Fair Play: Persistence pays in fight over pooled resources

THIS time last year Nigel Crocker and his wife were looking forward to taking delivery of a new spa for their garden.

However, instead of relaxing in their hot tub, they spent the first six months trying to get delivery of the spa, and the last six trying to get their money back.

In the end, and with the help of Fair Play, the couple finally got a refund for just over £3,200 through their credit card company. But it wasn’t easy.

It all began in June last year, when after weeks of scouring the internet the Crockers found an online company, Trade Price Hot Tubs, which had a spa they liked, priced at £4,995 on special offer. It also included one of their free accessories packages including a DVD player, radio, TV, bar, steps and more.

The couple decided that this was a great deal, so they phoned the company to order the spa. They were told that the spa would be built in America and that that would take between six to eight weeks. They were also asked to paya third as deposit, a third when it was shipped and then the final payment on instalment.

After about five weeks the Crockers were informed that the spa was stuck in US Customs and that they would be called when the spa left America.

After a few more weeks went by the couple started to get worried. They phoned the company and were told that their spa would be shipped soon and that once it arrived in the UK it would only take a week or so before being delivered to Jersey. So they made the second payment for shipping. After several more weeks there was still no word.

The couple phoned again and this time they were told that the shipping was delayed. At this point they started to panic, as almost three months had passed and nothing had been received.

In November they were told that their spa had arrived in the UK and should be with them within a week. It wasn’t. In December they promised it would be delivered and installed by Christmas. It wasn’t.

After six months Nigel decided that enough was enough and tried to cancel the order. He then received a letter stating that the couple were under contract and could not have their initial funds of £1500 back if they cancelled.

This was nonsense. Nigel was entitled to the money on a number of grounds, including laws governing distance selling and the Sale of Goods Act.

As soon as Fair Play called the company (which was also trading as Spaserve), the manager said that he thought the accounts department had already sorted the problem out and had sent the cheque. He promised to send another. Strangely enough, it never arrived.

It was clear that the company were not going to give Nigel any of his money back, so after taking advice from the UK’s Which? legal department we advised Nigel to pursue a refund from his HSBC credit card company under the Consumer Protection Act, which made the bank jointly liable. Even this proved to be more difficult than it should have been, but after months of correspondence, the credit card company finally credited the couple just over £3,200.

It has been a long haul, but as the Crockers have learned, persistence pays, and if you don’t receive goods you have ordered, there are ways of getting your money back, either through the company, or the bank.

It seems that the Crockers were lucky that their hot tub never arrived – check out the following website for experiences other people have had ordering spas from the Trade Price Hot Tubs/ Spaserve company:http:// www.reviewcentre.com/reviews1484 25.html.

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