A customer in a Loughborough branch of Betfred is claiming £189,000 from the bookmakers after he mistakenly wrote down an incorrect decision on his betting slip. 60-year-old David Smith is even planning to take the matter to the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS), who work with bookies, customers and the Gambling Commission to resolve these kinds of matters.
Back in June, Smith put his money and faith on a six horse accumulator but wrote down the name of Bailarico instead of Bialco as intended, with both horses running that day. What is essentially the punter’s fault, one thing Mr Smith has going in his favour is that he made sure to write Bialco’s price down as well as the start time of the race it was running, even including the track’s initial – 14.15 (p) – rather than the details of the unwanted Bailarico.
As five of Mr Smith’s horses romped home in first place, Bailarico came third in its race, the 15.40 at Goodwood, meaning he fell one short. Of course, Bialco won his race, the 14.15 at Perth, meaning Smith expected to be paid out at £212,000 but was only paid £23,000 instead.
After placing the bet, the lucky-unlucky punter left the shop for a short while before returning later on after a couple of his selections had returned home as winners. At this point, he noticed his mistake and claims he immediately alerted the shop’s staff about his error. Sadly for Mr Smith, Bialco was already a winner so there was little shop staff could do, despite offering assurances that the bet would be paid on Bialco winning, which Mr Smith insists was the case.
If Bialco was to be accepted, he would be paid £212,000, after a standard Betfred security review, normal considering the size of the payout. Unfortunately, Betfred security ruled against Mr Smith and corrected the payout to a still pretty cool £23,000.
One of the main reasons that Mr Smith claims to be upset is at the manner in which Betfred handled things. According to the bemused bettor, despite being a regular in the shop, nobody has been able to offer him a satisfactory explanation as to what had happened. Mr Smith also believes that if the shop manager had been working that day, the matter would have been sorted immediately as said manager usually checks his bets for him.
While Mr Smith is understandably upset by the mistake, most firms will apply the name of the horse that is written down, irrespective of the time, venue or the price. There may even have been a little wriggle room had the two horses’ names not been so similar. Either way, a rules poster would have been on display in the shop which would have stated company policy.
A spokesperson for Betfred was unflinching in the company’s response, saying;
“Unfortunately the customer had written Bailarico on his slip which was running in a race at Goodwood that day and finished third. Our rules state that we settle on the named selection”
Betfred Ambiguity Rules
It is hard to see that IBAS will rule in David Smith’s favour when the case is presented to them in the coming weeks meaning he may well have to settle for what he was originally awarded. That said, Betfred do have an ambiguity rule in which they can split the stake over the two horses if a bet on a horse is deemed to be ambiguous. This would at least mean that Smith would be paid £90,000 which, while still considerably lower than the £212,000 he thinks he’s owed, it is still a significant improvement on the £23,000 for what was essentially, and unfortunately, his fault.
Smith is being supported in his battle by Paul Fairhead, an online campaigner who goes by the Twitter handle BoycottBetFred and helps punters with their problems. Ultimately though, a lot will come down to testimony of the staff working in the shop that day, who Smith claims accepted his version of events in which they promised him full payment.
There is also the matter of ‘what if’ to consider as well. While Smith would likely claim that he would be honest enough to refuse payment had Bialco lost and Bailarico won instead, not many bettors would be that honest in such circumstances.
Either way, the moral of the story would seem to be, check your bets.