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Hi everyone,

 

A friend of mine is being hassled by Phoenix Collections regarding some arrears on a council tax bill, and I've volunteered to help her out.

 

In a nutshell, she ended up 2 months behind with her council tax, which totalled £267.

The council passed it onto Phoenix to collect on, they got in touch with her, and she agreed to pay it,

which they said the balance associated was 259.50, at £50 a month (phoenix1.pdf).

 

She cleared £200 of it, but missed a payment in September, and they're now demanding the remaining balance - which has jumped to £285.50, regardless of the amount she's paid off.

 

A bailiff apparently visited her home while she was at work, and handed a letter to her teenage son (attachment phoenix2.pdf).

 

Since then, she called the bailiff up, who left her quite distraught, and bullied her into agreeing to him coming to her door when she's paid after the end of the month.

 

Having contacted Pendle Borough Council, apparently they've received nothing from Phoenix as of yet.,

although the balance on the "balance brought forward" on the council tax bill is labelled at £267.

 

From scanning over the forum, my first thought is to request a full breakdown of fees from them, and revoke their permission to turn up on her doorstep.

I'm not sure whether it requires an SAR or just a fee breakdown request, but something along the lines of the following gleaned from various other posts was my thought on an attack route:

From:

[friend in question, address]

 

To:

Phoenix Commercial Collections

[etc]

 

Dear Sir

With reference to the above account. Can you please provide me with a breakdown of the charges including a suitable computer screenshot.

This includes:

a - the time & date of any bailiff action that incurred a Fee.

b - the reason for the fee.

c - the name(s) of the Bailiff(s) that attended on each occasion a Fee was charged.

d - the name(s) of the Court(s) the Bailiff(s) was/were Certificated at.

e - the date of the Certification.

This is not a Subject access request under the Data Protection Act S7 1998 so does not incur a fee of £10. You are obliged to provide this information.

I require this information within 14 days.

Please be advised that I will only communicate with you in writing. Furthermore, should it be your intention to arrange a “doorstep call”, please be advised that under OFT rules, you can only visit me at my home if you make an appointment and I have no wish to make an appointment with you, and the appointment made with your bailiff was under emotional duress, which I am withdrawing.

 

There is only an implied license under English Common Law for people to be able to visit me on my property without express permission; the postman and people asking for directions etc (Armstrong v. Sheppard and Short Ltd [1959] 2 Q.B. per Lord Evershed M.R.). Therefore take note that I revoke license under Common Law for you, or your representatives to visit me at my property and if you do so, then you will be liable to damages for a tort of trespass and action will be taken, including but not limited to, police attendance.

 

Yours faithfully

 

[friend's name]

As a side note, are they allowed to charge 50p a pop for each card payment?

 

I'd really appreciate any advice or guidance anyone can give me on this issue.

I'm far from an expert in this sort of thing, but one thing I do hate is bullies,

ridiculous charges, and seeing how much upset this has caused.

 

I really want to put this to rights.

Edited by Microchip
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if you wish to post images use:

 

scan the required letters/agreements/sheets

as a picture file

remove all pers info inc barcodes etc using paint

but leave all figures and dates.

goto one of the many free online pdf converter websites

convert the image to pdf format.

or if you have PDF as an installed printer drive use that

or use word and save as pdf

open a new msg box here

hit go advanced below the msg box

hit manage attachments below that box

hit the add files button on the top right

hit select files, navigate to your file on your pc

hit upload files

NB:you can set where it goes in the post by hitting insert inline.

the hit reply button

dx

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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have the council got an LO on her then?

what is the value of that?

 

this will tell you how many fees have been added as a start off.

 

dx

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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Share on other sites

There was never a liability order applied - or if there was, no paperwork regarding it ever arrived. This seems to be fairly common for Pendle Borough Council, I've had similar issues with them before - be a day behind with a payment, whether it's yours or their fault, and they send it to debt recovery companies.

 

I'll get them into PDFs now, sorry about that.

 

Edit: Now attached as inline PDFs.

 

She said while she didn't immediately contact the council when she was behind, she did query it as soon as she was contacted by Phoenix, as when she got her next bill through as it'd shown to be carried over as well, and the girl on the phone didn't know what she was talking about.

 

I'm guessing the next step is to find out if a LO was ever applied, as she's quite certain she has received no letters from the court.

Edited by Microchip
Clarifying the situation regarding the LO
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Please be advised that I will only communicate with you in writing. Furthermore, should it be your intention to arrange a “doorstep call”, please be advised that under OFT rules, you can only visit me at my home if you make an appointment and I have no wish to make an appointment with you, and the appointment made with your bailiff was under emotional duress, which I am withdrawing.

