Want to cancel domestic cleaning contract - UK
January 8, 2019 4:25 PM   Subscribe

I want to cancel with my cleaners (UK), they’ve not been great for a while and I just got a rather odd note from them. Difficulty - I’ve lost the paper contract which I’m sure had a very draconian cancellation clause - how best to proceed? Thanks!

Cleaners have been not great for a while - final straw: I got a handwritten note saying they put the price up last month (no advance notice) and they want me to buy one or other named brand of pricey hoover and pay for more time for them to do a task which was always part of the bargain and hasn’t changed. The problem is I’ve lost the paper contract. I recall it said something like you had to cancel in writing something like six months or so before your contract signing anniversary (which might come under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 about fair contracts as unfair but I’m not a lawyer).

Best scenario is they’re not crazy about this job and the note is an excuse to dump me, worst scenario they try and enforce the tricky cancellation clause and try to get a year’s money out of me for not cancelling in the annual cancellation window. The note asked me to call them on the phone about it. (I think they are a one woman band now) How best to proceed?
posted by Flitcraft to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They will have a copy of your contract that they can
send you. Ask for it. As someone who works for a company that contracts with members of the General Public, I am aware that our customers frequently don't keep track of their contracts, let alone actually read them. Your situation is not at all unusual. The company will have your contract and will be able to provide you a copy. I'm not even the person at my company who deals with this, and I could do it for a customer in a matter of seconds, right from my phone, no problem.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:51 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]

Id tell them the increase in price would require a new contract which you refuse to sign, and additionally you will be giving them written notice you will not renew (not cancel) their contract.

I don't know how you would get out of the notice requirement for early cancellation. You can ask them to send you a copy of the contract.
posted by perdhapley at 4:54 PM on January 8 [8 favorites]

I'd just play dumb and send them something in writing to the effect of, "I will not be needing your services going forward. Please remove me from your schedule. Thank you for all your help." If they want to hold you to whatever is in the contract, they will let you know what the terms are. Otherwise, badda bing, you're done with them.
posted by kitty teeth at 5:43 PM on January 8 [21 favorites]

Hmm I would combine the approaches already posted. Ask for a copy of your current contract. They should have it on file to give to you, with your signature. Then tell them (in writing) that their price increase/demands would require a new contract and are not acceptable to you. I believe they would have to take you to small claims court to collect on whatever ridiculous thing is in their contract, and it’s probably not actually worth it to them. Even if they did a judge would probably rule they can’t make you continue service at a different price.
posted by permiechickie at 6:46 PM on January 8 [3 favorites]

I wouldn’t even start with the contract—why borrow trouble? Just tell them you’d like to stop their services. If they bring up the contract, then tell them you don’t have it, and they’ll need to show you a signed copy.
posted by whitewall at 8:20 PM on January 8 [2 favorites]

I would just tell them their services are no longer required. How do you pay them? Unless they can directly charge your card or take money from your bank account then if they want the money they're going to have to take you to court which is going to be a lot of hassle for a one-woman cleaning company - and will cost her money up-front to file the claim.

With phone/tv/broadband contracts, mid-contract price rises about RPI mean you can get out of the contract for free but that's an Ofcom rule not a general contract law. (although tbh, I was surprised it was even legal for them to increase prices mid-contract so that may also be specific to those kinds of contracts)

Start with just firing her, then if she presses the cancellation fee, refuse, if she continues to press, ask for a copy of the contract. You mention the service hasn't been great for a while, you might find she's in breach of her own contract and if the price is specified in the contract then trying to change it would be a breach of contract (unless the contract specifies that she can increase the price without notice - I would then claim it was an unfair contract and therefore unenforceable)
posted by missmagenta at 2:21 AM on January 9

I agree with prior posters that you should just start by saying you'd like to end your relationship. But if things do get legalistic:

I recall it said something like you had to cancel in writing something like six months or so before your contract signing anniversary (which might come under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 about fair contracts as unfair but I’m not a lawyer).

If you are a consumer rather than a business customer, such a clause would almost certainly be covered by section 62 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, meaning that the clause would be unenforceable if "contrary to the requirement of good faith, it causes a significant imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations under the contract to the detriment of the consumer." It all depends on the details, but a court would be likely to find a draconian clause like that unenforceable.

Any price-escalation clause would probably also be governed by the same test and would also probably fail the test. In particular, the Act states that "[a] term which has the object or effect of giving the trader the discretion to decide the price payable under the contract after the consumer has become bound by it, where no price or method of determining the price is agreed when the consumer becomes bound" is presumptively unfair and unenforceable.
posted by EtTuHealy at 3:24 AM on January 9 [2 favorites]

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