25th June 2009
The Fair Pint Campaign has welcomed the decision by NatWest to repay nearly £4,000 in fines taken by Enterprise Inns by direct debit from a lessee for buying beer outside of their tie conditions.
NatWest has agreed that fines taken via direct debit from Lesley and Billy Auluk who run the Old Neighbourhood Inn, Chalford Hill, Gloucestershire, weren’t authorised and that the practice of taking money from people who are accused of buying out of their tie conditions by direct debit is an improper under the Direct Debit Guarantee. NatWest have refunded the money to the Auluks and will be reclaiming the money from Enterprise Inns in due course.
The Fair Pint Campaign have called on other tenants who have been accused of buying out and have and fines taken from them without their approval by direct debit to contact their bank and to seek to reclaim their money,
David Morgan a Chartered Surveyor and Fair Pint founder member who advised the Auluks in their case said:
“NatWest’s decision is very significant. It is clear that taking unauthorised charges from bank accounts which haven’t been agreed by the account holder is an improper use of the direct debit system. This means that companies who have been imposing charges through the direct debit system could face paying back millions of pounds to publicans.”
“It is unbelievable that pubco’s believe that they could get away with behaving like this. Leases are like any other contact, if companies believe that their tenants are breaking the terms of their lease they should be prepared to have the legality of the charges and the accuracy of the Brulines equipment they use to police the tie tested in court, not simply taking money without any authorisation.”
“I would urge all publicans who have had Brulines fines taken from them via direct debit without authorisation and may therefore be eligible for a refund to contact Fair Pint on firstname.lastname@example.org or advice about how to claim the money back.“