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Home Observatories UK


Steve Lintott
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30 minutes ago, gilesco said:

In which case he won't be able to take deposits for new business, he's already not answering the phone. I think that's a good thing, until such time people get what they ordered, or a refund, no?

Absolutely, I think the company is a disgrace, and I am so glad I built my own, as I had a quote from these guys, and was very close to going ahead….lucky escape me thinks….😮👍🏼

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 22/02/2022 at 12:28, Steve Lintott said:

All, FYI, I just heard from Gareth. I won't go into details but HOUK is still in business but clearly has a large backlog to clear.

Gareth was very apologetic.

I may get my shed installed in the next 3 months, or less

Hi Steve

I ordered an observatory from these guys too, back in sep 2021. I've been trying to get an update from Gareth but haven't been able to get in touch. been Trying for 2 weeks but no reply to any calls or emails. One of the times we spoke he told me about losing his wife, and that she used to do all the admin which goes someway towards explaining his rubbish communication. Their actual craftsmanship seems top notch but its such a shame about all the uncertainty that comes from such sporadic updates.

Have you had any contact with them since February?

Edited by Ben Whittle
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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

An acquaintance of mine got a call from HOUK some weeks ago to say his Observatory would be installed in about 3 weeks time.  Several weeks later he got another phone call from HOUK to say he had had a nervous breakdown and was unable to get the work done.  Also that he had no money to buy the materials.  My friend has given him until the end of June.  I can't mention his name as I didn't ask him if I can post this.  But not looking good.  I am not surprised he has had a nervous breakdown if in fact this is genuinely the case. 

But not looking good for any-one with bookings,  

Carole

Edited by carastro
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Carole, that doesn't sound too promising if true.  But it does beg the question where has all the money he has taken as  deposits, (which should at lease cover the material costs) gone. ??

If he is running into heath issues, either mentally or physically and the business is suffering, then he should have done something on the website which still gives the impression its business as usual.  Taking on more orders, orders that he hasn't a chance in hell to fulfil isn't going to help his condition if it is genuine.  

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4 minutes ago, Mount Longlevens said:

I paid them a 3k deposit for my observatory last year buy bank transfer and haven't heard a word I have not received even confirmation of my payment to HOUK.

I would be taking some action by now, that’s just unacceptable in my book.

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I think a recorded delivery letter with proof of the transfer, with a letter asking (demanding!) acknowledgment and confirmation of delivery date within 7 days or that you will take it to the small claims court. How small is small? Will they handle something like this? Hope so.

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On 08/01/2022 at 11:33, dannybgoode said:

Sadly not and whilst slightly OT worth explaining for anyone paying for anything on CC.

A quirk of Section 75 is to whom your contract is with. If you use a CC via PayPal then the contract, as far as S75 is concerned, is between you, your CC company and PayPal. 

Assuming PP then forward the funds on to the end supplier they have fulfilled their contract to you and you have no rights against the end supplier under S75 should goods not turn up etc.

So, you are always better protected if possible, to pay the supplier directly with CC.

Clearly this isn't an option with HOUK however of course. 

FWIW, I can corroborate this after I got scammed by a Chinese 'company' I later discovered had quite a history. I ordered a couple of camping chairs, complete with canopy, which they switched for a couple of cheaply made drawstring bags and then altered their website after the fact. Since I'd taken screenshots at the time of order, I was certain that I had ordered chairs and not bags. However, Paypal sided with the scammers and insisted that I return the bags at my expense to China before they would even consider refunding me. The history I discovered also revealed that Paypal had been advised of this and several similar "switch" scams by the same 'company' and yet Paypal were still providing service to the scammers. I thus considered Paypal complicit in the scam, cancelled my account and have refused to do business with them since (even if that meant being unable to purchase something I really wanted).

As a last resort, I contacted my credit card company who confirmed what @dannybgoode wrote: that I'd used my CC to pay for the service that Paypal provided and not to pay for the goods. Hence S75 of the CCA did not provide a remedy unless Paypal were in breach of their own T&Cs and hence did not provide the promised service.

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it saddens me how innocent customers get this sort of treatment. i think it would be a lot more helpful to everyone  on sgl if this kind of problem is reported on here openly as soon as the bud starts to form, then we are all forewarned,  followed by an update on the situation good or bad asap. in this way other fellow astronomers know to tread carefully with the company mentioned. 

