Need advice - small claims or 21 day notice

I am confused about which is the best approach that will help me get my money back as I am getting conflicting views. To try and keep it a brief back story, in early July we were getting quotes for new windows/doors and a recommended supplier came and quoted. Had an excellent review history and was personally recommended  so we accepted and duly transferred £3290 as a 50% deposit (bank transfer TSB) and agreed an install date when we got back from holiday late August. When we landed, we checked to see if we were still in their schedule only to be told that due to fitter illness and bad weather, they were behind a week or so. ''no problem'' we said and scheduled a new install date two weeks later. This time was a no show and the MD went 'off grid' and would not respond to emails, texts, phone calls or voicemails for days. Eventually he made contact blaming a vehicle issue but a new date was set and the same thing happened. it also happened once more after this, with the MD going off grid for days before making contact and then finally not responding at all. I contacted Trading standards, who auto directed me to CAB. They were helpful and sent me a breach of contract template, which I completed and sent recorded delivery ( I have POD) He never responded within the 14 days or at all until last week when I received a text. it stated he was temporarily closing the business due to 'family issues' and his accountant would process my refund within 3-5 days. As you can guess this has not happened and I am at my wits end and the financial strain has really affected my wife's health. We simply cannot afford to lose this money or employ another company to come and do the job. I have been advised to do a HMRC 21 days notice letter but also advised to go to small claims but I am unsure of which is the best way to actually get something back.
It is worth noting, that this company is still trading and out and about locally actually fitting doors etc as I see their Facebook feeds
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  • Aylesbury_Duck
    Aylesbury_Duck Posts: 13,796
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    Go to small claims.  If the letter you sent was a Letter Before Action, giving 14 days to respond and they haven't sorted it, you need to commence court action, otherwise they'll realise you're bluffing.
  • sheramber
    sheramber Posts: 18,637
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    I have been advised to do a HMRC 21 days notice letter

    Who advised to do that?   
  • Okell
    Okell Posts: 612
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    edited 19 October 2023 at 9:06AM
    Gix said:
    ... They were helpful and sent me a breach of contract template, which I completed and sent recorded delivery ( I have POD) He never responded within the 14 days or at all until last week when I received a text...
    Was this headed "Letter Before Action" or "Letter Before Claim"?  (For the avoidance of doubt, these are different names for the same thing)

    Gix said:
    ... I have been advised to do a HMRC 21 days notice letter but also advised to go to small claims but I am unsure of which is the best way to actually get something back...
    As per @sheramber who advised you and what is one?  Do you mean a Letter Before Claim?

    As @Aylesbury_Duck has already said, if the CAB template was a Letter Before Claim giving the supplier 14 days to pay up or you will take legal action, then if they haven't paid up and you don't sue them they have successfully called your bluff.  If it was a Letter Before Claim you need to follow it up with action.

    I don't know what your HMRC letter is, but if it's a Letter Before Claim it isn't an alternative to suing your supplier.  It's a step you need to take before suing them.

    [Edit:  Unless you have misunderstood what CAB told you, they really should have explained all this better to you]
  • Gix
    Gix Posts: 7
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    sheramber said:
    I have been advised to do a HMRC 21 days notice letter

    Who advised to do that?   
    It was actually a neighbour. She said that it is a route she was advised to do a few years ago and she had her money returned within the time period - admittedly this is not professional advice
  • Gix
    Gix Posts: 7
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    Alderbank said:
    I don't know what your HMRC letter is, but if it's a Letter Before Claim it isn't an alternative to suing your supplier.  It's a step you need to take before suing them.

    It is much, much more than that. The HMRC 21 day notice is a threat to bankrupt them.

    It is a statutory demand for them to pay what is owed in 21 days or you will start proceedings for bankruptcy.
    It is a very serious threat, the nuclear option really. Don't expect any co-operation from the debtor. The gloves are off.
    It will cost you in legal charges but you might have the satisfaction of forcing them to sell their house to pay you.

    I would not use it. I would not even threaten to use it.
    Good advice, thank you.
    My understanding though, is that if I pay to have the statutory demand served (around £80) he then eithers pays or I can wind up his company or bankrupt him. I don't think this will help as it just means he then won't have means to return my money. I feel as though someone who operates like this probably doesn't 'officially' own his house as it will be in his partners name or similar.
    Sorry this is all new to me, has a massive financial impact on me and my family and I am feeling like I have my hands tied behind my back
  • Gix
    Gix Posts: 7
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    Ok, bit of an update on this and apologies in advance for any confusion.
    When I initially spoke with CAB they sent me a template letter and instructed me to send recorded delivery, which I did. They also said that if he did not respond within the 14 days to call them back and they will then allocate to Trading Standards. I have just called them up and explained that this guy has not responded and she then told me she was sending me a template 'Letter before Action' to fill in and send. When I questioned this she told me that the first template I was sent was a 'breach of contract' letter giving him a response time to either pay back the deposit or come and do the contracted work. I then explained that I was told I would be referred to TS if he hadn't responded to the first letter and when she reread her notes she said '' oh yes, sorry, i missed that bit'' She then said she was referring to TS and to not send the letter before action until after TS have made contact. She said that would be within 5 working days
  • eskbanker
    eskbanker Posts: 29,908
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    Not sure why CAB are apparently suggesting or implying that Trading Standards will intervene on your behalf, as their remit doesn't include this:

    If you think a business has broken the law or acted unfairly, you can report them to Trading Standards.

    Trading Standards use the information you give them to investigate unfair trading and illegal business activity, like rogue traders and scams.

    Trading Standards can take businesses to court or stop them operating, but they won’t help you fix your problem - for example, they can’t help you get a refund.

    https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/get-more-help/report-to-trading-standards/
  • Gix
    Gix Posts: 7
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    eskbanker said:
    Not sure why CAB are apparently suggesting or implying that Trading Standards will intervene on your behalf, as their remit doesn't include this:

    If you think a business has broken the law or acted unfairly, you can report them to Trading Standards.

    Trading Standards use the information you give them to investigate unfair trading and illegal business activity, like rogue traders and scams.

    Trading Standards can take businesses to court or stop them operating, but they won’t help you fix your problem - for example, they can’t help you get a refund.


    Well that's not good news, but thanks for the info.
    Would it be  wise to proceed with the letter before action or wait until contacted by TS ?
    I am just trying to minimise any potentially lengthy delays
  • eskbanker
    eskbanker Posts: 29,908
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    Gix said:
    eskbanker said:
    Not sure why CAB are apparently suggesting or implying that Trading Standards will intervene on your behalf, as their remit doesn't include this:

    If you think a business has broken the law or acted unfairly, you can report them to Trading Standards.

    Trading Standards use the information you give them to investigate unfair trading and illegal business activity, like rogue traders and scams.

    Trading Standards can take businesses to court or stop them operating, but they won’t help you fix your problem - for example, they can’t help you get a refund.

    Well that's not good news, but thanks for the info.
    Would it be  wise to proceed with the letter before action or wait until contacted by TS ?
    I am just trying to minimise any potentially lengthy delays
    I'd go back to CAB and seek clarification on exactly what they see TS contributing to your specific circumstances, given the above-quoted information on their own site.
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