In August 2016 I decided to have my garden pond revamped. It was dug out nearly 15 years ago and hasn't really been looked after very well and gradually the garden is taking the pond back. So after doing a search on the Internet, I contacted a local Aquatics company called Richards Aquatics who had several aquatic shops plus a pond building business. Richard Muggeridge of Richards Aquatics visited me to survey my current pond in order to get an idea of what could be done and how much it would cost. He got back to me via email pretty quickly with the quote of £2600 to which I was quite happy to accept. He asked for £1300 as a down payment which I did think was quite a lot of money for a deposit but unwittingly accepted to and transferred the money into his bank account.
A month before Richards Aquatics was due to come and start the pond I received an email asking me if they could come in two days later than the agreed start date. I wasn't in a massive rush and didn't really see a reason to insist that they stuck to the original start date so I agreed to the slight delay. In the meantime, I had been to the hospital and they found some kidney stones which meant me going into hospital for a small operation. It did rather look as though it was going to clash with when they were coming to build my pond so I warned them this may happen. It was then that they contacted me and suggested that we delay the project until the beginning of January to which I agreed. I contacted Richards Aquatics at the end of December to confirm they were still coming at the beginning of January and was then told that Richard had to go into hospital so could they please reschedule the work to begin in the second week of February to which again I agreed.
On January 14 I received a letter from Kirsten Muggeridge (Richard Muggeridge's wife) informing me that the work would now not be taking place because basically, they had gone bust. That is the last I heard from them via email. However, I did receive a letter from either Kirsten Muggeridge, or Richard Muggeridge's mother promising me that whatever happened I would get all of my money back. You've heard the expression, "famous last words".
Richards Aquatics applied for bankruptcy and after nearly 2 years of receiving the occasional email from the bankruptcy solicitor, two days ago I received a paltry amount of £45. I know it's easy to say that it's better than nothing but £45? That's almost a bloody insult.
I really don't know how bankruptcy works. However, I do know that it's not the easy way out as a lot of people think. However, that still no consolation for people like myself who have lost a lot of money. What really angers me is they must have known at the time they were having money problems, I simply do not believe that all these delays were genuine, they were obviously having serious money problems and they used their customers as a means to try and get themselves out of a hole. I would go as far as to say that if they did know about their money problems then taking these deposits is tantamount to stealing and is, therefore, a criminal offense.
I don't hold much hope of getting any more money back. I can just hope that this letter comes to light so maybe I can use it as evidence if I do decide to pursue this matter further.
If this experience has taught me anything it is not under any circumstances to hand over large amounts of money before the work has been started. I wouldn't object to a small deposit to basically honour the agreement for the work to be carried out, however, if a large company is not able to afford to buy materials for the project beforehand then maybe they should be avoided.