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O2, Hamptons Legal, Red DCS, Lowell Group - Assistance Required Please


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Good Evening Everyone

 

I was wondering if I could please ask for some assistance in respect of an urgent matter? I have been looking though the various posts but am still uncertain of the best way to proceed, hence, the reason why I am here asking for assistance/help from some of the more experienced amongst you.

 

I had a mobile phone contract with O2, which was either an 18 or 24 month contract. Last year in February, I was told that I could get an upgrade (which I did and I contributed £150 towards it). In July, I lost my job suddenly without notice or warning. All of the staff were fired and the business closed down. I was left with no income whatsoever and had less than £200 in savings. I made an application for Job Seekers Allowance but due to some kind of administrative error, the claim wasn't finally processed until late October. First JSA payment received in November (no money for nearly 4 months - I can prove this).

 

In the meantime, O2 had written to me requesting payments, I have to be honest, I did not know how to deal with it or what to say to them due to the ongoing situation with the DWP and not knowing where I stood inn respect of any benefits payments as well as the stress/depression generally at my situation so I stupidly buried my head in the sand and ignored them. I had some arrears outstanding to O2 that had built up on the account immediately prior to losing my job which I paid around the time I lost my job (or just before) but could not make the monthly payments from that point forward. It was my intention (once I knew where I stood with DWP/JSA) to see if I could get the monthly tariff lowered to something cheaper but I never followed through with it.

 

After 2-3 months all went quiet and O2 stopped contacting me. 6-7 weeks ago, I received a couple of e-mails from Lowells requesting a payment of £700+ (basically the monthly cost times the amount of months remaining on the contract). Lowells advised me that O2 had sold the debt to Lowells. During the same period of 1-2 weeks, I was contacted by Red DCS chasing for the same debt (at the time, I did not realise the companies were connected). On 24th September 2012, Red DCS and Hamptons Legal wrote to me on the same day telling me that they had accessed my credit file and were intending to take legal action if they did not get a response within the next 10 days.

 

I should have dealt with this in the last 10 days, however, I failed an ATOS medical and DWP stopped my ESA benefits on 28 August 2012 (my claim changed from JSA to ESA in April) therefore, I've been forced to deal with the ESA Appeal in priority to everything else over the last few days, I am now back in the same situation I was in financially last summer and feel suicidal :|

 

I have used one of the templates on this site in respect of the Subject Access Request which I will send tomorrow by Recorded Delivery (unless somebody tells me differently), I have also drafted a short e-mail this evening (not yet sent) advising Lowells that I am disputing the debt (in order to slow down any legal action) and to ask them to prove the debt but I am not quite sure how to word it. I would have liked to have sent something along the lines of letter template asking them for a copy of the contract/consumer credit agreement, etc. but I understand from what I've read on here that it does not apply to mobile phone contracts (I can't recall that far back, but I think I took out the O2 contract in carphone warehouse so I don't think I actually signed anything - but I can't be certain).

 

Can anyone please advise if I am doing the right thing or if there is some other route I should be going down?

 

Thank you.x

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Hello,

It is correct that mobile phone contracts do not fall under CCA.

O2 still have a responsibility to comply with a SAR from you if you send one,irrespective of the account being assigned.

Debt collection firms do have a responsibility to be dealing with fair business practices,andv there is guidance for dealing with people who are experiencing hardship.

I would suggest that you start a sep thread in the benefits forum for your ESA problems.

Yes by all means alert Lowell to your dispute and also your financial position.

Have a happy and prosperous 2013 by avoiiding Payday loans. If you are sent a private message directing you for advice or support with your issues to another website,this is your choice.Before you decide,consider the users here who have already offered help and support.

Advice offered by Martin3030 is not supported by any legal training or qualification.Members are advised to use the services of fully insured legal professionals when needed.

 

 

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I am sure someone will be along soon to advise on these issues.. but you might also want to start a thread in the Benefits forums in order to obtain advice in respect of your ESA situation. Click on the link below and look for the post new thread button :)

 

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/forumdisplay.php?160-Benefits-HMRC-and-Minimum-Wage

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2: Does your Bank play fair - You can force your Bank to play Fair with you

3: Banking Conduct of Business Regulations - The Hidden Rules

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5: Fair Treatment for Credit Card Holders and Borrowers - COBS

 

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PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME TO GIVE ADVICE BY PM - IF YOU PROVIDE A LINK TO YOUR THREAD THEN I WILL BE HAPPY TO OFFER ADVICE THERE:D

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Hi Martin

 

Thank you for your advice and responding so quickly.

