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Consumer watchdog probes tax claim company
A consumer watchdog says it has received complaints about a company which charges customers to investigate if they have been paying too much Council Tax.
West Yorkshire Trading Standards is urging customers of Council Tax Banding (CTB) Consultants to contact them if they are dissatisfied with the service they have received after a Bradford pensioner, who paid the firm £185 to appeal the Council Tax band her home was in last March, claimed she was still waiting to hear if her appeal has been successful and the firm’s phone line has gone “dead”.
The service offered by the firm, in Brookes Mill, Huddersfield, is not illegal, but residents can contact the Valuation Office Agency if they believe their property is in the wrong band and dispute it for free. A Trading Standards spokesman said: “We have received a number of complaints and would be interested to hear from anyone who has used the service and is less than satisfied with it.”
Customer Anne Melvin, 64, of Wibsey, Bradford, contacted CTB Consultants last March after she received a leaflet.
She claims she paid £185 for the company to see if she had been paying too much Council Tax because her house should have been in band A instead of band B, but when she called to check on the progress earlier this month found the phone line was “dead”.
Mrs Melvin has lodged a complaint with Trading Standards and has contacted Bradford Council and West Yorkshire Police. She said: “I can’t get hold of anyone and I don’t know what’s happening.
“A few months after I paid the £185 I called to check and was told it could take six months to process and not to worry. I called again three months later and again in September when I was told it was taking longer than expected.
“I think people need warning about this. It’s a lot of money for people to pay and I’ve since found out it’s something people can do free of charge. Pensioners who live on their own and disabled people may not realise this. I was told if my claim wasn’t successful I’d get my money back.”
The Telegraph & Argus made several attempts to contact CTB Consultants, but three numbers on its Facebook page were invalid or not in service. No reply was made to an e-mail request for comment.
Martin Stubbs, the Council’s assistant director of revenues and benefits service, said: “If people think that they are in the wrong band for Council Tax they should get in touch with the Valuation Office Agency to check it out for free and not be pressured in to paying for it.”
Visit www.voa.gov.uk or contact the local valuation office on (0113) 3884500. To contact Trading Standards, call 0845 4040506.