SUCCESS!! Equita & trying to come to payment arrangement

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Car22
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#1 SUCCESS!! Equita & trying to come to payment arrangement

Post by Car22 » 13 Feb 2014 12:24

Hello,

First of all I appreciate this forum being here, so thank you.

I had a 'hand delivered' letter from Equita y/day. It's the first time I've ever had the bailiffs at my door. I rang the bailiff's mobile number and she said the costs were £380.

I then range the council tax office who wouldn't do anything to help but told me the costs were £127 (I'm not sure if that's what I owe them or if that's what I owe them plus what they thing the bailiff's fees are - I forgot to ask). The council tax office said to call Equita's head office to see if they would help me to come to an arrangement.

When I rang their head office the man on the phone would not give me any information at all. I asked for a break-down of costs and what actions they have taken so far (how many letters), and he just kept telling me to speak the bailiff directly.

I had a break-down last summer and have been on anti-depressants and I'm only just getting back on my feet. Admittedly I burried my head in the sand with regards to the council tax (and other bills) as I wasn't in a strong enough space mentally to deal with it. Now I've just come off my medication and I'm feeling a lot better, and I would like to try and come to an arrangement with Equita.

I guess I have a few questions:

Do you know if the first step Equita takes is delivering a letter by hand? Or do they post letters first? (I'm trying to work out their fees and if they are excessive).

Is it normal/correct for the head office to refuse to give details and simply refer back to bailiff?

If you have any tips or advice at all, I'd be very grateful.

Thank you very much.

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jasonDWB
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#2 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by jasonDWB » 13 Feb 2014 12:40

Equita employs the practice called "hit & run" this article explains. http://www.dealingwithbailiffs.co.uk/Ba ... terbox.htm

The bailiff company will give every excuse not to explain their fees. Don't pay them. The law decides what fees can be charged. Ny, and "costs" only apply to taking and selling your goods - distress. This article explains more. http://www.dealingwithbailiffs.co.uk/ba ... l-fees.htm

Deploy the NTPNTL. Its a Notice to Produce and Notice to Leave. It puts the bailiff on notice he is required by statute to produce his documents and evidence of his ID and warrant (or liability order), which you can make copies using your mobile and order the bailiff to leave the premises using an Act of Parliament.

You can post the documents here on this forum with your personal details hidden (including any bar-codes). We can tell you if they are kosher. Here is a template.

Also this post by Mark1960 nicely summarises the pros and cons of using the notice.

Run the Council tax enforcement compliance check.
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Car22
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#3 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 13 Feb 2014 13:09

First of all, SORRY, I hit the R button as I thought it meant replly! I didn't realise it meant report. I don't want to report this!!

Thank you so much for your help JasonDWB! The letter wasn't even in my letterbox it was 'stuck' in the doorframe. I'm now armed with some good questions to ask them now!

Car22
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#4 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 13 Feb 2014 13:50

I've rung the council and refused to be fobbed off with 'it's in the hands of the bailiffs' and quoted S45(3). The member of staff didn't know what to do and kept saying 'contact the bailiffs' and so I asked to speak to her manager. He wasn't that sure what to do when I quoted S45(3) but did back down a bit and told me to email in and give them my offer with a breakdown of income/outgoings.

It's still with the bailiffs right now & I shall question be asking them LOTS of questions! Their fees seem extortionate.

soupdragon
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#5 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by soupdragon » 13 Feb 2014 14:47

Ordinarily I ignore the fees added and dont ask for a breakdown as its all mickey mouse anyway but a recent hearing it would have been more advantageous to have something in writing before any action than after.

Regarding the fees ask equita if you can for a breakdown of the charges they have made in writing only. You wont be relying on their information for now and but you want to force them to make a mistake. They are very cavalier when it comes to their fees maths and you can use this against them later on.

They have added £253 on top of your CT debt if you play this right you will be able to kick them in the balls later when it comes to making a fee recovery.

You should make a formal complaint to the council about the costs added straight away that should at least keep equita off your back then escalate it to the 2nd and 3rd round of the complaints procedure. All that will waste a good few months so you can get the money together and get some payment arrangement in place.

