Posts Tagged ‘defamation suit’

The Welbeck GroupFriday we received a letter from the Financial Ombudsman asking for a few more documents in relation to our dealings with the Welbeck Group.

Readers of this blog might like to see some of the correspondence and documentation from our dealings with Welbeck.

I’m attaching a letter sent to Greg Knight, Head Honcho of the Welbeck Group, which was ignored.
A second letter was sent to him, and that was also ignored.
It was after the ignoring of both of these letters and the hanging up of the phone by Cathy Booth that I went down to the office and demanded a cheque from them.

I was given a check but it was almost 2,500 pounds short of what they owed.
As yet, they still haven’t admitted that they owe this money even though we have all the documentation proving that the money is still outstanding.

For more than 2 years we’ve been trying to get this money back, and that’s the main reason for keeping this blog.
The Welbeck Group seem incapable of admitting that they owe this money.

I don’t understand why.

Unless of course they’ve lost all their documentation.

But that’s no excuse.

When the Welbeck Group threatened to sue us for defamation, our solicitor sent them all the documents they might require, which PROVE they still owe this money.

All they have to do is LOOK at the documents and even do some adding up.
They should be able to do that, they offer financial services after all.
My partner, the one they ripped off, is a teacher, not even of maths, and she can add up better than the Welbeck Group can.

If you’ve found this blog after being cold called by the Welbeck Group, I’m not saying they’ll treat you as they treated us, as in sign a contract, take your money, refuse to give the money back, ignore, then bully, then threaten to sue you because you told the TRUTH about how they treated you.
But, on the other hand, there must be a lot of other companies around offering the same services that don’t have a negative blog written about them.
Someone once told me they thought the Welbeck Group were refusing to hand the money back because of ‘principle’.
This has nothing to do with principle.
The Welbeck Group signed a contract, decided not to honour it.

So then, you decide if you’d like to hand money over to these people!

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Apologies for the overly long post but I thought it was about time that I posted on this blog. I am the partner to whom Jasmine Wet Cocker (known from now on as JWC) refers to in this blog and I’m the person who made the original investment with the Welbeck Group.

As you will already have read I invested money to buy property through them but only bought one property because their property division closed down soon after. As a result money was owed to me by the Welbeck Group as laid out under the terms and agreements of the contract I signed with them. This contract was very clear as to the fee schedule for the property that I had purchased. There then began a rather protracted battle to get the unallocated funds returned to me. According to the fee schedule they owed me approximately £8200 but, as you’ve read on this blog, they were very reluctant to return this to me, providing all sorts of excuses but never explaining why.

During the next 6 months there were almost daily phone calls to the Welbeck Group by a third party employed to retrieve monies for all the investors left in the lurch by the closure of Welbeck property division. Eventually when this third party had exhausted all avenues to retrieve the money and my phone calls to Welbeck were not returned , JWC took over and had a couple of calls with Cathy Booth that were less than fruitful! Eventually after JWC told Cathy Booth that that she was going to come to their offices to pick up the cheque or stand outside with a banner they at last provided a cheque of a little over £6000 when she turned up. They did not provide an explanation as to why they were not paying the full amount due to me, nor did they provide a reconciliation statement or any other documentation. They simply gave her a cheque (after a lot of kerfuffle searching for it), in an envelope.

I was then faced with the prospect of taking them to the small claims court to retrieve the rest. To be honest, at this point I’d lost the will to live after six months of stress and hassle trying to get them to return even some of my money, I couldn’t at this stage face going through the courts–hence why JWC suggested starting this blog instead.

All went quiet for several months and then around April of this year people started to comment about their cold calling tactics. This brought the attention of this blog to Welbeck and it seems they weren’t very happy about it! A representative from the Welbeck Group (who called himself their troubleshooter) called JWC to arrange a meeting. At this meeting (which I was not present as I was abroad working) JWC was offered some money to take the blog down and there was an implication by him that there would also be compensation for the stressed caused. He also admitted to JWC that Welbeck had not handled the situation very well. This meeting was fairly amicable but it was clear that the Welbeck representative was angling for a quick solution. He suggested that if we did not accept his offer they would take us to court and that we would lose if this action was taken.

