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What is England's equivalent to the US's Better Business Bureau

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Sep 13th, 2007, 02:36 PM
  #1
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What is England's equivalent to the US's Better Business Bureau

I would like to research to check and see if a rental agency has any complaints made against it.

Is that possible? Does such an agency exist in the UK?

Thank you.

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Sep 13th, 2007, 03:36 PM
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Maybe Trading Standards? This is a responsibility of local government here (contact the local council for whatever area the agency is based), but there's some general info at www.tradingstandards.gov.uk.
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Sep 13th, 2007, 03:51 PM
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I was going to say Ministry of Superior Commerce (which is a literal Yank-to-Brit translation).
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Sep 13th, 2007, 04:44 PM
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If compaints have been made against a trader, such as rental agency, they will have been lodged with the local Trading Standards (or a trade association if the firm is a member). While you cannot go to their website and find out about individual traders, unless it's of national interest (such as ones that recently ceased trading and owing a lot of money), you can phone up and ask and they may tell you about. You need to contact Trading Standards local to the area where the company is based, and you can find links through the local authority site, such as www.derbyshire.gov.uk and www.westminster.gov.uk
Government agency www.consumersdirect.gov.uk doesn't tell you if complaints have been made against a trader.
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Sep 13th, 2007, 05:06 PM
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Thank you.

alec, I was trying to figure out how to find to see if a complaint has been made -- thank you for explaining it. It also seems that they charge per minute for the information. Nevertheless, after I ask some questions of the rental agency, I think I will ring up the Trading Standards...just to be sure.
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Sep 13th, 2007, 05:12 PM
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seetheworld: I really don't think that would be very fruitful. Of course you can if you want - but the VAST majority of London holiday flat renters are from overseas. Even IF someone had a bad experience I doubt they would know how/bother w/ filing a complaint.

They'd just challenge the charge w/ their credit card if applicable, and put it up to "lesson learned" otherwise.
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Sep 13th, 2007, 05:17 PM
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They'd just challenge the charge w/ their credit card if applicable, and put it up to "lesson learned" otherwise

I have to wire money to a Scottish bank account -- I will have no credit card recourse. Or am I missing something? Is there a way to use American Express for this transaction?

This is what is REALLY bothering me about the rental...

I have googled and googled and cannot find a listing for London Property Management. The emails I am getting do not reflect that name but Dreamstravel. The answering machine at the business number simply states the two women's names. I am becoming paranoid at this point.

I want to know the the actual name that they are doing business as.

This flat rental business sound so easy when others do it.

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Sep 13th, 2007, 05:38 PM
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Some agencies do accept cc's - others don't. That is why I said "if applicable". Obviously not applicable in your case.

If you are uncomfortable w/ your contacts w/ this agency - keep looking. There are thousands of holiday flats in London. No reason to rent from a place if you have concerns . . . . .
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Sep 13th, 2007, 05:46 PM
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I'm sorry I missed that, janis. Just a bit on edge about this...seems like the perfect apartment. I'm hoping that when I call to ask the hard questions tomorrow, I'll get a feeling in my gut, one way or the other.
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Sep 13th, 2007, 05:56 PM
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I've been really lucky - I've rented probably 20+ flats and cottages in the UK, and maybe 1/3 of the time there wasn't even a contract. I've rented from individuals and agencies. Part of the difference may be that I am very familiar w/ the areas and what to expect.

But I do totally understand being worried (I must live a charmed life )
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Sep 13th, 2007, 06:05 PM
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To answer the question... the equivalent agency in the UK is the Better Business Bureau.
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Sep 13th, 2007, 06:16 PM
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Perhaps I am tired or slow, or a bit of both, but I don't get your response, robjame. The BBB is in both the US and Canada. What's the UK link?

Janis, 20+ times? A charmed life indeed.
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Sep 13th, 2007, 11:40 PM
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There's no equivalent.

It would be illegal for any organisation in Britain to reveal unsupported allegations against any individual, and courting catastrophic lawsuits to reveal unsupported allegations against corporations.

If you call the local Trading Standards agency and they DO reveal such tittle tattle, the official concerned would be courting serious disciplinary action.

However, you can easily check whether a company exists. Just go to www.companieshouse.gov.uk, select WebCheck and enter the company name. You'll find there are a couple with names like London Property Management: none called Dreamtravel.

No company with either name has a London area phone number registered at www.bt.com.

The first, simple, thing to do is to ask the people concerned what company they are. If it doesn't exist, don't deal with them.
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Sep 14th, 2007, 12:35 AM
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I'm not sure how bent out of shape I'd get about this, but if you are concerned, then get a contract.

There is a company called London Property Management Ltd, as Michael said.

If they have a web site, send us the link.

Try tripadviser.

By "bank account in Scotland" do you mean an acccount with the Royal? (that's just nosiness on my part).

If you have a contract, and you both sign it, the laws in the UK is robust enough to get you your money back if they breach it. Honest.
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Sep 14th, 2007, 01:48 AM
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http://www.bbb.org/Alerts/article.asp?ID=581

According to this news release BBB and WebTrader org and TrustUKhave a relationship. As this was a web-based transaction (?) you should be able to access their services through the BBB
"If you are a consumer who is seeking additional information, or need assistance with a complaint against a business, please contact your local BBB, visit the BBB web site (www.bbb.org) or call 703.276.0100
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Sep 14th, 2007, 01:52 AM
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..or contact directly:

"About TrustUK and WebtraderUK:
TrustUK (www.trustuk.org.uk) is a non-profit organization run by industry and designed to enable consumers to buy online with confidence. The Board of Directors is made up of consumer representatives and the heads of some of industry's largest trade associations and organizations committed to ensuring the UK delivers the highest commercial standards of e-commerce. A separate, independent Approvals Committee decides whether a code of practice meets the minimum standards set in TrustUK's Accreditation Criteria. The Approvals Committee also considers any appeals from consumers who feel a code owner has not handled their complaint in the proper, approved procedure.

