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  • FIRST POST
    sheff71
    Red Debt Collection (Lowells) & 3 mobile
    • #1
    • 25th Jul 08, 11:50 PM
    Red Debt Collection (Lowells) & 3 mobile 25th Jul 08 at 11:50 PM
    I've just received a letter today from Red Debt Collection Services... a little background first:

    In December 2003, I bought a 3mobile phone from Carphone Warehouse on a 12 month contract, but it just did not work properly, only connected to the network for 5 seconds when trying to talk to their customer services, and then stopped, never to connect again. Within a few days i'd taken it back to CPW, cancelled the contract (as it wasn't fit for service) and took a different phone and network in exchange.

    Shortly after, I received a bill from 3 for 49.23, even though it showed i'd only actually been able to connect for 5 seconds, and that it was cancelled within days. I called the Indian Call Centre, and after a few minutes discussion, the lady was happy to accept that 3 had not provided a proper service, and said to forget the bill.

    Fast forward to today (25 July 08), returning from a short break, and two letters, one from 3 saying that from 30th June 08, they've sold this 49.23 debt onto Lowell Portfolio I Ltd, and one from Red Debt Collection Service along the same lines, saying not to ignore this, as it will not go away, and to contact them to arrange a suitable repayment plan, via a 0844 number - otherwise they will either send a licenced field agent to visit me at home to arrange payments or start a legal action against me in the County Court... and I should take ownership of this problem.

    Now what annoys me about this is that a) I don't want any black credit marks against my name, particularly for something like this, b) as 3's service at that time was effectively not fit for service, it's pretty rich them requesting this money, and c) this is the first contact of any kind i've had from anyone regarding this since the original bill in December 2003... surely if there had been a genuine outstanding issue, this would've been chased up at some point within the last 4.5 years?

    As mentioned before, I was led to believe that this issue was long since completed, and therefore do not have that bill, or the time, and name of person I talked to in the Call Centre (why would you keep this five years later when you think it's sorted!). All I could find is a handwriten note i'd made saying "3", an 0870 number that i'd called, and then "received from carphone direct sales on 16 December, returned to Parkway Carphone branch on 20 Dec".

    They say I have until 31 July to arrange something - what should I do (i'm not normally too strong on the phone in these kind of situations, and if it'd been a fiver i'd probably have just paid to save the hassle, but this is just taking the xxxx).

    Any advice greatly appreciated!
Page 2
  • diablakis
    Thanks for you answer rog2!
    I'll try to sort the situation out the way you suggested.

    Another thing I found from that period is that because of that mix up with 3G I asked equifax for my credit file. In my file all entries with 3G have S on them which I guess it means settled. Is that correct? And the balance is £0 throughout. Will it help if I send a copy of my credit file to them showing them that I do not owe anything to 3G?

    Thanks!
  • reshocked
    Hello all, I have signed up to Money Saving Expert today to share my experience on this whole ordeal in hope it might help somebody and cause them less frustration than it has caused me this evening.

    I came home after a long days work, to find a debt recovery letter from Red Debt Collection Services. I was surprised to say the least and initially, I was going to ignore it - but the outstanding balance rang a bell and it was just too much of a coincidence to sweep aside. SO I began investigating. Like yourselves, sheff71 and pete1909 - I too, took out a contract with 3G Network many years ago (back in 2005 and coincidentally it was with the Carphone Warehouse), and remember disputing a bill of about £40 (£41.32 to be precise).

    So I got on the phone to 3G immediately, only to be put through to somebody in India. Immediately I thought, “oh here we go” and after much ranting and raving, I got absolutely no where. What I did find, was that they still had all my details on file (rather worrying) and that they acknowledged a debt of £41.32. I was absolutely astonished by this, as I had never received anything from them requesting this amount other than that one occasion where I thought it had all been settled. I went on to request further details of this debt, only to be told they had no access to it and I would need to contact Red Debt Collection Services in order to clear this balance. I asked how they could pass this on to debt collectors before giving me any sort of written warning, Vidya (the lady from India) had no response to this other than “Well Mr. Singh, I can confirm we sent you a text message in February 2006 stating there is an outstanding balance on your account”. Now this really got me fired up for a couple of reasons:

    1. Considering they have all my home details on file, why not just write to me requesting this amount?
    2. The text was sent after I had my contract cancelled with them – leaving no way for me to receive said message.

