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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 78237
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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Have a disputed call out bill with a firm I asked to sort

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Have a disputed call out bill with a firm I asked to sort out our underfloor heating problem. Can I refer it to an Ombudsman if they persist in maintaining their charge?
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: Sutton Coldfield B76, UK
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: Told them I don't agree with the charge, they are maintaining it.
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: I've already shown good faith having paid two bills for work I was happy with
Hello, I’m Ben, a solicitor, and it’s my pleasure to assist you. I may ask for some preliminary information to help me determine the legal position.

I understand your query relates to an invoice you are disputing. Please provide some more details of  your situation and why you are disputing it so that I can better understand and assist you with your query

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Called firm in to look at our air source heating system in Jan 2022. They came out, said we needed a new expansion tank. We paid call out bill & a second bill for the tank. Total paid around £400. Our heating still not OK. Firm said we needed a new actuator valve. Quote was around £700. Engineer came & fitted it on 28/4/22. Still had problems - inconsistent tap water temperatures. After several texts/emails, engineer came again & sorted it on 18/5/22. The same day I was emailed a bill for that visit - around £200. That's the bill I'm disputing. The firm haven't billed me yet for the actuator (£700) replacement! When I get the £700 bill I'll pay it but don't think the latest £200 call out bill is justified...

OK thank you, ***** ***** to clarify your query; you are wanting to know if you can refer this to an Ombudsman; is this correct?

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Cancel phone call please, just seen the charge!!!

Hi there. I am an independent user on this site, in the same way as you are, which means that unfortunately I have no involvement in the billing side of things. If you need to query anything to do with billing, charges or membership, you may be able to take certain actions by going to your account on this site. Alternatively, please contact the site’s customer service team directly. You can find their contact details by following this link: Hopefully, they will resolve any issues you have to your satisfaction.

In the meantime, just to clarify your query; you are wanting to know if you can refer this to an Ombudsman; is this correct?

Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 15 days ago.
can I refer to an Ombudsman & which one covers air pump heating engineers? Thanks. No need for phone call. Mike

OK I understand and thank you for clarifying. Please do not worry and leave it with me for now. I will get back to you with my full reply on here; usually the same day and the system will notify you when this happens. Many thanks.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Thanks Ben!

No problem at all. I will get back to you at the earliest opportunity. Many thanks

Many thanks for your patience, it is appreciated. I am now pleased to be able to provide further assistance with your query. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues brought up by this. It must be a frustrating situation to be going through.

There are no dedicated Ombudsman services for the specific issue you are facing, unfortunately. There is a general Consumer Ombudsman service but generally, the retailer would have to be signed up with them to give you any protection so you may find that they won’t cover you.

If that is the case, you will have to consider challenging this in the Small Claims Court (or it could actually be the retailer that does so, assuming you are the one who refuses to pay).

Whilst a party can make demands for payment, instruct debt collectors or threaten legal action, it is important to note that they can only really force someone to pay if they actually go to court, submit a claim and are successful with it.

There is, however, no guarantee that they will actually ever go that far. Many people issue threats and demands, without ever having the intention of taking the matter to Court. This is done in the hope that the scare the other party into complying with their demands to avoid the risk of being taken to Court. However, until a formal notification of a Court claim has been issued, there is never a guarantee that a claim will actually be made and it could always remain just a threat, rather than reality.

Even if a claim was made, due to the value of compensation sought, this matter would be assigned to the Small Claims Court. This is a relatively low-risk option because it is specifically aimed at the smaller, legally unrepresented parties. The costs of claiming are not that high, there is no need to have a lawyer and incur further costs as a result and even if a party loses the claim, they will not be liable to pay the other side’s legal fees. All they would have to pay is the court fees, which at most will be several hundred pounds and whatever the Court has decided should be paid to the claimant as a result of their original claim.

Also, once judgment has been issued, on the assumption you lose, the judgment is entered on the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines, where it will remain for 6 years. This is what is known as ‘having a CCJ’ and can impact your credit rating. However, if payment of the judgment is made within one month, the record will be removed from the Register and will no longer be visible. If payment is made after one month has passed, it will still remain on the Register for the 6 years, but will be marked as ‘satisfied’.

To conclude, it is possible to wait and see how far the other side is willing to take this before deciding on how to respond and even if a claim is made, it is possible to proceed and defend the claim in the knowledge that the financial risks of doing so will not be astronomically high and if any judgment made against you is paid within a month, there will be no further repercussions.

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Many thanks for your comprehensive reply. Confirms what I had been thinking but added to my knowledge of the processes involved. Mike

You are most welcome and all the best.