Tony Hetherington is the chief investigator of the Financial Mail on Sunday, fighting the corners of readers, uncovering the truth behind closed doors and defeating those left out of pocket. Find out how to contact him below.
In the dog house: Advanced Pets does not disclose its address and key data on its website
Mrs EE writes: I ordered and paid for pet food from Advanced Pets in Gloucester but have not received anything. Emails were not answered and a third party company answered the phone saying the lines were busy.
The firm asks for details and says someone will get back to you, but no one does. The company issues invoices without contact details.
On the review website Trustpilot, several people believe that the positive reviews are fake. Fortunately, I was able to get my money back from my credit card.
Tony Hetherington answers: The invoice you received from Advanced Pets is a mess. It charges VAT without showing a VAT number and the closest thing to the address is ‘Advanced Pets – UK’ written in very small print. Trustpilot shows many detailed complaints, with 66 percent of reviewers rating the business as poor, while a surprising 27 percent say it’s excellent. And indeed they say she was offered a 20 percent discount when she gave a five-star review.
Advanced Pets is a website based business, but their website is as bad as their service. Some of its terms apply to the United States. Others refer to UK law, which is confusing in itself as business conditions covering firms in England usually say they are governed by the laws of England and Wales, as Scotland and Northern Ireland may differ.
Even the usual privacy statement is absurd. It refers to “Advanced Pets doing business as Advanced Pets”, but as there is no such registered company, it is legally meaningless. Some of the firm’s terms of sale have blank spaces that have never been filled in, and there is an entire section devoted to California state law.
Who in California can order dog biscuits or chew toys from Gloucester thousands of miles away?
At the heart of it all is one very basic offense. Customers have a legal right to know who they are dealing with.
Details of limited companies can be viewed for free in Companies House records, but Advanced Pets is not a limited company.
Anyone doing business under someone else’s name must disclose their full name and address they can be contacted and where legal documents can be filed. This information is not on the Advanced Pets website or on the invoices, but I can tell you that Aaron Price is behind it.
When I asked him why there were so many complaints, he said, “Since we launched our website, we’ve gone from 10 to 15 orders a day to 100-150 orders, which our infrastructure wasn’t quite ready for.
“I’m personally still shocked by the sheer volume of orders we’re getting.”
And he added: “I’m sure you won’t mention in your report that we offer families around our Gloucestershire area absolutely free monthly dog and cat medicine or pet food to support low income families.” .
Price offered no comment on the terms of his firm or his failure to provide clients with the information he is legally entitled to, but he told me his address is 37 Naunton Road, Gloucester GL4 4RD. If his name and this address don’t appear on his website and invoices soon, I hope Trading Standards in Gloucester step in.
Meanwhile, disgruntled customers now know who and where to turn.
IRS won’t let me use my online account
AC writes: I have been registered to use the Revenue & Customs Online Service through the Government Gateway scheme to manage my personal tax account.
But I discovered that I was locked out because I hadn’t used it in three years.
An attempt to renew my registration proved impossible due to questions about my identity.
AC has been registered to use the Revenue & Customs Online Service through the Government Gateway scheme
Tony Hetherington answers: Part of the registration renewal process meant you had to provide information about your passport and credit history. You’re sure you’ve answered the questions accurately and honestly, but the system has rejected you, claiming that some of the information you’ve provided is inaccurate.
You applied to the income inspection, but the officials did not help. As they pointed out, if they told you the “correct” answers, they could easily help someone impersonate you.
I asked the staff at the Chief Revenue Office what you should do and they suggested that you seek help. But when I looked at the instructions it said “Make sure your personal details and address are up to date with your personal tax account or you could breach your phone’s security”.
Since your problem was that you were denied access to your tax account, how could you ensure that its details were up to date?
Fortunately, the officials managed to move the posts. One told me: “Customers can now use a UK driving license as one of two forms of ID required to verify their identity at a government gateway.”
Surprisingly, until a few weeks ago, driving licenses were only accepted in Northern Ireland.
You have now received a call from the IRS and have successfully guided you through the extension process.
The collector made a mistake with the door
Mrs. S.M. writes: I am 80 years old, I am a widow, I have been living at the same address since 2013.
I am sending you a letter that I received from Moorcroft Debt Recovery Ltd which has my address but someone else’s name and is demanding £1013.
I am concerned that my address may get a bad credit rating and I am very concerned that Moorcroft may send recovery agents to me.
Ms. SM is concerned that her address may get a bad credit rating and is very concerned that recovery agents may show up at her door
Tony Hetherington answers: You told me that you and your husband, who you lost in 2018, have always paid your bills on time, so let me start by assuring you that your credit score is safe because of the personal debt records. and not just with their addresses.
Still, it took me less than ten minutes to track down the man Moorcroft was targeting. I am not naming her today because she may not know that there is a claim against her and she may not be a debtor at all. I’ll just say that she lives near you, although her name is not at all like yours.
I asked Moorcroft if this was all just a mistake – or did another woman allegedly use your address to get a loan?
The answer is that it was an error by the third party debt tracking firm for Moorcroft and your address was expunged from their records. Moorcroft apologizes for the distress and inconvenience caused and you will receive £100 to compensate.
If you believe you have been a victim of financial fraud, please write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email email@example.com. Due to the high volume of requests, personal responses cannot be given. Please send only copies of the original documents, which are unfortunately non-refundable.
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TONY HETHERINGTON: Advanced pets serve a dog’s breakfast
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