I’ve had my fair share of these late payment charges. In the past I used to be lazy and pay my bills late, so annoying but fair enough, my own fault. These days I’m very on the ball as I don’t have much money. I have simplified my finances and plan for making sure all bills are paid on time. However there have been four recent examples where late payment charges were unjustified, and who likes to lose money needlessly ?
You’d think just sending a letter or email explaining the circumstances and these organisations would reverse the charges. But no in the current days of mean spiritedness, they don’t. They ignore, then instruct debt collector or worse raise a court action. It’s more money for them to go into their profits.
Without further ado …
Fourth Prize – Blue Property Management UK – Total potential cost to me £100
Blue Property Management UK collect a service charge from me for maintaining a property. The took over as managers because the previous agent became very ill. I disputed some of the charges and asked for explanation of some of the charges, hence not paying the principal amount, it’s in dispute. They went ahead and slapped late payment charges anyway. They have not answered any of my letters or emails and every time I get a statement from them the charges are still there. As yet unpaid and unresolved to my satisfaction.
Third Prize – E&J Estates – Total potential cost to me £100
E&J Estates collect a ground rent payment, as they purchased the freehold of a property I own. Previously the ground rent was collected by the managing agents. E&J bought the freehold. They did issue a number of letters, but failed to explain who they are and failed to explain for which period the demands related. First off I don’t pay money to unknowns who don’t explain who they are. And secondly I don’t pay bills where people aren’t exact in what they say charge relates to. I have contacted them by email and they have refused to reverse the charges. As yet unpaid and unresolved to my satisfaction.
Second Prize – Sorrell Property – Total potential cost to me £500
Sorrell collect a ground rent payment from me on behalf of a freeholder. I paid them on time and in full. Their clerical staff made a mistake. They sent letters demanding payment for ground rent I’d already paid. Then they instructed a debt collector and threatened court action. Each debt collectors letter the amount goes up £100 or £200. In the end I had to send eight stern signed for letters. It seems that they have decided to drop it, but no apology. They continue to be rude and arrogant, not even admitting they made a mistake and no recognition of my wasted time, money and effort. I could petition the directors of the company that manages the property for their dismal, I might still do that.
FIRST Prize – Barclaycard – Actual cost to me £4000
But first prize for the biggest late-payment rip off I’ve ever experienced goes to Barclaycard. At the time I was extremely short of money, and as a last resort I borrowed money on my credit card at low interest. In the small print which I didn’t read, there’s a clause that the rate reverts from the low rate to 29% APR if you fail to make any of the payments. So what happens, my bank doesn’t honour one of the payments. And viola, now I’m paying stupid amounts of interest each month. I didn’t have the money to clear it for about 9 months. I wrote to Barclaycard, explaining, but they refused to do anything about it.
I’m not sure of the legality of these “late payment” charges. In these days where a lot of people don’t have a lot of money, of course company’s profits are down so they are looking for ways to claw it back. Late payment charges work well for a bit of extra profit.
As a consumer the cards are stacked against me. The big company can afford to pay debt collector and fast track through the court. This ends up being expensive for me, and puts a black mark on my credit file, and cheap for the company pursuing it. Most consumers like myself therefore don’t generally tend to bother to fight, because they often don’t know exactly their rights, and it’s a tremendous effort and perhaps expense to fight. Bottom line, this is bullying, corporate bullying of small people like myself. So I name and shame in effort to stand up for myself and to spread the word about these nefarious late payment rip offs.