Some debt collectors track down the victim's telephone number and bombard them with endless aggressive calls.
Typically the debt collection company works on a no-win, no fee basis. A £100 parking charge will be escalated to £160. If the victim pays up, the parking company gets the original £100, and the debt collector gets £60.
A second reason to use debt collectors is to artificially escalate the claim. The parking company pass the debt to a sister company, often owned by the same person as the original parking company. This lets them get round the £100 limit on parking charges by adding on whatever they want.
If the debt collector fails to collect the debt, it returns to the parking company. However, often the debt will stay at the new increased level even though the parking company has not incurred costs (being on a no win no fee basis with the debt collectors).
Different parking companies use different debt collecting companies, and change them from time to time.
Excel Parking (and their subsidiary VCS) for instance have over the last year or so gone through TNC, Wright Hassall and BW Legal. Now it looks like BW Legal have been given the old heave-ho, and Excel have switched to using DCBL. The Prankster has been contacted by a number of people receiving their letters.
DCBL are both debt collectors and bailiffs, which has worried some recipients of these letters. however, in this case they are acting as debt collectors.
Excel do take some motorists to court. The problem for any person receiving one of these letters is knowing if they are one of these or not. The Prankster therefore advises not ignoring these letters but replying to deny the debt (if you do). If you cannot cope with the letters and wish to pay the charge, then The Prankster suggests you negotiate with the parking company on a without prejudice basis to pay the original charge (or a discounted amount), rather than negotiating with the parking company.
This sometimes works and sometimes does not. In one case The Prankster helped with the motorist's relative had forgotten where they parked the car, before remembering after several days. A number of charges had accrued in the time. The Prankster therefore helped to attempt to negotiate a fair amount based on the unpaid parking fee rather than a per-day penalty charge. Sadly the debt collecting company (Debt Recovery Plus) were too greedy and refused to drop the settlement amount. As the motorist was not liable, The Prankster eventually broke off negotiations and suggested the the debt collectors contact the driver instead - DR+ ended up with nothing.
In other cases a settlement has been reached.
The Prankster suggests writing to DCBL to limit costs in case Excel do go to court.
In line with the Credit Services Association code of practice I require all communications from you to be by letter. You may not use phone or email.
The debt is denied. Please refer the debt back to the principal. Any further communications apart from to confirm this will be treated as harassment. Debt collection costs will therefore be wasted costs on your part.
The principal will find the following information useful. No debt exists because [put the reasons why you are disputing the debt here]
I would be prepared to use alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in an attempt to settle this matter and I suggest the Consumer Ombudsman. For the avoidance of doubt, the IAS has been exposed as a kangaroo court and would not be acceptable. I also point you to the clear conflict of interest between the IAS and Gladstone Solicitors, who are owned by the same people.
Otherwise I suggest we settle the matter in court and I suggest you send a letter before claim without delay. I will ask the court to apply sanctions if you refuse ADR.
The Parking Prankster