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Callout Fee Refund Policy

I've just paid a call out fee for an emergency service being of urgent repairs and maintenance, is this refundable by law?

Before taking action in regards to a callout fee, you've got to determine if you’re in the right because some companies will take the moral ground and some will act within the law.

This article will explain your rights as explained in law and the experience that EPHG Limited once had when making a visit to the Lancashire Civil Court.

Just below are some common questions similar to this article that you may find useful before reading about our experience in court where a client tried to retrieve his callout fee back.

  • If a company doesn’t explain the terms over the phone, am I still obligated to accept them?
  • There was no VAT mentioned, can a trader charge VAT if they don't mention the VAT?
  • If a consumer finds the traders number from a third party, does this mean the consumer is subject to the terms?
  • If the consumer finds the trader online and makes an off-premises call, what is the traders obligation to the contract between the consumer and the trader?
  • Can the consumer consider a non emergency call out as urgent repairs and maintenance?
  • Once the consumer pays a non-refundable deposit and cancels immediately, will the consumer be entitled to a refund?
  • If the consumer isn't entitled to a refund, can a gesture of good will be offered?
  • Can I request a cancellation of service document?
  • Can I cancel immediately from the time of booking my emergency call out being of urgent repairs or maintenance?

If a company doesn’t explain the terms over the phone, am I still obligated to accept them

It's always curtesy to explain the very basic terms being the rates and however quickly an engineer could get over to the premises over the phone, however, from time to time it could be that the rates are not heard correctly and even though the obligations of the trader has been fulfilled, the client could feel disappointed if they didn’t hear the rates correctly which it is very important that the trader always makes the information available to the consumer.

It is therefore unreasonable by law to expect the trader to give the terms in the way the consumer hears them over the phone and them terms standing.

The consumers law is very clear in the way the law implies that if the terms are mentioned but not heard and information is made available, that the consumer is then subject to the terms, however, there may be an amount in the consumers law subject to the consumer rights act 2013 that the trader can't charge over a certain cost.

There was no VAT mentioned, can a trader charge VAT if they don't mention the VAT

A reputable company should always mention VAT, and every so often, it seems the VAT can be explained once, twice or even more and our clients still doesn't understand why we've charged VAT, however, if the VAT is in the price plan, according to consumer law, as long as the information is available, the VAT should also be included and therefore the consumer has no entitlement to the VAT being refunded.

This should not put you off asking for the VAT amount back as some companies may offer this in good faith that you ignored the rates and a gesture of good will could be offered as long as the company can see that you legitimately wasn’t aware of them, however, this is likely to be under the discretion of the business you're dealing with.

If a consumer finds the trader's number from a third party, does this mean the consumer is subject to the terms

From time to time, if a consumer finds your details from a third party, then it's the third party that should be responsible for this if this is part of the third parties service, however, this can sometimes be hard to prove and can be subject to the consumer rights.

It can also be said that if you make the business aware that you got the details from a third party, it is then the responsibility that the business you are using provides you with the relevant information of the terms, however, if a business denies knowing that the consumer came from a third party, the responsibility then goes back to the consumer.

If the consumer finds the trader online and makes an off-premises call, what is the traders obligation to the contract between the consumer and the trader.

If the consumer finds the trader's details online and makes an off-premises call, then the consumer is subject to the terms within the content given online and where information is available, the consumer is then liable for the content as long as the information is available subject to the consumer law.

Can the consumer consider a non emergency call out as urgent repairs and maintenance

As an emergency service company specialising in urgent repairs and maintenance doing a non-emergency within 14 days, the consumer can expect the repair and maintanence to be of urgent nature. This then would mean that any non emergency work would be classed as urgent maintenance if the work is to be required within the 14 days cooling off period.

Once the consumer pays a non-refundable deposit and cancels immediately, will the consumer be entitled to a refund

If a consumer pays a non-refundable deposit then the basic answer to this is no as long as the terms given fulls within the consumer law. If the non-refundable deposit was paid for general work for non-urgent repairs or maintenance, then the customer should be subject to a 14 day cooling off period unless a contract is agreed otherwise.

According to the consumer law, the consumer should receive confirmation when making payment knowing what the consumer has paid for as evidence for the type of booking, this could be by email or by text. The consumer doesn’t have to read the email or text but just knowing that the text message or email is there giving them the chance to read the email or text message is known as the information being available.

When making a booking with our company and cancelling immediately is considered as making a payment and being on the phone cancelling at the same time or if you put the phone down and call straight back given no chance for you to do anything else, then this would be classed as cancelling immediately.

If you’ve made a booking and you’ve done something else such as making other phone calls or gone to the problem of what you required an emergency engineer out for and find you no longer have an issue then calling back, according to many dictionaries, this is not classed as immediately.

If you’re going to cancel our service immediately giving us the chance to cancel the transaction on our system before it goes through, it is likely we can also stop the process of our company receiving the deposit which helps us to stop the complete process of the work we have to do for you in organising a contractor.

If the consumer isn't entitled to a refund, can a gesture of good will be offered

A good will gesture can be offered if the consumer is not entitled to a refund and it's generally considered when the fee paid could be harsh. If you’re not entitle to any refunds, it is always worth asking for a good will gesture as each case can be different and if a company considers the fee's paid a little harsh, then a good will gesture could be made.