Initially JWC agreed to password protect the blog, but then changed her mind as she wanted a legal friend to have access to it to advise her. In addition I wanted to wait for the agreement to be put in writing before agreeing to anything and smelled a rat when the troubleshooter texted me asking for my bank details before the agreement had actually arrived. Why was he in such a hurry I asked myself? When the agreement arrived in the post it was clear why. It was obvious that they were not prepared to accept any responsibility for what had happened as there was no reference to the monies owed nor any acknowledgement that that they had handled the situation badly. To cap it all by signing it we would be agreeing to not defame them further, the implication being that we had already defamed them! Although I cant be certain, I think they asked for my bank details so that they could pay me before seeing the agreement thereby forcing us to accept its terms. Of course we were not prepared to sign and I wrote to Welbeck Wealth asking them to return the approx. £2200 owed, and once this had occurred, we could start negotiations regarding the blog.

After this they got fairly aggressive and we received several phone calls and a letter from their solicitors threatening legal action for defamation for comments made about them on this blog. As things were getting a little hairy we had no choice but to instruct a solicitor to act on our behalf. We instructed someone who is a specialist in media defamation law and were advised that most of what is written on the blog could not be considered defamatory at all and that the rest was either justified or fair comment–both of which are legitimate defence against such claims.

Their solicitor then sent us a letter of claim outlining what specifically they were unhappy about – you can see some of this in this blog. Again our solicitor advised us that the majority of the claims were not even defamatory and the rest were justified and/fair comment. Our solicitor offered to settle this amicably but then, after making us an another unacceptable offer to remove the blog they abruptly stopped all negotiations. They are now given us the “silent treatment” again. At this stage we are not clear as to why they’ve taken this course of action–I can only imagine that they either are not bothered about this blog anymore or they are not prepared to settle on our terms.

This whole process has raised a number of interesting issues. Firstly it’s fairly clear to me that Welbeck has handled this whole situation in an unprofessional manner. If after their property division closed they had called a meeting to discuss the monies owed to me I’m sure we could have sorted this out. Instead they ignored my phone calls and gave very limited information to the third party. In addition my letters sent to the managing director Greg Knight were ignored, and on the rare occasions I did manage to get through to them by phone, they were either abrupt or rude or put the phone down on JWC. They did not provide me with a reconciliation statement and never have they provided any documentation regarding the monies they think they owe me. On this basis alone by any reasonable standards of customer care this would not be acceptable. We must remember that is a financial services company–they do not sell coffee or socks–they invest other people’s money. As such, one would expect that they would at the very least, keep comprehensive documentation and detailed financial statements for their investors. This certainly did not happen in my case and I am fairly certain that had I and the third party, not battled with them for so long and had JWC not threatened to stand outside their offices with a banner, I wouldn’t have got even the £6000 back.

Furthermore, in their initial approach to us about removing the blog, their representative met JWC over beer in a cafe in London. They sent along a representative who called himself a troubleshooter. Does Welbeck have rather a lot of trouble to shoot if they have to employ somebody specifically for this purpose? Would it not have been more professional to conduct the meeting when we were both present and at their offices rather than in a rather casual atmosphere of a cafe? Is this the type of meeting one expects from a financial services company? During this meeting, pressure was applied to JWC by the Welbeck representative in threatening legal action if we did not accept the offer and furthermore the representative misinformed her by implying that we would lose any legal battle.

