We are currently trialling our new-look independent.co.uk website - please send any feedback to beta@independent.co.uk

Spend & Save

Questions of Cash: Watch out for rogue trader London Emergency Plumbers


Q. I phoned London Emergency Plumbers in a panic, then realised I should have gone through my insurance company; I cancelled the call-out after approximately 10 minutes – and for that it charged me £132. The firm says it has a recording of the conversation in which they told me I would pay a cancellation fee. I dispute that.

I couldn't believe they took any money at all. I've tried to obtain the tape, but had no luck. When I checked on the firm online, I found that you had written about it (Questions of Cash, 17 May 2013). You indicated that you believed the company had ceased trading, but it most certainly is still trading. There is even a warning in large blue type on the website homepage that there is an enforcement order against it. TB, London

A. In May last year we highlighted that a business based in Bedford and trading as London Emergency Plumbers had withdrawn £1,058.40 from a customer from a call out in which all they did was switch off the water supply. We obtained a chargeback of £662 from NatWest on behalf of the reader. We understood the business – which was run by Muhammed Shamrez, who also traded as Express Plumbers of Bedford – had ceased trading.

You refer to a statement on the website which indicated that Bedford Borough Council's trading standards officers obtained a court order in November last year preventing Shamrez from conducting various, named, unfair trading practices, including failing to properly notify customers of charges. We are concerned that you suggest that the business is trading again. We phoned the number quoted on the website, but there was no reply. We offered to contact your bank to request a chargeback on the bill you paid, but you did not respond. We would like any readers with up-to-date information on London Emergency Plumbers or Express Plumbers of Bedford to contact us.

Smartphone warranty woes

Q. I bought a Sony Xperia T mobile phone via Amazon UK in July last year. I started having problems with it (first it wouldn't upload any new apps and then it kept switching on and off by itself). Eventually it stopped working altogether. I contacted Sony Xperia and was instructed to send the phone for repair to a company called SBE Ltd. I received a repair quotation from SBE Ltd stating an "out of warranty reason" of physical damage. The phone had never been damaged, misused or dropped and was always in a protective case.

After repeated emails it became clear that the issue was that I had taken off the back of the handset before I sent it back. Apparently this invalidated the warranty. When I received instructions for sending the phone to SBE Ltd it said not to send the battery cover, which I believed meant the back of the handset, as there was nothing else covering the battery. At no time during the telephone conversations and emails with Sony Xperia was I told not to take off the back cover off the phone.

This is the first time I have owned a smart phone and I am not well versed in technology. I bought the phone because I have a disabled partner with a stroke and I need to be constantly available via Skype and Facebook, so this has become very inconvenient for me. I do not understand why Sony is taking such a hard stance with this matter. CD, Brighton.

A. Sony has told us that it is offering to arrange for the phone to be repaired. You have confirmed this, saying that it is to be done free of charge "on a goodwill basis". You say that while you would prefer that it was done under the warranty, you are happy with the solution.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But we’ll do our best to help if you have a financial dilemma. Email us at: questionsofcash@ independent.co.uk