SEPTEMBER 20, 2007
NO one likes a bill out of the blue, so you can picture how Peter and Sandra Hoyland felt to get a demand for £22,000 from a firm they hadn't dealt with for more than four years.
In 2002 they paid business estate agent RTA (Business Consultants) Ltd £750 to put their tea shop in Peterborough on the market.
But they received no offers and in March 2003 cancelled the contract by phone and, the Hoylands say, in writing.
They heard nothing more until this May when RTA sent a demand for £19,000, plus VAT.
The firm, based in Stockport, Greater Manchester, insists it never got the cancellation letter from the Hoylands and so continued to market their shop.
The couple, who sold privately in 2004, say they had no idea RTA was still representing them as it had not contacted them in the intervening years.
"If they believe they are representing a vendor do they never make contact with their client to discuss progress?" asked Mr Hoyland.
Faced with the prospect of being sued the couple have now paid £10,000, plus VAT, to settle out of court.
RTA director Paul O'Reilly told us the firm did "what we were instructed to do", adding that the settlement figure was "extremely generous".
He admits receiving a phone call in March 2003 from the Hoylands stating their intention to cancel the agreement, but says that RTA never got this in writing.
Of course, the Hoylands would have known that RTA was still (unsuccessfully) marketing their shop if it had kept in touch.
So we asked RTA what contact it had with the couple between the Hoylands' phone call cancelling the contract in 2003 and its bill this May.
Mr O'Reilly told us he had nothing to add to his earlier statement.