Have them made a levy on anything? Ask them for proof if they say they have,

Car22
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#6 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 13 Feb 2014 15:16

Hi Soupdragon,

Thank you for your help and all the information.

No, they haven't made a levy on anything. I haven't actually seen anyone from the bailiffs.

The CT handed it over to the Equita on Jan 13th. Equita *may* have sent letters out but to be honest, I've been in 'buried head in sand' mode until now and I haven't been opening my mail.

The first contact I've had was a final demand 'hand delivered' and stuck on the outside of my door between the frame and the door.

Great idea about getting them to put the breakdown of their fees in writing! It's does seem a huge amount for one (or a few) letters!

The thing is, I can now actually pay £127 on Weds, so I am going to email the council tax office today and put everything in writing; telling them I can pay in full, quoting S45(3), advising them of difficulties with bailiffs and getting information out of them.

Yesterday I was in tears when I saw the letter stuck on my door, today I am feeling more in control.

Thank you!

Mark1960
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#7 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Mark1960 » 13 Feb 2014 15:36

They are not permitted to charge you anything for sending letters. They can only charge £24.50 for a first visit and £18 for a second visit unless they are able to gain a levy on your goods.

Here is the legislation for costs a bailiff may charge for collecting council tax (no other fee is compliant with legislation):

Untill you get a breakdown, you cannot challenge the fees as you don't know what they're charging for. Could it be possible that there was a car outside when the bailiff visited & he has levied on that?


Car22
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#9 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 13 Feb 2014 16:52

Hi Mark,

I'm getting no-where with their head office. They are so evasive, can't wait to get off the phone and won't answer any questions & now I can't get hold of the bailiff herself. I'm being sent back & forwards.

My car was outside actually. (It's now in the garage & locked away). Should I have received something (a sticker on the car, a note through the door etc) to say it's been levied?

And if the van came out, I wonder why they didn't actually take the car away. Weird!

soupdragon
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#10 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by soupdragon » 13 Feb 2014 17:04

The bailiff tactics are designed to isolate you and your only route they force you down is to talk direct to the bailiff they have assigned your case to. Its called pressure and frustration.

Give up trying to talk with them on the phone. In writing only.

Dont call the bailiff direct either. Its rather pointless as this stage as they have already charged you for the visit and so long as you dont let them in there is nothing they can do. You are to negotiate with the council not with the bailiffs at this time.

They could have made a levy on the car, they will just jot down its registration, colour etc. You were wise to put the car in the garage.

There was and never will be any van appear with bailiffs inc removals written on the side. They turn up in a car or on foot.

Car22
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#11 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 13 Feb 2014 17:26

Thank you Soupdragon.

I've just 'caught myself on' as they say in Ireland. Here's me running around & making who knows how many calls to the head office and the bailiffs trying to get answers!

Though I have just emailed them for a written break-down of all the dates, actions and fees, so they can put that in writing to me. Given the info I have received from this site and from the helpful community, their fee far outweighs any action they could have taken at this point.

I've spoken to the council and have emailed them; I've told them I can pay in full next Weds (£127), given my income/outgoings, told them I'm having difficulties with the bailiffs and asked them to note S45(3).

If they had gone to the bother of bring a tow-truck for my car, then they would have taken the car I would guess.

It's a shame they don't have branded cars or vans lol. I will not let them in & will keep my little car tucked away safely in the garage.

Wow, this is all an experience and a half!

soupdragon
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#12 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by soupdragon » 13 Feb 2014 17:40

Your experience is mild and straight forward by comparison to some of the things we have seen here.

You are lucky in that respect.

Mark1960
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#13 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Mark1960 » 13 Feb 2014 17:50

Car 22.

I have a feeling that the bailiff may have levied upon your car-It is the only possible scenario as to why the fee is so high from a single visit.

Write a letter to Equita, stating your case number and ask for a breakdown of charges to date, to include the date of any bailiff action that incurred a charge and what Header of Schedule 5 did the charge fall under. Copy the council in on the letter (I always find bailiffs are more co-operative when the councils are made aware of the request) Inform them that you have made repeated requests on the telephone for this information. Keep proof of posting (& for all future correspondence) This could be quite a drawn out dispute.

Am I right in assuming you were not in or did not come into contact with the bailiff when she visited?

