4

I lived in the Netherlands for about 6 months in 2015 and was a customer of Ziggo (internet provider).

When I cancelled my account (November 2015) they told me (on the phone, not recorded) that there was nothing else I had to do. I was moving back to the UK and wanted to check everything was cancelled and all payments would definitely stop etc...

In February 2016 I received an email telling me that I owed them €400 for not returning the TV box thing. (They never asked me to return it in the first place).

I asked for proof from them that they told me about this and they couldn't send me anything.

Now it has been sent to a debt collector and they are threatening me with legal proceedings if I don't pay. I just got off the phone with them and they also said they don't need to send me proof.

They claim it was in the T&Cs when I signed. I asked them to send that over so I can see and they said no. They repeatedly claim that they "don't need to prove it".

They seem to think that just sending me an invoice is proof enough.

If I really do owe that money and I really was told about it (told about the charge for not returning the box) before that invoice arrived then I have told them I will pay. I have told them this for over a year and for over a year they have not responded to my emails and have not sent any other document than the invoice sent in February 2016.

Not sure what else I can do here?

  • OK you are taking a too cavalier approach. No service provider, atleast in my knowledge, gives you their equipment for free. I am pretty sure they would have mentioned about the TV box while signing up. So you cannot deny that they haven't informed you about it. You have to prove they didn't mention it and not them in this case. I asked for proof from them that they told me about this and they couldn't send me anything. This won't work. So keep your emails and any replies from their side and use them when the debt collector comes around. – DumbCoder Feb 1 '17 at 12:29
  • @DumbCoder ok. So without being able to show that they explicitly DIDN'T say anything about this then I pretty much have to pay based on their word? :( – Fogmeister Feb 1 '17 at 12:31
  • Some help here stepchange.org/debt-info/debt-collection/… – DumbCoder Feb 1 '17 at 12:32
  • Did you read the T&Cs before signing ? If you didn't read it is your problem and not theirs. You can hide behind the fact that it wasn't made clear to you in understandable terms and was quite incomrephensive. – DumbCoder Feb 1 '17 at 12:34
  • 1
    What did you do with the box? It's hard to imagine you had a use for it. – DJClayworth Feb 1 '17 at 16:34
2

I cannot speak specifically to the Netherlands or the UK specifically, but my prejudice has me believing that there would be more consumer protection in those two countries than that we have here in the the US, certainly not less.

Debt collectors mostly do their job by bullying. Here in the US they are mostly toothless and typically obtain payments when they invoke an emotional reaction. In your case they are attempting to invoke fear. Legal action over €400? Get real. It will cost them 20 times that to bring action, and they are equally likely to get a sympathetic judge to toss out the case.

Now you very well know you should have returned the box, please don't be coy. If you still have it, you should attempt to return it. If not you should attempt to settle. Offer them €80, going no higher than €160. Get it in writing, that this satisfies the debt and use either a one time use credit card or a bank check/money order.

  • 2
    Thanks I'll try to haggle with them. TBH though. I truly didn't know I had to return the box. In the UK I have had TV and internet contracts in the past and it isn't something that is done. At the end of the contract they don't ask for the box to be returned etc... At least, not with the contracts I've had :) – Fogmeister Feb 1 '17 at 14:08
  • It is done in the UK - the cable provider does state that the box has to be returned – user151019 Feb 1 '17 at 14:32
  • @Fogmeister if they get overly rude, just hang up. If you want to be a bit more aggressive, buy a air horn and blow it into the phone when they start being rude. You have a lot of power in this negotiation. – Pete B. Feb 1 '17 at 14:38
2

This is more of a legal question than a monetary one.

You can try to negotiate with the debt owner as Pete B. suggests.

Alternatively, you can ignore them and see what happens. They might sue you for the 400 plus costs, or maybe not. That is a pretty small amount for a lawyer to show up in a court of law. If you go to court, you can win by testifying that you returned the box and the charge is invalid. If you testify in court that you did not return the box, then you will lose.

Sometimes a debt collector will just file a credit complaint against you and you would have to go to court to get that complaint removed from your record with the credit agency.

The loan owner has no idea whether you returned the box at all. All they have is a debt security which simply says who owes the money and how much it is. In a court room they have zero evidence against you (unless you said something to them and they wrote it down or recorded it).

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.