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goatface
5th May 2009, 00:07
Some time ago I had both the family cars serviced at the local garage, one which needed extra work done to pass an MOT.
I'm a regular customer and well known to the owner, consequently they always let me take the car home and invoice me later.
Despite the fact that I've asked a number of times for the invoice, nothing has been forthcoming and six months has passed.
I've a good idea as to what I owe and, if I don't get anywhere I'll just drop in cheque to their office for what I estimate, along with a note to advise me if what I've paid is too much/too little.

Although I will pay the bill, it did occur to me that if I was less than honest I could just ignore the situation if I knew that a bill had a "statute of limitation" on it's lifespan.

Does anyone know what the legal position is?

bnt
5th May 2009, 00:32
IANAL, and I don't know the legal position, or even if the law comes in to it. I think it depends on whether the job was documented by them, whether they have a system to keep track of time and work. If the time was logged, their accountants or auditors might spot the discrepancy and tell the business to clear it up and write the invoice. If not, what can they do after the fact, legally or financially? They would need documentary evidence to back up any claim.

However, if you want to support local business, be ethical, and stay on their good books, I'd say pay up. :}

Davaar
5th May 2009, 01:04
Does anyone know what the legal position is?

It varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Missing a limitation period is the lawyer's nightmare, unless of course it was the other lawyer.

With a lot of inward regret I once had an action dismissed because the other chap was "out of time". He, or rather his client, would have had a good case, too.

Gordy
5th May 2009, 02:38
Not sure the exact numbers, but I believe here in the U.S. it may be around 30 days...that is normally the amount of time one has to pay the bill.

I am with you and bnt on this one...you have been a regular customer--integrity means a lot to a small business owner and makes you feel better. Pay what you think is fair.

Whirlygig
5th May 2009, 06:37
6 years in this circumstance, 20 years regarding property and some insurances.

Just to be really pedantic, they need to raise an invoice for you, rather than you just pay an amount, otherwise their VAT will be bu$$ered up.

And then you can remind them where they can find a decent accountant :}

Cheers

Whirls

Wholigan
5th May 2009, 06:38
Mr Goatface, you must live in Somerset. It is nigh on impossible to get any sort of tradesman to come and do a job when they first say they will. Then, after they have finally got round to it, it is even harder to get them to give you a bill. Many times I have had to walk into an office after several months and stand there until someone actually rummages around and finds how much I owe.

kiwi chick
5th May 2009, 06:44
I say hold on to your money, but set it aside for if and when they DO send you the bill. I would imagine, if they are a fairly small company, that if they have not billed you by now they have lost the paperwork and have no record of ever doing it.

Even if you do approach them and not leave until they produce one, it may be a guess-timate based on your description of the work. Then what happens if they charge you more than you think they should have?! :rolleyes:

I have worked for several small companies as an Account Manager and it never ceases to amaze me how much lost revenue is due to inexperienced or incompetent staff.




I mean on taking over the job and discovering this... not MY inexperience or incompentence! :}

M.Mouse
5th May 2009, 07:21
Despite the fact that I've asked a number of times for the invoice, nothing has been forthcoming and six months has passed.

Having proved your honesty and integrity by repeatedly asking for the bill then I would leave them to it. If they are so incompetent then let them get on with it.

mixture
5th May 2009, 08:10
If the customer is VAT registered, then there is generally a 30 day implied limit on issuing them an invoice.

I don't believe such a limit exists when a customer is not VAT registered, or at least if there is a limit, it's not as tight, probably six years.

However, if an invoice has been issued, then I beleive there is a six year statutory limit for them to "bring action" (i.e. sue you) for non payment or any other matter arising from that invoice.

However bear in mind two things :

1/ They can still persue you through the courts after six years if you have acknowledged existence of the debt in writing and/or have made part payment(s) towards the debt.

2/ They can still persue you through any legal non courts means for as long as they want.

Capot
5th May 2009, 08:36
Forget the legalities; if you want that garage to be around to look after your car when it needs it, go down there, tell them the situation, and pay what he asks for. The probability that they've either lost the paperwork, or forgotten to invoice or don't have a system is 100%, and he'll ask for for a lot less than the original. Offer to spend 90 minutes setting up a simple, paper-based, mechanic-proof system to make sure invoices go out within 24 hours to very, very trusted customers, and putting up a big sign saying NO PAY NO CAR for the rest.

If you don't need his services in the future, forget it. He has totally forgotten about you, obviously, so you will never get a bill.

BTW, I've been VAT-registered since 1993, and I never heard any rule such as "If the customer is VAT registered, then there is generally a 30 day implied limit on issuing them an invoice." What is "implied" supposed to mean? VAT regulations are not so vague. Pseudo-legal mythology, I suspect, but I haven't the time to look it up.

Sprogget
5th May 2009, 08:59
BTW, I've been VAT-registered since 1993, and I never heard any rule such as "If the customer is VAT registered, then there is generally a 30 day implied limit on issuing them an invoice." What is "implied" supposed to mean? VAT regulations are not so vague. Pseudo-legal mythology, I suspect, but I haven't the time to look it up.

Me either. Vat registered since 2003 & regularly invoice jobs at 60 days plus.

mixture
5th May 2009, 10:41
Sprog and Capot,

Cf. HM Revenue & Customs: VAT invoices: what they must show (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/managing/charging/vat-invoices.htm)

"Time limits for issuing VAT invoices"

Otherwise known as section 16.2.3 of VAT Notice 700.

