AN ABERDEEN dad has taken his 15-year legal battle to the Supreme Court over a laptop dispute.
Richard Durkin, 44, wanted to buy a laptop with an in-built modem as a Christmas present for himself in December 1998.
But he returned the computer to his local PC World store when it turned out to be a different model from the one he wanted.
Richard claims he was told his £50 deposit would be returned and the credit agreement he had signed would not be processed if the laptop was returned.
However, he claims staff at the store refused to take the computer back when he returned it the following day.
Now the offshore worker is at the centre of a long-running legal battle, which has already cost him £250,000, because he refused to pay the finance and was blacklisted.
He says the dispute has had a huge effect on his life – even jeopardising his plans to move to Spain – and he has taken his case to the Supreme Court in London.
Richard said his nightmare began after he went to the store on December 28, 1998.
He said: "Back in those days an in-built modem was quite a fancy thing. Some of my colleagues offshore had them and I asked for one.
"The chap in PC World said he didn't know whether it had the modem or not.
"He wasn't allowed to check it, which was a bit weird so I agreed that I would take it back to my house and check whether it had a modem and if it didn't, I would take it back the next day and that nothing would be processed and I would get my £50 back.
"But that didn't happen, the same guy refused to take it back and processed the agreement."
Richard, of Aberdeen, said there was no cooling off period for finance deals at the time, and he was furious to find out he was now tied in to the deal.
The construction surveyor left the laptop at the store and went offshore the following day.
He refused to pay instalments for the £1,499 computer and says he ended up being blacklisted by the HFC bank, which provided the finance.
HFC put a default notice on his Experian and Equifax credit files and he could not get the black marks removed.
Richard first encountered problems when he went on holiday to Fiji in 1999 and was refused an overdraft from his bank requested because his wages were late.
He said his bank, which he had been with for 10 years, explained to him that his credit was blacklisted.
Even getting married nine years ago turned out to be an ordeal because he had to raise the funds for his honeymoon and his wedding.
Then he was unable to buy a family home in Spain because he was could not raise enough cash for the 30 per cent deposit in 2003 due to the default.
The father-of-two said: "It is a nightmare, it's been difficult for us,
"We're still stuck here in Aberdeen when we wanted to live in a sun-drenched villa in the Costa Del Sol.
"Not being able to set up a family home, which is what most people aspire to, has had a big effect.
"And with all the stress, who knows what it's done to my health, I've even had a panic attack.
"It's affected my life and I just hope my kids haven't suffered too badly."
Richard decided to take his battle to court and won his case in 2008. The sheriff ruled that he was within his rights to return the laptop and cancel the sale.
He was awarded £116,000 pounds but the decision was later overturned by judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
By taking his case to court, Richard has racked up thousands of pounds of legal fees, many of which he had to put on his credit cards.
When the default on his report expired in 2006, he was able to get credit again but soon maxed out his credit cards paying for legal fees.
Richard said: "The interest on my credit cards were then very high.
"I ended up paying nearly 1,000 pounds in interest and I couldn't sustain that and defaulted on all of those because of the court case.
"I'm actually still defaulted now and I will be – unless the Supreme Court makes a ruling to encourage them to remove it – until 2016."
Richard hopes he will win his case when it calls in London at the end of the month and his defaults on his credit file will be written off.
He added: "This should never have happened in the first place.
"The fact this has gone to the Supreme Court should put an end to it finally."
PC World refused to comment yesterday.
And a spokeswoman from HSBC, which owns the HFC bank, said: "We're not able to provide any comment in this instance."