Couple ripped off by notorious glazing firm get £2,600 refund
Peter and Liz Dawson spent more than a year and £600 unsuccessfully battling through the courts for the return of a £2,619 deposit payment from the notorious no-show glazing firm Sage Windows and Doors.
But when they finally asked Streetwise to step in, they were overjoyed when the refund promptly turned up in their bank account just a few days later.
Liz told us their problems with the Shedfield firm – not to be confused with the reputable Saje Windows of Swanmore – all started in December 2018 when they urgently needed to replace a leaking bay window.
Professional golfer Peter approached three traders to obtain quotations to do the job. Although the firm’s boss John Lepp was a little cheaper than the competitors, what clinched the deal for them was a promise the new window would be installed by the end of January.
However, when the fitters failed to turn up as promised the couple, of Eastleigh, ended up on the receiving end of a four-month litany of dodgy excuses, culminating in what amounted to a point-blank refusal to refund their money.
Liz recalled: ‘After we first sent him an email we were going to go with his quote he was round in double quick time with the paperwork.’
‘I’d normally pay by card, but Mr Lepp said he didn’t do cards and could we do a bank transfer which in hindsight left us with no protection against him at all.
‘Interestingly, when the job wasn’t started we always had to call him, he never called us. So when we hadn’t heard from him we called asking when he was going to do it.
‘Then all the excuses came out about having an emergency job, they hadn’t quite finished the bit that needed manufacturing, somebody else had done a bad job for a client and he’d gone in and helped sort it out for them.
‘Personally I didn’t care what his excuses were - we just wanted to get the job done. We finally fixed a date in early February, but he cancelled it. Then it snowed, so the following week was put in the diary but it absolutely poured down with rain.
‘He claimed he was ready to go but with the rain he couldn’t do it. The following week it was fine, so we assumed he’d get on with the job, but after chasing he called to say he’d got shingles, and was unwell.
‘Somebody called Ryan then started picking up our calls. He gave different excuses, told us it would be done the following week then said there‘d been a terrible accident over the weekend and the bit they had specially made for the canopy had a crack in it. It would have to be ordered again. It would take about three weeks.’
‘By mid February we started asking for our deposit back if not fitted by mid-March, but extended the deadline to the end of the month - two months later than the promised fitting date.
‘On April 3, we emailed Mr Lepp asking for return of the deposit, but when he ignored us we resolved to go to law and submitted a county court claim.’
Liz, a retired former HR business partner, agreed alarm bells should have rung when they placed the order, but had become increasingly angry at having to put up with a leaking window and an endless saga of mendacious no show excuses.
However, they were soon to learn resorting to legal action could turn out to be a false dawn. There was no guarantee of success and true to form the fruitless refund battle raged on and on.
It took until early June to obtain the necessary county court judgement, and after the firm still refused to pay up Liz decided the next step was to apply for a warrant of execution and send in the bailiffs.
In July they reported their inability to execute the warrant. Mr Lepp had moved and hadn’t left a forwarding address. Unless Liz could find out where he’d gone they couldn’t take further enforcement action.
Not one to easily admit defeat, Liz decided to go for a third-party debt court order on Barclays bank. She reasoned as their original deposit cheque had been cleared by the bank there was a good chance of getting a pay-out if they could freeze the account.
However, the gambit turned out to be equally unsuccessful, when the bank got back to confirm it had been closed and the balance was a fat zero.
Then in what appeared to be an amazing turn of events, out of the blue in mid August the couple received a cheque from Mr Lepp drawn on the Metrobank for the full amount. It was accompanied by a note insisting they take down a damming Trust Pilot review.
They hadn’t noticed the cheque had been post-dated until mid October, so it promptly bounced. But when they re-submitted it on the due date it was stopped by Metro because they’d been instructed it was a duplicate.
Not of a mind to give up the fight, Liz promptly went back to court and issued another third party order, this time on the Metro bank. They finally got back at the beginning of December to confirm the account had been drained of funds, and Mr Lepp had scarpered leaving them unable to comply.
Frustrated but reluctant to admit defeat, the couple resolved to review their strategy. Either spend more money trying to find Mr Lepp in the hope of discovering whether he had any tangible assets, or throw in the towel and admit they were barking up the wrong tree - just throwing good money after bad.
They considered their remaining, but limited, options – High Court bailiffs, private debt collectors, a social media warning campaign, or writing the entire matter off to experience.
To Liz, the choice was painfully challenging. Taking a two and a half grand plus hit in the bank balance was not just annoying, but completely wrong and unacceptable.
In searching the web for inspiration, she was advised to turn to Streetwise to see if we could help win justice.
We got onto the elusive Mr Lepp and flagged up to Hampshire Trading Standards he hadn’t refunded the Dawsons’ money.
Although he declined to comment or accept he’d acted in bad faith, the money promptly turned up in their nominated account four days later. The protracted refund battle was finally over.
An ecstatic Liz was overjoyed.
She said: ‘We wouldn’t have got anywhere if Streetwise hadn’t picked it up. We greatly appreciate all your help, and just can’t thank you enough.’