Tuesday, 9 February 2010

'I went the opposite way to bankruptcy' - Twonk's story

I received a stunning email the other day from Twonk - and he was gracious enough to let me post it here:

i went the opposite way to bankruptcy:
i was working flat out more than 40 hours a week, getting nowhere, my wages just paid off credit card interest and late charges etc.
one card we had, allowed us to take a 3 month lower payment plan to get back on top of it, months later it was revealed on the statements that during the 3 months, the extra interest and charges they put on were more than i was paying originally, they may as well have kept us on the original plan and charged us as they were.
next up came the wife's card, her wage went in the bank a day late, when it finally landed, she rang her card company to make a payment over the phone.
i sat and listened as she paid the £78 monthly payment, only to see her face change from relief that she had paid it, to horror as she was being charged £25 for being one day late with her payment.
i took the phone off her and argued about it with the advisor and her manager, all to no avail.
after paying £78 off her bill, she actually ended up with a £12 higher bill, and her £78 quid counted for nothing.
that was the straw that broke the camel's back...... no more i told her!
i defaulted on the lot and waited for letters to arrive, some came within weeks, some took almost 12 months, after selling the debt onto collection agents and debt collectors.
i walked from my full time job, my attitude was, if i havent got nowt they cant take nowt.... by complete luck, it turned out to be a masterstroke.
to this day, every single one of our debts has been frozen at £5 per month, some with a court order saying it, some without, each one without adding interest or charges, no more hassles of mail drops, crafty postcards, threats of doorstep visits etc.
we have even beaten a top high st bank in court and stopped them from hitting our home with a charging order.
the way we did this was simple:
stopping all communication hassles - administration of justice act 1972 forbids "harrassment of a would be debtor" - which means phone and doorstep hassles stopped within two weeks, and was illegal, i sent letters out that communication would be dealt with in writing only, failure to adhere to this request meant i could walk into a police station and have the company charged if they didnt refrain from doing it. if a company are charged under this act, they could be deemed to be unfit to hold a consumer credit license - therefor they would not be able to trade anymore - i reminded them of this in the letters.
to date every single hassle has stopped, apart from the odd letter offering to knock 2 thousand off our bill total if we settle in full
the weight this lifted from us was immeasurable. i dont think people who are not in debt realise how much pressure all the phone calls and doorstep visits creates.
ignoring advice from the companies who we owed money to - first rule i set myself, was to trust the magistrates system instead of what we were being told by those we owed money to - i sussed out straight away, that the things we were being told were only designed to benefit them and not us.
like giving the company a break down of our income and expenditure (including all our other creditors) was a legal requirement... it is not, so i told them nothing - only the courts can demand a complete breakdown of income and outgoings by law.
like when the company told us we could only pay them a minimum amount each month that they would find acceptable - which was a lie - i wrote and offered them £5 per month and they refused the offer, i told them i wanted their decision in writing, only 1 company out of 12 gave us this in writing, as i could use it in court against them, as its simply not true.
i had to hassle them in writing for their sort code and account number, to pay in my £5 per calendar month, they often didnt want to give it to us, knowing as i did that should i have an established record of paying even a basic amount of money to them, the courts would pin them down on why they were bringing it to court in the first place when they were being paid regular (albeit minimal amounts) of legal tender and that we hadnt just ignored their requests for money.
i made sure i paid them £5 per calendar month religously, which showed any magistrate that we were true to our word.
contesting any charging order court application in person - the most important rule when companies tell people that a charging order against their home is "just a formality to secure the debt so they could accept our minimal payment" is that it simply is not true.
we had taken great care when using cards or getting a loan to make sure it was not secured against our home!
one company dropped a summons via the automated court system on our mat on christmas eve, after 11 months of saying it would goto court.
it is vital that this case was heard before a magistrate where i live - which is my right
once in court, the solicitor tried to get us to accept this clause immediately before we went in to see the magistrate, when i said i was defending against it he laughed and walked off.
when we got in to see the magistrate, the solicitor for the company stated that not only was he seeking the charging order, but also he wanted it enforcing immediately - meaning he was enforcing the sale of our home to get the 4 grand for his company - exactly the opposite we had been told by him and his legal letters for months!
when it came to our turn to speak, we gave the magistrate the "three strikes" defence:
- unfair advantage over other creditors
- we wanted a refund of all the extra interest charged from it being an unsecured loan as it would now be a secured loan
- the company refused to give us sort code and account number to make minimal payments which is against the law
the magistrate put these questions to their solicitor who looked ambling and turned greener with each one!
the charging order was refused and the minimal £5 payments were accepted by the judge.
in despiration, the solicitor argued that it would take 114 years to pay the debt off, the judge's reply was "tough!" times are hard for all concerned he said and ruled against it.
now we have this court order that stops a charging order, it means any other company trying this route will be refused as the law states that all creditors should be treated the same, and to grant one would give that company an unfair advantage over another company.
our lives have been transformed, i have a little part time job now, i dont have money in my pocket, because i dont need money in my pocket
we live basically, shopping away from supermarkets, knocking down independant shops in price, and we eat better than we have ever done, fresh fruit and veg, fresh meat every week, fresh fish etc.
i do jobs for people to help them out and in return they do jobs for me, no money needs to change hands.
we have no pressures anymore of creditors banging at the door, we dont dred the postman calling anymore, and we dont run around like headless chickens both working full time flat out, we have time to nip to the beach in an afternoon, or the park etc.
we smile and laugh at the simple things, we dont spend hours on the phone chasing around to get charges paid back... as we dont have any, we dont pay big wads of interest..... we should have done this years ago.
occasionally, i get a bit of cash in hand work, but on the whole, i work when i want to, no weekends, no late shifts, no sat in rush hour traffic for hours each week, etc.
sometimes its fun to watch all the neighbours running around like nutters and standing still!