A HUDDERSFIELD businesswoman has urged people to steer clear of an “awful” company after she was stung with a £1,000 bill.
Representatives of Nottingham-based Britannia Law phoned Faye Hallas and offered to try to reduce the amount of business rates she pays on XTG Hair Salon in Byram Arcade.
She told the Examiner how the company took her expression of interest over the phone as a verbal contract.
Ms Hallas added that Britannia Law had demanded £500 and then more than £1,000 without providing any proof that they had tried to reduce her rates.
She said: “I was contacted back in November. They rang a couple of times saying that they could reduce the rates. With the recession, where you can cut costs, you’re going to try it.
“I said I don’t mind looking into it but definitely not if you were going to charge me more than the amount coming back.
“Apparently the conversation was recorded and this was a verbal agreement.
“They said ‘we will send you out lots of paperwork, if you don’t want to go ahead, send it back’.”
Ms Hallas, 30, of Shepley, was surprised to receive a bill from Britannia Law.
“A few weeks after that they sent me a bill for £500,” she said.
“I don’t mind them carrying out work for us but I didn’t realise they wanted money up front.
“I rang them and asked what they had done, we hadn’t received any money.
“My business partner rang the rates office and they said they hadn’t received anything, which we thought was a bit weird.
“I went away for three weeks on Christmas Day. While I was away we received some paperwork. They tried to make it look like a court letter saying I owed £1,049.
“I panicked – I thought I would have bad credit.
“I contacted Trading Standards and I also sent the company a letter asking for evidence of work they had carried out. I haven’t heard anything back.”
Ms Hallas added that Britannia Law was aggressive.
“There were a couple of horrible phone calls, being quite abusive to my staff and business partners,” she said.
“The company is horrible, they are just awful.”
Ms Hallas contacted Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman about the issue.
The Labour man told the Examiner he had received two other complaints about Britannia Law.
“Three people have contacted me about this,” he said. “It seems to me it’s an unacceptable way of doing business to promise them big savings.
“We’ve had a long history of this in relation to domestic rates but I haven’t heard of this one in Nottingham.
“It seems to me that they are using the same techniques – getting people to agree in a weak moment and saying ‘this is a legal contract’.
“I’ve contacted Trading Standards they are on to it. I want a thorough investigation into the company.”
West Yorkshire Trading Standards confirmed on April 10 that it had received a complaint about the company.
Britannia Law did not respond to the Examiner’s requests for a comment on this story.