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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71042
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have just received a payment demand for at least twice what

Customer Question

I have just received a payment demand for at least twice what I apparently owe. This is out of the blue and is from a debt collection organisation. I tried to speak to them but they loudly spoke over me. They said that I would have been chased for the debt but I was not. The supplier sold the company and I suspect no one was interested in chasing this and I forgot about it totally. It goes back a year or so. Suddenly out of the blue I have this demand for twice as much and the view of the debt collection people (Baker Tilly) is pay it now, we do not discuss this so what if I disagree - how do I deal with this? (and I utterly do disagree)
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

How much do you owe please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Originally about £450 which was the remaining two payments on a 12 month contract with I told them that I would not continue with them as we got no responses anyway and that originally they had promised if we got no response with one ad, we could change this but no one was about to discuss this when I wanted to do it (I suspect because of the sale pending) so I assumed that they had let this go since no one chased the debt. I had forgotten about it till now but whilst I might have imagined someone writing to say you still owe this amount, I did not expect a letter saying if I do not pay in five days they will instruct their lawyers to retrieve £1222.00. It is blackmail - either I pay the amount they say I owe or they will lump enormous fees for taking this further. I have in the past just paid when things like this happen because to argue costs money and weighting this up it can be cheaper just to pay but I feel strongly that this is bullysome and that they just as a minimum have to justify where the hike in the amount owed comes from?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Sorry for the delay. I lost my connection.

What type of service was this please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago. provide listings so we advertised our services on it. We agreed a fee for the year, we agreed to pay (actually I have now checked the exact figure which is £288 per month) and for the final two months I did not pay this.


It is like Yellow pages on line.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Thank you.

Are you locked into a contract for the year including those two months please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes and I have no objection to paying for these two months. The point was I assumed they were not chasing them as they didn't after I complained although I was surprised but then forgot. I have a problem paying twice the amount of these two months though which is what this letter states is due. I would understand if they had chased and had warned me that interest would accrue and that they would take legal action and that would incur costs etc. My issue is from nothing whatsoever, no contact at all to suddenly this letter stating they will start legal action in 5 days with a double the original value request for payment, seems wrong but the real point is - I seem to have no way to defend it or argue about the costs. So the real question is - how do I argue about the costs and reach a suitable settlement when the woman I spoke to that sent the letter would not let me get a word in and kept talking over me and said pay up or we take you to court. The natural answer is go to court but this will cost even more money. It seems like blackmail - normally in disputes the two parties discuss it and agree something reasonable - normally it is not one party bullying the other when the bully is very rich and in my case, I am not.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
The truth is that it depends how much risk you want to take.

Probably the reason for the increases is that they have added their debt collection charges. They would not get those if they went to court to sue you.

However, the risk is that they will sue. They would get costs at court but not of an onerous amount.

On your substantive question though, there are no magic wands really. Nothing you can say will make them agree that they are not entitled to these costs.

You could offer a sum of 50% in full and final settlement of the total amount. That might well succeed. Generally speaking you want to start as low as you can reasonably expect to receive and negotiate up if necessary.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

thank you for this. So you are saying that they can charge whatever they want and I have no means to query this and no protection against them charging whatever collection fees they want even if they have not touched this in over a year? So if they took me to court, this would be my only means to defend this but of course I would not win. This seems like harassment of a terrible kind. If I wanted to attack this as a matter of principal and nevermind if it cost me, then what would I do? I feel I should certainly just pay the amount never collected so I have done what I should have done but if they then insist on the other charges - what then?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
That is basically right I'm afraid.

There is no way of making them go away other than to pay in full or refuse to pay and invite them to sue.

As I said above, they would not get their debt collection costs at court.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you Jo, this is very helpful. I simply did not know if they were just being bullysome not within their rights or if they were correct - if legally they are correct then for the sake of avoidance of time wasting I will just have to pay.


Thank you

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Well, they will be entitled to the substantive claim. They will not get the costs which will probably make up the bulk of the amount.