 

I will send out the SAR tomorrow by recorded delivery and also send an e-mail stating that I dispute the debt and for them to prove it with copies of contract, etc. and see what happens (I suspect they'll ignore the e-mail so I'll send them a copy of that too in the post).

 

Thanks once again.

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Ok keep your thread updated.

Have a happy and prosperous 2013 by avoiiding Payday loans. If you are sent a private message directing you for advice or support with your issues to another website,this is your choice.Before you decide,consider the users here who have already offered help and support.

Advice offered by Martin3030 is not supported by any legal training or qualification.Members are advised to use the services of fully insured legal professionals when needed.

 

 

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Hi CitizenB

 

Thanks for your help.

 

I will have a look on the benefits section, hopefully I can get some tips on that too. I only mentioned the JSA/ESA in order to give an idea on my finances (or lack of!).

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Hi All

 

I just got an automated e-mail back from Lowells stating that they will respond within 28 days and that the account has been placed on "hold" and that they'll stop all collections activities whilst dealing with my query. At least I might get 28 days peace from them as hopefully it will probably take them that long to get the info they need from O2.

 

Hamptons Legal also acknowledged my e-mail with an automated e-mail back (at least I now have everything in writing).

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Good.

Have a happy and prosperous 2013 by avoiiding Payday loans. If you are sent a private message directing you for advice or support with your issues to another website,this is your choice.Before you decide,consider the users here who have already offered help and support.

Advice offered by Martin3030 is not supported by any legal training or qualification.Members are advised to use the services of fully insured legal professionals when needed.

 

 

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I was just thinking..when it comes to assistance and some speedy advice and help, you guys should consider advertising yourselves as maybe the 4th emergency services (after police/fire/ambulance), because you respond just as quick.

 

I feel better already. :-D

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Ha Ha....good to hear it.

Have a happy and prosperous 2013 by avoiiding Payday loans. If you are sent a private message directing you for advice or support with your issues to another website,this is your choice.Before you decide,consider the users here who have already offered help and support.

Advice offered by Martin3030 is not supported by any legal training or qualification.Members are advised to use the services of fully insured legal professionals when needed.

 

 

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Excellent - you now need to use that 28 days as best you can by obtaining information. :)

Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

 

Uploading documents to CAG ** Instructions **

 

Looking for a draft letter? Use the CAG Library

Dealing with Customer Service Departments? - read the CAG Guide first

 

1: Making a PPI claim ? - Q & A's and spreadsheets for single premium policy - HERE

2: Take back control of your finances - Debt Diaries

3: Feel Bullied by Creditors or Debt Collectors? Read Here

4: Staying Calm About Debt  Read Here

5: Forum rules - These have been updated - Please Read

 

 

BCOBS

 

2: Does your Bank play fair - You can force your Bank to play Fair with you

3: Banking Conduct of Business Regulations - The Hidden Rules

4: BCOBS and Unfair Treatment - Common Examples of Banks Behaving Badly

5: Fair Treatment for Credit Card Holders and Borrowers - COBS

 

Advice & opinions given by citizenb are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

 

PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME TO GIVE ADVICE BY PM - IF YOU PROVIDE A LINK TO YOUR THREAD THEN I WILL BE HAPPY TO OFFER ADVICE THERE:D

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  • 2 weeks later...

Update:

 

I informed Lowell's that the account is in dispute and to provide me with various documentation in order to substantiate the debt. I copied the correspondence by e-mail to Lowell, Red DCS and Hamptons.

 

Lowell and Hamptons actually acknowledged the correspondence by e-mail stating that they would look in to my enquiry, etc. etc. and would come back to me. Four days after Hamptons acknowledged my e-mailed correspondence and stated that they would look into it, they sent me a letter stating that I had not arranged a payment plan despite their previous letter and went on to threaten me with a County Court Judgment and then stated that they will "instruct bailiffs to remove goods from your home", "recover the money by making deductions directly from your earnings" or "collect the balance straight from your bank". (I didn't know that someone could take money directly from your bank account). Hamptons then offer to settle the matter "amicably" by offering me a 50% reduction of the debt. They then went on to tell me that I have 10 days to settle my account or avoid legal proceedings. It would appear that my previous e-mail must have got to them based on the fact that this is the first time they have offered to reduce the debt. However, they make no mention of my e-mail to them and to their client Lowell.