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The problems for HO UK have been in plain view for quite some time, when I come across a web site with the bespoke design that they have I often check contact details (lack of an actual address), , try to locate their premises via Google maps (not present), and google street view (no such business on the industrial estate). It's in forums such as this that I also do my research (which is how I came across this thread in the first place).

I don't believe, however, that they are scammers in the sense that they're going out to get cash from people without even trying to provide a service. I just think that it is a business that's gone wrong, and the money (deposits) have been mismanaged (i.e. taken out of the business for the business owners personal needs). It appears that this has then led to stress, and a nervous breakdown. I have some sympathy for the situation, but I have more sympathy for the people who have lost out expecting a product. Buyer beware, and I would certainly not fork out a deposit via bank transfer without a written contract.

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Posted (edited)
Quote

I think a recorded delivery letter with proof of the transfer, with a letter asking (demanding!) acknowledgment and confirmation of delivery date within 7 days or that you will take it to the small claims court. How small is small? Will they handle something like this? Hope so.

I think some-one has already done that, he didn’t respond to the courts either and the Bailiffs were sent to his premises only to find HOUK had moved.  

Carole 

Edited by carastro
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I bet he has simply done nothing with his website since his Admin lady died.   

But there appears to be a place to write reviews on the site, not sure if that will work.

Carole 

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2 hours ago, Mount Longlevens said:

I paid them a 3k deposit for my observatory last year buy bank transfer and haven't heard a word I have not received even confirmation of my payment to HOUK.

Struth, my 2.2m x 4.8m DIY build came to that amount and that included the HEQ5 mount it houses.   Whilst the comments regarding PayPal is not encouraging as they would have paid HOUK on your behalf, the money trail would show that you have made payment for goods not received.  But as noted by one other member, even if you win a claim through the courts it still doesn't mean you get your money back, even if you sue the person and not the company.

I don't know how the law stands if a company ends up going bust, but a CCJ is still outstanding against it or the directors / owners.  By that I mean in terms of they would get the full amount awarded by the courts or if they would get a portion of whats left after DWP and customs takes their lions share?

With regards to scamming people... Well my take is that whilst he may not deliberately defrauding people, the fact that his site is still up and gives no indication of the problems he or the company are having is misleading and is still tantamount to fraud as its clear through this thread he lacks the means to provide the finished goods yet is still willing to take peoples money an use it for personal gain, even if that is just to pay domestic bills. 

The original thread that questioned if HOUK were still trading does show up in a google search, although not as a bold listing, just under related observatory posts on SGL, which is a shame as if any potential new customers discovered this and the original thread it could save them thousands of pounds in the long run 

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This company are still at the top of the largest search engine out there. How is this still possible with what I'm reading on this thread? It sickens me to think that fellow astro enthusiasts are being defrauded by a company that is maintaining its trading image in this way. I am not on facebook but surely this is all over social media? Unbelievable in my eyes. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

For those interested I heard today from the owner of Home Observatories Uk. I like many others have placed an order and have been waiting some time for either replies to emails etc. Had a long conversation with the owner who was very apologetic and explained some of his issues etc, that i won't go Into detail here. The upshot is he will be in contact with those waiting for refunds or those who wish to still go ahead with installation. The website will be taken down shortly and no new orders are going to be taken.i myself have elected to still go ahead with my build as it's a custom design with special access for my disabled daughter. 

 

Regards

Jonathon 

 

Edited by Mount Longlevens
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2 hours ago, Mount Longlevens said:

For those interested I heard today from the owner of Home Observatories Uk. I like many others have placed an order and have been waiting some time for either replies to emails etc. Had a long conversation with the owner who was very apologetic and explained some of his issues etc, that i won't go Into detail here. The upshot is he will be in contact with those waiting for refunds or those who wish to still go ahead with installation. The website will be taken down shortly and no new orders are going to be taken.i myself have elected to still go ahead with my build as it's a custom design with special access for my disabled daughter. 

 

Regards

Jonathon 

 

 

Johnathon, that's quite an encouraging post for all those who are still awaiting communication from HOUK on either their order fulfilment or refund.  I don't think that you need to go into details, but it would be helpful if some indication as to the cause or reasons customers have experienced a poor quality of service.  It may even help as some customers may be more sympathetic when (if ??) they receive that phone call.

It's also good news that he's had the decency to confirm the website will be taken down to prevent further orders that he obviously is not in a position to fulfil. 

What sort of timeline has it been for you, and when are you having your observatory installed ? 

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