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Pressure sold into a credit agreement and now being harassed,

(2 Posts)
ErikaMaye Wed 23-Sep-09 12:38:44

Its getting too much - I need to know what to do.

I was pressure sold - to the point of not being allowed to leave the room - into buying a package of photographs that I physically can not afford. I have Borderline Personaility Disorder and ME / CFS, my only income is my DLA; to be frank, I don't have the money to give them. If I did, they could have it. I am also 32 weeks pregnant.

I have posted about this on the mental health board, because I am now back on my ADs due to how they're treating me, but I need some legal type advice now.

The finance company - a seperate company entirely to the one I visited - are calling me every day. It comes up as a with held or unknown number, so I don't answer it. The voicemails are getting more and more threatening - todays was along the lines of, "You MUST return this call immediately, you cannot keep ignoring the problem you have caused."

For the record, I am not ignoring them - I can't manage phone calls. When they first called me they agreed to contact me only in writing, and I have written three letters purely about their manner of contact.

I have had one letter from the original company - dated July 14th - saying they would be investigating my claims and getting back to me immediatelt. Still waiting.

The finance company are not responding to my letters or the questions in them, but are now threatening me with court.

Because its a with held number, I can't block it on my mobile. I now panic every time it rings, until I see who it is. They've text me before, and when a text comes in I jump. When the postman comes to the door I have a panic attack. When a car pulls up outside I freak out in case its the baliffs that they've threatened me with, or if I'm being observed.

I really don't know what to do, and its getting too much. Can anyone offer me any adivce?

My therapist has suggested she write to them, and my doctor, plus possibly my social worker and midwife. I'm not capable of writing the letters by myself now, as its making me panic too much, so my Dad is writing on my behalf.

I'm 18, with SPD, ME / CFS, 32 weeks pregnant, BPD and physically cannot afford the payments. No one checked if I was capable of making them.

I'm frightened, and paranoid to the point of being incapable of leaving the house on some days. I would greatly appriciate ANY suggestions. Thank you.

Aussieng Wed 23-Sep-09 17:04:39

Hi - first of all poor you. I do completely understand that you are having a terrible time and finding this all very stressful and that is horrible for you.

At this risk of negating what I just said and sounding unsympathetic, I do think maybe you need to take a deep breath and a step back. "You must return this call immediately, you cannot keep ignoring the problem you have caused" is not really THAT threatening. The situation is very stressful, epsecially if they are calling every day but try not to overreact.

There are no simple solutions - sorry.

Additionally, I see from your other post that you have already had advice from the CAB but understand that you have difficulty in getting (back) to the CAB and cannot deal with phone calls but honestly this is what you need to do and solutions such as the CAB/Consumer Direct etc are all any of us are really likely to be able to offer you. And you are already making use of your available support network - eg therapist, Doctor, dad which I would encourage.

With regard to the photo company, I suggest that you point out to them that you dispute the debt and that what their sales person did is possibly (likely in my view) a criminal offence under the The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and if you do not receive a response within 14 days you will take that point further.

Incidentally did the CAB/Consumer Direct have any points to make as to whether you could actually get out of the contract? D they think you should dispute that you owe the original amount (and if so on what basis) or merely that you should agree a payment plan with the collection agency?

I would also suggest that you (or get your dad to) point out the potential criminality of the photo company to the collection agency. In fact I would copy all correspondence to both parties since both of them have a claim against you - the photo company for the photo cost and the collection agency for their costs in pursuing the debt.

Reiterate to the collection agency that you have advised that you require all contact to be in writing (and why) and actually point out that this will provide a more useful record in any event if the issue proceeds to court.

Set out their innappropriate conduct to date in the letter (this will be helpful as evidence) and point out that you have already advised them that you are vulnerable (mental health, pregnancy, financial position etc) and they have a duty under the code of conduct of the Credit Services Association (which is available on their website) to have due regard and deal sensitively with this, something they have entirely failed to do in their distregard of your difficulty in attending to telephone calls.

Those same guidelines, require that attempts by the collection agency to contact you are made at reasonable times and at reasonable intervals and do not bring unreasonable pressure to bear and numerous other matters which they are potentially in breach of. Point all of this out to them and advise them that if they do not cease their harassment you will report them to the CSA. You may also wish to provide them with evidence of your inability to pay which may lead them to agree a low instalment plan with you ( frustrating given that you were pressured into the debt but possibly better than having this dragging on and distressing you)since they are required to have regard to payment ability and agree suitable instalments.

Finally, as mentioned in the other thread, they cannot send you to prison just for defaulting on a debt - it is not a criminal offence to default on a debt. But DO NOT ignore any letters (I know you say you are not) especially if it gets to the court stage.

If it does get to the stage of going to court then even then do not panic. Although costs will go up, the small claims court is informal and and at least someone impartial will be there to hear your side ensure that a sensible payment plan is agreed and you can take someone such as your dad or your social worker with you to speak for you and present your financial postion.

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