Appealing my business rates - have I been scammed?

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26 May 2011
Neil Woods from
Snooker Fc

Hi I signed up with Higgins and Thomas last year to appeal my 2005 Business Rates.I was told that if the Valuation Office acknowledged the appeal then the result was almost guaranteed in my favour.The Acknowledgement came and I was told to pay the invoice of £423 which i did.The appeal failed and my Rates went up! i took a deep breath and vowed never again.

I have now received another invoice £480 from the Company appealing the 2010 rates.Apparently in the small print (which i have now just received) im signed up for 2005,2010,2015 and 2020.

The Company have sent me 2 invoices and yesterday I received my 1st aggressive phone call.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.Thanks

5

did they give you a cooling off time ,i think they miss sold ,contact cit advice

1

Hi Neil,

As with all of these types of dispute, the starting point is the wording of the contract. What might on the face of it seem unfair, may well be perfectly enforceable (particularly in a business to business relationship which, given they were dealing with your business rates, I am assuming is the case in your situation).

That said, you need not necessarily pay the new invoices both because the contract may not actually give rise to the liability demanded by their invoices and as, from a commercial perspective, they might not wish to pursue you if you make a fuss because of the cost/time involved.

These and other commercial disputes are what I specialise in, I am happy to have a chat (without charge) to see whether there is any wriggle room available to you on the contract and, although for the amount in dispute you would probably want to avoid spending money on solicitors if at all possible, I may be able to point your nose in the right direction on how to handle this situation.

Regards,

Barry Cullen

Commercial Solicitor
Dispute Resolution

ACUMEN BUSINESS LAW

08458 678 978

www.acumenbusinesslaw.co.uk

barry.cullen@acumenbusinesslaw.co.uk

2

Hi Neil,

I will just add another small point to those already made and suggest that you check the contract carefully now to make sure that you have cancelled it correctly for the 2015 and 2020 review. There should definitely be a cancellation clause in there and at least then you will have made sure that the issue remains confined to this one bill and can't rear it's head again.

Kind regards,

Jenny

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The Valuation Office acknowledge all appeals and this is no guarantee of the result: if Higgins and Thomas suggested that was a guarantee then that may have been a misrepresentation.

Furthermore before Higgins and Thomas submitted an appeal on your behalf they should have considered the chances of such action causing an increase and it may be that they have been negligent by not doing so.

Ratepayers are best to seek advice from Chartered Valuation Surveyors (members of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) with rating experience, there is a directory of such surveyors on the RICS site.

The RICS has established a relevant good practice guide.

0

Wow I have been scammed by a company like this but these guys take it to another level.

What about unfair contract terms. How can any company make a charge at the same time as your receiving the terms of the contract that you signed 5 years earlier and also what about the contract being fulfilled.

I would guess if you google the name and then forum you will find a few previous customers of there's that have been through what you are now going through and find out what there results were.

Remember one thing ITS A SCAM.

Best of luck

0

I've just had the misfortune of dealing (being ripped of by?) these numpties.

I only agreed to this, as they assured me that we would not have to pay until the VOA accepted the appeal, and that them doing so indicated we would be entitled to "at least 18%" reduction in our rates.

Although this was not written into any contract, their representative's words form a verbal contract, so technically I could demand a refund, but I cannot PROVE their salesman said this.

I have contacted them now on innumerable occasions, and spoke on two occasions to a Michael Kramer (if that's his real name) who told me that although we had a target date of Aug 15th (its now mid September) that "the system had not been updated". Subsequently when I rang him I could only get voice mail, so I left several messages for him to contact me with an update - no response. I have rung again several times this today and his answering service is now unavailable (wonder why?)

The other odd thing is that their main number is PERMANENTLY engaged unless out of hours, but having left a message I got no response. I have also sent 20 e-mails asking for a response, but still nothing.

If this company are a reputable/professional outfit as they try to make out on their oh-so-slick website, which is somewhat at odds to their service, why do they refuse to respond or update me in any way.

I have subsequently contacted the VOA who have informed me that Mr Kramer KNEW the situation BEFORE I spoke to him, as he'd requested a withdrawal of appeal form.

It seems to me this company habitually appeal rates bills "on your behalf" with either no idea whether they will be successful, or knowing full well they won't, but do so anyway to justify their fee. Then, when the VOA reply saying the rateable value is OK, they just accept this without any form of challenge or justification for the reduction.

