PC World / currys…..the mind boggles

Well ive had two experiences today which have made me conclude that PC world know as much about customer service as i know about quantum mechanics.

The first experience was entirely laughable, their call centre were outrageously stupid, did not understand the basic principles of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 as amended. gave woefully inadequate advice. The store lived up to the call centres stupidity and frankly when the manager said and i quote ” We will make this as less convenient as possible” yup i couldnt believe it myself but thats what he said, cos i asked ” so youre going to make this inconvenient then?” to which he replied “you know what i mean” well frankly i dont fooking know do i, because if you dont speak clearly and correctly how the hell am i supposed to know what he meant, i mean sorry but my crystal balls broken.

The worst was still to come, when i called Currys head office and ended up speaking to Mr Brainless who also had no idea what the law says about my rights to a repair refund or replacement, yes, see Sale of Goods Act 1979 its all there, section 14 for example.

Anyway, i was told a manger would call me back because i had my time wasted by a series of inaccurate peices of information which meant i had wasted my time over and over and guess what, yea they failed again and the manager never rang either. Bravo still at least they were consistent, consistently poor!!!

So, the second time today, i reserved an item with PC world. It was supposed to be that you reserve the item, and collect it from the store to speed up the process. Well, i reserved the item, and went to the store, spent 30 minutes queing up only to be told that it would have been quicker if i had gone to the store and approached a member of staff. For FC*K SAKE. and then, they had the audacity to try and sell me their warranty , er they got told to insert their warranty where the sun will never shine

Well done Currys and PC world, you win the incompetent fools of the week award.

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The danger of some internet forums

I was horrified to learn about some really appalling advice which had been given out on an internet forum which will remain nameless, but i no longer visit them.

The basis of the advice was it seems not to pursue a valid claim against a third party because there was a fear that the sums may take the debt outside of the small claims track. The second piece of advice was even more bizarre, in that a Counter claim was launched for recovery of monies paid against a party whom did not have the benefit of the monies in any event. Of course, the other point to note (which it seems the person offering the advice totally and arguably negligently missed) was that the target of the Courter-claim ought to have been the original creditor, not the assignee. In fact the case of Jones v Link Financial Limited ought to have put that to bed in any event.

But to make matters worst, the party was told because its small claim its safe from costs. Well two points spring to mind.

Firstly, small claims is only small claims when its allocated there by a judge, a judge can decide that the case even if the value is under £5k can be a fast track matter. One merely need look at CPR 26 to see this. I had a case with the balance of £1500 transferred to the High Court before HHJ Chambers purely on complexity of the arguments.

Secondly, even thought CPR rule 27.14 says no costs should be payable, a recent case of Shaw v Nine Regions said that if the contract provides a right to recover reasonable costs in recovering a debt, then the winner may well be entitled to reclaim his costs in any event.

http://www.thesolicitorsgroup.co.uk/Downloads/Articles/05Mar2010/SmallClaims-Costs.pdf

the above link shows the risks even in the small claims track with these cases. Also, there was a case which i am aware of where the Court ordered £27k costs against a debt of £3k.

Had that been considered, it may well have led the person not to file their speculative counter claim. This is not the first time i have come across appalling advice from this internet source, i represented a client in an appeal whereby the “experts” told him to abandon the arguments that would have won him the day in favour of arguments which were more comical than Monty Python!!!. Fortunately we were instructed, appealed and the matter was swiftly brought to a conclusion that didnt leave the client with an £18k judgment unlike the previous advice.

So, no matter what forum you got to, please make sure if you are needing legal advice, SPEAK TO A LAWYER and not one of the armchair variety.

Restons Solicitors article on HFO Capital Limited v Wegmuller.

I was trawling the net the other day and i was fortunate (although Restons may disagree here) to find the Restons website.

I must say a nice looking site, however, its a pity about the Wegmuller report, because its wide of the mark. The author clearly has not given sufficient attention to the Judgment of Recorder Campbell.

In the case of HFO Capital Limited v Wegmuller, Mr Recorder Campbell considered the allegation by Mr Wegmuller that the Barclaycard agreement (subsequently  acquired by HFO)  he signed in the mid-1990’s failed to contain the prescribed terms and therefore did not comply with Section 61 of the CCA.  After making reference to “Carey v HSBC Plc” – in particular those passages which dealt with what the Act required the customer to sign – the Recorder noted the court had not been provided either with a copy of the original agreement nor a reconstitution of it.