 

I plan to advise Hamptons in a recorded delivery letter that the debt is disputed and that they have been copied in on the correspondence to their client (Lowell) and that both they and Lowell acknowledged the e-mail, etc. and basically tell them to back off until such time as I am in receipt of the documentation that I have requested from Lowell and O2.

Edited by Helena123
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Don't bother. These letters are automatically generated out of a diarised system, so it would have been sent without a human looking at the latest position with emails etc.

We could do with some help from you.

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Good evening UncleB

 

Thanks for your comment and pointing this out to me (as I suspected that was the case). I imagine Hamptons have probably glanced at my original e-mail and disregarded it thinking they can still bully me into paying up. I just want to cover my back by writing to Hamptons directly informing them of the situation (just in case they claim they didn't receive my e-mail or Lowell didn't update them, etc.) and basically tell them to back off until their client has supplied me with the info I requested. My intention is to create a paper trail to cover my back in case it does go to court, etc.

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Good evening UncleB

 

Thanks for your comment and pointing this out to me (as I suspected that was the case). I imagine Hamptons have probably glanced at my original e-mail and disregarded it thinking they can still bully me into paying up. I just want to cover my back by writing to Hamptons directly informing them of the situation (just in case they claim they didn't receive my e-mail or Lowell didn't update them, etc.) and basically tell them to back off until their client has supplied me with the info I requested. My intention is to create a paper trail to cover my back in case it does go to court, etc.

 

Lowell and Hampton are two cheeks of the same *ss. Next desk along. They are not an outside company, it is a trading style for their letters that sound legal.

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

 

 Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

 

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

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  • 1 month later...

Update (1) on 25.11.12:

 

I received a letter from Lowell Group dated last month advising that they had placed their collections procedures on hold pending their enquires with O2 re my account in respect of my request that Lowell substantiate the debt by providing proof in the form of an original signed, executed contract (or credit agreement) plus T&C's which applied to the account at the time of account being opened. A breakdown of charges applied and what they relate to. Insurance documents plus T&C's and monthly statements for the duration of the contract, etc.

 

So far, Lowells have been unable to substantiate the debt by providing any of the above documentation requested. They have instead written to me in response to my original correspondence where I clearly stated that I was unaware of any such debt and therefore disputed it and that the debt must be substantiated.

 

The following is an extract from Lowell's letter dated October 2012:

 

"We must further advise that this account is a Service Agreement and not a Credit Agreement: it is not governed by the provisions of the Consumer Credit Act 1976. Consequently, there is no requirement to complete and sign any such 'agreement' in order to obtain an account of this nature.

 

Telecommunication accounts can be obtained by telephone, over the internet and by mail order and therefore, we are not obliged to provide you with any such agreement.

 

In the case of mobile contracts, inserting the SIM card and usage of the equipment is taken as acceptance of the terms and conditions of the contract.

 

We can confirm that the outstanding balance relates to £***.** in unpaid usage and the remaining £***.** relates to an Early Termination Fee (ETF) which was stipulated in the terms and conditions and applied for non-payment. The terms and conditions were accepted upon inserting the SIM and using the phone.

 

If you require anything further whilst we collate further information, do not hesitate to contact us."

Edited by Helena123
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Update (2) on 25.11.12

Lowell's sent me a second letter approximately 2 weeks after the first letter in which they enclose a simple Excel type screen print detailing monthly account movements on my O2 account for a 12 month period or less (I've had an account with them for ages). The final entry is "write off-manual" clearing the total outstanding debt to nil.

 

The following is the basis for their letter:

 

Ref No: *********

Original Creditor: O2 (UK) Ltd

Original Balance: £***.**

Balance Outstanding: £***.**

 

We write in respect of the above debt which as previously notified has been purchased from O2. We would advise that the nil balance shown on the statement relates to when O2 removed this account from their system in preparation for the sale to us. This does not mean that there has been any payment received against the account or that your liability for the payment has been removed.

 

We are now entitled to receive payment of the balance of £***.** from you and enclose a copy of your statement as requested. Neither O2 nor ourselves are aware of any reason for non-payment.

 

Please kindly make payment of the outstanding debt or contact us within 7 days of the date of this letter to agree acceptable payment proposals, failing which we reserve the right to instruct our solicitors to issue legal proceedings against you without further notice."

 

To date, Lowells have written to me twice and so far failed to provide me with any of the documentation that I have requested. The only things I have been provided with are the above mentioned screen print (which is not what I actually requested) and a written excuse that insertion of the SIM equates to acceptance of the terms and conditions attached to using the phone.

