‘Luxury banking company took my £3k and now I’m being sued for complaining on Trustpilot’

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Dear Kate,

In October 2021 I bought my first flat in London. It was all very exciting and I started looking for home furnishings including a sofa.

I heard about a furniture company Maker&Son Ltd through Instagram. It had great marketing and many influencers were pushing their benches. The brand was founded by Alex Wilcock and his son Felix Conran, the grandson of the late Sir Terence Conran, so it really oozed credibility.

On December 28, 2021 I bought his “Marnie” sofa in beautiful green linen. I paid two installments totaling £2,907.25 using my Visa debit card.

There were delays with my order and a refund was promised by the original company provided I removed all negative online reviews, which I did.

However, the refund date kept getting pushed back while the company was under receivership and eventually I was told by the new company that they would not be able to fulfill the order or refund the money. I am out of a bank and now have almost £3,000 out of pocket.

Unfortunately my bank has said that because Maker&Son Ltd has fobbed me off for so long and my order is over 120 days old, there is nothing they can do to get my money back.

I wrote about my horrible experience on Trustpilot and a company called Inc Advisory on behalf of Inc&Co, which I understand recently acquired the brand, threatened to take me to court and is demanding £15,000.

EN, by email

Dear reader,

Maker & Son’s limited ads show slo-mo videos of a dreamy linen-clad woman with long blonde hair bouncing blissfully on cloud-like sofas.

It is the epitome of healthy luxury. Maker & Son sofas are made from all natural materials that proclaim to be of the highest quality known to man. They promise to be “the most comfortable in the world”.

And they should be to justify the massive five-figure price tag for a large piece. But despite the blissful ads, the Trustpilot reviews tell a very different story. More than half of the messages get one star out of five (the lowest score) and make for very uncomfortable reading.

It seems you are one of many, many dissatisfied customers of Maker&Son Ltd. After paying two installments for the bank in 2021, you felt frustrated as your August 16 delivery date approached and you hadn’t heard from it since early May.

Finally, in August you received a generic email from Maker&Son Ltd stating “I am pleased to inform you that the company was purchased by Inc & Co late last week and is now under new ownership and management. I am sorry to no concrete date for you today, but as soon as this is communicated to me, I will contact you.”

Unfortunately, when a company acquires another company, it is not required to honor existing consumer contracts, which means that this company unfortunately owes you nothing. It means that everything that has been offered since then has been done in good faith.

You felt really shocked and asked for a refund, which would be refunded within 60 days. But the 60 day period came and went with no communication, and eventually you received an email referring to the need to manage “cash flow”.

The refund would be paid no later than February 23, 2023, you were told. The condition was that you remove negative online posts about the former company.

You have agreed to this and removed your negative reviews. However, the new deadline came and went, and on March 1, you finally received another email from Inc & Co withdrawing the offer. It read: “We had taken action to achieve that goal and orders were delivered, a creditor of the old company (Maker&Son Limited) put the company into liquidation.

That decision made it impossible for the new company, Maker&Son Ops, to run operations and manage production and customer deliveries. Maker&Son Ops was also liquidated. When this happens, a company’s liquidators take control of all of its cash and assets and, unfortunately, customers lose all the money they paid to the company.

Instead, Inc & Co offered you a 50 piece discount on any new made-to-order item, provided your order is placed within the next six months. However, it is quite understandable that you just want your money back. When I contacted Inc & Co, the Manchester-based retail company, to ask why it said it would sue you for a £15,000 fee for posting on Trustpilot about the former Maker&Son Ltd company, I got a reply from “Inc Advisory via Inc & Co that almost made me spit out my tea.

It described a number of customers who lost money and subsequently posted their bad experience with Maker&Son Ltd online as “inconvenient”.

It read: “The company went into administration, the new licensee is willing to fulfill all open orders, so no customer is lost, but some customers try to cause as much inconvenience as possible and defame and harass Inc & Co. .”

The way legal warnings have been used to silence you online is highly unusual. You’ve accepted the dream of buying “the most comfortable sofa in the world”, but instead you’ve landed yourself in a nightmare where you’ve actually lost £3,000. I wish I could do more to get your money back.

Your biggest regret, aside from ordering this couch in the first place, is not paying with a credit card. If you had, you could have asked your bank to do something called a “Section 75 charge back” for goods or services not received, and you probably would have gotten your money back by now. While you can’t go back in time, your story will serve as a warning to others about companies going into receivership.

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