Although these people are operating legally (just) they are certainly misleading people with their sales pitch, and can in no way justify many of their claims.

If anyone is approached by Higgins & Thomas, my advice is steer well clear, and save yourself £400!

1

Hi all,

Well i just had an interesting conversation with a very unprofessional sales girl from this company. It is actually the second time they have tried this scam on me in 2 years.

Firstly, if any company cold calls you offering to save you money in any way "be aware". If they were good at what they do, then they wouldn't have time for cold calling, we would all know about them and we would be contacting them lol.

2 years ago, i got these calls offering me the same service, 'we save you 25% which would be about £960 per year, back dated and every year for several years. The girl said there was a no win no fee basis, if they couldn't save me that then i pay nothing. sounds to good to be true ???, well it was lol. I asked for something to be sent in writing with what they were offering, just to be able to read. they said they don't send any paperwork out as this saves them money, so i asked for an email, which i got. There were two lines in the email that conflicted with what i was told over the phone, i waited for a call back the next day and i explained about the two lines that basically said i would loose some of the £395 +vat that it was going to cost me if they were unable to save me money. Long storey short.....she hung up on me haha.

Just had the same company again, an hour ago. Same sales pitch, same verbal, and the same attitude (that i was automatically going to let them go ahead and try to save me money). I explained to the girl that i had not given them any permission to go ahead with anything, i explained that they had contacted me 2 years ago offering the same scam, and i was told that there company had only been going for a year. This is untrue, i just found the email from 2 years ago lol, same company lol. I let her ramble on, until she put me through to another girl who was going to give me a 'password' ?. I let this second girl waffle on and ask the same questions as the first, i had to stop her because i was getting bored, so i asked her why it was that both her and the first girl both assumed that i was giving them the go-ahead to get me my rates reduced. the reply i got was "well normally Mr Woods, by the time it gets to me, you should have agreed to let us act for you ?". My reply was, "Why would i do that ?, i can do that myself and save me another £395 +vat", anybody want to guess what her reply was.....??

SHE HUNG UP ON ME haha, how very rude :)

Rule of thumb, always research any company that cold calls you offering to save you money. never agree to anything until you have read and fully understand every word, and make sure there is no paperwork missing 'to be sent at later date', read all small print. Then if it sounds and looks good, look around for there competitors, and see what they have to offer

Take care all.

0

28 Oct 2011
Ed May

They have done exactly the same to us. Do not get involved with them.

0

Hi - not meaning to gravedig here but may be useful information for anyone searching for Higgins and Thomas.

As of 20th January 2012 they are in administration and can't be contacted by phone, email or fax.

1

We signed up and paid £400 + vat in 2010, last heard from them November 2011, but theres a new company with very similar terms as higgins and thomas called I D B C just wandering if anyone has heard about them, we were told that we did not have to pay any money up front and now have recieved a bill from them, before they have done any work for us, we have questioned this and they suggested we could pay the money off on 2 instalements and also gave a reduction of 10% something not right about this company, any useful information would be great.

0

Hi all, i have read all your stories and replies, IDBC LTD, is the one on our back, please don't pay anyone, it is a scam. We have been sent fraud court papers we have been threatened with bailiffs at our business and home. We are being blackmailed at the minute, BUT, We will not give in until we see them behind bars. WATCH THIS SPACE. Anyone else had problems please please reply, remember IDBC LTD, FROM CASTLE DONNINGTON

1

I run a local newsagents in Manchester, I paid Higgins and Thomas over £500 for a service in which I was virtually guaranteed would return me thousand of pounds in the way of an un-claimed rebate. I am usually very sceptical about this sort of business, but the chap that came out to see me, presented me with so much information suggesting that a rebate was inevitable.

7 months down the line I received a letter through the post stating my case had been with drawn!!!!!

I couldn't believe it!!!

Of course I rang and complained but I was directed to the original contract I signed in which reductions "were never guaranteed"!!

I paid the money necessary to cancel the agreement and will not be using any other company again!! Can anybody suggest a way around this, as i still believe I am paying ridiculously high rates!

