By Angela Frewin
More hoteliers claim they have been landed with hundreds of pounds-worth of cleaning fluids they don't want after cold calls to their staff from Diamond Supplies of Sheffield. The hoteliers face legal action if they don't pay up.
Earlier complaints came from a Lancashire restaurant, a Wiltshire hotel, and a theatre in Birmingham (Caterer, 27 November 1997, page 10, and 26 February 1998, page 8).
Gilly Everett, owner of Harrogate's Scotia House hotel, claims her housekeeper confirmed an order for 25 litres of Buster Extra degreaser/sanitiser worth £186.25 plus VAT in February in the mistaken belief that the holidaying owners had already ordered. "We would never order that amount," said Everett.
Stephen Elliott, general manager of the George hotel in Hathersage, Derbyshire, said that his head chef ordered a similar quantity in March in the mistaken belief he was accepting a trial sample.
While Elliott has decided to pay up, Everett still faces legal action despite taking the unwanted containers back to Diamond's head office last month.
Simon McMillan, Diamond's head of legal services, said the delivery had not been accepted as it posed a health and safety hazard at the offices, and should have gone to the warehouse.
Diamond manager Michael Josephs stressed that most customers had liked the bacteria-killing degreaser product and were reordering, and no one had complained about its effectiveness.
While the telesales promotion of the cleaner ended in March, Josephs said its success meant it would be repeated in the future.
He was aggrieved at what he saw as a "hard core" of people trying to avoid paying their debts by suggesting they did not order, or were persuaded to order "in some mysterious way" over the phone.
Joseph insisted Diamond Supplies had done nothing wrong. All orders were checked by a recorded follow-up call to verify the person was authorised to purchase, and customers were offered a 10-day £50 cancellation fee. He suggested complainants might have some "internal problems" that needed to be addressed.