You're on TV! Now pay up

Posted by Arron Dickens in Dealing with Debt on 25 June 2013 - Arron is a Product Manager at checkmyfile

Two separate companies have this week been hit with penalties by The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) – the government body that exists to look after the best interests of consumers. We look at the punishments handed down and whether these companies have been 'made examples of’ because of their television exposure.

Last month Channel 4 aired a show called ‘Repo Man’. The show followed the head of debt collection firm ‘Donegal Investigations’, as he undertook repossession work on behalf of car finance companies. The program showed Sean James and his team of collection agents meeting customers, to either take payment for arrears or collect the vehicles. Obviously this kind of work requires a certain amount of ‘assertiveness’ and an attitude not to accept excuses from customers.

The company itself states on its website: "a no holds barred approach when collecting assets, if you want a job doing right then we are your men"

The OFT has announced that it has suspended the credit license of Donegal Finance Limited, the parent company covering all aspects of Sean James’ business. This means that it is a criminal offence for the company (or anyone involved) to participate in credit related activities, including debt collection. The OFT has used new legislation to suspend the license immediately; previously it was required to undertake lengthy legal proceedings before taking action.

An OFT spokesman said: "Our decision demonstrates that we will not hesitate to use our new power to suspend a license when it is urgently necessary to protect consumers from risk of immediate harm.”

Clearly the OFT feels that the company has been intimidating customers for payment and has reacted to the complaints received. How much of this is down to the exposure of the company on television is unclear, but it is likely the OFT could not be seen to allow the tactics to continue when highlighted by the Channel 4 show.

This does raise a number of important questions. If the company has acted like this for a number years, and most likely isn’t the only culprit, why has the OFT not revoked the credit license previously? Why also has it not undertaken a wider review of the industry, which should have revealed if intimidation and illegal tactics are being used by other companies? It is hard to believe that the OFT doesn’t receive regular complaints about these ‘repo’ companies.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has also been wielding its power this week, handing down a large fine to Swansea-based ‘Save Britain Money Ltd’. The company is the focus of the BBC3 program ‘The Call Centre’ which is currently being aired. The fly-on-the-wall documentary series follows the ups and downs of CEO Nev Wilshire and his staff of extroverted cold callers.

Fines totalling £225,000 were issued after the companies were found to be responsible for more than 2,700 complaints to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) or the ICO between May 2011 and December 2012. The company have said they will be issuing an appeal against the decision, refuting claims that people registered with the TPS were being called unlawfully.

The ICO's director of operations, Simon Entwisle, said: "While the activities of Nev and his call centre employees have provided entertainment for many, they hide a bigger problem within the cold calling industry People have the legal right not to receive marketing calls and these companies have paid the price for failing to respect people's wishes."

It may be the case that the ICO is making example of this company, in part to reveal a bigger problem within the cold calling industry. Companies who are working in the debt collection or cold calling industries are clearly not going to garner much support with the public. Flaunting their practices on television shows however (whilst it certainly makes interesting television), is clearly going to draw attention and result in complaints to their respective regulatory bodies.

One thing is for sure - a certain Angela Rippon OBE will be smiling today.

Ben Ryland is a Credit Analyst at checkmyfile. He has a degree in International Business and Management from Aston University. He can be contacted at ben.ryland@checkmyfile.com

Do I Have a Default? How to Find Out

For lots of lenders, coming across a default on your Credit Report is a troubling sign. It’s certainly more serious than a missed payment or arrears on your file, which are likely to have less of an impact on your chances of being approved. A default represents a key moment in the eyes of a lender: it shows that on a previous credit agreement you stopped being a borrower and became a debtor.

Published on 31 Aug 2018 by Jamie Mackenzie Smith

Full Article

Can you go to prison for debt

The short answer is: yes, you can go to prison for debt. But it’s highly unlikely, and there’s still a lot you can do to help keep yourself or a loved one out of that situation.

Published on 22 Aug 2018 by Barry Stamp

Full Article

Northampton Court CCJ – Why is it on my Credit Report?

If you’ve been issued with a CCJ, chances are that it could appear on your Credit Report as having come from Northampton County Court Business Centre (CCBC), even if you or the claimant have no ties with Northampton whatsoever.

Published on 31 Jul 2018 by Jamie Mackenzie Smith

Full Article

What Happens When You Miss a Payment?

Late payments are a common entry on Credit Reports and can occur against all credit agreements – everything from mortgages to store cards. Unless you have a Direct Debit set up to make repayments automatically each month, you’re reliant on remembering to physically make your repayments each month and inevitably, mistakes happen.

Published on 6 Jul 2018 by Kiah Phillips

Full Article

If I Pay My CCJ Will It Go Away?

2017 saw the highest number of County Court Judgments (CCJs) issued in England and Wales since records began in 2005, according to official figures by Registry Trust. That means it’s more important than ever to make sure you know what to do if you get issued with one, and how to prevent one appearing on your credit file in the first place.

Published on 23 May 2018 by Ben Ryland

Full Article

Do I Have a CCJ? How To Find Out

How to check for a CCJ

A County Court Judgment (CCJ) is generally only issued by a lender once they have exhausted all other methods though following a CCJ additional tactics can be deployed such as the use of bailiffs.

Published on 23 Mar 2018 by Jamie Mackenzie Smith

Full Article

Understanding a default notice and what to do when one arrives

No one wants a default on their credit file, but sometimes there’s little you can do to prevent it. Perhaps your household income dropped due to redundancy, you’ve suffered an illness or an unexpected large expenditure has cropped up. Whatever the reason, in times of hardship financial commitments are often among the first things to be affected.

Published on 21 Mar 2018 by Ben Ryland

Full Article

Dealing with debt collectors

Don’t think for a moment that you’ll never see a debt collector in your lifetime. Even if you have a sparklingly brilliant credit file, you could find yourselves facing a doorstep collector.

Published on 19 Feb 2018 by Barry Stamp

Full Article

Does Statute Barred Mean My Debt is Written Off?

If you look around on the internet for debt advice you might see one questionable tip popping up from time to time: ‘don’t pay off your debts, wait six years for it to become statute barred and you’ll be home scot-free.’ If this sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is, and if you think it’ll be without consequence you could be in for a nasty surprise.

Published on 10 Jan 2018 by Tom Magor

Full Article

How Your Credit Score is Affected When a Default Drops Off

If you’ve got one default, you might be counting down the days until it is no longer reported to the Credit Reference Agencies. But if you have more than one, will you see your Credit Score rise as each one drops off of your Credit Report?

Published on 4 Jan 2018 by Richard Catlin

Full Article
keyboard_arrow_left

keyboard_arrow_right

We are rated number 1 for customer service on