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AIBU to panic about how to pay this debt?

(93 Posts)
blackrabbitwhiterabbit Wed 12-Aug-15 10:59:46

I've been referred to a debt collection agency for non payment of a �2000 water bill from my previous house. I was sent the bill out of the blue two years ago......when I rang the water company they said I must have some kind of leak. I paid for a plumber and he found there had been a leak on my toilet for around two years although I knew nothing about this.

I've been in touch with the debt agency now who tell me I only have 6 months to pay this bill, or I go to court with the view of getting prosecuted. This means payments of �333 every month which I really can't afford (am single parent.) They did an affordability calulator thing with me and claim that I CAN afford it, but I know I can't.

Water company says I have to pay, and it's not their debt. I don't think I should have to pay so much over 6 months, if at all. AIBU?

swisscheesetony Wed 12-Aug-15 11:06:16

So they take you to court and you say to the judge that you can afford 5/month. Debt company are just trying to scare you - they probably bought this 2000 quid "debt" for 100 quid from the water company. ANYTHING above that initial 100 they're making money on - of course they want to scare the crap out of you.

They are relying on intimidation tactics as horrible as it is. No judge on earth is going to demand you pay 333/month, so tell them to sod off. This debt collection agency have NO idea about your finances, they'd be fucking delighted if you gave them 150/month - but they're not going to tell you that.

LIZS Wed 12-Aug-15 11:08:07

Make an offer to pay regularly, however low. Judges frown upon companies which turn a reasonable offer down.

blackrabbitwhiterabbit Wed 12-Aug-15 11:08:59

I am just so scared of going to court though - and that it will be on my record as defaulting on payments of something. Apparently this will look really bad on my credit rating.

I'm such a wimp.

googoodolly Wed 12-Aug-15 11:11:33

Get some advice from the CAB. As long as you pay it off regularly every month, it doesn't matter how low the payments are.

blackrabbitwhiterabbit Wed 12-Aug-15 11:12:32

I called and offered to pay �150 a month but they said " no, madam, that's just not good enough. According to our calculator you can afford �333 per month. If you do not make these payments you will be prosecuted in court and will have a black mark on your credit rating."

WayneRooneysHair Wed 12-Aug-15 11:14:03

It's scare tactics, they know fuck all about your finances.

googoodolly Wed 12-Aug-15 11:14:21

Don't negotiate with them until you've spoken to the CAB. Make an appointment ASAP and get some solid advice.

swisscheesetony Wed 12-Aug-15 11:14:24

It'll already be on your credit file from the water company - so that ship has sailed, so you can stop worrying about that - or at least try and partition it in your mind somehow.

If they take you to court then it may result in a CCJ against your name - but that's not the end of the world either - unless you were hoping to take out credit for a new merc soon?

As LIZS said, judges aren't impressed with companies who refuse an offer, likewise they don't much like it if you offer nothing. So even sending a cheque (because that'll fuck 'em) for a pound a week shows the judge you are "willing". smile

And it's not the Old Bailey, you're a single mum attending for a civil matter - they're just pen-pushers you know, it's not Judge Dredd!

blackrabbitwhiterabbit Wed 12-Aug-15 11:14:24

I just don't get the 6 month thing; apparently they can NEVER stretch out payments longer than that???

Thanks for advice.

EponasWildDaughter Wed 12-Aug-15 11:15:49

As well as here, ask citizens advice.

In my 20s with 3 small kids and XH we got into debt with just about everyone you can think of (amenities, mortgage, 2 loans and 2 credit cards) - i found that phoning or writing each company personally with an offer of a regular monthly payment that you know you can afford was always met with acceptance. The debts got paid off in the end.

It is my understanding that as as long as you are keeping in touch, not disputing the debt and are offering regular payment, then there is nothing for them to gain by taking you to court, because (as another poster has said) the case would go against them and be a waste of their money to take you to court.

blackrabbitwhiterabbit Wed 12-Aug-15 11:15:55

Thanks everyone - I guess I am just terrified of going to court!
I will see the CAB.

EponasWildDaughter Wed 12-Aug-15 11:17:56

X posted x 100!

Don't panic OP. You can 'mend' your credit rating once this is sorted out. But that's for the future. Don't listen to the debt collectors. Go to CAB. Citizens Advice.

swisscheesetony Wed 12-Aug-15 11:19:41

Honestly, "court" wouldn't be that bad at all. Judges aren't out to "ruin your life". To them it's just a job and shouldn't be any more scary than phoning the DVLA for example. Yes it's official blah blah, but I bet the judge would offer you a tissue if you were snivelling.

