What do you do if you place an order for heating oil, and none arrives? This is what happened to Go Locate customer Martin Armstrong, in December 2010, and we describe his sorry tale here to show consumers how they can get their money back.
Mr Armstrong placed his order with Go Locate, by 'phone, on 10 Dec 2010. The money, £745.92, was taken from his account four days later. He had never been given a delivery date or name of supplier, despite repeated calls and emails to the Go Locate offices.
After getting nowhere in finding out who would supply his oil, Mr Armstrong finally asked if Go Locate would be using Southern Counties Fuels (as they had done for a previous delivery), and they said "yes".
The relief of this knowledge was short-lived, as a call to SCF revealed that they knew nothing of an order in Mr Armstrong's name. In fact, they had never even heard of Go Locate! It did transpire that SCF were aware of very little, however, as they couldn't even find a record of their previous delivery back in March - even when Mr Amstrong quoted the date and delivery note details previously printed out by the SCF delivery tanker driver.
Mr Armstrong was quickly realising that he may never see his oil delivery, so he rang the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) whose Consumer Direct service gave excellent advice about the supplier's obligations under Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000. He was advised to write to Go Locate, recorded delivery, quoting the regulations and stating his intention to recover payment if there was no delivery within 30 days of the order being placed.
One minor snag is that the Go Locate Website shows an office address in Rawtenstall, Lancs but shows no postcode. The Royal Mail online postcode finder could not provide a postcode. Even the Royal Mail postcode special enquiry service operator could not find a postcode. Mr Armstrong eventually had to ring a property agent advertising office space in the same building, to ascertain the actual postcode. For the record, the postcode for the new Hall Hey Business Centre is BB4 6HL. [NB The full address is listed in the website's golocatefuel.co.uk domain entry.]
The first letter went to Go Locate posted 6 Jan, using Royal Mail's 'Signed for' Service, costing £1.15. (Incidentally, the Royal Mail Track and Trace still shows delivery outstanding on 26 Jan.) First cancellation letter (.doc format).
In anticipation of Go Locate's failure to fulfill the order, Mr Armstrong placed an order on 7 Jan with Total Butler (an original supplier who Go Locate undercut), and they delivered on 14 Jan. The service that Mr Armstrong received from Total Butler was "excellent".
This is Mr Armstrong's diary entry for the morning of 11 Jan:
Go Locate Fuel have still not delivered 1,000 litres of oil ordered on 10 Dec, for which my account was debited on 14 Dec. If the oil does not arrive today, then the 30 days will have expired and I shall exercise my rights under the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 to cancel the unfulfilled contract and instruct my bank to recover the payment. Communication from Go Locate has been nothing short of appalling.
Once 30 days were up, on 11 Jan, Mr Armstrong was able to ask his bank to initiate Charge Back. At no stage had he been given any indication of a delivery date beyond "probably January" when the order was placed. He then sent a second letter to Go Locate, posted using Guaranteed Next Day Delivery at a cost of £5.05, and enclosing a copy of the 6 Jan letter; it was delivered the next day. Second cancellation letter (.doc format).
There was still no response from Go Locate until 24 Jan when Mr Armstrong received an answerphone message saying that according to their records, the oil has been delivered, and "could I please let them know?" He responded by email and sent a copy by first class mail (£0.41) to his bank, who have no external E-mail service. Thus far, his bank has dragged its feet and apart from two 'holding letters', Mr Armstrong was still awaiting the money being returned to his account. His message to Go Locate is as follows:
Dear Ms Martin,
Further to your call today, no oil has been delivered. As advised in my letters, copies of which are attached, since no oil was delivered within 30 days of the date of my order, the order was cancelled on 11 January 2011 (my letter was received by you and signed for on 12 January 2011 - see attached). I therefore placed an order with an alternative supplier who delivered on 14 January and whose invoice has today been paid by post, today. As instructed, my bank has initiated action to recover the payment taken from my account by Go Locate, on 14 December 2010.
Copy by post to:
xxxxx Bank Debit Card Services
Finally, on 26 Jan, Mr Armstrong received the chargeback into his bank account and he could now regard the sorry mess as resolved. He had to endure a severe oil shortage for one month, setting the central heating thermostat at 10°C to eke out the remaining oil (except when his family visited at Christmas).
It appears that this experience is not an isolated case. Other similar complaints are listed at www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk forum and reviewcentre.com, describing non-deliveries or even surcharges - after payment - to make a delivery. One ripped-off customer reckons that Go Locate are deliberately playing the commodities market by delaying the time between taking payment and satisfying the order, gambling on a price fall in the meantime. Enfuriated customers who threaten to cancel the order are told that there is a 15% cancellation charge, despite no specific mention of this on their website. (There is a general condition of reserving the right to charge an admin fee.)