Regards

Mr Scarlett

0

My firm is not the only one that offers a genuine "no win no fee" service. Sadly there are still too many 'rating consultants' with black stetsons and horses (see, I wasn't libellous, I didn't say cowboys) to trap the unwary. The main things to note are: A correctly submitted rating appeal must be accepted - but that doesn't mean your rates will automatically decrease (or increase) You can usually only submit once against your 2010 rates - hence the importance of getting the right advisor Your rates can increase if an appeal is bungled A professional advisor will want to see your premises to consider the chances of success. He may drain your coffee supply but should charge no more until the appeal has been negotiated and agreed It may take up to a year for your advisor and the Valuation Office (who set RV's) to sort it all out Everyone - Get advice, ask for evidence that the advisor has had success before, and good luck!

1

Hi, I've just been stung by a firm called C+J from Manchester.

They verbally promised me several things both over the phone and in person by the 'very nice' qualified chartered surveyor that came to see me - these were:

I won't have to pay a penny until my rebate was guaranteed by VOA.

I would definately receive a rebate because my rent was significantly lower than the rate valuation

I would definately receive a rebate because I was being charged for a kitchen/staff area which should be '0' rated.

I would definately receive a rebate because my business rates went up in 2010 which should only have happened if I'd extended my premises.

All of the above are falshoods acording to the valuations office, unfortunately due to idiocy I signed a short contract as I was told that they needed to protect themselves against me using another firm half way through the process but at no point would I be asked to pay anything until my rebate was confirmed.

I then received a phone call a few days later to say that a surveyor would be coming to assess the property for the appeal and I would need to pay £720, that's when I started having doubts so I cancelled before the assessment was carried out but unfortunately they're charging me a cancellation fee of £320.

I can't understand how firms can be known to bare faced lie to you in order to get you to sign a contract, yet nothing gets done about it? I know I'm stupid for not reading the contract properly but I don't read too well and trusted the guy who came to see me.

0

If you were seen by a Chartered Surveyor he should have complied with the RICS Rating Appeals Guidance Note which is in its 3rd edition 2009. I'm a Chartered Surveyor with rating experience and I would not have promised you as you say you were promised and I agree with what the Valuation Office told you in that respect. Have you retained this chaps's card/ I can check for you whether he is a chartered surveyor, who is employer is, whether his employer is regulated by RICS and thus whether the firm has a complaints procedure. I haven't found a firm called C+J from Manchester.

0

Hi, thanks for your reply.

The full name of the company is C+R Surveyors, address is St. James Court, 30 Brown St. Manchester.

The email reads info at candrsurveyors.co.uk

The name on the card says Adrian Cohen M.S.A.P.P.Dlpthp.,fpc.C11 Senior Assessor.

I would be very surprised if the company has a viable complaints proceedure after the last phone call I received, the guy seemed to be quite enjoying himself as I congratulated them on a well executed scam.

0

The directors of C & R SURVEYORS LTD ST. JAMES'S COURT 30 BROWN STREET MANCHESTER ENGLAND M2 1DH TELEPHONE: 0161 211 4420 Company No. 07813378 are Mr David De-Vent and Mr Scott Boslen. Both were previously directors of DAVID SCOTT SURVEYORS LTD 23 NEW MOUNT STREET MANCHESTER ENGLAND M4 4DE Company No. 07657414 Neither C & R SURVEYORS LTD nor DAVID SCOTT SURVEYORS LTD are listed as being firms of Chartered Surveyors, see www.ricsfirms.com (which unfortunately is not well organised). I have also checked www.rics.org/uk/find-a-member Mr David De-Vent, Mr Scott Boslen and Mr Adrian Cohen are not listed as being Chartered Surveyors. If someone says they are a Chartered Surveyor they should have the letters FRICS or MRICS after their names and be listed on www.rics.org/uk/find-a-member. You can ask them for their membership number. Royal Institution of Charted Surveyors have recently introduced a Technical grade now ARICS. I do not recognise the “qualifications” M.S.A.P.P.Dlpthp.,fpc.C11. Any Chartered Surveyor offering Rating Consultancy Work should comply with the RICS Rating Appeals Guidance Note and the Rating Consultancy Code of Practice (also in its 3rd edition 2010) which has also been adopted by the Institute of Revenues, Rating and Valuation and Rating Surveyors’ Association. It may be illegal to “pass oneself” off as a Chartered Surveyor.

