Yesterday, I unfortunately found myself in Guildford County Courts.
This was because a former valued customer of six years had refused to pay the final £1800 of their account with us. Not because they disagreed with any of the invoices that made up that £1800. But because they had become increasingly convinced over the last year or two that Taylor Commercial Repairs Ltd had been, in their words, “Consistently ripping us off” in respect of our mark up on parts prices.
According to them we had been adding 100’s of % onto every part we had ever sold them. More concerning to me was that they were making this view known to others with the potential to do harm to the good name that we at Taylor Commercials do so much to create for ourselves.
Despite doing everything I could over almost a year, to show my former customer that my markups had been well within reason. (This included sending them a spreadsheet of every part I had ever sold them over £50, with my suppliers prices and the prices that they had paid. Which showed a generously low mark up.)
However, my customer refused to believe anything other than what they thought to be true and after several long ‘discussions’ over the phone, it became apparent that the only way I could receive payment and to prove that I had not been ripping them off, was to take them to court.
This was yesterday, and despite having both been given several months notice to prepare, my former customer was unable to produce a shred of evidence to support their verbal claims. I on the other hand had spent many hours taking copies of my supplier invoices going back over 6 years showing the prices I had been charged, clipped together with the invoices to my customer showing the prices that they had been charged. Thus making it clear for all (and especially the judge) to see that we had all along been charging a generously low markup. Sometimes too low in my opinion!
I really didn’t have to do very much in court, as the judge almost argued my case for me, faced as she was with a big bundle of evidence from myself, and none from the defendants. Even so, we were there for almost an hour with the defendants not budging from their view despite the evidence in front of them. Which they had also received from me 2 months before hand as per court directions.
Judgement was found in our favour for the original £1800. Plus several hundred pounds of costs that I had incurred bringing the case to court.
Although obviously delighted that we have won. (Not that I had ever doubted that we would) I am saddened that the defendants seem to believe that a huge miscarriage of justice has taken place, that I somehow won on a technicality. They left the court very angry and bitter, even issuing a few insults and threats of violence for good measure. I believe that they may want to take this further. Ignoring the fact that this will take time and money for me to deal with, I am actually more worried that they could end up with some very expensive legal bills to pay, with the same outcome at the end of it.
This was never about the relatively small amount of money that we were owed. I pushed this all the way mostly because of the constant accusations that we were a company that would happily rip off our customers. This has never and will never be the case. We go to a great deal of time and effort to source competitively priced quality parts and pass these onto our customers for a fair and competitive price. We build long term relationships with our customers and would never look to harm this by making a ‘quick buck’ and I was prepared to go to court to prove this. In that respect I hope we have been successful.