    So there I am, ranting and raving down the phone to this poor girl demanding I speak to a supervisor when she quietly tells me the most important thing in solving this whole mystery…

    Apparently, the account was transferred around the time of the outstanding balance. I asked who to? She put me on hold for a moment, to come back with the reply “Carphone Warehouse”. That’s when it hit me. I had taken out an insurance policy on my handset through the Carphone Warehouse which allowed me to end my contract early with no come backs (or so I thought). I am not sure if they still offer this policy or not, but it basically allowed me to cancel the contract at any point within the 18 months and all I had to do was give back the sim card and handset.

    I immediately got on the phone to Carphone Warehouse Lifeline (the insurance company) and explained the situation. Within seconds they gave me a solution: Simply go to my nearest Carphone Warehouse branch, with a copy of the debt collection letter and I will be refunded the full amount. The chap on the line was most useful, he acknowledged the amount that was outstanding and advised there may have been a mixup between themselves and 3G and they’ll have it settled right away. It’s as simple as that.

    I have just bit the bullet and paid the collection company in good faith that I will receive my refund from Carphone Warehouse. It is safe to say this is a legitimate claim – atleast in my case – and I hope this has been of use to somebody out there.

    Also, don’t ring their over charging 0844/0870 numbers, please find below the numbers I rang to get this mess sorted out.

    3g Network 01442 456195
    Carphone Warehouse Lifeline 02087 538111
    Red Debt Collection 01133 086000

    After speaking with the advisor from Red Debt Collection, he told me they have recently taken on over 250,000 cases from 3G – which is quite astonishing. One thing is for sure,.. it is not the last we hear about this.
    Last edited by reshocked; 21-08-2008 at 8:00 PM.
  • rog2
    I immediately got on the phone to Carphone Warehouse Lifeline (the insurance company) and explained the situation. Within seconds they gave me a solution: Simply go to my nearest Carphone Warehouse branch, with a copy of the debt collection letter and I will be refunded the full amount. The chap on the line was most useful, he acknowledged the amount that was outstanding and advised there may have been a mixup between themselves and 3G and theyll have it settled right away. Its as simple as that.
    After speaking with the advisor from Red Debt Collection, he told me they have recently taken on over 250,000 cases from 3G which is quite astonishing.
    Originally posted by reshocked
    Wow - what a way to have to go to get to the bottom of things - incredible.

    A couple of things that 'set the alarm bells ringing:
    • Carphone Warehouse - I kind of suspected that their name would come up sooner or later - why am I not surprised? :confused:
    • How on earth can 250,000 similar cases have been allowed to find themselves in the clutches of a 'greed driven' company like Red Debt Collection?
    I find it almost incredible that you have had to actually 'pay' these vultures against the 'promise' of a refund from Carphone !!!!!house. :rolleyes:
    I am NOT, nor do I profess to be, a Qualified Debt Adviser. I have made MANY mistakes and have OFTEN been the unwitting victim of the the shamefull tactics of the Financial Industry.
    If any of my experiences, or the knowledge that I have gained from those experiences, can help anyone who finds themselves in similar circumstances, then my experiences have not been in vain.

    HMRC Bankruptcy Statistic - 26th October 2006 - 23rd April 2007 BCSC Member No. 7

    DFW Nerd # 166 PROUD TO BE DEALING WITH MY DEBTS
  • fraud_phish_spam_hater
    I have also recieved a letter from these people about a small amount owing on a "3G mobile" account from years ago. I'm sure I had a finished and paid up contract so I logged onto this forum to have a look. Something does not look right about the letter anyway. Normally a DCA will send a letter simply asking to contact them so that they can help, all friendly like to get you to call.
    I also think the the account should have been called "3Mobile" and not "3G mobile" as this refers to a type of mobile services provided by all the major players.

    Merlyn2003's earlier post claims the company is in liquidation!!
    I am guessing that somone has stolen the identity of this company and they are using it to fraudulently collect money from people.
    I fully intend to investigate and post my findings here.