0

Hi, thanks for the info.

Hopefully it may help someone else with the good sense to start investigating before they sign a contract, as I now have £320 worth of 'idiot tax' to pay which should make for a great christmas.

0

  • have any of you come across another company called:-

GUARDIAN PROPERTY CORPORATION LTD  (GPS)   FLOOR 37.  1 CANADA SQUARE - CANARY WHARF - E14 5AA

we believe this to be a postal handling address for a business carryingout the same offers of work at a payment of £395.00 on reciept or an acknowledgement  from the VOI 
Is this another scammiing company anyone had delaings ??

2

23 Jan 2013
Neil Wood from
Woods Pies Ltd

yes watch this space

2

Re:

GUARDIAN PROPERTY CORPORATION LTD  (GPS)   FLOOR 37.  1 CANADA SQUARE - CANARY WHARF - E14 5AA

Ok... here's an update.... The above company operates out of a 'VIRTUAL'  office - that means they do not actually do anything in the building they use as an address on the 37th floor.  It is nothing other than a postal receiving address.. in other words - if you went to the building... and wanted to see anyone from this company they don;t exist other than by name alone

Canary Wharf  Management have nothing to do with the letting of Virtual offices.  The floor is leased to   Regus Serviced Offices - you can call them on 02890 396808  they will be very obstructive.

If you are consdering entering into any business / contractual agreement with this company I strongly recommend you do your home work..

You have been advised.

1

We are also being scammed by Guardian Property Corporation.  We have reported them to Trading Standards and urge as many people as possible to do the same

2

I have GPS trying to take me to court as they have me taped saying I agreed on the 22 Nov to do the rates, got the recorded delivery (my name not even spelled right) on the 24 Nov, I then sent a letter back on Monday 26th saying I did not want to do business with them and they have not stopped harrassing me since!

For starters they don't sign ANY letters. When I called the office the 'pretend' to lower the extra charges by talking to 'someone else' when clearly they arn't! They are RUDE, obnoxious and very unproffessional.

They never enclosed a terms and conditions letter/leaflet or emailed me one after 2 requests. They also never acknowledged my letter send 26th November to 37th floor - I wonder why!

I told them not to contact me again just 'take me to court' and they sent a very nasty demanding, threatening letter back with time frames on it AND called the shop harrassing my staff! They even asked for a mobile number but I told the staff not to give any information to them.

They messed with the wrong person as no court would accept there fake papers as they are as real as them on the 37th floor!  I am going to paly their game and say I want to pay cash and can I come meet you in person, see what they say to that!

PS they only have 1 email address for all the different names they have and they only record the verbal agreement call not the other ones saying you want nothing to do with them!

Anyone else had this problem?


The Strand Bakery 

2

I mean GPC and I found this if it helps anyone ........

GUARDIAN PROPERTY CORPORATION LTD
37th FLOOR
1 CANADA SQUARE
CANARY WHARF
LONDON
E14 5AA

This company is operating a BUSINESS RATES SCAM!!

if they contact you DO NOT PAY them anything no matter how aggressive they become.
report them to Trading Standards and 
http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report-a-fraud

1

31 Jan 2013
J Stirling from
J Stirling

GUARDIAN PROPERTY CORPORATION LTD
37th FLOOR
1 CANADA SQUARE
CANARY WHARF
LONDON
E14 5AA

They are actually based in Nottingham!

The above address is a Virtual Office rented from Regus

http://www.regus.co.uk/locations/virtual-office/london-37th-floor-canary-wharf

As stated above DO NOT PAY THEM ANYTHING, it will be unpleasant for a short time!  When they ring just hang up and let them leave messages on your answer phone, you will soon discover the same idiot leaving messages under different names!!! Gather as much evidence as you can and report them to Companies Investigation Branch, link below:

http://www.bis.gov.uk/insolvency/Companies/investigations-hotline

As well as  to  Trading Standards, HMRC (they invoice VAT but do not quote Vat Reg No.)

The more people who report it the sooner they will be stopped!

2

Ho ho ho... here we go again... 

http://www.thelawforum.co.uk/guardian-property-corporation-how-genuine-if-they-even-are

Copy and paste this link and read more.

Do you think the 'solicitor' is on the pay roll ?

