Dabs.com: small claims court & subsequent threats

  mfoord 23:39 01 Sep 2008

Hello all,

I had problems with Dabs.com not repairing a laptop. I took them to the small claims court and won (by default judgement) £300 compensation plus £30 costs.

Anyone interested in the longer version of the story can check it out on my blog:
click here

The important point is that the money sought was *compensation* for the cost of the repair of the laptop.

They are now claiming that the court has 'awarded me a refund' and that if I don't return the laptop to them they will invoice me for the full amount!

This is obviously ridiculous (a £300 'refund' for a £600 laptop !?). My court papers stated:

The claimant is claiming 300 pounds for the repair of a laptop that he purchased from Dabs.com.


I have been informed that the replacement of the drive and connector will cost 300 pounds, including labour and carriage. This is the amount I am claiming from the plaintiff (plus costs).

My worry is that this threat to reinvoice me is just a ploy so that they can sell the 'debt' to a debt collection agency and damage my credit record.

Does anyone have any advice?

One possibility would be to return the laptop as they demand, and then sue them again but for the full value of the laptop - as they are obviously not entitled to it. I'm not 100% certain that is legitimate though (would I win - is there a better course of action?).

Naturally I haven't received the money from them yet, although they claim their accounts department has dealt with it... I will enforce it if I don't receive it of course.

Michael Foord

  rickf 10:05 02 Sep 2008

Read your blog and good luck. If I were you I would take professional legal advice from here on just to be on safe ground. Hope all goes well.

  mfoord 11:35 02 Sep 2008

Thanks rickf.

I do know somewhere I can get free legal advice. It probably means taking a day off work though so I am treating it as a last resort.

In the meantime I will wait to see if I get the money they owe me and if they really send this invoice...

  961 09:40 03 Sep 2008

I believe Dabs is owned by BT

Try a letter addressed personally to their chairman

Or, try one of the weekend financial press help pages e.g. Daily Telegraph

  spuds 10:53 03 Sep 2008

Dabs is now owned by BT,even though they are separate company's legally. Whether they use the same legal team or legal department would be in question at this time, so in theory and practise, its Dabs you will need to consult and deal with, and not BT.

There are a number of free legal consultation services available via the likes of Citizens Advice, Law Centres etc, some solicitors also provide a first half hour free consultation period, you will need to check for that locally.I note that you have suggested that you already have this facility available, in which case I would seek advice fairly quick, before thing escalate.

Dabs (BT!) being a big company, will no doubt try to seek reimbursement via some form or other, so this claim might be just a starting point for further headaches. Dabs (BT!) assume that they are correct (as always), possibly because they hold large corporation status positions in the public arena, and you are just an individual.

Personally and another very easy and simple move, I would contact the court which gave judgement, and ask for clarification as to their ruling.I have found that the staff within the smalls claims court, are very obliging. Their further reply might resolve the issue, so saving you further time and expense!.

  bjh 12:01 03 Sep 2008

Second Spuds approach. The court should be able to give you a quick follow-up which might save you money and headaches in the future. This would be especially true should Dabs actually be correct in their interpretation which, although I doubt, and hope isn't true, might just be the case.

Again, hope not. Approach court for clarification of the judgement.

  Stuartli 13:20 03 Sep 2008

Write to the Dabs legal representative or whoever sent you the particular letter, firmly pointing out the difference in their interpretation of the count's findings and the apparently misunderstood version by Dabs.

Big companies try to gain control by attempting to unnerve you - I've been through it on more than one occasion and have always won because I stuck to the facts.

  Stuartli 13:22 03 Sep 2008

I doubt very much whether the BT chairman would show the slightest interest as it is not part of his remit.

  Forum Editor 19:39 03 Sep 2008

and anything you read in this thread will simply be based on opinion - people may offer their views, and we may refer to legislation, but that's as far as it goes - you must base any future action on advice you receive from a lawyer, or act on your own initiative.

I notice that you keep referring to 'compensation', but I wonder why - what is it that you are being compensated for - have you had the laptop repaired, and if so, by whom? If it hasn't been repaired, who told you it would cost £300?

You obtained a default judgment for one of two reasons - either the defendant (Dabs) didn't acknowledge receipt of the court papers about your claim within the statutory 14 days, which is called a judgment in Default of Acknowledgment of Service, or the company did acknowledge receipt, but took no further action within 28 days, which is called a judgment in Default of Defence.

In either case the court would award the amount claimed - did the judgment specifically mention th word 'compensation'?

Can you clarify the situation?

  ForestChav 18:00 05 Sep 2008

Looks rather like Dabs have treated the court's decision as a rescission of contract and as the contract has been rescinded, and they have refunded your money for the laptop (pro-rata) then they require the machine back.

Did the court specifically state the award was to cover your costs of third party repair/report into the inherent fault/legal bills?

  mfoord 18:06 05 Sep 2008

I was awarded default judgement because Dabs didn't respond. What makes me think it is compensation rather than a refund is that this is the remedy I sought from the court. Dabs treating the judgement any other way is fabrication on their part.

The wording on the 'Judgement for Claimant':

To the defendant
You have not replied to the claim form.
It is therefore ordered that you must pay the claimant £300 for debt and £30 for costs.

No mention of refund or compensation - to the court it is merely a debt.

You can see the full text of my claim from the link I posted in my first entry. This is the claim that the court awarded me.

The relevant parts.

First from the summary of the claim:

I have been informed that the replacement of the drive and connector will cost 300 pounds, including labour and carriage. This is the amount I am claiming from the plaintiff (plus costs).

From the body of the claim itself:

I have been informed that the replacement of the drive and connector will cost 300 pounds, including labour and carriage. This is the amount I am claiming from the plaintiff (plus costs).

I was originally quoted £300 by a laptop repair shop. I have not yet had the laptop repaired (nor received any money from Dabs).


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