Special offers can be tempting but the minutiae can be confusing, as Elaine Wallwork discovered when she bought a computer from Time.
Time's advert trumpeted that the vendor would waive its £40 delivery charge and pay the buyer's VAT, bringing down the price of the package she was interested in by £281.
Mrs Wallwork was happy with this deal and went ahead and bought the PC, but was shocked to discover when she received her invoice that Time had seemingly charged both the delivery cost and VAT.
She tried calling First National, the finance company she had signed a contract with, and Time Computers, but says she heard nothing from either company.
So she decided that Time was not honouring its deal and deducted the VAT and delivery shown on the invoice when she paid for the PC. She thought nothing of this and says she didn't hear from First National for over a year, until she received a bill for £1,494.
This figure comprised the £281 VAT she had not paid and an extra £1,210, included because of "breach of the credit agreement".
"I had settled the account in full and didn't see why I should pay the VAT, so I wrote to both Time and First National and have spoken to the finance company and Trading Standards, because I believed that Time had mis-sold me the PC," Mrs Wallwork told me.
The trouble is, the deal was not mis-selling - but perhaps misleading. Time had honoured its promise to pay the VAT and Mrs Wallwork wasn't being ripped off.
But it is easy to see where the confusion arose. Companies are required by law to list VAT, and all Time had done was take the price of the discounted PC and use a portion of that to list as VAT. So the total Mrs Wallwork had to pay did not, in reality, include VAT, as Time had already paid it.
This problem could have been avoided if Time had made it clearer in the invoice and, to be fair, if Mrs Wallwork had looked at what she was being charged.
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