Marston Holdings, a Debt Collection company, are quite happy to lie to Vulnerable Adults, whom are disabled, in an attempt to bully and intimidate them into getting money that does not really need to be paid.
A couple of Sundays ago, I awoke to find the attached pdf put through my door as a letter. Upon calling the person listed on the letter I was told by their voice mail that they were away for a few days, never less, a call was returned within minutes from the gentleman. And so I arranged for him to come round my house to sort out what was going on.
Upon which, I was told that if I did not pay a sum of £616 that day, he would have no choice but to remove my car in leu of fees, whilst adding an extra £150 for the privilege of removing said car.
It was then explained to me that I had not paid two toils on the Dartford Crossing, from the beginning of the year. For some reason letters went first to an address I have not lived at for some five years. At this point, as the letters where ignored, a Court date happened, where I was found guilty, and the fees started increasing. Some time later my correct address was found and letters sent to me there. Once again, as the letters where ignored, the fees kept mounting up. Until the point was reached where it was necessarily for the bailiffs to come around and take my possession in payment.
The only evidence I was shown was a couple of handwritten notes in his book, not a single photograph of my car. I then explained to the gentleman my circumstances, being clear that I was not saying I had done nothing wrong, just that I wished the protection that the Law allows one. I explained that I am unable to open post due to medical reasons, and so had no way of knowing that any of this was going on. Therefore there must be another way that this could be sorted. He explained that there wasn’t, if the money wasn’t paid in full that day he had no choice but to take my car.
As someone whom does not stick his head in the sand over things, and also understands that the buck stops with me, no matter what reason there might be, I asked if I could have five minutes to empty the car of possessions and then hand over the keys, as he would not accept that the Winchester Council had a role to play in this, as it is down to them to provide, as they have done for a number of months, someone to help me with my post.
And then things changed. He became friendly, saying that there was a way he could, magically all of a sudden, bend the rules – he just wanted to know when I could pay. I explained that I was getting my benefits and disability payment the following week, and could pay then. He made notes and said that would be okay, and would return the following week. After he had left, I had time to reflect on the situation.
The first thing I did, that following Monday, was go down the Council and ask for their help, as it was down to them not replacing the Care Worker I had, whom had left three or four months ago, that had got me in this situation. I spoke with someone I thought friendly there, asking for them to contact Marston Holdings and explain what had happened – all this time later I am still waiting to hear back from them.
Next, I found a gentleman called Richard Anderson, Group Legal and Compliance Director for Marston Holdings, to explain to him what had happened and what Reasonable Allowances should be made for someone with my Protected Characteristics. I got a message back from him saying that he could not talk about group polices, but would have a Senior Manager in the Customer Care Team contact me – something I am still waiting to happen.
And so next I turned to the Dartford Tunnel Agency and contacted them. Once I had explained my circumstances to them, a whole different approach was made open to me – something the employee of Marston Holdings should have made clear to me, but didn’t. Instead he took advantage of the naive trusting nature of someone on The Spectrum, of which he said he had experience of. The Tunnel Agency told me the forms I needed to download, fill in and send back that would get me access to a review of my situation.
I filled in said forms and sent them back immediately. A couple of days later I called up the Agency, to check progression. I was told the forms had been received and the bailiffs had been put on hold.
And the punch line to this whole affair?
The Dartford Tunnel Agency told me that they would write to me to let me know their decision.
And so I am back in the same position I was.
This time knowing that if things do not go my way and the bailiffs return I will have no options but to hand over my car.
Because the Council have now changed their mind over their legal responsibility to provide someone to open my post. Telling me that they do not have to do so.
And so the pile of unopened post mounts.
Whilst my feelings of inadequacy also increase – after all, what man in his mid forties cannot open letters?