A year ago I signed two contracts, one for a small glass room and the other for two awnings.  The contacts had lots of small print that I only skimmed before signing.  Big Mistake.

The salesman assured me that planning permission would not be necessary.  I specifically asked him about this because, even though I was speed reading, I had spotted the small print saying I would be liable for any planning application fees.

I paid a 25% deposit using my bank debit card.  Another  Big Mistake.

As promised, a month later, a surveyor came to measure up and pointed out that access to our fourth floor terrace might be problematical.  However he told me that the company were responsible for finding a way to deliver the goods and that they had built glass rooms in some odd, not-easy-to-get-to places.

I believed him and paid another 25% deposit.  Yet another Big Mistake.

Time passed and eventually the company told me that planning permission would  be required even though the salesman had categorically told me it would not be necessary.

Big Mistake to believe anything a salesman says.

Gritting my teeth, I paid the fees involved in applying for planning permission.  After a few months I was told that the application had been refused, so I asked the company to reimburse the monies I had paid.  They promptly sent me letters, which I had to sign and return, releasing me from the terms of the contracts and promising to reimburse in full the deposits I had paid.

A month passed.  I emailed asking when I might receive the money due to me.  After a few days an email arrived saying that the company had gone into administration ‘and will soon be liquidated’.  As an unsecured creditor I stand to lose all the money I have paid them (a few thousand pounds).

Nothing like this has ever happened to me before and I pass on the lessons I have learnt in the hope that they might save you from being similarly naïve.

1         Never, ever sign a contract without reading ALL the small print very carefully.  If this means sending an eager salesman away, and asking him to return when you have read everything, then so be it.  If for some reason this isn’t possible, read all the small print after the salesman has gone and, if you are doubtful about anything, cancel during the 7-day cooling off period.

2         Never pay money using a debit card.  Always use a credit card.

3         Do not believe salesmen when they reassure you.  Double check whatever they have told you to ensure it is true.  The inevitable consequence of gullibility is pain and grief.

End of lesson.  Grrrr.


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