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Hiya,

 

Not sure if I can do anything now, or whether it'll be worth the hassle, but here is the story...

 

January 2008 I received a letter from Equita Bailiffs advising me of a Warrant for unpaid Council Tax. I immediately phoned the Local Council to explain that I had been having complications with my pregnancy (subchorionic hematoma) and had been in and out of hospital so hadn't realised that my bank had cancelled my direct debits (long story). I pleaded with them to take the debt back because I was too ill to cope with the Bailiffs and that my records would show I historically paid my Council Tax. They refused to accept the mitigating circumstances of my case and forced me to contact the Bailiff and deal with him.

 

I duly contacted the Bailiff who reduced me to tears after telling me I either paid the full amount within 3 months or go to prison. He told me there was nothing I could do about it and the advice I received from the National Debtline was wrong "...you obviously didn't make them aware that the warrant has already been authorised...". I was so distressed at this stage I hung up the phone and just cried fearing the stress would make me lose my baby.

 

I don't know what made me do it, but I did some googling and found this site. I realised that I fell into a vulnerable group and emailed the Bailiff Company a letter advising them that I had been diagnosed with a high risk pregnancy and the added stress was jeopardising it. I also asked for a breakdown of charges. Within 2 days I had a reply stating that the debt had been passed back to the council and the charges were £42(ish), which meant I had been charged for the 1st and 2nd visit.

 

I also wrote a letter to the Council complaining that they had been made aware of my vulnerable situation from the outset and should have immediately cancelled the contract with the Bailiff, but never received a reply.

 

Now, I'm pretty sure that the letter I received from the Bailiff was posted by Royal Mail (don't have it any more), and the Bailiff most definitely did not visit me any time after, so I was charged for 2 visits that were never made.

 

I know that I can't do anything about the Bailiff misrepresenting his powers because it's his word against mine, but is possible to successfully claim back the fraudulent fees? How would I do this?

 

I've left it too long to chase the complaint I made to the Council. Maybe I shouldn't have left it, but I was so ill during my pregnancy, and about a year after the baby was born (suffered a postpartum hemorrhage at delivery), that I just didn't feel up to it.

 

I am posting this more for the purpose of anyone who may be finding themselves in the same situation now that I found myself in 2 years ago.

 

Edit:

On a lighter note, I have overpaid my Council Tax for financial year 2009-2010 by just over £50 (paid it in November 2008 ). The Council have not returned this money to me, but advised me they would take it off the bill for April 2010-2011, which I'm pretty sure is illegal, as we are not yet in the financial year for 2010 Council Tax. Surely my money should be sitting in my bank account earning interest, not theirs? I'm considering sending around the Bailiffs.... ;)

Edited by Pixidust
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Hiya,

 

Not sure if I can do anything now, or whether it'll be worth the hassle, but here is the story...

 

February 2008 I received a letter from Equita Bailiffs advising me of a Warrant for unpaid Council Tax. I immediately phoned the Local Council to explain that I had been having complications with my pregnancy (subchorionic hematoma) and had been in and out of hospital so hadn't realised that my bank had cancelled my direct debits (long story). I pleaded with them to take the debt back because I was too ill to cope with the Bailiffs and that my records would show I historically paid my Council Tax. They refused to accept the mitigating circumstances of my case and forced me to contact the Bailiff and deal with him.

 

I duly contacted the Bailiff who reduced me to tears after telling me I either paid the full amount within 3 months or go to prison. He told me there was nothing I could do about it and the advice I received from the National Debtline was wrong "...you obviously didn't make them aware that the warrant has already been authorised...". I was so distressed at this stage I hung up the phone and just cried fearing the stress would make me lose my baby.

 

I don't know what made me do it, but I did some googling and found this site. I realised that I fell into a vulnerable group and emailed the Bailiff Company a letter advising them that I had been diagnosed with a high risk pregnancy and the added stress was jeopardising it. I also asked for a breakdown of charges. Within 2 days I had a reply stating that the debt had been passed back to the council and the charges were £42(ish), which meant I had been charged for the 1st and 2nd visit.

 

I also wrote a letter to the Council complaining that they had been made aware of my vulnerable situation from the outset and should have immediately cancelled the contract with the Bailiff, but never received a reply.

 

Now, I'm pretty sure that the letter I received from the Bailiff was posted by Royal Mail (don't have it any more), and the Bailiff most definitely did not visit me any time after, so I was charged for 2 visits that were never made.