 

O2 letter x 2:

 

I also wrote to O2 separately by recorded delivery with a Subject Access Request (clearly laid out together with payment of £10). O2 wrote back to me approx 2 weeks later directing me to a link on their website with a request that I print off the SAR form and send it back to them at a different address (stalling for time). They did not return the £10 postal order.

 

I wrote to O2 again tonight and told them that they have already been supplied with the necessary SAR request in the correct written format together with a copy of a monthly statement (proof of identity) and a £10 postal order. As they have already been furnished with the relevant documentation and payment, I told them that I look forward to receiving the relevant paperwork within 40 days of the date (or receipt of) my ORIGINAL letter.

Edited by Helena123
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Good work with the O2 SAR - you are under no obligation to use their forms and if they don't respond within the 40 days you can take them to court to force disclosure.In the meantime, are Lowell aware of your curent financial situation? There are specific sections in the OFT Guidance on Debt Collection relating to those in financial hardship - they are supposed to show forebearance, which - from their letters - they do not appear to be doing.

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Remember for SAR's, it is 40 calendar days.. not working :)

Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group

 

Uploading documents to CAG ** Instructions **

 

Looking for a draft letter? Use the CAG Library

Dealing with Customer Service Departments? - read the CAG Guide first

 

1: Making a PPI claim ? - Q & A's and spreadsheets for single premium policy - HERE

2: Take back control of your finances - Debt Diaries

3: Feel Bullied by Creditors or Debt Collectors? Read Here

4: Staying Calm About Debt  Read Here

5: Forum rules - These have been updated - Please Read

 

 

BCOBS

 

2: Does your Bank play fair - You can force your Bank to play Fair with you

3: Banking Conduct of Business Regulations - The Hidden Rules

4: BCOBS and Unfair Treatment - Common Examples of Banks Behaving Badly

5: Fair Treatment for Credit Card Holders and Borrowers - COBS

 

Advice & opinions given by citizenb are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

 

PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME TO GIVE ADVICE BY PM - IF YOU PROVIDE A LINK TO YOUR THREAD THEN I WILL BE HAPPY TO OFFER ADVICE THERE:D

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Remember for SAR's, it is 40 calendar days.. not working :)

 

Thanks for this information. I was not aware it was 40 calender days. I sent them the letter by recorded delivery 5 weeks ago so they must be nearly out of time already. I probably need to allow them 2-3 working days for delivery. One week left to go max!! :-)

 

Would anyone kindly be able to tell me how much time I should give Lowells to substantiate the debt before moving on to the next step and if they cannot substantiate the debt what would be a sensible way to proceed?

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Good work with the O2 SAR - you are under no obligation to use their forms and if they don't respond within the 40 days you can take them to court to force disclosure.In the meantime, are Lowell aware of your curent financial situation? There are specific sections in the OFT Guidance on Debt Collection relating to those in financial hardship - they are supposed to show forebearance, which - from their letters - they do not appear to be doing.

 

No Lowell are not aware of my current financial situation. I considered disclosing this information to them but decided against it for the time being. If they are able to prove that the debt is mine then I will explain my financial situation to them.

 

Thanks for the information re OFT Guidance on debt collection. I will have a read up on that and see if I can apply it to my own situation.

 

I have one question, their statement re

 

"In the case of mobile contracts, inserting the SIM card and usage of the equipment is taken as acceptance of the terms and conditions of the contract".

 

I have never heard such nonsense??!! Whenever I have purchased mobile phones (with a contract) in a phone shop e.g. Carphonewarehouse or Phones4u, I have never once been told this. The sales person always goes to the back of the shop and gets a sim and inserts it into the phone and then logs the new sim card phone number on their computer system. 90% of the time, I have never even inserted the sim card into the handset as this was done at the time the handset was purchased by the sales person in the phone shop. I also do not recall ever seeing wording to that effect ever. Surely this must be an unfair term and/or condition if you were never advised of this matter in the first place and especially if you never inserted your sim card into your handset at the time it was purchased. Do you or anyone else on here know if there is anywhere where I could possibly check this out?

 

Thank you.

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  • 1 month later...

Hello and Welcome Ally_Mav,

 

Helena123 has not been on-line since the 19th of December, If you start your own thread giving details of the problems your having I'm sure you'll get some help.

 

Regards,

 

Scott

 
 

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