Car22
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#14 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 13 Feb 2014 18:08

Thank you Mark,

I have email Equita - though I didn't think to copy the council in, but I will do from now on.

I was in when they left the letter on the outside of my door on Tuesday, but I didn't hear anyone knock and I did not come into contact with anyone at all.

I only saw the letter when I left the house on Weds morning and was really surprised to see it there.

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#15 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by jasonDWB » 13 Feb 2014 18:24

Leaving letters hanging out if the letterbox is an old bailiffs scam to rip you off with fees. It's called Hit & Run. This article explains. http://www.dealingwithbailiffs.co.uk/Ba ... terbox.htm
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Car22
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#16 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 13 Feb 2014 18:39

Thank you Jason.

Am I right in thinking that if they have 'levied' on my car (which is now safe in the garage), then there is something amiss in the proceedings for them to give me a 'hit & run' letter instead of knocking on the door and/or posting something through the letterbox?

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#17 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by jasonDWB » 13 Feb 2014 18:54

The levy no longer stands, because it has been abandoned. This article explains what levy abandonment is. http://www.dealingwithbailiffs.co.uk/abandonedlevy.htm

Hit & run is used to clock up a statutory visit fee. It is fraud.
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Mark1960
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#18 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Mark1960 » 13 Feb 2014 19:09

I would go one step further Jason.

I would argue that the levy was never completed because the debtor was not present at the time. A bailiff must make his intentions known and possibly invite the debtor into a walking possession agreement. As no paperwork has been left, what frail argument the bailiff had of a successful impounding has gone out of the window. The levy is incomplete, not to mention the fact that if it was that simple to sieze goods, there would be no need for bailiffs to attend as notice through the post would suffice.

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#19 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by jasonDWB » 13 Feb 2014 19:40

Agreed, I go with that.
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Car22
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#20 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 13 Feb 2014 19:49

Thank you both very much Mark and Jason.

I really appreciate your help and advice.

The levy abandonment/incompletion is great knowledge to have. I haven't had a notice of seizure, signed anything, saw anyone, so it will be interesting to see what they say about that side of things and if they try and pull the wool over my eyes.

Mark1960
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#21 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Mark1960 » 13 Feb 2014 19:54

You've got loads of ammo Car but lets wait and see what the breakdown brings.

We're only 2nd guessing at the moment as to what the charges are for

Car22
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#22 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 14 Feb 2014 09:11

Thank you Mark.

I hope today will bring some answers from the bailiffs about a break-down of their charges. They were so evasive yesterday, but I hope they will be more forthcoming today. It's not an unreasonable question to ask after all.

I'll update.

Car22
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#23 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 14 Feb 2014 09:12

Plus I have a few other questions for them as well of course. I haven't forgotten about those. Re the 'levy' and the 'hit & run' letter etc.

Car22
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#24 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 14 Feb 2014 10:11

I've managed to squeeze a tiny bit of info out of one of their phone 'advisors' at their head-office, but it was hard work & he really wanted to end the call. And he wouldn't say that this has been the exact charges that have been applied in my case but he said they automatically charge £42.50 as soon as the council give them the account, and they charge £136 'for a visit' though he wouldn't explain what a 'visit' actually consisted of.

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#25 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by soupdragon » 14 Feb 2014 12:36

You should really stop calling them and get something down on paper as asking over the phone will not help you in the longer term if you want to try and get a fee reclaim.

The 42.50 is standard though they are supposed to make two visits for that. Charging for work not done is fraud, if there are not two visits then you can potentially reclaim the second one.

Next fee is ATR of £136. Doesnt look like there is a levy.

ATR fee they try and charge but if there is no levy there is no way to remove any goods so that in itself is very suspect.

£136 plus £42 is £178.

They were claiming you owed them £253 wasnt it originally?

Car22
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#26 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 14 Feb 2014 12:53

Thank you soupdragon.

I guess I'm getting anxious as if they don't acknowledge that I have requested a breakdown of fees in writing, then I'm wondering where that leaves me?

In the meantime I'm waiting to hear back from the council so I'm hoping they will accept the full payment on Wednesday and just call off the bailiffs. Fingers crossed!

That's useful information about the visit fee and the ART free. Yes is was £253.