 

There is only an implied license under English Common Law for people to be able to visit me on my property without express permission; the postman and people asking for directions etc (Armstrong v. Sheppard and Short Ltd [1959] 2 Q.B. per Lord Evershed M.R.). Therefore take note that I revoke license under Common Law for you, or your representatives to visit me at my property and if you do so, then you will be liable to damages for a tort of trespass and action will be taken, including but not limited to, police attendance. - Remove these 2 paragraphs as they do not apply to these matters

 

 

[/indent]As a side note, are they allowed to charge 50p a pop for each card payment? - ask them to show you which Regulation allows them to charge this

 

 

PT

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Thanks for the tips there PT. I'm going to accompany her to the council offices today, and clarify whether they've actually obtained any sort of liability order and if so, for how much, or they've just sent the heavies in regardless. That should give me a much better picture of where she stands.

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If things have got to this stage then the Council will have obtained a Liability Order from the Magistartes Court. You will need the following from the Council:

1 - how many LO's are there

2 - how much each one is for

3 - when they were obtained

4 - what period of time they cover

5 - how much is till outstanding

6 when were they passed on for enforcement.

 

Not being funny but your friend could well have adopted "ostrich" syndrome.

 

PT

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Hi again,

 

No offence taken whatsoever, I'm passing on second hand information, which was difficult to fully quantify. I've got a much more detailed picture now, which makes a lot more sense.

 

A liability order was originally granted for £267, of which £109.50 remains (they've received £157.50 out of the £200 (technically £202 with card fees) paid to Phoenix, 1x £7.50 and 3x £150). They received the first payment on 26th May, and the latest on 18th August, which correlates to around 3 weeks after each payment was made to them. Unfortunately I don't have an exact date it was granted, as I didn't see the reply until after I headed back to the office.

 

They did say they could take the account back in-house, but it'd mean paying their charges, which if in dispute could make it awkward later to retrieve them.

 

Is it possible to revoke their bailiff's demand to come on her payday (and subsequently make a further charge), particularly while any fees are in dispute? The amount they're requesting is currently £176 higher.

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The Bailiff is allowed to attend whenever he likes - that is something you cannot stop. They must send off for a breakdown of the charges applied - it sounds as if they may have a Levy against some goods. This may be because they have gained entry to the home or otherwise seized some goods outside - most usually a car. It is often the case they may just seize any car and argue they thought it belonged to the debtor. It is going to pay to check this out and seeif there is a Notice of Seizure lurking somewhere.

 

PT

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Rightyho. I'll get her to send off a letter - I'm guessing recorded delivery would be advantageous here to avoid any potential wriggling out of "we didn't receive it" type responses.

 

Will the above letter - minus the non-applicable phrases, and with the addition of content requesting information on the 50p charges - do the job, or does it need to be a full SAR?

 

Thank you again for the advice here, it's been quite invaluable.

 

hallowitch: Not as far as I'm aware, nor does it specify anything on the paperwork, there was no car there, there's nothing in the area for them to levy, and access to her back yard is suitably locked.

Edited by Microchip
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Just send it asking for the breakdown of the Charges, without those 2 paragraphs, no need to let them know you know something that they hope you do not - let them make their own mistakes.

Send it initially by email followed by a copy in the post. It does not need a SAR as you are not asking for personal information.

 

PT

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Is it worth paying the £109.50 to the council via an online payment to clear the remaining debt to them, then working on the disputed charges with Phoenix, while we wait for Phoenix to come back to us?

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yes wont hurt

 

dx

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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especially if you can get it in writing off the council that the liability is satisfied, as Phoenix cannot then rely on the Liability Order to enforce for their fees alone, I think that is how it works but others will know more

We could do with some help from you.

PLEASE HELP US TO KEEP THIS SITE RUNNING EVERY POUND DONATED WILL HELP US TO KEEP HELPING OTHERS

 

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If you want advice on your thread please PM me a link to your thread

 

The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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A quick query (which may affect the charges they've got, when we find out what they are) - if they've levied a car that's on a HPL (that clearly states in the paperwork that it belongs to the finance company until completely paid off) is said levy null and void?

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A quick query (which may affect the charges they've got, when we find out what they are) - if they've levied a car that's on a HPL (that clearly states in the paperwork that it belongs to the finance company until completely paid off) is said levy null and void?

 

Yes, as you are not the owner.

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Phoenix have responded to the request with the following:

 

"We refer to your recent contact with our office and write to inform you that this case is currently allocated to Certificated Bailiff, [name] who can be contacted on [number]. We would strongly suggest contacting our bailiff direct to resolve this matter.