    * DO NOT CONTACT RED BY PHONE AND DO NOT PAY THEM ANYTHING*

    It is vitally important that you do not give these illegal PHISHERS any information. I know of a friend who recieved a DCA letter relating to an unpaid gas bill at his address from before he moved in. He lives on an ex-airbase and there is NO GAS SUPPLY. He was nieve and phoned them to explain he didn't owe them anything but they sent him a letter a few weeks later asking for the same amount but for electricity and after the date he moved in!! This matter was resolved when I advised him to insist, in writing, for a copy of the original bill. He hasn't heard from them since.
  • fermi
    Merlyn2003's earlier post claims the company is in liquidation!!
    I am guessing that somone has stolen the identity of this company and they are using it to fraudulently collect money from people.
    I fully intend to investigate and post my findings here.
    Originally posted by fraud_phish_spam_hater
    No. I think you will find that Merlyn2003 has retrieved the wrong record from companies house. The name is similar, but it is not a company linked with the Lowell group and is not the Red Collections referred to here.

    Red Collections is simply a "trading style" of the Lowell Group.
    I'm a Board Guide on the Debt-Free Wannabe, Bankruptcy, Credit Cards and Loans boards. I'm a volunteer to help the boards run smoothly, and I can move and merge threads there. Any views are mine and not the official line of moneysavingexpert.com. Board guides are not moderators. If you spot an inappropriate or illegal post then please report it to forumteam@moneysavingexpert.com | > New to Forum? Click for Guide <

    Free/impartial debt advice: National Debtline | StepChange Debt Charity | Find your local CAB

    IVA & fee charging DMP companies: Profits from misery, motivated ONLY by greed
  • fsx123
    The cpmmon factors appear to be 3G mobiles that didnt work that were purchased from carphone warehouse.

    The debts were wiped clean, as is shown in mine and several others credit reports.


    Then now 4-5 years later phone calls, and visits from Red debt collectors.

    I am tempted to take it to court, but I am not sure I have the time or the inclination.

    But I am furious at the audacity of 3.

    In my case ofcom ruled against them and told them to cancel the contract and wipe the debt? Do they think a court is going to rule in their favour?
  • kebabs
    Hi
    Received Red Debt Collection letter yesterday for the following:

    Original creditor: 3G Mobile.
    Balance outstanding 19.20

    First reaction was to phone 3. I have been with them for years, pay by direct debit and did not recall any debt owing. The lady in India could not find any records of any outstanding amounts. I then tried to phone Red but became suspicious when answer service kept kicking in to leave contact details so looked them up on net and very glad I found these posts.

    Having read all the posts should I ignore it for now or send a recorded letter asking them for the original invoice?

    thanks
  • LunarTic
    Another one! They must really be on a mission, we're currently dealing with a demand from Red/Lowell concerning an alleged debt on a one2one/T-Mobile contract my wife had over 6 years ago. In our case, knowing that my wife has never been contacted regarding any debt on this account until the RED letter, we are confident of this particular debt (if it actually exists) being "Statute Barred" under the Limitation Act 1980 Section 5, http://www.nationaldebtline.co.uk/england_wales/factsheet.php?page=25_liability_for_debts_and_the_ limitation_act and so we have written to them stating as such.

    I recommend to ignore Red Debt Collection/Lowell Portfolio I et al, and send a Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act to 3, such that they provide documentary evidence of the alleged debt. Even then it's probably not worth it, as companies can charge up to £10 to provide information when challenged with a Subject Access Request and that's more than half the alleged debt of £19.20 - but if you think it's worth it as a matter of principle then I'd go for it anyway.

    According to the Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2008/aug/02/consumeraffairs it would appear that debt companies such as Lowell would pay around 0.5p per £1.00 of debt owed, so 200 times less than the original debt - meaning that it would have cost them just under 10p to buy a debt worth £19.20!

    But who would want to go to such an effort to retrieve the paltry sum of £19.20? Although, so saying, it could be highly amusing to see how long you can string this out, as when you factor in the amount of time and money taken to deal with the claim (even at the minimum wage), postage costs, stationery costs, etc, it may well cost Lowell more to pursue the debt than they would likely gain if it were paid anyway.

