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Debt Collection News Roundup - May 2016

Here at Access Credit Management we‘re committed to making sure our readers are up to speed with what’s going on in the industry so once a month we publish a News Roundup. This brings our readers all the latest news and important goings on within the sector so that you have a resource that keeps you fully informed at all times. It would be interesting to know what you, the readers, think of the stories that feature here. Please join in by adding your comments below the regular news roundup postings or email us if you come across anything that you think we should include.

A new report reveals that local government is one of the worst sectors in the UK when it comes to collecting debt. Energy companies top the list followed closely by local authorities and credit card companies. 1,500 households were surveyed in order to gather data for the report which was published by Echo Managed Services.

Blackpool Council is preparing to write off a total of nearly £300,000 after a firm set up in 2014 to provide careers advice and training entered administration. The company was set up jointly by Blackpool Council, Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council. Blackpool Council’s decision to write off the debt has resulted in some heavy criticism as it’s Blackpool’s taxpayers who will ultimately foot the bill.

Meanwhile Vodafone is being criticised for chasing a Fareham post lady for payment of an early termination fee despite the fact that she’d settled in full when closing her mobile phone account. Stephanie Lee suffered months of hassle and worry as she was chased by debt collectors and, to add insult to injury, her credit rating was adversely affected. In desperation, Ms. Lee turned to BBC Watchdog, The Guardian, the Daily Mail, ITV and Ofcom, the phone regulator. Eventually Vodafone cleared the account and acknowledged the error which led to Ms. Lee’s dilemma, apologising profusely and offering to refund £100 as a gesture of goodwill.

In a similar incident, utility company Npower sent a £12,000 bill to Alison and Brian Hepburn who spent nearly 3 years trying to explain to the company that they had switched to a different energy provider when they moved in October 2013. The mess was not sorted out until the Energy Ombudsman and Telegraph Money got involved. It seems that Npower lost 300,000 customers during 2015 and complaints against the energy provider rose by 50% in the space of a year. The company has frequently billed customers for energy used at different addresses and a postcode mix up led to a court summons for a commercial customer.

In a totally novel development, a debt collection agency is Bangkok has come up with an innovative method of recovering monies from Thai debtors. Instead of sending threatening letters or collection agency representatives, debt collectors visit people’s homes offering a basket of fresh fruit! According to Piya Pong-acha, who runs one of the g rowing number of firms in Thailand seeking profits from recuperating debts, “We go to their houses with oranges or mangosteens. We don’t talk about the money but they know why we are there”.