The trial of four salesmen accused of deceiving customers of a Bury St Edmunds company has heard allegations of fraudulent sales techniques.
It has been claimed that boxes left empty on lease agreements were filled in by the men while the period of the lease would be greatly increased by amending what customers believed they signed up for.
Christopher Gill, 39, of The Vinefields, Bury St Edmunds; Gary Green, 53, of Peregrine Road, Ilford; Alan Wilson, 50, of Curzon Street, Burton on Trent and David Leather, 50, of Trafalgar Road, Manchester have all pleaded not guilty to fraud by false representation.
The prosecution has been brought by Suffolk Trading Standards who claim the four were involved in ‘dishonestly inducing’ customers into long-term leases with the only way out being the payment of large cancellation fees.
Ipswich Crown Court heard allegations this week that the four salesmen, who worked for DWS Environmental Ltd in Bury St Edmunds, did not confine their activities to East Anglia.
Swe Aung, who works as an administrator for a language college in Fleet Street, London, said she was visited by Christopher Gill on February 2 last year and had discussed the possibility of leasing a water cooler.
Shortly afterwards a cooler was plumbed in at the college on behalf of DWS Environmental but Ms Aung said it bore no identifying marks and she had not signed any lease agreement.
Giving evidence, Ms Aung said she was certain that no agreement had been entered into by the college with DWS Environmental.
She said she was unable to explain why congestion charge records failed to show Gill’s company car being in London on February 2.
Charity worker Dianne Sorenson told the court that she had signed up for a six month lease for water coolers and took the precaution of photocopying the agreement document before salesman David Leather left her office.
When an attempt was made to terminate the contract in the belief that the term had expired, was told that she had taken on a 63 month lease and would have to pay a £3,300 cancellation fee.
Ms Sorensen told the jury: “I was quite appalled.”
The leasing company, Chivington Finance and Leasing who the prosecution say had ‘close links’ with DWS Environmental, refused to back down despite being confronted with the photocopy of the agreement, said Ms Sorensen.
The four defendants have admitted that while they did change figures on agreements it was with the consent of customers who were fully aware of what was happening.
The trial continues.