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NSW Letter of Demand - Blackmail and Extortion?

Discussion in 'Criminal Law Forum' started by Terrim, 13 November 2014.

  1. Terrim

    Terrim Active Member

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    Not too sure if I have the right group. please bear with me. :) I am not usually asking legal advice
    I have recently sold an item online and the buyer has a problem with the item. I have no dispute with that but I have asked for time to repay and given reasons. I have also offered possible solutions to make it quicker. she has also offered solutions but we can't seem to agree.
    In her last message to me she states
    "I have sought the advice and guidance of my legal counsel concerning what has now become a legal matter. He is issuing you with a " letter of demand" which you should receive either tomorrow or Monday. In the interim, if I receive $150 + $100 for legal fees I have incurred, this matter will be "dropped" and no further action will be taken"

    Is this legal for her to demand money this way? And should I have to pay those lawyer fees? The discussion between us only started yesterday 12th November.
     
  2. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Hard to give advice without the details of what was wrong with the item, without knowing how much the item cost and without details of the discussions.

    At face value there is a legitimate dispute over 'something'. She can therefore make the request for money in an attempt to settle the dispute, but you are under no obligation to pay it. I can make no judgement on the reasonableness of her offer.
     
  3. Terrim

    Terrim Active Member

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    Hi Rod and thanks for your time. Everything in Italics is a direct quote from messages.
    I will try to include all the details and if you have any questions please ask
    I sold a piece of 1930ish pottery to Kat on Facebook for $860.00, my description said
    There is a line of glaze? or something on her left shoulder. One spot of this has come off and left a white spot.

    she has received the item and messaged me to say
    I am in receipt of the hula lady and sadly have to inform that she is NOT as described.


    She has a crack/fracture on her shoulder which leads to the paint loss area which you provided photographs of in the listing. You can feel the crack when you rub your fingers over the area.


    As an avid Barsony collector Terri, I have a policy of not buying items damaged or repaired.


    I replied I am willing for you to post her back but I am unable to provide a refund ATM. It wouldn't be a long wait for your money though.

    I was selling this for another person and I had already given her the money. I just don't have that much lying around.

    her reply
    I guess, just as you required payment prior to posting, I have an issue with posting her back to you before obtaining a refund. We're not talking about just a few dollars...


    I'm happy to hold onto her until you have the available funds to refund me.


    I then asked for and received photos of the area with a probable crack. it seems to show that she has washed off what I described as glaze splotches and found a crack underneath.

    I then offered her a solution
    I think I may have a solution. with your permission i will list her on ebay tonight for 7 days. when the winner pays me, I pay you and you post to the winner.

    She rejected that saying it would take too long and came up with her own solutions
    I have had a "verbal" quote to repair her which will be a minimum charge of $150. So, I would be happy to keep her if you refund that amount.


    Alternatively, I would like a FULL refund within the next 3 days including the return postage to you $15.95 so total amount to be refunded is $895.95.


    I then asked for a day to consider. This was all on the same day she received the piece.

    Her reply
    Terri, I am insulted by your previous message.


    I gave you ample time and provided resolutions to this issue and I simply don't understand why more time would be required for an amicable resolution.


    You have left me without and alternative and I will now proceed with a PayPal dispute to resolve this matter.


    i replied
    You don't understand that I do not have the money to refund you directly. I am trying to find a way to get you either the full amount or the $150.00 I have asked for another day to do this. I don't believe you have given me ample time at all.

    and this is where it starts to get confusing LOL

    Well that's debatable, I know the E Bay and PayPal process and I paid you on Sunday night therefore the funds would have been available to you in the last 24 hours, I would now like a full refund, the $150 refund is now NOT an option, I am so annoyed. I will wait until I turn it in for the evening to hear back from you one way or the other.
    ie. you refund me in full within the next 72 hours or I lodge a claim for full reimbursement.

    She clearly does not know the paypal process or she would have continued with a dispute :)
    At this time I realised I had forgotten to tell her that I had already paid the original owner. I told her this and that a paypal claim could take three weeks.

    Then you should be asking your "friend" for it back !!! Sorry, there appears no remorse in anything you've muttered...I am livid !

    I replied that I would not be asking for it back
    This was my problem and i will take care of it. If you give me 7 days i can come up with the full amount or if you are willing to take a step back and accept the $150 for repairs then i can send that now.

    then I got the last reply
    I have sought the advice and guidance of my legal counsel concerning what has now become a legal matter. He is issuing you with a "letter of demand" which you should receive either tomorrow or Monday. In the interim, if I receive $150 + $100 for legal fees I have incurred, this matter will be "dropped" and no further action will be taken.

    I do apologise for the long tale, I just didn't know how else to say it LOL
     
  4. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    Short answer is yes, she can ask you for money if money is what will solve "the problem" (whatever "the problem" here actually is).
    A "Letter of Demand" is lawyer-speak for the first letter written from a complainant to the person they have a problem with. it is often written by a lawyer.
    It is neither blackmail nor extortion.

    Are you a business, or are you a private seller (not being a sole trader)/ hobbyist?
    If the former, then this may be a transaction to which the Australian Consumer Law applies.
    If the latter, then it may not.

    I suggest communicating with emails and/or letters, not phone calls.

    Above all, ask yourself the simple, basic question - is it worth $250 to you
    to get this matter, and this person, out of your life?
    If it is, then maybe just give them the money and let it all be over.
     
    Amanda E likes this.
  5. Terrim

    Terrim Active Member

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    I am a hobbyist not and only do this for the love of it.
    I will send her $150.00 today but can she insist on the "legal fees" of $100.00? which seems a bit excessive for a letter.
     
  6. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Yes. But again you are under no obligation to pay it. Suggest you speak with the person who gave the item to you to sell to see if they agree to reimburse you so you are not out of pocket.

    DO NOT send part money until agreement is reached and you are happy to pay the $250 total. It may obligate you to pay the remaining $100 when you don't want to pay it.

    Like this. The purchaser seems to have a legitimate case however the manner in which they are dealing with it leaves a lot to be desired.

    BTW, curious about what the paypal policy is on refunds and returns. Does the purchaser need to return the item first?
     
  7. Terrim

    Terrim Active Member

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    Well again she has jumped ahead and now she has opened a paypal dispute. I will negotiate through them and refund her after she sends it back
     
  8. Terrim

    Terrim Active Member

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    thank you for all you help, much appreciated
     
  9. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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    It's not just the letter. It's the time with the client, the accurate identification of the both the problem and the solution.
    As to the fee of $100, I would be inclined to think that it was on the low side, actually.
    Certainly I would charge more than that.
    You can ask for an invoice as proof of the amount quoted.
     
  10. AnnaLeah

    AnnaLeah Member

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    Hi,

    I wonder how did it go?

    I'm not a lawyer. I see something not right with the buyer's approach. The buyer did see the photo and description. Yes, true the crack was not visible. I think that having looked at the item and read the description she should have realised there was a crack as glaze coming off meant some sort of a problem, i.e. it is damaged.
     

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