 

I know that I can't do anything about the Bailiff misrepresenting his powers because it's his word against mine, but is possible to successfully claim back the fraudulent fees? How would I do this?

 

I've left it too long to chase the complaint I made to the Council. Maybe I shouldn't have left it, but I was so ill during my pregnancy, and about a year after the baby was born (suffered a postpartum hemorrhage at delivery), that I just didn't feel up to it.

 

I am posting this more for the purpose of anyone who may be finding themselves in the same situation now that I found myself in 2 years ago.

 

Edit:

On a lighter note, I have overpaid my Council Tax for financial year 2009-2010 by just over £50 (paid it in November 2008 ). The Council have not returned this money to me, but advised me they would take it off the bill for April 2010-2011, which I'm pretty sure is illegal, as we are not yet in the financial year for 2010 Council Tax. Surely my money should be sitting in my bank account earning interest, not theirs? I'm considering sending around the Bailiffs.... ;)

 

 

Sorry, but I am at work so can only give a very quick reply!!

 

What a lot of people do not know is that MANY TIMES when the THINK that they are talking to the local authority council tax department, they are really speaking to a "back office provider".

 

In effect, this is merely a call centre.

 

A very large number of councils now "outsource" all council tax recovery to include the summons and all correspondence to a "back office provider".

 

Some use a company called Vertex with others using Capita. There are a few others.

 

Capita own a bailiff company by the name of EQUITA !!!

 

It is for this reason that ALL COMPLAINTS must be sent in WRITING and they MUST be addressed to the CHIEF EXECUTIVE and marked as a FORMAL COMPLAINT.

.

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Sorry, but I am at work so can only give a very quick reply!!

 

What a lot of people do not know is that MANY TIMES when the THINK that they are talking to the local authority council tax department, they are really speaking to a "back office provider".

 

In effect, this is merely a call centre.

 

A very large number of councils now "outsource" all council tax recovery to include the summons and all correspondence to a "back office provider".

 

Some use a company called Vertex with others using Capita. There are a few others.

 

Capita own a bailiff company by the name of EQUITA !!!

 

It is for this reason that ALL COMPLAINTS must be sent in WRITING and they MUST be addressed to the CHIEF EXECUTIVE and marked as a FORMAL COMPLAINT.

.

 

After reading these forums I now realise that to be the case. However, when you receive a Bailiff letter through your door most people panic and want to resolve it quickly, meaning that the first instinct is to pick up the phone (Isn't hindsight a wonderful thing?).

 

I did write to the Council on 22/01/2008 and 04/03/2008 and have never received a reply. I failed to address it to the CEO, which was another mistake I made (I sent the letters by email and Royal Mail post).

 

Documenting all the mistakes I've made will hopefully prevent someone else doing them :)

 

Thanks for your quick reply PT

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Also, don't for one moment think that the Chief Executive ACTUALLY reads the letters. But crucially, by being addressed to him, it means that the complaint is LOGGED as a complaint and it MUST be addressed.

 

If a memeber of the public sends a letter under the Freedom of Information Act to ask "how many complaints have you received about overcharging by bailiffs etc"....the council MUST respond and they will refer to the Complaint Log to details.

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Edit:

On a lighter note, I have overpaid my Council Tax for financial year 2009-2010 by just over £50 (paid it in November 2008 ). The Council have not returned this money to me, but advised me they would take it off the bill for April 2010-2011, which I'm pretty sure is illegal, as we are not yet in the financial year for 2010 Council Tax. Surely my money should be sitting in my bank account earning interest, not theirs? I'm considering sending around the Bailiffs.... ;)

 

If you don't ask for it back then they will just deduct it,

 

PT

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[quote

 

If a memeber of the public sends a letter under the Freedom of Information Act to ask "how many complaints have you received about overcharging by bailiffs etc"....the council MUST respond and they will refer to the Complaint Log to details.

 

Sorry don't mean to side track the post but does the above mean that they HAVE to give you the provide the information if requested under THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT or not?

 

I asked this in another thread and you advised me that councils find this impossibe to do and stated

 

"Only now have we been told that this is because UNLESS a complaint is marked as a FORMAL COMPLAINT and addressed to the CHIEF EXECUTIVE it is NOT recorded as such a complaint for Freedom of Information Act purposes. !!!

 

Does this in fact mean they would have to send me any information that has been marked as FORMAL COMPLAINT and CHIEF EXECUTIVE?

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