In addition, the agreement they sent us was clearly not going to be acceptable to us (I mean who in their right mind would sign a document implying that they had defamed Welbeck?). Rather than agree to return my money and then re-negotiate the removal of the blog, they followed up my response to it with further “pressure” phone calls and more threats of legal action and not correctly following pre-action protocols. For example their solicitors only gave us 24 hours to respond to a 4 page letter of claim, when the pre-action protocol on defamation states we are to be given up to 14 days. Presumably they had instructed their solicitors to take this aggressive stance in the hope that we would be bullied into taking the blog down. Unfortunately for them we are not the kind of people to cave into such threats.

As a final “Hoorah” someone from Welbeck stupidly made posts on this and other blogs of JWC’s pretending that they were an innocent party when in fact the posts were coming from the Welbeck IP address. -not a particularly clever or professional thing to do in my view. I note that one of their posts asked us whether we hate men. I wonder what this person means to imply by this? JWC and I are a gay couple but you may be surprised to learn that not all lesbians hate men! Anyone who has read the blog will see in what context JWC made the comments about an all male photograph in the reception area of the Welbeck offices and any reasonable person would conclude that there is no implication that JWC hates men.

The second thing that we have drawn from all of this is that companies such as Welbeck have to be very careful how they treat customers in the future. Gone are the days when a customer who is treated badly can simply be ignored. Blogging and the use of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are the new democracy. – and furthermore it seems that as long as blogs contain information that is based on truth or what the blogger thinks is the truth then it cannot be considered malicious or defamatory. I note that several other posts on here relate to their cold calling tactics. I am not in a position to comment about these but taken as a whole with my experience of them – readers you can make your own judgements as to whether you want to hand over any of your hard earned to them!

This blog acquires approximately 1000 new hits every week and about a quarter of these are from people who directly Google Welbeck Wealth or Welbeck Wealth Reviews – so one can only assume that this is having an impact on them financially. Interestingly at the café meeting, the Welbeck troubleshooter told JWC that he could not guarantee that other customers would not be treated as badly as I was in the future. Apart from being a rather astounding thing to own up to, it justifies the continued presence of this blog as it serves as a warning to potential customers who have been cold called by them and naturally Google them as a result. Whilst no company can guarantee that they will always treat their customers well, they should at least strive to and to try and settle disputes amicably. Welbeck have consistently and spectacularly failed on all fronts

And the lesson one hopes Welbeck has learned is- “Treat your customers badly and its likely to hit you where it hurts you most – in your wallet” .

And here’s a link where Greg Knight talks about how much Welbeck rake in.
Why is it soooooo hard for Mr Knight to hand over the coupla’ grand then?
Hey, Mr Knight?
Hey?


The following bullet-pointed paragraph comes from the letter I received from Welbeck Wealth’s solicitor on the 23th of June threatening to sue me for defamation-

  • “I think Welbeck might have to remove their (for fair treatment of customer)* certificate unless there’s a section for companies who withhold monies owed, hang up on their clients, ignore them and then threaten that security won’t allow them in their offices to collect their money.” The ordinary meaning calls into serious question the level of customer services of the organisation and also makes specific reference to the company withholding monies owed.”

Here’s a link to post where you can read about the money-owing bit and here’s a more detailed post on how I was hung up on by Cathy Booth.

*The bracketed wording was added in the letter threatening to sue me, it doesn’t appear in the original blog

Lots of people have been sending me emails about what Welbeck Wealth have threatened to do to me.  Some say they’re outraged, some feel sorry for me, some are just supportive. Those emails have made me think about what it actually FEELS like when someone threatens to sue you for defamation.

Let me tell you what it doesn’t feel like.

  • It doesn’t feel like your girlfriend has dumped you and is now having sex with the guy who’s moved into your spare room.
    So the feeling isn’t heartbreak.
  • It doesn’t feel like when you see an ad on TV from one of those charities asking for money to protect children who are being bashed senseless by their own parents.
    So the feeling isn’t pity.
  • It doesn’t feel like when you see a news article where yet another priest has been found to have been serially abusing children for years on end while the Catholic church protected him, moved him from parish to parish so he could start all over again with new victims.
    So the feeling isn’t rage.
  • And it doesn’t feel like hearing over the telephone that your father is dead, or that your aunt’s cancer has returned, this time in the lungs.
    So the feeling isn’t sorrow.

