, this would need to be better I regret than "being unaware what he was signing as a business person is expected to be aware of what is signed in a business capacity" then you could claim recession on one of the above grounds and invite the company to issue proceedings if they consider they have a claim against you. If you would like me to consider what argument you may be able to use in this respect if you have anything further to add the justifications for signing the document I would be happy to give you my views to the likelihood of success in this respect as an argument in court