The free trial offer from the National Guild of Removers and Storers seemed too good to be true, after they offered 72 year old Brian Clarke 400 free sales leads from a "leading estate agent" in Cornwall, if he signed up with no obligation to join full membership. In fact he was told by the guild’s salesman he could just walk away if he didn't like it.
Mr Clark then signed a contract with 3 pages of terms and conditions known as the Free Trial Offer "Rules of Membership". The cost of membership following the free trial was £125 + vat every month for the next 24 months, a total of £3000 plus vat.
After a short while, and receiving no sales leads from the trade association, Mr Clarke decided he didn't want to join and wrote to the guild. The address to write to was an un-manned PO Box address. The guild claim they never received that letter.
At the end of the free trial Mr Clarke started to receive invoices from the guild, and he again wrote clarifying that he didn't want to join and the guild should cancel his membership.
Soon enough the guild's correspondence threatened Brian with court action if he didn't agree to pay. All along Mr Clarke maintained that he never agreed to membership, but the guild sued him for over £14'000 plus their legal fees.
£14'000?? Wasn't the cost supposed to be £3000 plus vat?
Inside Mr Clarke's agreement was a tiny line stating that Brian had received the "Rules of Membership", which was a completely different contract that was infact 9 pages long, with a membership fee of £5200 plus vat per year. A total of £10'400 plus vat for the full 24 months.
However Brian had neither received the second 9 page contract, nor has he ever been able to properly defend his case, after his mother-in-law who suffered from dementia hid the court papers down the side of the sofa where she used to sit when she lived with him. The court papers were sent by normal post, not recorded or special delivery. Because of this Brian was unaware of the court hearing date and didn't attend, forcing the judge to give a default judgement against him.
After he found out about another free trial member Patrick McCrory's success in his own free trial case http://www.mccrorys.co.uk/blog/ Brian applied to appeal the Judge's decision.
However, Brian says he received a mysterious phone call a few days before the appeal hearing, from a woman who told him the appeal had been postponed, so he didn't show up. However the case was still heard without him, and therefore the appeal was dismissed, and Brian was again ordered to pay over £14'000 plus the guild's legal costs, including their additional costs for the appeal.
Time and time again Brian has tried to overturn this judgement with no success. Brian claims he did nothing wrong and it is not fair that he should pay this money.
Now however, on Wednesday 3rd August 2016, a court judge ordered Brian to pay the guild £500 per month for the next 6 years. A total of £36'000!!!
Should he fail to keep up payments to the guild, he will be at risk of losing his home. Brian is now 76 years old and has been fighting his case for well over 3 years.
Brian warns all current guild members and any removers who are considering joining, to fully check your terms and conditions of contract called the "Rules of Membership", which has high financial clauses within it, including a "Personal Guarantee" clause, which means the guild can pursue company owners and directors for their personal assets.
The guild's solicitors Coyle White Devine are now appealing the Judge's August decision, and are trying to force the sale of Brian's home, so they can get the full £36'000 in one go.
Due to other existing debts on the property, including the balance of the mortgage, if the guild manage to persuade the Judge to order the sale of Brian Clarke's home, he and his wife will be left homeless.
What do you think? £36'000 for a no obligation free trial sure doesn't seem very fair or "free" to me. Will you help Brian? If together we can raise enough money to pay the guild, a 76 year old man and his wife can live in peace without this outrageous debt hanging over his head, during a time when he should be thinking of retiring. Not working until he's 82, to pay off a trade association membership he never even benefitted from.
Unfortunately Crowdfunding isn't free. This website and the secure payment terminal charge for their use. So we've added an extra £1000 to the total needed, to cover their costs. Thanks for your understanding.)
Please note that all funds raised will go to help Brian. Thanks for helping him out.
Due to the design of this website, please also note that your donation will only leave your bank account at the end of the crowdfunding campaign. NOT the day you pledge the money. Thanks for your understanding.