No one’s threatening to accuse me of murder, or aggravated assault or paedophilia or…lying.
Let’s put this into perspective.
I’m being threatened with the being sued for defamation.
And I’m being threatened with a defamation suit because after months of being privately ignored by Welbeck Wealth, I publicly told the story of their refusal to hand over £8000.

There we are, all put into perspective.

Oh…and here’s a link* that states their annual turnover to be around 12 million pounds.

*4th posting down
(THIS WAS REMOVED BY THE FORUM)

And here you can read about what happened when I went down to the office to try to get the money.

And here you can read about why this all started.

And this has been going on for TWO years now.

On the 23rd of June  I received a letter from solicitors acting for Welbeck Wealth, Cathy Booth and Greg Knight, threatening to sue me for defamation over some parts of this blog.

So I got me a solicitor, too.

If you’re a blogger interested in issues of defamation, I urge you to read the rest of the blog starting here.

**********************************


or How I Got my (some) Money Back From Welbeck Wealth


When I get out of the lift at Welbeck’s there’s no one at the reception desk. There’s a sign saying ring the bell for service, kind of like a nasty seaside b & b. Is it a sign of the times that Welbeck can no longer afford a receptionist?

So I ring the bell and a tidy pleasant young man attends to me. Such a difference between this young man and the Cathy Booth person who hung up on me  yesterday, or the Greg Knight person who won’t reply to mail.

I tell the tidy pleasant young my name and that I’m here to pick up a cheque from a Cathy Booth.
He tells me to take a seat while he goes to find it.
But I don’t sit.
Instead I go and stand near the window and stare into a glass cabinet, a bad-taste prism-shaped kind of thing, something like Superman might have kept his razor and shaving cream in in his bathroom back on Krypton.
It’s all erect and angular, a testosterone tower of photographs of men in suits smiling at the camera and giving each other trophies for golf and fishing and making lots of money and other important stuff.
There are no women in the photos in the Krypton Kabinet.

And interestingly, no awards for customer service.

There are a couple of those ugly cut glass trophies with the name Greg Knight on them and I start looking at name badges pinned to the mens’ suits in the photos. The name badges are too tiny to see any names but I think I know which one is Greg Knight. I think it’s the one with the wide head who smiles out of many of the shots while other men  shake his hand and give him trophies.
He’s looks like a man who might recite sections of Ricky Gervais dvds at barbecues.

On the wall to the right of the cabinet is a framed pale green certificate that proclaims Welbeck Wealth participate in a thing called a fair treatment of customers scheme. Or something like that.
It seems it’s a kind of organisation in which companies get together and agree to treat their customers in a nice and fair manner.
I think Welbeck might have to remove their certificate unless there’s a section for companies who withhold monies owed, hang up on their clients, ignore them and then threaten that security won’t allow them in their offices to collect their money.

There’s not much to look at after that so I sit down in a chair and look at a woman who’s also waiting there until I’m distracted by a man ferreting through some draws at the reception desk (ferrets ferret, right?). I recognise the man from the testosterone tower of awards; it’s him himself, the trophy winning Greg Knight.
‘I’m sorry,’ says Greg Knight, ‘we can’t seem to find your cheque,’

If you’ve come across this while looking for reviews of Welbecks, then the fact that they’ve lost a cheque they wrote less than 24 hours ago should be review enough. What kind of place is this? I wouldn’t trust them to get my clothes off the line and put them in the right drawers let alone organise my finances.

