Paying Your Debts Doesn’t Pay

, , , , , | Working | November 21, 2020

Back in 2005, just after both my parents died in the same year, I fell behind on repayments for a digital camera I had purchased the year before. It was entirely my own fault; I freely admit that. I came to an arrangement with the collection agency that bought up the debt.

Every month, I paid the required amount. After three years it was getting somewhat irksome, £7 a month. I then had the fortune to come into a small win on the National Lottery — £105 I seem to recall. So, I called up the collection agency to verify how much the outstanding debt was currently, and then I told them to pay it off entirely. The clerk on the phone thanked me profusely.

I thought no more about it until about three months later. I got a phone call to my voicemail, asking me to call them up urgently. I called them, and straightaway I got an agent immediately telling me that they had added £60 in penalty fees, cancelled the arrangement, and required immediate and full payment, because I had gone delinquent on the arrangement.

I asked how I could go delinquent on an arrangement that had been paid off in full already. He “ummed” and “ahhed” and then finally:

Agent: “It seems our system made an error. Leave it with me; you don’t owe anything.”

A month after that, it happened again, only this time the penalty fee was £120: £60 for the first one, and a second £60 for not paying that. Again, the conversation proceeded in much the same way as before.

Finally, a month after that, a manager called me up and demanded immediate payment of £180 — three penalty fees. I told him to contact my lawyer instead, and that continuing to contact me would constitute harassment, as the debt had been paid off in full. He tried to counter that by saying that in paying it off in full, I had broken the terms of the agreement, therefore the penalty fees were payable.

I got a very nice apology from them a few months later, after my lawyer had finished with them.

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