1

GUARDIAN PROPERTY CORPORATION LTD

We have just had yet another call from them, this time using the name Carter (?).  We asked what the weather was like in Nottingham today.  He said he didn't know what we meant cos he was in Canary Wharf!!!!
We said they could take us to court if they wanted - we'll be there with 10 others -( I'm sure you all want to meet them face to face and see who they really are).  He instantly put the phone down  -  well that makes a refreshing change!
We have reported them to Trading Standards and HMRC VAT

3

We have reported them to Trading Standards, Watchdog and Action Fraud Team. Stay strong, ignore them as they are going down! Messed with the wrong people

2

If a proposal is served on the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) then they are likely to come and inspect the property. So if improvements have been done which the VOA are unaware of the proposal could trigger an increase in the Rateable Value rather than a reduction! 

For this reason a Rating Consultant should inspect the property to take a view on the VOA's valuation before serving a proposal. A Rating Consultant (and unfortunately it seems there are some) who serves a proposal before undertaking a survey could be negligent. 

0

I have done some business consultancy work for a company of chartered surveyors. They have a wealth of experience in appealing business rates all over England and Wales and have successfully appealed £200m in combined rateable values. Scammers like this do not help the industry in any way, shape or form.

It does make me upset because legitimate rating advisors work very hard to successfully and consistently succeed in appealing business rates for their clients. 

Good, honorable and trustworthy surveyors will offer a free property survey with no survey fees, no upfront charges, no deposits and no hidden costs. 

Quite simply if they fail to achieve a saving there is no fee.

If you would like any more details please do not hesitate to contact me - I would be more than happy to put you in touch with a reputable and proven surveyor.

Best regards

Phil 

0

13 Jan 2014
David Walters from
Tik Tok Ltd

hi andrew   have you or anyone else heard of rates and rental surveyors ltd.  they are trying to take me to court for not paying thier fees when i suggested to thgem that they are not legit    

4

Hi All I have just been contacted by The Rating Specialists Ltd, Manchester, asking for a fee of £795 plus VAT, along the same lines as written above, if I agree to sign up. They say they can save us 15% a year if we merge out two properties business rates. Has anyone heard of this company? Does anyone know where I can look them up without having to pay out any money? Replies much appreciated.

0

Hi jackie,keep well away from this firm. I have had dealings with this company in the last month, I told the rep from the word go that I wasn't interested but he kept insisting that he could save me money. I have dealt with companies like this many times before always saying no as I have been stung once before.in the end I said that I would make a decision if there was a case after it had been to the VOA,and stupidly signed the agreement form under quite a bit of pressure from him.when he returned with the good news that surprisingly there was a case I informed that I wasn't going to pursue it,in the meantime I had  found out that they were working for another shop in my centre and were not keeping up with what he had sold them, so I decided to wait an see how that went,he took this as I was cancelling the agreement an left my shop with the major hump.At no time did this rep say there was a cancellation fee involved,they are now chasing me for around £950 for the fee pointing out the small print in the contract,I totally resent paying this as I feel that he mis sold me this agreement an I'm not going to pay it. If there is anyone out there that can help me on this matter,I would appreciate it. Jackie avoid like the plague. 

1

Just conned by Rates and Rental surveyors LTD. £840 same way with no outcome... stay clear...

1

Can someone tell me if these are the same company,the rating specialists and rates and rental surveyors?
1

14 Jun 2014
Lynn Dinh from
Beauty Box

Please do not sign any contract with Rates and Rentals, London EC1V 4PW. Jurgen Schwarz is a compulsive liar, he came to my shop and had a meeting with me in Jan 2014, he said it was a "no win no fee" agreement and he was 100% sure that we had a winning case that is why he came and offered me this "too good to be true" opportunity, I thought if it was no win no fee then why not, little as I know after paying over 700 pounds, nobody would even bother me from Jan till May when they contacted me again saying with regrets the appeal failed and there was no agreement about the no win no fee and they just ignored my calls and my emails about the fee upfont I have paid.

although it was not a lot of money but my business is struggling and I could use this 700 pounds, here come along these scum bags trying to scam the last pennies you have and you thought they could help you to get back some money from the council. How can I report them so they stop scamming other businesses? These scum bags living on other people's sweat and blood need to be sued !!!!

1