    You may wish to be aware of the Office of Fair Trading's guidelines on debt collection, http://www.oft.gov.uk/advice_and_resources/resource_base/legal/cca/debt-collection in case you have any reason to suspect that any of these guidelines may have been broken concerning your case.
    Last edited by LunarTic; 22-08-2008 at 4:36 PM.
  • rog2
    But who would want to go to such an effort to retrieve the paltry sum of 19.20?
    Originally posted by LunarTic
    That, Lunar, is exactly why Lowell are going through this excercise. They know that the majority of people are going to be 'frightened' into paying up when they receive their letter. We have only seen half a dozen, if that, cases of this 'scam' (and make no mistake, that is what it boils down to) on this forum. How many thousands of letters have the low-life of Lowell sent out? They can afford to 'lose out' on a dozen or even more, but, whatever way you look at it, it remains a 'nice little earner' for them.
    I am NOT, nor do I profess to be, a Qualified Debt Adviser. I have made MANY mistakes and have OFTEN been the unwitting victim of the the shamefull tactics of the Financial Industry.
    If any of my experiences, or the knowledge that I have gained from those experiences, can help anyone who finds themselves in similar circumstances, then my experiences have not been in vain.

    HMRC Bankruptcy Statistic - 26th October 2006 - 23rd April 2007 BCSC Member No. 7

    DFW Nerd # 166 PROUD TO BE DEALING WITH MY DEBTS
  • LunarTic
    Aye, and even more so when they get a 20,000% return on their "investment" (assuming the figures quoted in the Guardian). So even if they only secured payment on half of the debts, that would still mean them getting 100 times more back than what they had paid for the debts in the first place! And they would only need to successfully chase up 1 in 200 debts to break even! [assuming that the amount of debt is on average split equally between debtors]

    Thankfully I'm too honest to want to go into such a business - I know it would be easy money, but it would weigh on my conscience. I'd much rather make an honest living doing IT!
  • enemy_of_the_state
    I too received a letter from them stating I owe £20.84p to 3G.

    I did have a 3G mobile phone about 5 years ago, and used to pay my bills in full by direct debit and my bills were regularly over £100 per month so not paying 20.84 sounds very odd?

    I queried it with them, they said they would investigate. About a week later I recieve a letter offering a 70% reduction. Which is only £6.25, however for me its a matter of principle. So I am sending them a letter telling them to get lost, and I wont pay a penny that I dont owe. Clearly these companies prey on people who might take their offer of a reduced rate even if they dont owe anything?

    I always !!!! companies off by making a subject access request under Section 7 of the Data Protection Act 1998 requesting all information held in relation to my account, membership, transcripts of telephone conversations as well as actual recordings of telephone conversations (if held).

    Companies can charge £10 for this info, but have 40 days in which to comply. Failure to comply will hold them in breach of the DPAct. Quite often companies may find it will be less hassle to stop their harrassment then locate and forward people the info.

    Stick it out and dont pay them a penny - until it is absolutecly undeniable that you do indeed owe this money.
    Last edited by enemy_of_the_state; 24-08-2008 at 1:11 AM. Reason: formatting correction
  • MisterBob
    Glad i found these posts!

    I have received two letters from Red with different reference numbers and different amounts owing to 3G Mobile....does that make me lucky lol!

    Well i have only ever had years ago a 3 pay as you go phone, no contract, no insurance or anything, so am somewhat bemused to where one debt came from let alone two!

    Anyway i tried to call the 0844 number to see what was what...turned out to be a nice scottish lady working at a car dealer ship in glasgow! Funny thought Red was based in leeds!

    Next Step was to try emailing them seeing i couldnt get through by phone, guess what the email bounced back and with failed delivery.

    So seeing as i dont know how to contact these underhand people...does anyone have any ideas on what to do next?

    thanks
  • themightyo
    Well at least I'm not the only one dealing with this:
    http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.html?t=1118177

    My only real question after reading all this is:
    Do I have any right to invoice these bottom-feeders for my time in dealing with my non-existent debt?
  • Mascy
    Hi,

    The Red debt collection services is a SCAM. They have sent a letter to my husband about the "money" he owes to 3G and he has never been a customer of 3G.

    I believe the scam is in phoning them up, the phone number must be a very expensive one charged by the minute. I also think that they do get some people actually paying so it must be worth it enough for that alone.