That is entirely wrong. Before the Court were the following,

1) A copy of the signed application form.

2) Terms and conditions which clearly were provided with the card, in fact they stated that they were accompanying the card!!

3) a reconstitution of the agreement

None of which assist where the underlying agreement is unenforceable, clearly you cannot reconstitute to make a bad agreement good. As they say, you cannot polish a turd, if its a bad agreement, no amount of reconstituting can put it right!!!!

The problems with the case were not as the author of the Restons article suggests, and in fact i made an application to the Court prior to the hearing for an order that the Claimant do provide a reconstitution of the original agreement. The Claimant provided the disclosure, and the reconstituted agreement was entirely supportive of Mr Wegmullers views.

Although Mr Wegmuller actually acknowledged difficulty in recollecting exactly what he signed, the Recorder decided that in the absence of any direct evidence from either Barclaycard or HFO, as to account set up procedures/documentation, Section 61 compliance could not be proved.  Therefore the debt recovery claim brought by HFO was dismissed.

Ok, now its helpful to look at the Wegmuller ruling here.

14. I pause there for a moment. It is worth noting that none of those three terms is actually visible on the copy application form document in the bundle that was signed by the defendant on 25th March 1996.

Clearly Recorder Campbell found the prescribed terms were not on the application Mr Wegmuller signed. That was obvious, contrary to the authors assertion the agreement was before the Court, otherwise how did the recorder make such findings??

Worse was to follow as Mr Wegmuller had instructed a firm of solicitors who are well known for representing customers who wish to challenge their liability under  regulated agreements on the grounds of non CCA compliance.  That firm (and similar) will take comfort from this ruling – not least the award of costs made in their favour.

That Firm, what an amusing comment, it seems to be that they cant even bring themselves to mention our name, still anyone who reads the Wegmuller ruling will know who we are. I would also point out that every one is entitled to be legally represented, if the banks dont like losing money there is a solution, GET IT RIGHT- GET YOUR PAPERS IN ORDER and maybe even invest in lawyers who know about consumer credit law. On the point of costs, well yes, isnt it the case that costs follow the event? if the lender had won he would have wanted his costs surely? or would they be kind and say its ok dont bother paying? for goodness sakes , the mind really boggles. So yes, we won the case, yes we got paid, yes the client didnt have to pay his unenforceable debt and yes we were on a CFA so got an uplift.

Although perhaps a reflection of the quality of evidence before the Court in that particular case, the message is clear – when proceedings are defended, debt purchasers need to ensure that a litigation risk assessment is carried out on every “enforceability” case.  The reality is that for the purposes of both litigation and regulatory compliance they are an “extension” of the original lender.  Implementation of effective arrangements will ensure recoveries  are maximised and defeat/dissuade speculative and time-consuming challenges/defences.

With respect, i find it grossly insulting if the author is suggesting that Mr Wegmullers Defence was speculative. It was anything but. There were identified breaches of s61,62,63,78,86,87 Consumer credit Act. As for HFO Capitals Default notices one merely need read HFO Capital v Michael Burney which is on BAILII and can be found here
We have challenged that certain creditor before, and have at least 20 victories under our belts with them so if our defences are speculative the judges must clearly be missing something. As far as it goes, the failings were no the fault of our clients, they were the fault of the creditors and their stupidity in rushing off to court without making sure they had a case that was winnable. I have a wealth of rulings in the County Court and High Court also that supports the arguments i have used in cases such as Wegmuller, none of which can be called speculative.

On a closing point, i must remind myself of the words of the Vice Chancellor in the case of Wilson v First County Trust Ltd – [2001] 3 All ER 229 where Sir Andrew Morritt VC said

In effect, the creditor–by failing to ensure that he obtained a document signed by the debtor which contained all the prescribed terms–must (in the light of the provisions in ss 65(1) and 127(3) of the 1974 Act) be taken to have made a voluntary disposition, or gift,of the loan moneys to the debtor. The creditor had chosen to part with the moneys in circumstances in which it was never entitled to have them repaid;

It seems pretty clear that if a lender fails to jump through the hoops set down by the legislation then he deserves all the hassle he gets. Lets also not forget that many lenders DID Get it wrong over the last 20 years, and now their errors are coming to light to their detriment sadly.