Devon businessman at boiling point over builders merchants' stance
A businessman is calling for a change in the law, saying he was forced to pay the debts of another company to release goods he had already paid for in full.
Terry Brownbill says he has been left almost £19,000 out of pocket after buying a biomass boiler from a North Devon company in August, which is due to go into liquidation on Thursday.
Mr Brownbill, who is in the process of renovating two holiday cottages in Upton, Exmoor, paid Eco-Exmoor Devon Ltd £30,297 for a biomass wood pellet boiler that it was also due to install for an additional fee of around £10,000.
The sum was paid in full by Eco-Exmoor Devon, based at Parracombe, near Barnstaple, to distributor Travis Perkins.
Ask us for a quote for standard C Rated (Window Energy Rating) windows and we will upgrade your order to A Rated for FREE
Terms: Must quote Okehampton People website when arranging survey
Contact: 01837 510303
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
But Mr Brownbill says that when Eco-Exmoor Devon’s financial woes became apparent, Travis Perkins demanded an additional £8,919 from him before they would hand over the boiler, to cover an outstanding debt owed to them by the Barnstaple business he paid.
Mr Brownbill has accused the builders merchant of holding him to ransom over the other company's debt.
He said: “I want my money back.”
He eventually secured the delivery of his boiler by paying the £8,919, which had to be transferred to Travis Perkins via Eco-Exmoor Devon's account.
Mr Brownbill, who has also had to pay an extra £10,000 to a new contractor to install the boiler, said: “Not only did I have to pay off an Eco-Exmoor Devon debt, but I had to trust in a company that was already going bust.”
A clause in Travis Perkins' conditions of sale states that any goods supplied by it, remains with the company until any debts due by the customer– in this case, Eco-Exmoor Devon – have been paid for in full.
Reflecting on the situation, Ian Walker of insolvency and business recovery specialists Begbies Traynor said: “This is a very standard clause that insolvency practitioners come up against the whole time.
“The directors of Eco-Exmoor Devon should not have taken money from a customer at a time when they ought to have known they were about to go into liquidation.
“The problem is, Terry had the contract with the company going into liquidation. No contract as far as I am aware existed between him and Travis Perkins.
“No money should have changed hands – perhaps apart from a small deposit. Then he could have paid Travis Perkins the balance, when it received the boiler.”
But while Mr Brownbill concedes that Travis Perkins has stuck to the letter of the law, he said: “It is completely outrageous that a massive national company should seek to use their legal and financial muscle to dump their debt onto me, particularly as I have already paid in full for the boiler and they have that money in their bank.
“I want that money back and I will keep fighting until I get it back.”
Mr Brownbill said he is writing to his MP, Ian Liddell-Grainger, about the matter.
The Western Morning News approached Travis Perkins for comment, but the company had not responded at the time of going to press.
Eco-Exmoor Devon is not connected with Eco-Exmoor Ltd, which trades from a base in Wellington.