With as many debts as I have, sometimes the Debt Collection Agencies I pay money to do something that causes me to complain. Towards the end of last week I received a letter from a firm of Solicitors called Westminsters Solicitors.
In their letter they said that I had failed to honour my repayment arrangement and that if I didn’t contact them they would issue legal proceedings. The usual really and nothing different from any other debt collector or solicitor in this case.
Contacting Westminsters Solicitors
Well I thought – fair game, better give them a call and find out why they have got this account. I recently set up a Debt Management Plan with StepChange Debt Charity. I would have expected that NCO Europe would have received an offer of payment but it seems they did not.
I explained to Westminsters Solicitors that I had entered into an arrangement with StepChange and said I would let StepChange know so they can send through the relevant paperwork and offer of payment. I then enquired about the account, briefly mentioning that they have had this account before. Westminsters Solicitors informed me that they have never had this account before.
I was confused at this point because in front of me was a letter from August 2012 which had their information on it, although they had spelled Legal Proceedings as Legal Proceesings. At the time I thought that was odd considering they are a solicitors.
I asked again, have you or have you not ever, had this account or sent a letter chasing it. No was the reply. I said please double check, this is quite serious if you have not sent this letter. He checked and again confirmed that the account had never ever been with Westminsters up until July 2013.
Contacting NCO Europe about the suspicious letter
Below is an e-mail I sent to NCO Europe to find out what has been happening: -
I had an interesting conversation with Westminsters Solicitors this morning. I asked about a letter they had supposedly sent on the 31st August 2012. They tell me they have never had this account before until the 23rd July 2013. So it appears that NCO Europe sent a letter threatening legal proceedings with Westminsters Solicitors Name on it. Why? I have attached a copy of the letter for your records.
I would like a copy of your complaints procedure please. I beleive you have fallen outside the following guidelines: -
Communication: businesses should communicate in a clear,
accurate and transparent manner
• False representation of authority and/or legal position:
businesses should accurately and truthfully represent their
authority/status and the correct legal position with regard to
debts and the debt recovery process
• Physical/psychological harassment: businesses should not
engage in physical or psychological harassment of debtors or
relevant third parties
• Deceptive and/or unfair methods: businesses should be truthful
and fair in their dealings with debtors and others
You should have received communication from StepChange who are managing my Debt Management Plan for me but apparently you have not. However based on my own experience I would suspect you have but it has not been processed, like a lot of my own communications with you.
I look forward to hearing from you soon by return post or e-mail with the requested information.
Waiting to Find out was has happened from NCO Europe
A couple of days later I received a response from NCO Europe to advise they are looking into the matter. The paper they used was of high quality which was nice. On a more serious note though, if the above turns out to be true then I shall be reporting them to the Office of Fair Trading as it is not on at all. I will keep you all updated with what happens about this.