After reading my pieces on the shameful tactics of ratings ‘specialists’ Abbey Rowe, Steve Vaughan got in touch. He runs Handbridge Services in Chester and wanted to recommend a national company he has used to get his rates reduced.

Step forward CVS, which bills itself as the UK’s leading business rates specialist and the UK’s fastest growing property services firm. It is also an Estates Gazette award finalist for National Property Advisor of the Year 2014. The company has been around for more than 15 years and says it has helped its clients realise savings of above £500m.

So I asked the company what retailers should expect/watch out for when dealing with rating agents. First of all, the agents should all be qualified chartered surveyors. CVS says some of its surveyors have experience of working at the Valuation Office Agency, providing  an insight into the appeals process.

As I’ve said many times, the company should be a member of  the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, which means it will be compliant with the professional, ethical and business standards set out in its Code of Practice.

On top of this, CVS is also a member of the Institute of Revenues Rating & Valuation and member of the Institute of Customer Service. In fact, it offers each client a dedicated account manager who will keep you updated at every step. 

The company sent me a whole slew of information, but there’s just room for two more points: CVS has an average reduction of 8.7% in the 2010 rating list and it will never demand money upfront. Or, as Steve puts it: “They saved me money and they just take a piece of the action.”

Following our exposure of Abbey Rowe’s tactics, Ken Batty – a chartered surveyor in Preston whom I have recommended for many years – got in touch with a vital piece of information.

He writes: “Just to let you know that any firm that is suggesting that there is a cooling off period of seven days has clearly not read the latest government edict on this. The minimum cooling off period is 14 days. So clearly these contracts are null and void in any event.”

Further proof, should it be needed, that Abbey Rowe was just making it up as it went along.