WebTraderUK (www.webtraderuk.org.uk), which has agreed to provide dispute resolution services under the cross-border agreement, was established by the Direct Marketing Association as an accreditation program, and it is endorsed by TrustUK . The Direct Marketing Association (www.dma.org.uk) is the leading voice for the direct marketing industry in the United Kingdom. The DMA is dedicated to the protection and development of the UK direct marketing industry. The DMA has called upon the secretariat of the National Newspapers' Mail Order Protection Scheme (MOPS) (www.mops.org.uk) to assist in the administration of WebTraderUK. MOPS is the organization which accredits advertisers who place direct payment advertisements in national newspapers, so WebTraderUK benefits from the unique experience that staff has gained in over 25 years of protecting newspaper readers. Both the DMA and MOPS are non-profit organizations established to develop consumer confidence in distance selling. Compliance with the WebTraderUK code is monitored by the Direct Marketing Authority. In addition, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (www.arbitrators.org) provides the service for WebTraderUK"
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Sep 14th, 2007, 01:57 AM
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If people have refused to pay their bil or have sued the company then there may well be County Court records - which are public domain.

You could conatct a credit reference agency (Experian are the biggest) and see if they have any black marks against their name.

Also if they are registered with the local Tourist Board then it's a fair bet they're OK.
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Sep 14th, 2007, 02:56 AM
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To seetheworld -

we rented a property in London last Christmas through this company - Dreams Travel, also trading as London Property Management. This is the address on the booking terms and agreement form we were sent:

2 St Edmunds Square Barnes
London SW13 8SA

When I initially found out we would have to pay the entire rental amount for the week, up front, I was a bit dismayed but figured that's the way it is with apartments. Don't know why it's so different from a hotel where you pay when you leave.

We never met any of the people working at LPM but spoke to them on the phone because we had a few problems once in London. Firstly I spent ages picking out a certain property I thought we would like, good location etc then a few weeks before Christmas I had an email saying that property was no longer available (something about a gas leak which I thought sounded dodgy but may have been legit) and they offered us another apartment. I wasn't happy at all but thought we need somewhere to stay, so accepted.

The 2nd apartment was not what we wanted. It was lower ground floor which I hate, a bit dark, the TV did not work at all, no cable, no channels at all, as advertised. They came around to fix the TV while we were out getting groceries and left the window open with an antenna on the outside of the windowsill. Because it was lower ground, it was immediately obvious to anyone walking along the street that the window was open. Also it was the middle of winter! We had valuables in the flat so were pretty p-ssed off. More phone calls and they offered us another flat and someone (the daughter of a friend I think) came around with a car to help us move. The 3rd flat was great, we really liked it. We could have done without all the hassles though. They were quite helpful on the phone and did come through with a better flat in the end, much bigger and with all facilities.

Hope this helps in some way with your decision to send the money. If you want the fax, phone or email address off the form I have, just let me know.
Kay
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Sep 14th, 2007, 05:54 AM
  #19
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!!!! Kay !!!!

This is exactly what my husband said to me last night -- what is to keep them from saying there is a maintenance problem with the apartment and then they switch us to something else!!

Right is reserved to cancel any itinerary if deemed necessary and in the best interest of our clients. We will try to keep itineraries as booked except in cases of absolute necessity.

We have a problem with these terms.

Yes, Kay, please post the phone/email information. I would like to see if it has changed.

I am also very curious as to why this beautiful flat has no comments or why its calendar is wide open. True, people don't always post a comment, or a calendar doesn't reveal all booked dates, but this one is absolutely blank.

To sheila: It is the Royal Bank.

To flanneruk: I checked out LPM, LTd. and it is not the same. Thank you for the website.

To robjame: lol, I need my morning coffee before I tackle your information. Thank you.

To audere: Great suggestions. Thank you.

I am going to call them to verify the name under which they are doing business.

BUT so far my gut is saying to keep looking...


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Sep 14th, 2007, 08:52 AM
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Update: I spoke with the Manager (Kay are her initials KG?)

I was unable to reach her on her business line, so I tried her mobile number. The company is DBA London Property Management (Dreams Travels does bookings abroad). No website for this agency.

They are not reachable at the business phone becase they are moving their office. So the address and phone number on the booking terms and agreement form is not valid. So that further leaves us in a funny spot since it will be 2 weeks or so until they have a new location.

She went on and on about how lovely the flat is and all of the upgrades, the wonderful location, a porter on site, who will greet us on our arrival, etc. - the owner and her family use it in addition to renting it out. I voiced my concern regarding the terms and changing our accomodations, etc. and she said that would only occur should there be a problem w/ the unit, etc. She said someone just stayed at the apartment last week and would have him email me regarding it. We'll see if that happens.

The procedure is for us to complete the terms and agreement form, send it to them, they return the completed contract.

There is no question that we will not wire money until they can provide us with an address and business phone number.

She also went on to say that they have been listed on VRBO for 3-4 years and they wouldn't be there is they received poor feedback. Is that true?

I have a headache.
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