Legal services are provided mainly by firms of solicitors. However, now there are all sorts of organisations cropping up that are offering legal services. The Co-op are one such organisation. You have may have heard their adverts on the television, or radio or seen them in the newspapers.
If you have a legal problem and are thinking of using the Co-op to provide your legal services, then there are a number of factors you need to think about. These include brand, price and location.
The Co-op promises to offer cheap rates from a recognisable and, for many consumers, trusted brand and has the funding behind it to spend an awful lot of money on advertising. The Co-op, for many, is an ethical brand that is attractive to many people. However, it is important to distinguish between the Co-op’s normal brand, predominantly related to its supermarket and shops and then compare whether that brand crosses over well to their legal services sector. Some people might say that the Co-op brand at the moment is not as attractive as it once was, particularly in view of the 2014 financial black hole that it has and of the problems that it has had with its Chief Executive. There is also the general factor of who would you want to deal with your legal affairs – a supermarket chain or an actual firm of solicitors?
CO-OP FIXED PRICES
In terms of pricing, then the Co-op claims that it offers cheaper rates compared with other solicitors. However, that is not always the case. Its hourly rate, which in 2013 was around £125 plus VAT per hour maybe a little cheaper than the average lawyer but the fixed fee work that it is extensively advertising appears to be quite pricey and more expensive compared with other solicitors. Our fixed prices are lower than the Co-op’s.
For example, for a cohabitation or living together agreement, the Co-op is charging £660 plus VAT whereas we at Seatons would charge around £500 plus VAT. So in that case, the Co-op are charging an extra £160 plus VAT more than we would normally charge.
The other big problem with the Co-op is that they don’t put their fixed fee rates on their website and it is only by making contact with the Co-op that you can get a better idea of what they actually charge. Quite often though, when people pick up the phone to the Co-op, then even if the costs are more expensive, some people find it easier just to instruct the Co-op there and then rather than comparing prices and looking elsewhere.
With probate work, then at the time of this review the Co-op also charged extras such as set-up fees, activity fees, transfer of stocks & shares fees, Royal Mail redirection fees and if their customer instructed anyone other than themselves to do any other work such as instructing their own estate agents to sell a property, or to instruct their own conveyancing solicitor, the Co-op will charge extra for that as well. When comparing the Co-op’s probate fees with ourselves, we never charge these sorts of extras.
The other big factor to think about is location. If someone instructs the Co-op or some other national organisation, then they are often going to end up dealing with a lawyer based hundreds of miles away who they are never (or rarely) going to see face to face. Some people might say that is a good thing….! but in our experience we believe strongly in meeting up with people face to face where at all possible. When dealing with their legal problems quite often people prefer the personal approach and prefer to deal with local specialist lawyers who they can talk to face to face, who have your best interests at heart.
CO-OP FUNERAL SERVICES
With probate work, quite often the people ring the Co-op because a family member has died and the Co-op Funeral Services refer them to their legal section who initially offer free advice but then end up trying to get the legal work.
In our opinion it is unwise to be taken in by the Co-op Legal Services initial free advice service.
Always obtain an alternate estimate or quote from a local firm of solicitors.
CALL US NOW
We at Seatons are known as “The Friendly Professionals” and we always offer a free, no-obligation discussion to assess your situation and determine if any legal work is necessary. We believe we have an excellent reputation in Corby, Kettering and Northamptonshire generally and our prices are generally lower than those charged by the Co-op or other similar national organisations. You also get to deal with a local specialist who you can see face to face, if you want to rather than dealing with somebody in a call centre or some other office factory based miles away.
Give us a call and try us. We are confident you won’t be disappointed.