To want my bloody money back?(102 Posts)
Horrible, violent leak from a burst pipe and a broken stop clock meant that I had to call out an emergency plumber to my home in the middle of the night. My husband was abroad and I was at home with a baby and a toddler with water filling up the bathroom at a rapid rate and pouring into the kitchen below. When I called the agency (head under a sink being covered in hot water) trying to soak as much up as I could, they said they’d be an £85 call out charge and the plumbers fee would apply thereafter - turns out it was £385 an hour and I could kick myself for not asking - but at that moment in time I just wanted the bloody thing stopped. When I spoke to the agent to complain about the £800 bill for an hours work (added loads of tax and other ridiculous charges - it also turns out they aren’t vat registered) he was quite menacing and said the plumber would stay in my house until I paid - it was midnight at this point and I couldn’t see any other option. I’ve since asked for their published rates and they’ve refused saying they can charge any amount per hour, they’ve refused a vat reg number and apparently don’t know the name or address of the contractor who came to my house, they just hold phone numbers which seems incredibly neglectful considering they send their contractors to peoples homes in the middle of the night. Who should I report this agency too? Trading standards seems a dead end thus far! Any advice appreciated as they are top in google for ‘emergency plumber’ and I want to avoid other people being conned if possible...
I feel sick for you and on your behalf, so sorry.
Could your bank stop the payment?
Could your bank help identify the account holder?
Could a friend call the same number in a few days time, and ask, posing as a new customer, for the price to fix a problem, who the plumber is, make a note of his vehicle and registration number?
How about getting your local press to take up the story?
Contact Matt Alwright, BBC Rogue Traders?
I feel particularly upset for you, given that you were alone, vulnerable, under stress and with children....also all the older people out there subject to the same thing.
This is the sort of thing the local press handle really well. What a horrible situation.
Contact trading standards. Awful situation
If they are charging VAT when they aren't registered report them to HMRC but with charges like that they may well be over the limit to register.
Supply of Services Act:
… When it comes to work itself, the act states that a tradesman or professional has a 'duty of care' towards you and your property. Any standard or price you agree must be honoured. But if it isn't agreed in advance the work must be done to a reasonable standard, at a reasonable cost, and within a reasonable time.
So if you haven't fixed a price, you don't have to pay a ridiculously high bill. All you have to pay is what you consider 'reasonable' and invite them to sue you for the rest. Be careful though, in some circumstances when you are withholding payment you may have a claim made against you by a supplier if you are in breach of contract. What's a reasonable amount would be what similar tradesmen would have charged for the job. So get a few quotations."
What does the VAT issue have to do with it? Did they add a charge for VAT even though they aren't registered?
Unfortunately, you agreed to the call out and hourly fee when you said yes to the plumber coming out. Don't know how you can prove they didn't give the rates when you made the first call
Sorry yes they charged me £122 in vat but are not vat registered. Wish I hadn’t just handed over the money, I did pay by debit card (an extra £50 charge for the pleasure) so will see if the bank can retrieve the details of the account the money went to. Thanks for all your suggestions.
They aren’t allowed to charge extra for paying by card unless it’s a business card (I think) - the MoneySavingExpert site recommends reporting people who do this to trading standards.
Ring the bank and ask for them to do a charge back on the basis of fraud - you only paid the money because they essentially threatened you (refusing to leave your home until you paid). It's then up to the company to dispute the transaction with the bank.
How awful for you.
Under those circumstances you always write "paid under protest" on your copy and their copy of the receipt/invoice! It then leaves you room to argue later that you paid under duress.
Definitely trading standards. Do you know the name of the company you called for the plumber to be sent to you? As I’m who is the agency?
Definitely speak to the bank to get your money back. This is fraud. There is an action fraud helpline you can report this to. The bank will be able to help with what they need you to do.
I had this exact same thing happen to me last May by some plumbers in Hertfordshire.
They didn’t tell me they had extautionate rates and I didn’t think I needed to ask, I didn’t even call them out in an emergency.
I cancelled my credit card and wrote to them in detail my dispute but they kept adding late fees and then sent me to small claims.
I went to court and the judge didn’t really care about hearing the details and I’ve ended up paying the plumber off just to be done with it.
It’s really affected me and I’m sorry you’re going through it too.
I don’t know why it isn’t more protected.
I went to trading standards and watch dog and no one would help.
I was alone with a baby at the time too
Definitely speak to the bank and 're them this is a fraudulent company who essentially threatened you in your own home. Then trading standards. I feel awful for you and wish I was with you at the time...hate people like this who take advantage of women on their own.
HMRC charging vat is not legal unless vat registered &mentioned on invoice & company website so ring/contact hmrc
Thanks everyone, this is the emergency plumbing agency I used emergency-plumber24h.co.uk so definitely avoid them if you need anything doing! I’ll speak to my bank and I’m trying to find a way to report rogue companies to google as they rank really highly under search. I just feel a bit sick about being taken advantage off in such a horrid situation, feeling rather stupid about it all too. I’ve currently got no idea how we will make it through the month financially either, it’s been one thing after another.
You can't complain directly to trading standards. You need to call the citizens advice consumer helpline and explain everything. Then, if there is a case to answer, they will pass it to trading standards. But there might not be, since they could say you knew the fees or you could be told that you should have asked.
@bebeboeuf I’m so sorry you’ve been through so much stress, it makes you feel so powerless doesn’t it? And it really does seem like there’s very limited places to report these things too, I’ve had a very bog standard reply from trading standards but the HMRC might be more interested...
@theinvestigator thanks, that makes sense regarding the response I had from trading standards. I’d like to report them for the fraudulent vat charge if nothing else.
You can also leave a Google review and Trustpilot review online so that your experience comes up when people look them up. Doesn't help to get your money back but it might prevent someone else from ending up in the same situation.
Just had a quick look on their website... reasonable price and professional
All 5 star reviews obviously
Hope u manage to stop the payment OP
I think everyone on here who reads this should leave them negative feedback using this poor person's experience
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