If you have had similar "failure to supply" issues, please add a comment below. If a supplier gave you excellent service, especially during the tricky cold period, we'd also love to hear from you!
by jackie rowe
on 27 February 2012 Reply
PLease do not use a webb site wholesalepricesheatingoil.uk I have been conned by the webb site I placed my order the beginning of February and have still not received my oil. They are still offering the oil to people.
on 30 October 2011 Reply
As an employee of Go Locate at the time, I can confirm that there was no scam, nor were we 'con artists'. People ordered fuel at a time when the whole country was under a blanket of snow and ice. As the service we gave was a grouping service, where multiple orders in certain areas were delivered together, it clearly stated on our website it can take up to 30 days to be delivered (under normal weather conditions), we were unable to give a definitive date. Also, as an INDEPENDENT company, we used multiple companies. Once the required amount of oil in an area was accumulated, we contacted these companies to get their prices for the delivery, and the order was placed with the best one. This is why we were unable to give the name of the company. If we only used one supplier then we wouldn't have been independent! All the information was clearly outlined on the website, including the option for a 'High Priority' delivery, which under normal circumstances took 2-3 days to be delivered, with date and name of delivery company given once the order was placed. Unfortunately the majority of people chose the cheap service but then expected immediate information, which wasn't available due to the ordering process. We live in a world nowadays where it's always someone elses fault, and so it was easier to blame us and slag us off rather than hold hands up and admit they ordered the wrong service by mistake.
on 18 November 2011 Reply
If there was no scam, then why are there so many people on this site saying they never received thier money back from Go Locate? http://www.reviewcentre.com/reviews258082.html
Sounds to me like they tried to play the market with other peoples money and when the prices went up, and up and up - they were left in a position where the price was higher than the customer had paid - and the end of the story - many customers out of pocket with no oil.
I can't beleive you even said "We live in a world nowadays where it's always someone elses fault, and so it was easier to blame us and slag us off rather than hold hands up and admit they ordered the wrong service by mistake." The only mistake they made was ordering from that site - especially when the "staff" have an attitude like that.
Its an expensive lesson to learn - buy ALWAYS check a site out before you place an order. There are a number of initiatives in place to protect consumers - but make sure that they are not just using the logo e.g. ISIS (internet shopping is safe), VeriSign, HackerSafe, VBV (Verified By Visa) etc and genuine/independent review sites such as: reviewcenter etc. If in doubt... do a google on their domain name!
by philppa hitchborn
on 18 May 2011 Reply
This company are so out of line they have been featured on "get done get dom" and dom got some customers money back, but now they have gone in to liquidation so I think we can all kiss or hard earned cash good bye. Dom did say that we could register our claims with the receivers of the liquidation but how wedo that I dont know
by Ian Kirkby
on 20 May 2011 Reply
if you find out how to register a claim with the liquidators can you please post it here (I lost out too).
by Gone away
on 13 May 2011 Reply
Yep Go Locate have GONE for good and that's official. These con artists should be locked up for a long, long time. Dont buy anything from anyone online unless you can find LOTS of independent positive reviews and ALWAYS pay by credit card.
on 13 May 2011 Reply
Well we DID think they had gone....but do a google search-whats the website under construction?
by Diana Ralston
on 26 April 2011 Reply
I ordered and paid ?640.50 for a litre of oil on 11th January, decided next day I wasn't happy that they could/would not give me a dlivery date,and asked to cancel the order. After a huge row they still refused to allow me to cancel and have a refund. Were very rude to me actually. After a month and still no delivery I told my bank and they chased it as fraud through Go Locate's Bank and the happy news is I received my money back into my account on 20th April. I will always stick to the local supplier from now on. I feel so sorry for everyone who has been taken in by this company, they are heartless.
by Ian kirkby
on 20 April 2011 Reply
I ordered fuel in Nov and it never arrived. Started legal procedings but the required letter I sent tham has now been returned as 'undelivered'. An appalling company (are they still in business?). Worse, it's probably too late for me to claim the money back from the credit card company.
on 15 March 2011 Reply
All i can say is Dito, i ordered Dec 19th and after loads of e-mails to Ben at Go-locate i finally cancelled the order Feb 6th, he confirmed cancellation but guess what no refund, have just sent the credit card non recieve form in, hopefully i will get full refund
by Will Batts
on 04 March 2011 Reply
Ordered and paid for 1000 lt of fuel from go locate in October, After many emails, we were promised a refund, that was over a month ago! where to now?
by Ian kirkby
on 20 April 2011 Reply
Will, can you please give me the email address you used for them as my emails have all been bounced back? Many thanks.
by will Batts
on 23 April 2011 Reply
Hi Ian, Sadly the Go Locate email is no longer in use!!!!Still not got my money back, despite contacting the bank for a charge back two months ago!
by Ian kirkby
on 30 April 2011 Reply
Thanks for the reply Will. Suspect they have 'done a runner'.
by John Swindells
on 04 March 2011 Reply
You need to let your bank know that the order wasn't fulfilled, and that you'll need a chargeback.
To correspond with Go Locate, you can use the letter templates (word documents) linked to above. You may also want to get in touch with Consumer Direct to confirm your course of action.
Add your comment
by Howard Malleson
on 28 February 2011 Reply
Perhaps the fact that Go Locate undercut Total Butler was the first warning that Go Locate were too good to be true. Setting up accounts with a number of local suppliers and only paying after the oil is delivered may be a safer arrangement.
by John Swindells
on 01 March 2011 Reply
I'm not sure that I agree with your logic; there can be lots of reasons for one supplier (or even an intermediary like Go Locate) to undercut another. In this case Go Locate appeared to be unwilling to satisfy an order if the price moved against them.
by maria landesmann
on 29 March 2011 Reply
Go locate have now 'done a runner' with thousands of pounds of money, There was never any intention of supplying fuel they only delivered occasionaly to prolong the con. Flame.tv's dom littlewood is investigating the case & recruiting stories,of which are many, mine being one i never recieved oil or a refund! good old fashinoed con-artists & i'm sure they'll re-open under another name soon.