Can I request a cancellation of service document

With many companies, all terms including cancellations is best being within the general terms for the consumer to search, however, many consumers don’t know there own rights and therefore it's good practise for companies to be able to have a cancellation policy document if this was to help the consumer understand much more.

With our company, we could offer a document of cancellation if you asked the GDPR officer directly by sending an email over to martin@ephg.limited as long as you’re a client of EPHG Limited.

Our experience with a previous client

Our client contacted our company at about 17:30 on the 8/2/2019 requested an emergency electrician using our emergency service asking if someone would come out tonight.

Our company offered to get a client out straight away and within 2 hours and then explained the rates being £95 for the hour plus a £69 callout fee excluding VAT.

The reason for our service was that the lights and the sockets downstairs had gone out.

The terms of our service was that we take a non-refundable deposit which are clear on the website.

Once a booking is made, we then send confirmation over to our client's by text message and as long as we have the correct mobile number or email address, the information is sent to one or more of the destinations preferably the mobile. In this case we sent a text message and our client cancelled at 18:02 being 32-minutes later by text message.

Before our client confirmed the cancellation, we reminded our client of our terms by text message of the call-out fee being non-refundable just incase they would like to change there mind and still use the service.

Our client made verbal contact a few minutes later after confirming the cancellation by text asking when he would receive his money back and the response was that the deposit is non-refundable which our client didn’t like the answer too.

The client then said that if we don’t refund the money then he will take us to court, so we gave our client the email address martin@ephg.limited to make an official complaint which our client decide not to take up and went directly via court proceedings.

That same night, the GDPR officer Martin Smith received an email from the small county claims due to our client making a claim against EPHG Limited.

For this reason, we then decided to defend the claim giving our client via the small claims court the chance to understand the law and for our company to exercise our rights.

As it was our first court case defending our rights, deep down I was looking forward to learning if our rights would stand up in court or was the court going to go in the favour of the claimant.

Claimant Vs Defendant

On the 1st April 2019 or there about’s, the claimant and the defendant received a letter giving the court dates on 25th June 2019 at 10am at the County Court at Lancaster where the claimant would bring his case forward and the defendant will defend there actions.

The claimants case was that they visited the EPHG Limited website and just called the phone number and decided not to read the terms.

It was put forward by EPHG Limited that according to the law, the information has to be put available and not hidden from our client for our terms to stand their grounds.

Our client then explained the rates were not made clear being that the VAT wasn't explained even though the rates are available on the website and a confirmation text was sent after the booking took place.

We also explained upon our client wanting to cancel, we sent them a reminder that upon making a cancellation, our client will lose their non-refundable deposit, however, our client still confirmed they would like to cancel.

The judge then asked the claimant that upon what law does he feel that he should be given the money back and also asked the defendant on what law do we feel that we are in our rights to keep the money.

The defendant explaining about the consumer rights states that the consumer can not make a cancellation which is contradictory to the EPHG Limited that say our clients can make the cancellation.

I must admit that I lost the claimant a little here as I wasn’t given the time to understand what the claimant was on about and to be honest, I was curious to know if I did something wrong.

I then had to explain to the judge on what path of the law did I feel the rights to keep the money before the claimant was given the rights to question our claim.

I explained that according to the consumer rights act 2013 for an off-premises contractor part 2 'Information Requirements' chapter 2 'Provision of information' clause 10 'Information to be provided before making an off-premises contract' meant that our client visit a website where the information was available to make our client aware of the terms and by our client using this page, the client was subject to the information provided which included the hyperlinks.

It was then put forward that our terms stated 'non-refundable deposit' which is also backed up on Part 3 'Rights to cancel' clause 28 'Limits of application: circumstance excluding cancellations clause (1)(e) 'contract where the consumer has specifically requested a visit from the trader for the purpose of carrying out urgent repairs or maintenance' which meant that by our client cancelling our service that had already been performed, our client had lost his rights to the money back.

Our client then said in his defence that he didn’t think that was applicable to him due to our terms being confusing so then the judge called time for him to go away and to decide the outcome where the claimant and the defendant had to wait outside.

There was much more to this which the judge was getting to know about the client and how we operate our service.

After a nervous wait, the worry of our terms being able to stand up in court, it was then time for us to go back to court room and listen to the outcome.

The judge then turned on the recorded and explained what had gone on and had given his verdict that the case would be thrown out. This then meant that the defendant being EPHG Limited had won the case and the judge then explained that claimant being EPHG Limited can now claim costs from the claimant.

The judge then asked if the claimant had anything to say and I stood up and said, if our client asked for any type of good will, this would of been considered given the time frame that the cancellation was made and as I feel this has been a big learning curve for our company and was more than happy to attend court, I was therefore also happy this once to waiver any further costs to our client (The Claimant), at this point the judge stopped us there and said, you're more than welcome to discuss this with the claimant outside this court.

As both the claimant and the defendant left court, I offered to waiver the court costs and still offer a gesture of good will because I explained that if you did this to start with, I would of offered you this and as this would go great to helping further clients understand, I am more than happy to do this.

In all honesty, I don’t think the claimant expected this and said that there isn’t many people like you and he was more than happy now with the outcome now our client had more of an understanding.