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What should I do about debt collectors trying to claim money I do not owe?!!

(7 Posts)
Patiencedeficit Mon 11-Jul-11 20:43:12

I've been sent letters from a debt collector trying to collect £1200 of nursery fees. This was from a nursery who presented us with a big whopping bill on the day my dd left and announced they had miscalculated and had also forgotten to tell us about the fee increase 5 months beforehand!! We refused to pay and now we are being threatened.
What should we do - we definitely don't owe this money but if we are taken to court over it we can't afford the legal fees. Terrified that there will be a reason we lose and then we would have to pay their legal fees too. Feels like we are being bullied into paying! What would you do?

mumblechum2 Mon 11-Jul-11 20:46:32

If they sue you they'll do it in the Small Claims Court as it's under £5,000. SCC is part of the county court. They'd have to issue a summons first and it's up to you whether you file a defence to the whole thing or a part admission and offer to pay what you think is reasonable.

If they're daft enough to use lawyers for something that straightforward, you won't have to pay their fees even if they win their whole claim because of the fact that it will be in the small claims court.

Even if they get judgement against you, so long as you pay in full within 4 weeks of the date of judgement you won't get a bad credit rating.

Sounds like possibly you do owe them something but not all of the claim?

Patiencedeficit Mon 11-Jul-11 20:53:34

Thanks mumblechum2 - appreciate your reply. We thought we had paid everything we owed so came as quite a shock when the bill was presented. From our point of view we didn't owe anything as the fee increase wasn't advertised. Wonder if legally the increase has to be advertised? Or was it our responsibility to discover it?

mumblechum2 Mon 11-Jul-11 21:19:51

In most contracts there will be a clause to say that fees will be increased, let's say annually, and notified to you a month before hand.

AS they didn't say at the end of the first month, hang on, our fees went up this month and you're short, then arguably you may not have to pay anything, but as a goodwill gesture and to knock the matter on the head without the stress of going to court you could send them a cheque for whatever you think is reasonable but make sure that you say in the accompanying letter that it is in full and final settlement. If they then cash the chq they can not successfully chase you for the balance. Obviously keep a copy of the letter and ideally proof of posting by recorded delivery because if they do sue you that evidence will be crucial.

Patiencedeficit Mon 11-Jul-11 21:27:27

Thanks for the good advice - only half as stressed about it now as when I opened the letter! Still think debt collectors are horrid but good to know I can do something pro-active to try to avoid court.

elphabadefiesgravity Mon 11-Jul-11 21:30:57

If they do take you to court they have to submit their case, you have a certain amount of time to send your evidence in and they have to submit their evidence to you.

You can also tick thhe box for mediation. This means someone phones you from the court and they hear what you have to say and try to settle it out of court.

moneyclaims4udot Mon 11-Jul-11 23:29:41

just to add to above, just relax, if the debt collectors file a N1 claim for the full amount they will have to pay £220 in costs. They wont do it, otherwise they as a business would soon go bust.

It is true on the allocation questionnaire there is a box to tick for ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution)....both parties have to agree for mediation to take place. In practice, it very really gets anywhere (from experience - and Ive had over 100 claims)

Best defence is to remain resolute, file a defence and get in touch if you need a hand.

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