 

Document: phoenix3.pdf.

 

They appear to be trying to force a phonecall to the bailiff in question. Are they allowed to do that?! Sounds like another way to get someone on the phone to pressure them to me...

 

As an unrelated side note, as she's single parent living alone in her house with her son, is it worth putting something in writing such as the vulnerable person text at http://www.consumerwiki.co.uk/index.php/Bailiffs:_Useful_Template_Letters#Vulnerable_Situations ?

Edited by Microchip
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In my view you have made a legitimate request for a breakdown of the fees they have charged. The Bailiffs with their reply at best are being obstructive by not furnishing it and gives you the right to now ignore them and put everything fairly & squarely in the Councils lap. If she is a single parent she may be classed as vulnerable according to the National Standards for Enforcement Agents http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.dca.gov.uk/enforcement/agents02.htm#part10 .

 

PT

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If you'll excuse my ignorance, what would that mean in terms of proceeding? Taking said letter into the council and saying "your bailiffs are being obstructive, I want to clear this now"? When the council were last spoken to, they said they could take the account back in-house, but she'd have to pay the bailiff fees at the same time, and it was inadvisable to do so if they were under dispute, as mentioned above.

 

(Apologies if it's a stupid question, I'm just scratching my head a bit as to how to proceed there.)

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Quite easy - the Council are 100% responsible for the actions of their Bailiffs. As they are passing the buck with regards to giving you a breakdown of the fees the onus will now lie with the Council to provide this - remember the Council will have access to your account on the Bailiff's system - it is called Client Side or similar. Otherwise you will end up going round in circles. If it were me I would be on the phone to my local Councillor creating mayhem, if they drag their heels then I would go over their heads to the Leader of the Council and his opposite number. You have to force the issue.

 

PT

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Well, we just had an entirely unproductive session with the council.

 

They spoke to their recoveries department, who confirmed the 109.50 owed to them,

but apparently had no access to retrieve the breakdown,

although we did get the name of the recoveries manager.

 

They kept trying to push us back to Phoenix to find out what their costs are,

but to put a complaint in writing if we were still unhappy to said recoveries manager.

 

She didn't seem to understand at all that the point I was trying to make was that it was now the council's responsibility

to deal with them and get the breakdown.

 

Her suggestion was to actually call said bailiff and get the breakdown (as mentioned on the above document), which seems inadvisable

- the golden rule from what I remember is to keep everything in writing.

 

She spoke to their recoveries department to ask if they could log in and find out exactly what the breakdown was, but I got the same reply.

 

They also re-iterated that they wouldn't accept payment just of the 109.50 to discharge the liability order,

they'd want the whole lot that the bailiff company was requesting, before they'd clear the account.

 

I'm guessing the next stop is to write a much more strongly worded letter to Phoenix, and getting on the phone to the local councillors to deal with the lack of understanding at the council? This is getting extremely frustrating.

 

Edit: They've just replied again to the mail sent to them

- this just arrived in the mail which is Phoenix saying "We'll happily give you all the information we have on you in return for an SAR and £10"

- they're still missing the point here that they have to provide said breakdown...

either that, or they're trying to extort even more money out, or just plain can't read.

 

Original letter sent to Phoenix - phoenix3-reply.pdf

Reply from Phoenix suggesting SAR request - phoenix4.pdf

Edited by Microchip
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someone has something to hide!

 

phoenix know full well - its NOT and SAR request you are making

 

they are hoping you'll give up and pay

 

you are being fobbed off to cover their bailiffs spoofing tactics.

 

you need to resend that letter in post 1

 

dx

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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Sending this back today - phoenix4-reply.pdf - seems to be succinct and to the point. Essentially the first letter with the following paragraph:

 

"With regard to the letter received today (20th October 2011), I re-iterate the below, which you are legally obliged to provide, and is not a Subject Access Request. It is a request for a breakdown of your charges, not a request for personal information."

 

Is it worth pointing out the original request was sent on the 13th, and they now have 3 days to provide the information in question? I suspect they'll try to continue to stall otherwise.

 

Edit: Thinking of going with the following text at the top:

With regard to the letter received today (20th October 2011), I re-iterate the below, originally sent on 13th October 2011, which you are legally obliged to provide. It is not a Subject Access Request, as it is a request for a breakdown of your charges, not a request for personal information. The request for the information within 14 days of the date of the initial letter stands, and you as a company are responsible for providing this information, not any bailiff you may employ or subcontract to.

 

Seem reasonable enough?

Edited by Microchip
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