Teesside Magistrates court has ordered AA Aardvark plumbing to pay an invoice served on them by Mrs Gina Hastings. The plumbing firm had initially refused to pay the invoice on the grounds that "it doesn’t work like that".
"Well I had to take it to court as they simply refused to pay for my services," explained Mrs Hastings from the courthouse steps. "I provided them with a great deal of service over the two days they were installing my new boiler, services that they should pay for."
The dispute arose after Mrs Hastings hired AA Aardvark to install a new condensing boiler and water tank. The job was completed to her satisfaction and she happily wrote them a cheque for their work.
"A couple of weeks later I got a call from Joe Billingsworth, who runs AA Aardvark plumbing, asking if there had been some mistake and what I thought I was playing at," she said. "But I just explained that the £43.50 was just for services rendered, plus VAT."
Mr Billingsworth said that he was disappointed with the judge’s decision but would of course respect the wishes of the court.
"I just assumed that all the tea and sandwiches were free. At £2.50 for a tea and £3.80 for a sandwich, it might have been better to go to Starbucks," said Mr Billingsworth. "I guess we will have to consider the £12 per hour cost of washing and re-arranging underwear drawers the next time we put customers’ bras on our heads."
Local trading standards officers said that this was not the first such case and they warned local tradesmen to make sure they get a detailed estimate of the services they will be using.
"It is a lesson to us all," said Mr Billingsworth. "From now on I will ask for an itemised quotation from the householder of their charges, and also what the licensing is for usage of pictures of their daughters away at university."
Tyne Tees Television is to feature Mrs Hastings in an upcoming edition of their "Household customers from Hell" fly-on-the-wall TV programme.
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