I smile up at that wide head of his and think about where Waterstones is so I can get the ingredients for the placard I’ll make if they try to send me away without the 8000 pounds they owe.
‘Amazing isn’t it,’ I say to the woman waiting here with me who I’d been looking at earlier, ‘how difficult it is to get them to find the money when they owe you it,’
She smiles and says really and asks me what was happening.
It looks like she’s a potential client and I’m thrilled and almost dribbling at the thought that I might be able to lose Welbeck a client right here and now in their very own offices.
‘They’ve owed my partner 8000 pounds for 6 months and have ignored phone calls and letters threatening them with solicitors so as a last resort I’ve come down here to try to get it myself. And now they’re pretending they’ve lost it,’
The woman gets one of those ‘Oh my God’ frowns on her face.
‘Yes, and yesterday Cathy Booth hung up on me. They are so unprofessional. I threatened to come down here with a placard and protest on the footpath outside if I didn’t get my money back and they told me I’d never get past security. They have caused my partner such stress over the last 6 months.’
‘Well what reason did they have for not giving you the money?’ she asks.
‘Cash flow problems they told me.’ I say. What do you call that final thrust of the sword when a bull is felled in a fight? My internal crowd is on it’s feet, cheering me.

Cathy Booth was not only unprofessional but perhaps foolish to tell me that ‘Cash Flow Problems’, amongst many others, was the reason Welbeck Wealth couldn’t give the money back.
I’m happy now though that I can ‘share it with the group’ so to speak.
‘Oh my God, really? That’s reeeeeally interesting,’ says the woman.
‘Are you dealing with that Cathy Booth or Greg Knight?’ I ask her.
‘Yes, one of them,’ she says and just then a small woman with long dark hair comes out to greet her and sees us talking.
The woman gets up to leave and thanks me for the information.
I say good luck, you’ll need it.
As they walk off I hear the small dark haired woman ask if the other woman if we know each other.
‘No, we just got chatting while we were waiting.’ she says and I sit there and wait until Greg Knight brings me over a cheque for 6000 pounds and I leave.

————————————————————————-

I’m sure if the woman mentions what I told her the small dark haired woman will have some story different to mine. But the story, for anyone else thinking of dealing with Welbeck Wealth, is that they owed money and didn’t want to, or even worse for a company that is supposed to offer financial advice of all kinds, COULDN’T give back.

Rather than go down the costly time consuming avenue of ‘legal action’ I decided to shame/frighten them into action.
I told Cathy Booth I would ‘slate’ Welbeck Wealth all over the internet, that I would post this story to every financial forum I could find, I told her I would parade out the front of their offices with a placard every day until they gave me the money back.
And I told her I’d spoken to a journalist who was interested in the story. What I didn’t say was that it was my partners son who was of course interested in the story from a personal view point, but told me journalists are wary of being used to settle disputes.

For 6 months Welbeck Wealth behaved appallingly, ignoring phone calls, emails, letters and then eventually lying about a finders fee and deducting 2000 pounds from the 8000 pounds owed. They simply did not want to give the money back and in the end found some way to hang on to a bit of it.

I know for a fact my partner is not the only person in this position. There are other clients, or perhaps former clients of Welbeck Wealth who are owed money. I don’t know the sums, I just know they’re owed.

Welbeck should not have treated my partner in this manner. Powerless to do anything else, I resorted to threatening them with…well, this kind of internet publicity. I’m going to keep this blog up for the same length of time it took to get the money back from them.

But if Welbeck Wealth want me to take it down, it’ll cost them 1% of …no, wait, 3% of 210 thousand pounds.

…think I shan’t!

Something about Welbeck Wealth and Cathy Booth and Greg Knight has wound me up very tightly.
I can imagine that if Cathy Booth or Greg Knight were owed 8000 pounds by someone to whom they had paid their money in good faith, expecting good and perhaps friendly service in return, they’d be well pissed off to find themselves in this situation.

Do people like Cathy Booth and Greg Knight leave their humanity at home when they go to the office? How are business people, or people involved in business, taught to behave on business courses? See, the thing I find disturbing about ‘business people’ is that for them it is ALL and ONLY about money. Obviously people who go to business people, or financial advisors with the idea of making some money are probably a little bit hungry for the ‘greeback’ too, but probably not as ravenous as one who spends several years studying it at university.

