Success, council tax equita

Tell us how you beat the bailiffs.
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Joined: 03 Mar 2014 22:19

#1 Success, council tax equita

Post by feeling_empowered:) » 03 Mar 2014 23:58

I would like to share my story of my experience with the bailiffs Equita Ltd

On the 8th of feb I received my 1st letter from Equita stating their intention to visit to seize goods should I not come to a satisfactory agreement with them. The debt owing at this time was £369.02 which I thought was the original debt of unpaid council tax. On the 13th Feb, I came home to a hand delivered bailiff removal notice saying that if I did not pay within 24 hrs they will return and may remove my goods even in my absence. The notice came in an envelope and the only thing written on there was a small figure in the corner of £553.02. On it was the number of the bailiff and in my panic I immediately called him. After several unsuccessful attempts I eventually got through to a very disgruntled man. He informed me that I was disturbing him making an online payment on his phone and that every time I called he had to start again. I replied that I was sorry to be such an inconvenience but as he could imagine I was eager to get this situation resolved as soon as possible. He then made a comment about my boyfriend who as it turned out, was at my house at the time of his visit. He made some comment about how smart he was but then would not elaborate when I asked what he meant. I asked what the figure was on the envelope to which he replied was the debt with his fees included which I was liable for. I tried to come to an arrangement with him, however he was not happy with the amount I offered. I again mentioned the fees added and expressed my disbelief at how they had escalated so quickly after only 1 letter and 1 visit. He said that I should have already received one visit, that he would call the office to ask why I hadn't, and that he would call me back in the morning to try sort the matter out.
Later that evening I had a chat with my boyfriend about the visit. He said the bailiff started by banging on the door with his fist. He then explained to my boyfriend exactly why he was there and what the debt was for despite my boyfriend having nothing to do with the debt, disclosing confidential information. After a heated discussion, where my boyfriend informed the bailiff of a few laws, the bailiff then said he was only trying to earn a living, that he was fed up with the situation and that he would be taking it out on me by taking all my goods.
The next day, I waited for the bailiffs call but he never did or has called me back. I started to get very upset by the situation so called equita to discuss the account. They were most rude and unhelpful during this and all subsequent calls. They told me that my only course of action was to put my concerns in writing and would not make any further comments.
So, I made an official complaint/offer of payment to the council and requested that my debt be taken back from equita. I also wrote to equita to make the complaint and request a breakdown of the fees charged as in my initial research, it was appearing more and more that the fees were unlawful.
On the 1st Mar I received a reply from equita stating that they had received my account on 21.01.14 and that they sent an initial notice, which I never received. They then said that since I failed to respond, they sent a member of their team out on 28.01.14. I however never received any notification of this visit. They then sent out a letter on 04.02.14 which I earlier stated I received oh the 08.02.14. Again there was no mention of a visit or any action previously taken. Then of course the visit from the bailiff on 13.02.14. They then gave a breakdown of the fees. It turned out that the initial debt was only for £326.52, which meant that at the time of the later dated 04.02.14, when by which time I had apparently only received one visit, they had already charged me for two, £24 & £18. I was then charged a levy fee of £34 and an attendance charge of £150. This all sounded very official and to be honest, I hadn't a clue what they were for or if they were lawful or not. So I did more research on the internet, however I found it difficult to get a definitive answer about it. I then stumbled across a debt helpline, who I called and they indeed confirmed these fees were unlawful as a levy fee is when they have been into my property to list the goods, at which point they have to provide me with the paperwork for this, and the attendance fee can only applied once they have returned to collect said listed goods. At no point have they been into my property, nor have I received any such paperwork. This was a huge relief however I was still concerned with what the bailiff may try in the mean time.
During the time of all this I started making payments direct to the council and made a considerable dent in the debt. During one phone call with the council, they did advise that I should make the payments to equita, but I refused and said that as long as the payments were coming off my debt, I would continue to pay direct to them since I wanted nothing further to do with equita. They advised that this was ok but that equita would still chase me for payment in the meantime.
My story does have a happy end however. Earlier today I received a call from the council and after explaining about the response I had received from equita, the lovely lady informed me that she would be escalating the complaint with equitas manager, that they were calling my debt back from them and as such none of the fees levied by equita were payable by me. We then entered into a new payment arrangement which may leave me short for a month or two but is totally worth it to not have equita breathing down my neck.
I am extremely happy to have resolved my situation so quickly, however it has gotten me thinking about those who are more vulnerable or less tenacious as me. When something bothers me this much I am like a dog with a bone which is mostly annoying but on this occasion has been a total god send.
Surely equita and other bailiff companies shouldn't be allowed to continue to behave this way. Despite my favorable outcome I am wondering if I should push this further, especially after reading some of the horror stories on here.

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#2 Re: Success, council tax equita

Post by Hithard » 04 Mar 2014 16:26

Well done with your doggedness and determination. The protection and extortion rackets that call themselves bailiff companies rely on the debtor being a push-over, intimidated and ill-informed.
You can take it further by reporting the bailiff for fee fraud to the Action fraud helpline. Also a written letter of complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman. Not a lot happens, but with each report and complaint the evidence against bailiff malpractice increases and hopefully changes will be made.
Descendite ne illegitimi

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Joined: 03 Mar 2014 22:19

#3 Re: Success, council tax equita

Post by feeling_empowered:) » 04 Mar 2014 20:13

Hi Hithard,

Thank you for your reply. I fear I may have waffled on a bit in my post :roll: lol. I just wanted to explain all the steps I had taken so if others read they may have the same success that I have. I absolutely refused to make payments to the bailiff company as I feared that initially they would just swallow it up for their fees and they wouldn't have reached the council. Plus I wanted no further dealings with them other than the complaint I made which was frankly a waste of time as I think they pluck figures and excuses out of thin air.

Now for an update.

My fear now is that they may still turn up and either deny my case has been called back to the council or insist that I am still liable for their fees. So I called the council today for written confirmation and then I have something to wave in their face should they return. I must say that the council have been extremely sympathetic and helpful during every one of my calls and I can't fault them for their prompt dealing of my complaint. I think this is due to the fact that I immediately started making payments to them to show them of my full intention to pay the debt. This is very important I feel and may make them more willing to call the case back so I suggest this action to others should you be in the position to do so.

In regards to your suggestions Hithard. I think I will do exactly that. I never expected to get anything from it for myself since my case has so far, been dealt with to my satisfaction. Its just as you said, it builds up a history for them should they decide to finally do something about these thugs.

On a final note, may I suggest to anyone reading this to call the National Debtline. They were extremely helpful in telling me what the bailiffs can and cannot charge and I didn't have to pay a thing to them :D

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