Gary Tonks of AI On The Move Eastbourne was the defendant at this Hearing at Croydon County Court at which NGRS, The so called guild attempted to claim over £14,000 and tens of thousands of pounds in Costs because Gary hadn’t cancelled his Free Trial Offer on time.
This was a very similar claim that the so called guild of removers and storers made against McCrorys Removals Ltd some years ago, and failed to convince the court that McCrorys owed ngrs anything above what they had already paid them, and also lost the tens of thousands of pounds of costs that their regular NGRS own solicitors Coyle White Devine were attempting to charge for costs, and in fact had to pay McCrorys Removals Ltd own costs too.
The most he might have expected need to pay would be have been one years membership fee of £1500.
But, NGRS tried to suggest to the court that the annual membership fee, market rate is over £5000 per annum and that, if anyone examined a certain version of the contract, which version Gary maintains he was never supplied with, it could read that any such member was bound by a minimum two year term of membership
Mr Martin Rose appeared as a witness for NGRS, and described himself as a ‘Consultant’ which obliged the court to ask him to elaborate, and he then volunteered the additional information that he worked for a company which is registered under the name of Movescope and when Gary’s barrister asked where all these ‘different’ organisations were based..such as the Independent Removals Inspectorate, and the Removals Ombudsman Scheme, and, as it happens, Mr Rose revealed that ALL of them had the same address, and that address was also the address of the so called guild, and that the so called guild, ngrs, also had initially founded all of those so called Independent bodies!
When questioned about whether NGRS Prepares the accounts for any of these bodies, Mr Martin Rose replied that he wouldn’t know that.
Mr Martin Rose also revealed that the so called Independent Removals Inspectorate only works for NGRS and not for any other removals companies, also the so called independent ombudsman scheme only does work for the customers of the so called guild.
Gary’s barrister mentioned to the court that Gary was in fact under the clear impression all along that Mr Rose was in fact visiting him in the capacity of being ‘the guild’ and not as any independent inspector, Rose introduced himself and handed Gary a business card which was bearing the NGRS details and Mr Rose’s name.
Tracey, from A1 Removals also stated that she had no doubt that she was dealing with a ‘boss’ from the ngrs.
A punch and judy type of exchange of arguments then happened in the courtroom between Gary’s Barrister, and Martin Rose.
Gary insisted that he had not been handed the more onerous full 2012 Membership Rules, which quotes over £5k p.a. and that he only obtained the Free Trial version. But Rose was adamant he did also provide Gary with the full 2012 terms, but when pointed out that on many occasions during Rose’s cross examination in the court, he had to admit that he ‘could not remember’ yet on this crucial question of how was he sure that he had handed Gary a copy of the 2012 rules, he was full of conviction about how accurate his memory was, and relied on his memory alone, as there was no witness of his, to support that, and he had to agree that there was no ‘tick box’ system to monitor what was issued by this ‘independent inspector’ so that Jon Martin of ngrs could not verify that the 2012 terms were issued.
Another employee of Tonks A1 Removals, Tracey, was present throughout the visit of Rose to A1 Removals meeting, and Tracey stated in the witness stand that, although she was present, and it was her that did all of the admin, she had not seen the 2012 rules being handed out and they did not exist in her files.
It was also pointed out that Mr Rose, supplied a regular bundle of documents to prospective members.
Interestingly Rose did obtain signatures on a long list of documents, including the Free Trial Offer application, the Inspection Form, The Agreement for References to be taken up with Bank and Accountants, The Ombudsman Scheme form, etc etc. but, the one omission was the 2012 rules form, NGRS failed to produce any signed 2012 rules form, and admit that they never sought to have a signature on that one, ‘because it would be too much to ask the prospective member to sign another form’ even though there is a space on that form for the name of the company the address of the company the Position of the person signing, the date, and a place for the signature.
Gary Tonks Barrister had to repeatedly point out to Mr Rose that he was answering questions which he had not yet been asked, and not answering the questions that he had been asked, which made it appear that Mr Rose had his prepared, and well rehearsed ‘answers’ which he wanted to be heard, even if not being questioned on his prepared subjects.
There was two reasons given as to why A1 Removals did not wish to continue the membership, after the free trial period had ended, and one was that Gary had been promised by Rose that A1 removers, as members of ngrs, could take advantage of discount packaging.