There's worse things you could do with your life (worse crimes I mean) than be hounded by some poxy debt-collecting leeches. If they continue to "harass" you, there are lots of template-style letters on the moneysavingexpert website to get them to back off. Being in debt gives nobody ANY right whatsoever to drive you to a point you're living on your nerves.

Next time you read heat draw a red circle around the head of every person in it who's declared themselves bankrupt. You'll run out of ink! ;)

FeckTheMagicDragon Wed 12-Aug-15 11:21:11

Also - do everything in writing, registered delivery with copies of the letters - email if possible. Over the phone you (and they) can say anything!

Iliveinalighthousewiththeghost Wed 12-Aug-15 11:22:31

They're intimidamidation tactics trying to scare the hell out of you.
They should have gone through an income and expenditure with you, and then establish between yourselves how much you can afford to pay.
Make one last attempt to call them, and make them a realistic offer. Daunting I know but at leAst then you can say. You have tried to negotiate with them more than once, but they refused to listen to your circumstances. Do they know you're a single mum on a budget.
If you still get no joy. Go to the CAB.
Also yes easy for me to say but pleAse do not worry about being taken to court. If you have showed willing to pay what you can, and they (the company) have not met you half way. And demanded you pay a ridiculous amount of money per month. That you have told them you cAnt afford, well the chances are. He/She will probably frown upon them not you and tell them that basically they will get what you can afford and like it.
No court is going to mans you pay )333 per month. People who are earning good money could barely afford that, after all their other out goings. The courts know that you can't get blood out of a stone.

LIZS Wed 12-Aug-15 11:23:08

Do you have any other outstanding debts? Stepchange can intervene for you and set up a payment plan.

Iliveinalighthousewiththeghost Wed 12-Aug-15 11:23:55

Keep a record of all the conversations you have with the company.
Times dates ect
And all details of your visits to CAB, if applicable

Oliversmumsarmy Wed 12-Aug-15 11:25:08

Can I ask how come it took them 2 years to send the bill

I paid for a plumber and he found there had been a leak on my toilet for around two years although I knew nothing about this

Aren't they complicit in not billing you properly so you could have done something about the leak before it got to a £2000 bill.

Sorry I know nothing about how much water meters costs or how they bill you, I would have thought they would have billed you at least yearly, as we haven't got one. We pay a set amount regardless of how much water we use.

Fluffyears Wed 12-Aug-15 11:29:07

I worked for a debt collection agency. This is how it works, 1st call demand payment In full if debtor refuses offer then 48 hours grace to look at raising the money. 2nd call offer over 2-6 payments, 3rd call income and expenditure and arrangement for instalments. Just keep telling them you cannot pay until they accept instalments. I never once saw any debt go onto court, they threaten court, doorstep collection (not bailiffs and really nice folk actually) and send bogus legal letters. The company i worked for bought a company name the sounded solicitor like and sent letters under that name. Do not be bullied.

Trickydecision Wed 12-Aug-15 11:30:03

I am a bit surprised about your having to pay for the leak. DS1 was thinking of selling his house, potential buyers' surveyor discovered a massive leak running under the floor of his downstairs loo, 'like a river' they said and when I looked I had to agree. I dreaded DS's bill, but it was repaired free and the charge for the water was the average accruing after a couple of months after the repair. This was Anglia Water. The leaking point was on his property, like yours, OP.

Tinandgonic Wed 12-Aug-15 11:32:54

Can I ask a silly question? Why are your water bills separate? Mine are part of my council tax. How can they calculate them and do they change every month? Sorry if that's a silly thing to ask! Hope you get it sorted OP. Defo go to the CAB as a previous poster suggested and try not to worry too much

Viviennemary Wed 12-Aug-15 11:34:10

You must have been on a water meter. I'd be surprised if you had to pay this bill in full. And did you know that it was mounting up so high. I think they're just using scare tactics and wouldn't have any chance of recovering that huge amount if it went to court. I agree with contacting the CAB.

Icimoi Wed 12-Aug-15 11:37:45

Ideally don't do things by phone, do it by email or letter. If you do talk to them on the phone, follow up every phone call with an email or letter confirming what you discussed and agreed. If this did get to court, it will be important to have a paper trail showing what you offered.

You need to work out what you can afford - and be realistic about it - and write to them setting that out. When you write to them, send a cheque for the first instalment to demonstrate your good faith, and whether they agree to those instalments or not, continue to send the instalments you can afford when they are due.

DawnOfTheDoggers Wed 12-Aug-15 11:38:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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