My name is Gill Draper.
Me and my partner own a pub in Cambridgeshire. On the 23rd of November 2006 we asked for a rep from rta to come to see us, we had flown in from Spain as the people renting the pub wanted to come out so we decided to sell it.The salesman arrived and the first thing he said was I need an upfront fee. We said we can,t give you anything so he said he would up the withdrawel to £6000 + vat. We did ask him what this involved and he said as long as you do a year you don,t pay the withdrawel fee. The money is just to cover there costs.I myself initialed the changes on the contract but my partner didn,t. I think this is why they only took me to court. They valued our pub at £470,000 which we thought was excessive it is wet sales only it has a three bedroom apartment upstairs and a beer garden and car park.We reckon it was £100,000 to much, we had one viewing in the twelve months and they had to get our number from Bt because rta didn,t send them any details so they stopped asking and got the number themselves. After that we had no more phone calls so in October 2007 we sent a registered letter informing them that as from the 23rd of November we no longer required them to advertise our property. They sent us a letter asking for £6000 + vat about a month later which we ignored because the rep told us if you do twelve months you don,t pay. They then sent us another saying they had passed our debt onto a debt collector who sent us a letter asking for £7400, which we ignored. In January 2008 rta rang us and said they had a Mr Johnson who wanted to look round the pub. I told them that he couldn,t because we were no longer on there books, the girl told me yes you are as you havent paid the withdrawel fee. I told her I wasn,t paying because of what the rep said and she said she would contact there legal department, so I said carry on. We then received about a month later a bill for £20,000 + vat, because we had stopped them earning there commision. When I was back in England I contacted our solicitor who said he had to read the contract four times before he understood it and that we shouldn,t have signed it. Then rta decided to take us to court in the small claims which is no more than £5000. The first hearing had to be adjourned in front of Judge Farquot because our solicitor forgot to tell us we had to be there and we were in Spain. Rta tried to claim £1000 expenses which the judge said was excessive and awarded them £200.
We went back to court the 16th of September in front of judge Dak at Huntingdon county court, when we won using the 1999 consumer protection act as a defence. They appealed and on the 28th of October we went Peterborough county court in front of judge De Mille,we won and were only awarded £80 costs for one flight for me from Spain. I have now received the letter with the cheque from them and have framed it. We have suffered for three years with this and now its time for other people to use our defence and make them pay. I will do everything I can to help other people to take them to court, I have already had many people contact me for information.
Myself and my partner Mr Crane, flew in from Spain the previous day. On the afternoon of the 16th of September 2009 we arrived in good time at Huntingdon County court,after being security checked we went into the building. Mr Steve Patterson was already there, (he was the representative from RTA that came to take the details of the pub we owned)
The tried to make eye contact but I was having none of it.
Waiting for our barrister who we had not met before, because he had been sent as a replacement to our solicitor who was ill. We kept looking for him to arrive.
Before this happened a large man with glasses came in, now I had never met Ceri Edwards but I said to Mr Crane “I bet thats Ceri Edwards he looks like one of O Reillys men” and I was right as he immediately went over to Steve Patterson and shook his hand. After a few minutes he walked over to us and said “Mr Draper”? I replied “No Mrs Draper”, he said ” I,m Ceri Edwards” I said “Yes I know who you are” He then scuttled back to his seat as I was a little bit sharp with him.
Our barrister arrived and we went to a private room where he told us that we were going to use the 1999 Consumer Protection Act as our defence. We were then called into court,sitting behind the bench was Judge Dak, He opened the hearing Mr Edwards stood up to say his piece.
First of all he told he judge he was a Director of RTA, I knew this was untrue as I had already downloaded from the Companies House website the list of directors of RTA and he wasn,t listed.
I attracted the attention of my barrister Mr Tim Williams and handed him the list. He said if he got a chance to get him in the dock he would quiz him over it. Anyway after Mr Edwards had told the judge that I was not a consumer and not a natural person, he sat down.
My barrister stood up and pointed out that I was a consumer because I wasn’t in the business of buying and selling pubs like RTA are. Also that I was buying a service from rta who, when they sold my pub, would get their commission.
The judge listened to both sides of the argument and gave his own 8 points as to why I was a consumer and also a natural person. Giving the example that if he took his car to a car dealer to sell and that dealer sold it that didn’t make him a dealer as the car dealer would be paid a commission for selling the car, making him a consumer for buying a service.
Similar to me buying RTA service to sell my pub. He then asked me if I intended to buy another pub if I sold this one. My barrister answered that no I wasn’t buying another pub.
The Judge then awarded me the case. Mr Edwards then stood up and asked for the right to appeal, the Judge said he could appeal but must do it within 28 days. We then thanked the Judge and left the room.
At the top of the stairs Mr Edwards turned to us and said “We will always accept an offer” and I said “We just won”. Him and Mr Patterson then left.
We went into a private room with our barrister where he said that they may appeal. I told him we shall come to the appeal.
On the 28th of October I again flew in from Spain and went to Peterborough County Court. Mr Crane couldn’t come.
I waited for my barrister to arrive and we went into court in front of Judge De Mille. After going through the previous evidence, the Judge agreed with all of Judge Daks comments from the case before and still awarded me the case. He also awarded expenses of £80 for my flight from Spain.
I must say that I was over the moon with the verdict, but even if it had gone the other way there is no way that I would have paid RTA a shilling.
I left the court, said thank you to my barrister, and swore that I would make it hard work for RTA to con anyone else.
After three years of heartache with this company it is now my turn to give them some heartache. They have already changed their contract – it’s got two sides to it now that you wouldn’t notice if it was still attached to the pad. You sign the front and unless it was pointed out to you, you wouldn’t notice the reverse where they have put that you can’t speak or complain about them to anybody. What’s that? You’re not allowed freedom of speech now?? They had best read the law books!
My Thanks to Andrew Penman, for setting up the complaints blog on the Daily Mirror website. If only I had seen this before, I wouldn’t have signed with them. This has given me the opportunity to help set up this website to warn others of this company.
Gill Draper June 2010