Sprogget
5th May 2009, 10:51
You can extend the 30 day time limit without applying to your VAT Business Centre in the following cases:

you are awaiting VAT invoices from your own suppliers or sub-contractors;

That's me off the hook.

tony draper
5th May 2009, 10:57
I remember when one did not bother paying one's utility bills until about the third red letter,the previous two being filed in the waste paper basket,the third one became slightly threatening,so one thunk hmm, berra see to this, things were done in a much more gentlemanly manner in times past.
:rolleyes:

airship
5th May 2009, 11:41
Me either. Vat registered since 2003 & regularly invoice jobs at 60 days plus. Unless I've misunderstood it, did you really mean to say that you regularly take 60 days before even issuing the invoice (leaving aside for a moment whatever additional period you allow for settlement - another 60 days perhaps)...? :confused:

What about cash-flow, the financial crisis, banks not financing small business loans or overdrafts...? Or do you have a direct conduit into the Bank of England's coffers? If so, please tell me more about your company and what you can supply. I'd love it if all my suppliers behaved that way - imagine say 120 days free credit even before 'asking for a copy of the original invoice because it had gone missing'...?! :ok:

Sprogget
5th May 2009, 12:11
Mind your own business. You failed the credit check.

airship
5th May 2009, 13:36
Mind your own business. You failed the credit check. Sounds like all the added sugar content nevertheless touched someone's nerves...?! Visit to the dentist recommended...?! :}

Sprogget
5th May 2009, 13:43
Not at all, just a little leavening of the day. The nature of my business is such that a small but regular quanity of jobs get heavily delayed post supply & invoice beyond 30 & 60 days.

It's just how the thing works, but it's a tiny proportion of the overall throughput.

radeng
5th May 2009, 13:47
When BCCI went down the tubes, I used my credit card in France about 2 hours before they stopped all the BCCI cards worldwide. It was four years later that the liquidators got around to billing me.........at least, they didn't try charging interest! After that, I've always made sure that I have more than one credit card - especially as the one I use most is RBS!!!

airship
5th May 2009, 15:24
The nature of my business is such that a small but regular quanity of jobs get heavily delayed post supply & invoice beyond 30 & 60 days. (emphasis added). But you didn't say all that originally did you, well...?! Hmmm, on 2nd thoughts, suppliers that always come up with automatic and immediate excuses for literally everything. Well, I've lots of those already. (Strikes Sprogget Inc. off the list of promising future suppliers...) ;)

Sprogget
5th May 2009, 15:57
I'll resist the tempatation to unsplit hairs...You assume you were ever on the list of potential customers?:p

airship
5th May 2009, 16:03
Touché (as they say hereabouts). :ok:

Capot
5th May 2009, 16:18
Mixture

I am indebted for the information about the 30-day rule; we live to learn.

I wonder if that makes an invoice issued outside the deadline null and void?

Just a thought, as I think of various suppliers who don't seem to know the rule either!

cockney steve
5th May 2009, 16:58
I haven't looked at the rule concerned, but no doubt there's some arcane waffle about the invoice-date being deemed the date of supply unless indicated to the contrary......

Was like Sproggit, (and goatface's garage)....I was more concerned with mending cars than pushing a pen :\ fuel customers were invoiced within a couple of days of month-end. corporate customers invoiced within a fortnight........anyone i didn't know/trust cash on collection.

In over 15 years, I lost less than £500 on bad debts and the worst of them was another small business who dripped their fuel-bill, knowing they'd planned to do a runner.......later I found their grand house was hocked to the eyeballs and they had negative equity.

I trusted my customers,- they trusted me and I built some good friendships there.

Sprogget
5th May 2009, 17:42
In over 15 years, I lost less than £500 on bad debts

The worst one we had was an £55k debt. We had a big corporate customer with whom we would do 30-40k/month. They were sold to a bigger corporate beast who stopped paying everyone. We stopped them, threatened them & eventually served a statutory demand. That did the trick. They paid up the following day in full. It's the old saying; a sale is not a sale until it's in the bank. And these days, who knows how safe that make it?:rolleyes:

Dushan
5th May 2009, 18:39
Chances are good that the next time you bring the car in for service and they open up your file to log it, they'll find the outstanding charges.

mixture
5th May 2009, 18:42
Capot,

I am indebted for the information about the 30-day rule; we live to learn.

No problem. Glad to have been of help.

I wonder if that makes an invoice issued outside the deadline null and void?

I am no expert in the matter and would suggest a professional advisor.... however, I would hazard a guess that whilst the invoice may not necessarily be null and void, the VAT inspector may be very unhappy.

Good question though ! Perhaps if I have difficulty sleeping sometime I might peruse through the HMRC website a bit more just out of pure curosity ! Might be a while until you hear back from me, as sleep is generally not a problem after a day in the office ! :ok:

Whirlygig
5th May 2009, 18:59
The invoice won't be void but sure enough, VAT man would not be a happy puppy if the business had an inspection. At best, you'd get a lecture and further inspections; at worst, a penalty and interest charge based on the VAT that should have been paid over on time.

Cheers

Whirls

mixture
5th May 2009, 19:04
I was just thinking about this a bit more, and Whirls basically got there before me with further detail.

My thinking is that the invoice per se will remain valid. However it will not be a valid VAT Invoice.

Hence potential expectations of treatment by HMRC as suggested by Whirls.

mustpost
5th May 2009, 20:23
On a small but similar transaction in 1981, I paid for my nice and v expensive Thorens transcription deck (£250+:eek: when did I have that money?) with my shiny new Amex card. Shop goes out of business, no bill - until - 2 years later, new owner of enterprise submits paper receipt complete with rusty paperclip mark thru' Amex. Guess what? I was still due it according to my contract.
Dagnabbit..

Sprog/Airship
Girls! Girls! (c A.Sim) Touché



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