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Contract cancellation letter lost in post

I recently sent a letter to cancel a contract for services which requires a 90 day notice period before the annual renewal date. If you fail to send it in time you have to pay for another 12 months.

The letter was lost in the post - their word against mine as I didn't send it registered post. Since I hadn't had a response I sent a second letter and fax asking for a response but this letter was later than the required 90 days notice. I still heard nothing.

Next I rang our "customer services rep" and she promised to deal with it. The next thing I get is an invoice in the post for the renewal. I rang straightaway and said I wouldn't be paying the invoice as we'd cancelled the contract. Now I have an e-mail stating that the MD has refused to cancel the contract because they didn't receive the first letter.

Where do I stand legally with this? Does anyone know my options on this?

We have used this company for at least 10 years and I cannot believe they are being so inflexible for what is in effect a contract worth less than £2k. We certainly don't treat our customers in this way.

Help.

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Was it stipulated in the contract the methodology of cancellation eg by recorded delivey. If you have complied with the requirement by sending a letter by ordinary post as you say it's your word against theirs. However a Court would look at the evidence available eg the computer timing of the letter in your system and then make a decision based on the evidence presented. Stick to your guns and refuse to pay. This advice is predicated by you striking a balance between the your time cost of defending it in a small claims court and paying a small amount money

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Thank you Bernard. Do you know how much a small claim defence would cost? Also, would the claim show up on our records if a customer or supplier researched our credit worthiness etc.

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Defence costs nothing in court costs but your lost time in court defending the claim This is a simple procedure and is handled by a judge in chambers. They are generally helpful but would expect you to have done your homework before hand. Sometime costs will be awarded against the defendant but this is generally because the judge feels you are wasting his time on a defence with no merit. I doubt this would happen in your case.

If you lost the case and paid within 14 days it will not show up on your credit records

 

The costs for the claimant are

Court issued small claim fees

Money claims for only £5,000 or less can be heard in the ‘small claims track’ of the county court.

Up to £300 claimed - £35£300.01 - £500 claimed - £50£500.01 - £1,000 claimed - £70£1,000.01 - £1,500 claimed - £80£1,500.01 - £3,000 claimed - £95£3,000.01 -  £5,000 claimed - £120Money Claim Online (MCOL) fees

Some court claims can be made online using the Ministry of Justice's secure website Money Claim Online (MCOL). 

You can only use Money Claim Online if your claim is for a fixed amount of less than £100,000.

Up to £300 claimed - £25£300.01 - £500 claimed - £35£500.01 - £1,000 claimed - £60£1,000.01 - £1,500 claimed - £70£1,500.01 - £3,000 claimed - £80£3,000.01 -  £5,000 claimed - £100

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Thank you again. I didn't realise it cost so little to make a claim. We have a very small number of customers who very rarely fail to pay in the long term and we tend to sort things out amicably. I've never had to chase someone through the smalls claims in the 18 years I've been an accountant and the 4 small businesses I've worked for. Building good relations with customers goes a very long way - pity my supplier hasn't learnt that lesson.

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One assumes this is a large software firm?

If it was me I would refuse to pay.  Its very unlikely they will take you to the small claims court, and if you can show you send the letter (which no doubt you can) then its up to them to prove you didn't. Ie its very hard for them to enforce the contract.

 

 

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Maybe ... they did receive it

Maybe they filed it in the bin, or like HMRC, their centralised postal admin is still sending the letter around various locations looking for the correct destination.

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I worked for 6 months at the NHS when I first started as a trainee accountant. The tactic employed then, if an employee didn't want to deal with something, was to find an empty desk where the person was on holiday and dump it there. I presume a letter could circulate the NHS in this manner for years. I was foolish enough to try and deal with any odd letters dumped on my desk, but then everyone started dumping everything on my desk. I could say I was naive but then I'd probably do the same thing now. I'm no angel but I always think of the person who sent the letter waiting for weeks and months with no response. Luckily it was the Finance dept. and not someone waiting for an operation.

 

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