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#27 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by soupdragon » 14 Feb 2014 13:08

I guess I'm getting anxious as if they don't acknowledge that I have requested a breakdown of fees in writing, then I'm wondering where that leaves me?

Upon request they have to provide a breakdown of fees. If they do not and you take action against them and they are still refusing to tell you what they have charged and how they have made it up then that in itself will show they are trying to hide something.

The council might accept payment, they have to accept payment if you pay direct using internet banking.

Its unlikely they will cancel the bailiff fees as there doesnt seem to be sufficient grounds for that unless you make a complaint. You must get one in and soon.

THe more noise you make the more likely the council and bailiffs will settle for just a single visit or two visit fee.

Car22
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#28 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 14 Feb 2014 13:49

Hi Soupdragon, thanks you again.

The head office said it can take 14 days for them to respond to an email - I have emailed them to ask them for a break-down. They would not confirm if they had received my email.

I have left a phone message(s) and send texts to the bailiff to ask for a written break-down.

And in the meantime, I emailed the council yesterday to ask that they accept payment.

Who should I be making the noise with? The council or the bailiffs or both? Who should I complain to? The bailiff, the head office or the council?

deeplydebty
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#29 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by deeplydebty » 14 Feb 2014 14:54

If it's of any comfort to you, try http://www.readnotify.com/ which will provide certificated proof of email delivery. (free trial)

May not mean much in court but I always add at the bottom of my emails 'This email has been sent with certified proof of delivery, opening and forwarding' - makes them think carefully about denying receipt. Quite interesting (perhaps) if you send to a bailiff and see their ip address then send an email to a council which they later forward, surprise, to the bailiff.

Mark1960
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#30 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Mark1960 » 14 Feb 2014 15:29

Get the formal complaint in straight away on the basis of what the man told you on the phone.
The grounds for your complaint:

1. They cannot charge £42.50 prior to visiting.

2. They cannot charge £136 for a "visit fee" as no such fee exists in the Fee schedule

3. If they try to claim an ATR fee, there was no levy so this cannot be claimed.

4. The bailiffs are refusing to provide a breakdown of charges and the bailiff who visited you is claiming that you owe £253 in fees.

If you can still pay the outstanding £127 then pay it off online. Make sure that you allocate it to the correct account otherwise it will just go against this years account. Just be very, very careful that you pay the arrears off in full. Even if you're £1 short, it is enough to justify continuing enforcement.

Car22
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#31 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 14 Feb 2014 17:09

Thank you Mark.

I have written a complaint to the council via email.

The bailiff rang back, but only let the phone ring for a fraction of a second before ringing off.

I suspect it will go quiet now until at least Monday. Let's see what next week brings!

Thank you everyone for your help & support. I promise you, you have saved me from a breakdown!

Have a great weekend.

russelldurose
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#32 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by russelldurose » 14 Feb 2014 22:48

I have only one perspective, do not enter into any arrangement with Equita. Its not worth it...you will get into a quagmire of the baillif world of charges each year, you'll never keep up...obligate the Council to come into a payment agreement or threaten them with the Local Government Ombudsman. That should turn the issue in your favour.

Car22
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#33 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 17 Feb 2014 10:29

Hello Russell, Thank you.
I've emailed the council to complain about Equita and also to tell them I can pay in full on Weds.

I've already requested a break-down of fees from Equita over the phone to the head office, via email, via voicemail & text to the bailiff. Have had no response. I'm stepping back a bit now and will follow up my complaint with the council, plus pay them on Weds.

Hopefully that will be the best course of action.

Car22
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#34 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by Car22 » 17 Feb 2014 16:01

Hmmm, I've had a missed call from an unrecognised mobile phone number. To return the call or not? It could be a different bailiff....Or it might not be a bailiff at all!

They didn't let it ring for long. Just a second or so and then it rang off.... A bit like how the bailiff whose phone number I have go, did on Friday afternoon.

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#35 Re: Letter from Equita & trying to come to payment arrangeme

Post by soupdragon » 17 Feb 2014 16:15

You are wasting your time calling them at all.

Stick to sending letters only or email if you must. But remember they will pass on your email details to their bailiffs.

Have you put in the complaint yet, do it asap.

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