Rose told the court that this was never discussed, and then changed his story to the court, stating that although it may have come up in conversation at that meeting with Gary and Tracey, Rose would have pointed out that this deal was in the early stages and was not yet agreed with the packaging company PHS Crates, and apparently it never materialised.
Gary insisted that it was already part of the deal and when he kept phoning up to ask about the discount packaging, he was eventually told that he would have to contact PHS himself and try to come to some arrangement.
This was not what Gary had signed up to as not only did it not do ‘what is says on the box’ . There wasn’t even a Box.
The other reason for cancelling membership was that he had been promised leads, which were never forthcoming.
Gary Tonks Barrister also questioned Mr Jon Martin, described as Membership Secretary of the So Called Guild, what the true cost of membership was, and he replied that it can vary according to size of the company, or whatever deal the sales people decided themselves.
He went on to say that it could vary between £99 to £125 per month, which would still only come to a maximum of £1500 p.a.
But NGRS insist that they have suffered losses because Gary Tonks cancelled, and those losses would amount to over £14,000 and when questioned whether ngrs had in fact suffered any losses whatever, Mr Jon Martin, in a somewhat confused state, suggested that if ngrs had accepted Gary’s cancellation only weeks into his membership, it would be unfair, as that would be too expensive to expect him to pay all that money, for such a short period… but Garys barrister pointed out to Mr Martin that, unfair or not, that is exactly what they continued to do, in fact ngrs attempted to invoice Mr Tonks for an additional two years later, for an additional £14,000, which would then amounted to £28,000, even Mr Martin agreed that that was unreasonable!
Jon Martin then went on to say that ngrs were claiming ‘liquated loses’ and not trying to apply a penalty, and that the losses suffered as a result of A1 Removals cancelling their membership, amounted to two years membership, at this imaginary or disputed £5k per annum, hence the £14k claim.
But Gary’s barrister pointed out that, according to ngrs’s own rules, they could terminate membership with only seven days notice, so, given that Gary had made it abundantly clear that he did not wish to remain a member, even at £1500, why didn’t NGRS simply cancel and sign up another new member, and then the losses would be non-existent?
Jon Martin seemed to give a very confused account of what the reasoning for compelling Gary to remain in membership. One reason he claimed was because ngrs had an area exclusivity policy, so that they couldn’t have signed another member up to replace Gary, as that would then result in having two members in that area. But, as pointed out to Mr Jon Martin, if Gary terminated and left ngrs, then there would be his place to fill by a new member.
Also curiously, if ngrs had members being deprived of joining because the area was over subscribed already, then surely it made no sense to be continuing to offer Free 99 days trial offers to prospective members? Especially if Removers were queueing up to join.
At one stage, the impression given by Mr Jon Martin’s testimony was that he sympathised with the defendant and that it would be unreasonable to charge Garys Removal Co. anything at all, as he wished to terminate, but Mr Martin then fluctuated wildly in his statement to the court, and cited such irrelevancies as ‘it would not be good for Consumer Protection, or Fair on other members’
In short Mr Jon Martin appeared so inconsistent as to be most helpful to Garys Defence.
Further questioning of Mr Jon Martin, the membership secretary and ngrs director, revealed interestingly that Mr Martin’s Personal Witness Statement with its formal declaration of Truth, had, he admitted, been prepared and drafted by ngrs solicitors, and he simply signed it as per the solicitors advice.
Mr Martin confirmed that the annual turnover of ngrs when divided by the number of members, would confirm that around only £2000 could be the maximum cost of membership, and in fact, that would be depending on ngrs having no income from other sources, which is not the case, as, apart from anything else, ngrs also have had ongoing large sums of money from their many court claims and is known to have obtained additional out of court settlements… To say nothing of the Thousands of Pounds for their cardboard printed marketing packs, and other fees, so, unless ngrs are making a substantial mistake in their filed accounts at Companies House, the true figure for membership is vastly lower than what is being suggested in the court rooms of England.
As this apparently invented and much inflated membership fee figure is being quoted in all of the ngrs multiple claims in courts, and if this is not an error or an oversight, but is in fact carefully contrived and fabricated to knowingly mislead the courts, whilst under oath, it would not be beyond the bounds of most judges authority to consider whether there has been deliberate acts of Perjury, to say nothing of Fraud….. there are certainly plenty of examples of much less serious offenders that are serving lengthy prison sentences.
The Judgment is to follow.
Watch this space.