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Small claims court - anyone any experience?

(5 Posts)
sinclair Thu 25-Jun-09 20:24:08

A client refused to pay my invoice today - gave me 80% of the bill and declared that that was what it was worth. I am down £50. It is curtains by the way and although there wasn't a written quote as there usually is we agreed a price based on me taking away her fabric that night - hence no need for a quote - and returning within the week - my initial offer was 2 weeks but she asked me to do them quicker so I shuffled work around to do it.

I offered to take them away and correct whatever she was unhappy with but she couldn't find fault, just I think wanted to pay less. Her one argument was that the last curtains she had made were considerably cheaper - when I asked why in that case she had agreed to my quote, she said the other curtain maker had a 12 week wait. That is what you are paying for is my argument - getting them up to an agreed price on an agreed day.

To add insult to injury she asked me to hang another pair of curtains whilst I was there - I thought it was a bit cheeky but it only took 20 minutes - they were from John Lewis and she was keen to tell me what a bargain they were. I didn't charge her for this - made a mental note to add it to any future quote - then she dropped the bombshell that she wasn't paying!

Anyway - my question is is it worth taking her to Small Claims - DH says it costs £75 so it feels to me as if she pitched the 'discount' to a level she knew would be likely to deter me taking it further.

Anyone any ideas?

BeautyandtheBreast Fri 26-Jun-09 12:16:34

Before you take her to the small claims you would have to send letter of claim - sometimes this letter containing the threat of court action (just drop in that it could lead to a ccj if you are successful!) is enough to make people pay up.

So trying the first stage with the letter is def worth a go.

You might be able to find a precedent letter if you google it.

But if you do go the court route and are successful you can claim the court costs back.

sinclair Fri 26-Jun-09 13:32:10

Thanks BandtheB, that sounds like a good first call. I sent her an invoice with the balance showing and a letter asking her to settle in 14 days. I had a look at govt small claims site but couldn't find costs listed - but your letter of claim sounds like my next step, if she is going to pay she will probably pay once she sees I am serious.

thanks for replying - this is the first time it has ever happened to me!

maria1665 Fri 26-Jun-09 13:46:35

From an evidential point of view, it would be a good idea to do a full note NOW of what was said and when, referring to any documents you do have to support your claim.

At the moment, it all seems to be word of mouth, probably something she has seized on - people find it harder to manouvre when its in writing. But courts do take notice of contemperaneous notes - records made more or less at the time. Its not nearly as good as a written quote, but it will help.

Plus send your letter as promptly as possible - not just to scare her, but again the court will take notice of the fact that this was not some protracted negotiation regarding what was owed, quality of work etc.

She asked for work done, you agreed a price, you did the work to her satisfaction, she is now refusing to pay. Its a simple as that.

Re you claim letter, check on interest payments on sums owed. It used to be that once you issued proceedings, you could claim interest. Its something else to throw at her. What a cow!

sinclair Fri 26-Jun-09 18:02:46

thanks that is a good idea. I have the notes in my book from the initial visit, dated etc and it's in a diary style - written up in the order I see people. But writing up exactly what happened when I returned is a good idea, will do that now. Luckily enough her (grown up) son was at home at the time and I was very careful to state my case clearly and calmly in front of him as I was leaving. he looked a bit embarrassed tbh - made me wonder whether he has seen this before!

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