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    • JBean
    • By JBean 11th Jun 17, 5:47 PM
    • 3Posts
    • 0Thanks
    JBean
    Quote/Invoice confusion
    • #1
    • 11th Jun 17, 5:47 PM
    Quote/Invoice confusion 11th Jun 17 at 5:47 PM
    We had a very bad experience with a contractor for work on a driveway. We tried to take it to small claims, but unfortunately didn't have enough evidence while he lied repeatedly, including producing two false quotes that he claimed to have given us but did not. In total, we ended up with five different documents from him and, for future learning, I'm trying to understand the difference in headings. The first 'quote' was headlined 'Quotation details'; the second was headlined 'Quotation/Invoice'; the final document we saw was headlined 'Contract Details'. The two false documents he produced for court were both headlined 'Quotation/Invoice'. On all five documents, there was a small print satement 'all above prices exclusive of VAT, all extras paid on completion'. So, my questions are: (1) Are the different headings on these documents standard? (2) How can we protect ourselves in future if told a quote is the final price but it continues to rise and the small print overrides the verbal guarantee? (3) Is it okay that none of his documents had a unique ref no? This allowed him to produce false 'quotes' but apart from this, how does a trader benefit from not having a unique reference number on their quotations and invoices? (4) Finally, are we entitled to a receipt for the money paid? Sorry for the long query but it was a very bad experience and I haven't been able to find answers elsewhere. Thanks for any guidance offered.
Page 1
    • teneighty
    • By teneighty 11th Jun 17, 7:40 PM
    • 920 Posts
    • 627 Thanks
    teneighty
    • #2
    • 11th Jun 17, 7:40 PM
    • #2
    • 11th Jun 17, 7:40 PM
    If there is no contract or anything like that you need a letter of intent. The way I would do it is send a letter or email, anything in writing that you can keep a copy, with following wording.

    Please proceed with works to resurface driveway (*) in accordance with your quotation dated 11th June 2017 in the sum of £1200.00 excl. VAT.

    Maybe add following if timescale has been agreed...Works to commence on (insert date) and be completed by (insert date) as agreed.

    (*) include any mention of specification or materials so if it is tarmac make a reference to the specification or details wherever that maybe. So for instance ..as detailed in specification dated 14th May 2017 or if contractor gave the specification ..... tarmac specification as detailed in your email of 14th May 2017.

    You should also add any important instructions, so for instance....existing oak gate posts to be retained and protected throughout the works.

    What you are trying to do is give a written instruction which ties in with the quotation by giving the date and amount and also ties in any specific details that you want to highlight to avoid any ambiguity or later misunderstanding. It is surprising how things start to get forgotten or people have different interpretations or recollections of what was discussed and agreed if there isn't a clear written record.
    • JBean
    • By JBean 11th Jun 17, 8:41 PM
    • 3 Posts
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    JBean
    • #3
    • 11th Jun 17, 8:41 PM
    • #3
    • 11th Jun 17, 8:41 PM
    Thank you for replying. Not being used to dealing with traders, it seems like getting a quotation is not as simple as it sounds. Thanks again.
    • Annie1960
    • By Annie1960 19th Jun 17, 2:33 PM
    • 2,655 Posts
    • 1,485 Thanks
    Annie1960
    • #4
    • 19th Jun 17, 2:33 PM
    • #4
    • 19th Jun 17, 2:33 PM
    This is shocking.

    There are indeed rules about VAT invoices, and you are correct to suppose they need to have a unique identification number. See HMRC website here:

    https://www.gov.uk/invoicing-and-taking-payment-from-customers/invoices-what-they-must-include

    Otherwise, as you say, anyone could invent an invoice after the event and put what they like on it.

    When you say you tried to take it to the small claims court, what do you mean by this? Did you actually take it and get a hearing? Or were you put off by his paperwork?

    If you have not taken it to court, then you should consider doing so, and submit the HMRC rules on numbering invoices as part of your evidence.

    If you did actually take it to court and he won, then I don't know what the judge was thinking. Can you appeal it?

    Do you have your own paperwork, emails or text messages showing his quotes or anything?

    Another line to pursue is to check whether he is actually VAT registered. Do you have his registration number? It's easy to check here:

    http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/vies/

    If he is not VAT registered, you could report him to HMRC:

    https://www.gov.uk/report-vat-fraud
    • JBean
    • By JBean 27th Jun 17, 9:07 PM
    • 3 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    JBean
    • #5
    • 27th Jun 17, 9:07 PM
    • #5
    • 27th Jun 17, 9:07 PM
    Annie
    Thank you for your response and apologies for coming back so late; I had given up hope of anyone else responding and hadn't checked back in a while.

    Yes, we did take it to Small Claims Court and not only did we lose our claim but he had made a counterclaim and was awarded it. It was very hard to stomach as he had lied conitinually to us at the time and his lies went to a whole new level in court, including producing the false invoices and waving one of them at me, saying 'you know I gave this to you', all the while saying that the bible was in front of him. It was quite a performance. We were just stunned by all the lies but unfortunately, it was his word against ours, we simply had no proof. The judge was very hostile to us from the start, I think because I had included so much documentation, which clearly irritated her. Also, he had a solicitor so it was me against an experienced solicitor; we didn't stand a chance. The judge simply took the view that he had been at the property and did a certain amount of work, rather than whether or not it was necessary. She had clearly not listened to a telephone call with him that I had recorded, which we believe strongly indicated at least two of the lies he was telling in court, including the claim to have given us additional invoices. So not only did he commit perjury, he was rewarded for it. He is VAT registered and his solicitor presented him as a professional businessman of 30 years' experience. Unfortunately, it wasn't until afterwards that I learned invoices should have a unique reference number and the judge didn't pick up on this either. There is no appeal over a small claims case, except if it is on a point of law.

    To add insult to injury, we then had to remove a negative online review I had posted, because he threatened legal action for defamation. So, I'm trying to draft another review that we can prove as truth. I see that HMRC says invoices 'must' have a unique ref no, but I'm not sure if this means it's illegal not to include a number. I need to ensure that I can use that word in a review, so I'm now seeking legal advice, to keep ourselves right. The cost will be worth it to warn others about him.

    I did try to find out if we can report him for not numbering invoices, but the HMRC doesn't say anything about this and I haven't been able to find out anything definitively online. Would you know if and how it can be reported to HMRC?

    The other thing is that he refused to provide a receipt for the initial deposit we paid him at the time and we also haven't received a receipt for the additional money we had to pay because of the court decision. I would be very interested to know if these comply with HMRC requirements also. Would you know if we are entitled to a receipt? Again, I haven't been able to find out anything online.

    It has been a very unpleasant and expensive lesson for us. He behaved so self-righteously in the court while lying continually under the judge's nose and was very quick to threaten us with legal action if we didn't remove our review. But hopefully, we will get some sense of justice in the end by being able to post an online review that exposes at least some of his practices.

    Thanks very much again for the response and any further advice you can give would be greatly appreciated.
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