    How can we get these people brought to justice and stop them sending out phoney letters. I am going to first contact the csa (credit standards authority) as they have used their credentials at the bottom of the letter. Does anyone else want to join forces to provide the proof of the illegitimate practice going on here? I feel sorry for the poor susceptible people who will lose sleep and money over this scam.

    Best regards

    Emma
  • rog2
    How can we get these people brought to justice and stop them sending out phoney letters. I am going to first contact the csa (credit standards authority) as they have used their credentials at the bottom of the letter. Emma
    Originally posted by Mascy
    Hi Emma - certainly the csa is one line of attack. I agree that this is a 'scam' - the sheer volume of the 'same' debts would indicate that there is either something amiss or that the majority of 3G customers sudenly decided to 'default' at the same time.
    Another line of approach would be through Trading Standards - whilst, unfortunately, TS do NOT appear to have a very good track record when it comes to 'policing' the OFT Debt Collection Guidelines, they are extremely god when it comes to 'scams' like this one.
    I will be joining you in spirit, Emma, as I am not one of the many hundreds, possibly thousands, of unsuspecting ex 3G/Carphone warehouse customers who has been affected by this disgusting excercise.
    I am NOT, nor do I profess to be, a Qualified Debt Adviser. I have made MANY mistakes and have OFTEN been the unwitting victim of the the shamefull tactics of the Financial Industry.
    If any of my experiences, or the knowledge that I have gained from those experiences, can help anyone who finds themselves in similar circumstances, then my experiences have not been in vain.

    HMRC Bankruptcy Statistic - 26th October 2006 - 23rd April 2007 BCSC Member No. 7

    DFW Nerd # 166 PROUD TO BE DEALING WITH MY DEBTS
  • DAZZ2K
    Hi All,

    I have come home this evening to exactly the same thing, namely

    "Reference No: 9245xxxx
    Original Creditor : 3G Mobile
    Balance Outstanding : £12.86

    We would inform you that we have been appointed duly authorised collection agent for Lowell Portfolio I Ltd and have been instructed to recover the outstanding monies due to our client.

    As you have failed to settle your outstanding balance or enter into a repayment plan our client has now instructed us to consider either :

    1. Using the services of a Licenced "Home visit Agent" ....

    2. Start legal proceedings with a view to gaining a County Court Judgment....

    Before a decision is made as to the most suitable form of action (described above) regarding your oustanding debt we would like to give you the opportunity of contacting us and agreeing repayment.

    If we do not hear from you by 26/08/2008 and you persist with non payment our client may have no alternative than to use other recovery methods as described above, both could see your balance increase as any costs incurred may be added to your account.

    This debt is not going to go away and ignoring this problem could potentially make your situation worse and we therefore strongly recommend you contact us NOW:

    0844 844 4720

    Payment can be taken over the telephone by debit or credit card

    Yours Sincerely

    Nigel Beaven"

    Interestingly the date of the letter is 21st August so I'm to assume Royal Mail took almost a week to deliver it !?!.

    I did have a mobile contract with 3 Mobile, not 3G, but it was cancelled at the end of its term around 4+ years ago after I'd had overwealmingly bad service from them. Cancelling the account was painful as I recall but I'm of the opinion all debts were settled.

    My experience with 3 probably echoes that of many with bad customer service (in India) and poor reception in most areas I took the phone to.

    I'm discusted and livid that this dodgy outfit have somehow been given my details via 3. What's more annoying is any such debt outstanding would have been better recieved had 3 made request for payment of it over the last 4 odd years.

    I have dug out the letter I sent 3 in cancellation and it's dated 7th June 2004. One thing that's uncanny is the following passage I wrote in my letter :

    "I have made two phone calls to customer services trying to provide notice. I called on the 2nd June and was told it was “too early to cancel as renewal is 7th July” and told to “call back on 7th June”. I have done this today and been told I can’t give you notice until “the beginning of July otherwise I’ll incur a cancellation charge of £12.50”.

    I’m not looking to end this contract early so I certainly don’t expect to be charged for cancelling at the end of 12 months. I was merely giving a month’s notice of this intent."


