Piano repairer’s victory over the sharp practice of RVA Surveyors


Despite the stress of going to court Tom Walter says he wanted to stand up to notorious business rates scam firm

Tom Walter of Hampstead Pianos

There’s probably no way of finding the answer to this, but it would be interesting to know which company in Britain most commonly sues its own customers.

A front runner must be RVA Surveyors, a pernicious outfit that preys on small businesses, luring them with promises about getting their rates bills reduced.

Firms that sign up to its “service” are trapped into deals that mean RVA charges huge fees year after year for minimal work.

Victims who later claim they’ve been tricked and refused to continue paying sued for breach of contract, as I’ve reported multiple times.

The latest poor chap to be dragged into court is 69-year-old piano repairer Tom Walter.

He says that a rep from RVA Surveyors turned up unannounced at his shop and told how he could get a rates reduction, but it was a complex process that needed expert help.

RVA then charged 45% of the rates cut that Mr Walter received, plus VAT.

He became suspicious when RVA demanded its commission even for the period when rates were suspended due to the pandemic.

Mr Walter then discovered that, far from being complex, he had been entitled to automatic small business relief all along. By this point his North London business Hampstead Pianos had paid RVA £14,000.

He refused to give it any more and so RVA sued for its latest demand of almost £3,000.

I’m delighted to report that not only did RVA lose, it was ordered to pay Mr Walter costs of £1,000 plus VAT.

His solicitor, Elliot Hammer of London law firm Branch Austin, said that the judge at Manchester County Court found that the RVA sales agent had fraudulently misrepresented Mr Walter that it would be “very complicated” to reduce his rates.

The RVA contract was also ruled flawed in a vital respect, since it signed up Hampstead Pianos, which pays no rates – it is Mr Walter personally who is liable for the bill.

RVA is run from Denton, Manchester, by 57-year-old Stephan Hughes. Although it was refused permission to appeal, the company has said it will apply for permission to do so.

“Thank you for your efforts and campaign against this company,” Mr Walter told me after the hearing.

“At times over the months I wanted to jack the whole thing in when I realized how much time and effort was required.

“Then there were the costs that I have had to bear, with the thought of how much more it would cost if we lost. But I just could not let them get away with it without trying to make a stand, for the sake of many others as well who are caught in their web.

“Towards the end of the judge’s adjudication I started to realize we were going to win, a lump formed in my throat and my eyes became somewhat watery.

“I’ll have everlasting gratitude to those who have supported me, friends and strangers alike, and especially Elliot our solicitor who did a brilliant job putting the brief together and arguing in court, forensically defeating the other side blow by blow.”

Mr Hammer said: “It is always a privilege to serve my local community and in this case to defend a small business in the music industry.”

They are now waiting to see whether RVA piles on the misery by appealing.

In a separate case, there’s hope for Vladimir and Larissa Nasadovich of the George and Dragon pub in Portsmouth (above).

They were sued by RVA and ordered to pay £5,458, despite denying ever signing a contract, Mr Nasadovich saying that he was away celebrating his son’s birthday on the day that the RVA rep visited.

The original contract, with the supposed signature of Mr Nasadovich, was not produced at the trial, nor was the RVA representative who supposedly witnessed him signing it.

Mr Hammer says: “We were able to quash the previous trial decision and we will now have a trial with expert evidence alleging fraudulent signature.”

Mr Nasadovich has launched a crowdfunding appeal to help with his costs, you can find it here.

Last year, Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake branded RVA “shysters, carpetbaggers and parasites” in a
Parliamentary debate that won cross party support. I covered it here.

[email protected]




www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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