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Bristow & Sutor - advice needed **Resolved - back in Council hands, Bailiff fees dropped**


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This looks like a great forum, I hope someone can help.

 

I got myself into some financial difficulty a few years ago and some council tax debt was referred to Bristow & Sutor.

 

A Bailiff visited me in 2012 and he issued a "notice of seizure of goods" that i signed. He also took inventory of several items in my living room. TV, computer, couch, mirror etc.

We made an agreement on 22/03/2012 that I would repay a £740 debt at £10 a fortnight over just less than 3 years.

 

I have honoured the repayment agreement since, never missing a payment until.....

 

I came home from work this evening to find a hand delivered notice from a Bristow & Sutor bailiff advising me he had visited to remove goods today.

 

The letter also states the initial charge for today's visit is £140 and the total amount now due is £230

 

I called the bailiff who advised I missed a payment in September. I checked my online banking and he was right. I missed one £10 payment due at the end of September as there were no funds available in my account at the time the standing order was due, frustratingly this was just 4 days before payday too.

 

Given the facts that i haven't missed a payment in 2 1/2 years and the debt was down to £90.00 before today's visit. Is it not a little heavy handed and a massive overreaction on the part of Bristow & Sutor to send a bailiff to my house today without any notification?

 

I told the bailiff I was unable to pay him anything at the moment and he told me my case would be passed to another team who would revisit at a future date to try and obtain payment or goods. He couldn't specify when this would happen.

 

Presumably any future visits will be charged again and a debt that i'd nearly cleared has trebled today.

 

I guess at this point, i'm just looking for some general advice on my options.

 

Many Thanks

 

Mark

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It does sound like very harsh treatment but that appears to be the way the old system worked. [The new way is no better in many ways since the bailiffs can

now legally charge much more than that if they visit you].

 

Have you continued to pay the £10 fortnightly and made up the missed payment?

 

The reason that you would have been charged £140 is that the bailiff should have come with a van to remove the goods that he levied on way back in 2012 and the charge is mainly for that van. However it is highly unlikely that he would have wanted to remove your goods since he knows that once the exempt items

have been removed, what was left wouldn't cover the auctioneers costs and storage charges let alone the bailiffs fees and the whole point of levying should be

to recover enough to pay the debt.

 

Out of the original £740, how much was the Council tax and Court costs and how much had the bailiff added on for his fees.

 

Now would be a good time to check with the Council to confirm the original figures if you don't have them and get them to provide you with a complete breakdown

of the fees charged by the bailiff to date. After you have those figures come back to us for further help.

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It does sound like very harsh treatment but that appears to be the way the old system worked. [The new way is no better in many ways since the bailiffs can now legally charge much more than that if they visit you].

 

Have you continued to pay the £10 fortnightly and made up the missed payment?

 

The reason that you would have been charged £140 is that the bailiff should have come with a van to remove the goods that he levied on way back in 2012 and the charge is mainly for that van. However it is highly unlikely that he would have wanted to remove your goods since he knows that once the exempt items have been removed, what was left wouldn't cover the auctioneers costs and storage charges let alone the bailiffs fees and the whole point of levying should be to recover enough to pay the debt.

 

Out of the original £740, how much was the Council tax and Court costs and how much had the bailiff added on for his fees.

 

Now would be a good time to check with the Council to confirm the original figures if you don't have them and get them to provide you with a complete breakdown of the fees charged by the bailiff to date. After you have those figures come back to us for further help.

 

An excellent answer and all that I would add is that whilst their "appears" to be nothing wrong with actually making the visit (which is under the old fee scale) my personal opinion is that it is morally wrong given that this missed payment 'appears' to be a 'one off' event and this debtor has demonstrated very clearly (as far as I can see) his intention to clear the debt and abide by the payment plan.

 

It is important to find out precisely what previous charges have been applied to this account. This is because, the fee of £140 is under the 'old rules' and will be for 'Attending to Remove'. However, the old regs state very clearly that a MAXIMUM of two ATR fees can only ever been charged but that the 2nd ATR fee may ONLY be charged if goods are ACTUALLY REMOVED (which thankfully has not happened.

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An eventful morning off work yesterday brought a conclusion to this mess.

 

I spoke to Bristow & Sutor head office first with no success. I calmly explained the missing payment was an oversight and was corrected as soon as I was made aware, but they clearly weren't interested in my views.

 

So I decided to contact Bolton Council who owned the original debt to inform them how their "contractor" was behaving. I eventually managed to speak to a manager in the recoveries department who conceded that Bristow & Sutor were being unreasonable and agreed to intervene.

 

The manager agreed to contact Bristow & Sutor and get the £140 charge removed and to reinstate my original payment plan. I spoke to Bristow & Sutor this morning who begrudgingly confirmed the council had been in touch and they had done as the council requested and closed the matter.

 

I now have 7 x£10 fortnightly payments left, which I'll probably clear off early next week when I get paid. Hopefully that will bring my dealings with Bristow & Sutor to an end.

 

I'd like to thank this forum for giving me the confidence to not lie down in the face of unreasonable behaviour on the part of these Bailiff's. I spent a few hours on Thursday night reading through posts of people who'd had similar experiences. The advice was on point and gave me a lot of new knowledge that helped me in dealing with both the Bailiff and my council.

 

I will be making a contribution to the site as a sign of my gratitude and to keep this valuable resource available to the distressed and vulnerable who come here looking for advice when they have nowhere else to turn.

 

Thank you again!

 

Mark

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