I have nothing against business people, only those who don’t return my calls when I want my money from them, people like Welbeck Wealth,
people like Cathy Booth who when finally confronted with the prospect of REAL ACTION, ie; a one-man picket line outside her office, behave extremely unprofessionally by hanging up on me.

I didn’t raise my voice to Cathy Booth, I was not rude, I simply told her that I would be at the office of Welbeck Wealth at 8:30 am to collect my cheque. Perhaps what cathy Booth didn’t like was that I wanted to take money FROM her rather than give it TO her.

It is better to give than to receive, innit.

You’ll find that out tomorrow, Cathy Booth, Greg Knight and Welbeck Wealth.

So, bored by waiting I call the extension of a Cathy Booth to let her know I’ll be down to Welbeck HQ in the morning to collect the cheque. But Cathy doesn’t seem too happy about this. She tells me they’re having some problems with cash flow. I tell her this isn’t my problem. Then she tells me not to worry, that I’ll get the money, but before she can say…’in the mail’, I tell Cathy Booth I want an appointment with the someone so I can talk about picking up the cheque in the morning.

Cathy Booth puts me on hold while she goes to speak to something called a ‘Greg Knight’, something it seems that has more power than a Cathy Booth.
I wait for a while and then the Cathy Booth comes back on the line to tell me the cheque will be coming in the mail.

No, I tell the Cathy Booth, I will be there in the morning to pick it up.
The Cathy Booth then starts to throw around her muscle.
‘You won’t get past security,’ she tells me.
Which almost makes me giggle.

I’ll be down there at Welbeck HQ, I tell cathy Booth, at 8.30 am and I want my cheque for 8 thousand pounds waiting for me at the desk. ‘It will be minus a 1% finders fee,’ the Cathy Booth then lets me know, hesitation in her voice.
‘I don’t think so, Cathy Booth,’ I say, ‘I’ve looked at the contract and all fees have been paid.’

The fact is, someone on the inside of the Welbeck company has seen the file that says I will be receiving 8 thousand pounds. I don’t let Cathy Booth know this, I’ll keep this as ammunition just in case she doesn’t give me a cheque for 8 thousand. Then the Cathy Booth does a most extraordinary thing for the representative of a major investment company.

She hangs up on me.

The following is what Welbeck say about themselves…of course, it isn’t what I’d say about them.

“Welcome

Welbeck Wealth specialise in a variety of areas from conventional financial planning to more sophisticated tax solutions. Whether you require personal or business advice, you have access to a wealth of experience through professional consultants who are experts in their field.

Regardless of your personal circumstances or monetary status, our aim is to deliver cost effective compliant solutions that are tailored to your individual needs.

Our consultants will use the combined resources, knowledge and experience available through the various divisions that make up Welbeck Wealth, to ensure you achieve all your financial objectives.”

BULLSHIT! I wouldn’t give them 10p to go down to the shops for me.

protst

Because whenever I call to speak to someone at Welbeck about my money no one is ever available to take my call I’ve decided that tomorrow I will be down at the Welbeck HQ, at around 8.15 am, with a placard that reads, ‘Welbeck where’s my 8000 pounds?’
Hopefully that will prod them into action.
Why get a solicitor involved when the press would surely be more interested in a disgruntled FORMER investor waving a piece of cardboard on a stick?

The scene might look a little bit like something on the left there.

A year ago I invested some money with Welbeck Wealth. This was money placed on account with Welbeck to purchase properties.

I signed a contract that clearly stated that any unallocated funds would be refunded to me.

I bought one property through them and requested refund of the remaining unallocated funds about 6 months ago.

Since then I’ve spoken to one person in the company, they sent me one email asking which property I had purchased and that was all I heard from them.

They now ignore my letters and don’t return my calls and I KNOW for a fact that I’m not the only one in this situation.

If you are owed money by Welbeck Wealth, use comments to leave your story.