    Now this makes me wonder...are they trying to charge me for cancelling, even though I clearly stated I'm not trying to cancel early just to cancel upon day of what would have been renewal?.

    Either way I'm unsure how to proceed with Red. I neither want to phone them nor send them a tenner to see proof of what debt they proport to. My other quandry is what the reference number relates to? It's not my original account number as I have that detailed on the letter I sent in 2004 and it has more digits for a start.

    Any thoughts? last thing I want is a CCJ against me but not liking being scammed either.
  • JohnSE16
    Hi all, like the rest of you, I too have received this letter. I have emailed them tonight after trying to ring twice and not getting through and becoming suspicious of their phone number . This is the email I sent:

    FAO Nigel Beaven

    Dear Mr Beaven,

    This evening I returned home from work to find a letter threatening legal action against me: Ref 92452312 Original Creditor: 3G Mobile Outstanding balance 29.58.

    I am deeply upset to receive this letter as I have never had any unpaid debts in my life and feel that this demand is totally unjustified and has seriously hurt my feelings. Not only do I find your letter threatening but I also think you are breaching OFT Debt Collection Guidelines and I am considering making a full complaint unless this matter is dealt with as a matter of urgency.

    Firstly your letter is dated 21/08/08 but did not in fact arrive until 27/08/08 but secondly your letter threatens that if you do not hear from me before 26/07/08 and you state if I persist with non-payment then your client will use the recovery methods as stated in your letter. This is in complete breach of OFT Debt Collection Guidelines as I have NEVER received any outstanding notices from 3G Mobile and they have never contacted me to recover any monies, I still have the same phone number and home address so there is no excuse for them not contacting me. Also and probably more importantly I ceased using 3G Mobile in 2004 and have since been a customer of O2, also all my bills with 3G Mobile were paid by Direct Debit and I therefore never missed a single payment.

    I have tried to call your office but each time it is engaged and I am again charged for another phone call.

    I am quite furious that I have received this damning notice demand and your threat to start legal action and I fully expect an explanation by return.

    Yours sincerely


    ...I await their reply, in the meantime I am going to send a copy to my local MP as I am worried that some vulnerable people might actually end up paying these charges!
  • vixi66
    Best to ignore these blackmailers, I can prove i paid my last and final bill to 3 mobile so i found all these goings on very odd,
    Are they just chasing anyone who had a 3 mobile ?
  • vixi66
    Yes i have had a letter today from Red saying i owe 11 ....WOW !!
    These proposed debts cost the Red agency just 10p for every 20 debt to buy !!
    And yet with most people there is no debt to settle..
    Somebody get onto the press....
    This has to stop......
  • JayS08
    Hello all and thanks for this great web resource,

    I am, sadly, also prey to '3'/Lowell's scheme and in the process of clearing up what I believe is a mistake on their behalf. I followed rog2's advice

    Originally posted by rog2
    and sent '3' an SAR asking for all the information they hold on me. I did this not least because I believe I have paid off my account (which also shows up as being satisfied on my Equifax credit report) and disposed of all paper bills after cancelling and paying the (again, what I believe to be) final bill -- this was back in January 2006.

    Lowell are asking for £27.58 which is not the world to me, but strangely the exact same figure shows up on my bank statement of Jan 06. Coincidence?

    Today I received a pretty short reply (containing what I like to call 'non-information'). Disappointingly, it did not acknowledge my SAR *at all* but instead read like this:

    Dear Mr XXX

    As you haven't paid us for your last few bills, we had to pass your account to Lowell Portfolio Capital Limited. They'll be collecting the outstanding amount from you.

    If you've got any questions please contact them using the details below.


    [same details as in Lowell's letter]

    I hope this information helps.

    [At this I actually choked on my biscuit]

    Yours sincerely
    [3 Customer Services chick]


    Now well, fair enough if they have passed/sold my whole account/details to some rogue 3rd party company, but my question now is as follows:

    Who is responsible for providing the SAR - '3' or Lowell? Should I send '3' another letter insisting on the SAR or send Lowell an SAR letter? Either way, I need copies of the bills in dispute; ultimately I don't really care who sends them, although I do prefer getting them from '3'.

    Thanks in advance for your help, and good luck to y'all.

    Jay
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