Just wanted to give you some heads up info on Barclaycard/Mercers as I used to work for their collections department for just over 2 years. It was the worst time of my life and I hated every minute of it.
First I just wanted to confirm that Mercers is simply Barclaycards in-house collections agency. It is basically just a group of their top collectors. They sit in the same room as the normal barclaycard collectors and have access to all the same information.
Now for those of you who are unsure I just want to make sure you know that any debt you have through credit cards is unsecured. They cannot send bailiffs to you house, or put you in jail, or visit your work and so on. The absolute worst thing that can happen to you if you do not pay them is for them to take you to court and get a CCJ placed against you. Then a judge will have to determine what you can realistically pay and order you to pay it (this would never usually be more than 10% of your disposable income). Now as for Barclaycard I can tell you almost 100% that it will never even get to court. This is because in the companies history they have never taken a single debtor to court. Barclaycard write off around 34million pound worth of debt every month.
So that leads me to my next point. All the phone calls and letters that you receive are simply scare tactics. Barclaycard know that unless they are hard with you they will not get their money back. They will use every trick in the book to get at you. Around the time when I left them they had just started using a few new tactics such as text messages and also calling cards through your door which would say something like 'A member of our team has visited your home today to talk about your account but has not been able to catch you, please call us immediately'. They even began calling on Sunday's (edited)
Most of the calls you get are on a dialer system. A computer makes the phone call and then when you pick up diverts it to a agent who gets a beep in their ear. Your account details then pop up on their screen and they begin talking all their crap. They know nothing about your account until they get that beep. We would usually use the time taking you through security just to have a quick glance at your account details. The calls are relentless and they will call you every day if they have to. How it works is that the dialer (computer) creates a list in the morning of everyone in their collection's department. It then starts the list at 8am in the morning and then once finished usually at around 1pm they will simply run it again. Sometimes you would phone the same people up to 4 times a day. It's basically harassment.
Likewise all the letters you receive are system generated. Barclaycard use a system called TSYS which sends letters out at certain points in the process. It would usually go the arrears letter, then the default notice, then the DCA notice.
So at bit more about the process. If you do not pay them, usually at around 90 days in arrears you will get a default notice. This notice is registered at the credit reference agencies and stays on you record until cleared. Then around 120 days your account will be referred to the debt collection agency (Mercers). The debt has simply been referred to them not bought. Any DCA works on behalf of the original company and is paid commission. If you pay them they then notify barclaycard and collect their commission. If you don't they just send the account back to Barclaycard saying all attempts to reclaim have the money been exhausted.
So then If you have still not paid up at around 180 in arrears you debt will be written off. That's not to say that the debt disappears, it simply means barclaycard have given up trying to get their money back. The debt is then registered at a company I cant remember the name of where it is stored (like a debt holding company). You can call up barclaycard and still pay it at any point, but until fully cleared your credit rating will be affected.
Now your credit rating lasts for 7 years. So if you didn't pay it back in 7 years you can call them and tell them to take it off your record and then start all over again. However if you have attempted to pay even a penny off in that time the 7 years would start all over. It has to be 7 years completely unpaid for your credit rating to be repaired.
So here's my advice to any of you who cannot pay your debt, DO NOT PAY IT!. Though I'm not proud or smug in saying this, when you know the inside outs of how it all works this is the best option for most people. For instance if somebody has a debt of £8000.00 and makes an agreement with barclaycard to pay back £50 a month even with the interest and charges frozen it will still take you far longer than 7 years to pay it back. In that time you could have not paid it and started to rebuild you credit rating. I would deal with some people who fell for the scare tactics and see them bend over backwards to pay all they could knowing full well it was doing them no good. People would set up payment plans for as little as £1 a month knowing full well they would never ever clear that debt.
My advice would be to cut all contact with the bank and let the system run its course. Do not open any letters from them and call up your phone company and either change your number or block their calls. Then let this be a lesson to you to not let it happen again. I feel everyone has a responsibility to try and pay their debts but when it comes to the crunch some people simply cant. You cant get blood from a stone!
Barclaycard are complete edited. Their aim is to get you in debt with them for life. They use every trick in the book to get you running up the biggest s debts possible. Like they will sign you up with a permanent purchase APR of 14.9% and then 6 months later raise it to 19.9% for no reason whatsoever. Eventually this would usually go up to as high as 23%. Also I would see really young people around say 23 being given credit limits of 10,000 pound when they only had a yearly income of 13000. Any time they would get close to the limit barclaycard would raise it. They know there is no chance in hell that a person earning that sort of money could ever pay of a debt of 10,000 pound. On that sort of debt your talking over £100 a month in interest alone.
For any of you being edited off with high interest rates here's a tip. If you call them and tell them you are closing your account because of the high APR they will offer you a lower one on the spot to keep your business. Or they will say if you spend 50pound a month your interest will be 5% (I guarantee this will work as long as your account is in good standing).
Remember it is all a big game to Barclaycard and they expect to lose money through people not paying. They just bank on conning the people that do pay enough that they can afford to do it.
Do not let them scare you into paying money you cannot afford. If you are willing to make them an offer make sure it is realistic and stick to it. If they do not accept your offer then its tough. Simply tell them that is how much you can afford and if they are not willing to accept it they will have to take you to court to get what they want (I guarantee you this will not happen). Yes your credit rating will be damaged but it was damaged long ago when they issue you with a default notice. Stay firm and do not budge a penny and they will eventually accept your offer.
At the end of the day it is down to you to whether you pay your unsecured debt. The credit card companies have nothing on you other than they can ruin your credit rating for 7 years. If you have a really high amount of debt and they did suddenly start taking people to court that is when you can look at an IVA or bankruptcy. Like I said though if you decide not to pay them just cut all ties with them and wait it out.
I will be happy to try and answer any questions you have about Barclaycard. They are a horrible company both to work for and to use for credit and I just wanted to give everyone a heads up as to how little they can actually do to get their money back. Don't believe their threats and remember you are the one who has all the control.