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I posted a parcel recently using a parcel comparison service – having carefully measured and weighed it prior to purchasing the appropriate postage rate (£30.40). The firm are now claiming that the width of the parcel was incorrect (they say it was audited by UPS) and they are demanding an additional £123 payment. I have responded electronically disputing this, and have provided the firm with an image showing the original parcel (taken to protect against any damage in transit issues) and comparison photos showing the same area of floor with the disputed dimensions marked on it. The firm has provided no evidence that the parcel measurements were different. I checked reviews of the firm and found a large number highlighting what appears to be a widespread overcharging scam. I have contacted Action Fraud about this but am yet to get a reply. In the meantime, the firm continue to demand £123. What else can I do?

This is increasingly happening and, whilst there are many reputable firms out there, it sounds like you have been unfortunate and chosen one that’s less scrupulous.

Firstly, you need to ensure that can’t deduct money from your account – do they have any of your card details? If so, contact your bank for advice on how to prevent any payments coming out of your account.

It sounds like you’ve done all you can in terms of providing evidence but it would be worth emailing them again to say that you dispute the claim and will vigorously defend any court action – and will use your previous exchanges to show any court that they have not been able to provide any evidence of liability.

They will either issue a letter before action (i.e. a letter stating “if you do not pay this amount within 10 days we will initiate court proceedings” or words to that effect) or drop it.  These are their only 2 options at the moment – they cannot start court action without a letter before action.  They may continue to contact you asking for payment – you should respond by referring them to your earlier email.

If they make a claim to a small claims court then they will need to evidence that you owed the money, i.e. by showing that you had made a mistake.  You can show any court your evidence, the emails where you have repeatedly asked for this evidence and the other poor reviews (where it looks like they have done the same thing to others).

What if they do take it to court?

In some cases, the judge thinks it’s not worth having a hearing. This might be because you or the person you’re disagreeing with (the claimant) doesn’t have a strong case or the court thinks it can deal with your claim without a hearing and all sides agree.

But, if it goes ahead:

  • The court will send you the date of the hearing and instructions on what you need to do. You’ll get at least 21 days’ notice of the date of the hearing.
  • The court will write to you saying what you need to do and when. The instructions in the letter or form are called ‘directions’. If you don’t follow these instructions you might have to pay extra costs.
  • You’ll be asked to send copies of documents to the court and the defendant. You can only send documents to the defendant by email or fax if the other side agrees you can – ask them before you send anything. It’s also a good idea to send your documents by recorded delivery and keep a copy of the proof of postage.
  • When you get the defendant’s evidence, go through it and make notes on where you disagree with what they’re saying. If you can find any evidence to prove that what they’re saying is wrong, send a copy of that evidence to them and to the court.
  • Before attending court you should put in date order the originals of your evidence to take to court, make notes of the key points if you think that will help you remember them, tell the court if you need an interpreter AND check with the court if you need help because of a disability
  • Make sure you are at court on time. The judge could delay or dismiss your claim and you might have to pay costs – like the other side’s expenses. If you’re running late, telephone the court to let them know.
  • Check you have all the original versions of your evidence with you in court.
  • Reread your response form and witness statement (if you wrote one) to help you remember all the points you want to raise.
  • The judge will have read all the evidence beforehand. They might ask you and the claimant to summarise your case and also ask you both questions. Or they could consider each point of disagreement and ask each of you about it in turn. Make notes of anything the claimant says which you think is wrong.