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back to article Bloke threatens BT with giant plywood cheque

It's Friday, so we're sure the following heartwarming tale will cheer your final slog into the weekend: how Reg reader David Humpage is giving BT some serious grief with giant novelty cheques. David wrote to the El Reg consumer affairs department explaining that a couple of years back he noticed he was being charged £4.50 a pop …

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LPF

Makes you proud to be british

That is all :)

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Got wood?

There should be a photo of him with novelty cheque in hand.

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I feel so tempted to do this to HSBC and Halifax

They screwed me royal with bank charges

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Pint

Well Done Dave!

I'm sure I'll be the first of many proffering you a virtual pint this sunny and now quite hilarious Friday :D Keep up the good work!

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Hah

Like it!

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TGIF

That's absolute genius, I love it when companies try to disguise incompetence with more incompetence.

You'd almost think they were lying if it weren't potentially libelous.

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Go

yay

go for it - its about time some large companies got a kick in the nuts.

wankers - all of them,

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well done Sir

I applaud those efforts !!!

debt collectors usually do fall silent as soon as they're challenged (as long as you're honest anyway)

More people need to do things like this !

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I love Fridays

And giant novelty cheques.

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Anonymous Coward

Really?

Going to sue them for not accepting a cheque?

Under which law?

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RE: Really?

Probably more to do with the fact that they're harassing him despite him sending them payment

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There must be one

if they are sending in a debt collection agency when having failed to cash a cheque

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Various, possibly

You'd probably have grounds to sue them for harassment if theyre constantly pestering and threatening you demanding a payment you've already sent them. The protection from harassment act covers this nicely.

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how about

harassment. He has paid, they just need to cash it.

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sue them

It's probably harassment, to dun someone for a debt while refusing to accept legally-valid payment for said debt. I would expect he's suing them to take the money or shut up about it.

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Anonymous Coward

I expect

It has something to do with them chasing him for none payment while they have payment they just refuse to cash it, a bit like when stores refuse to take Scottish notes.

I'm pretty sure the lawyer knows more law then the both of us.

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@Really?

If it were me, I'd be suing them because they reported him for non-payment, then falsely claimed his check bounced thus causing him a potential black mark on his credit. Not sure what he'd sue them for though

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Anonymous Coward

maybe

I would think something along the lines of defamation of character, that they are turning the legal wheels on the basis he hasnt paid the debt, when he clearly has but they havent cashed it.

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@TheJonB

At a guess, I'd say harassment, for siccing the debt collection agency on him, even though he'd paid.

That said, IANAL, so YMMV....

Oh for the days when they were only TLAs...

That said, good on him. Especially the bit about charging for his time if they need it resending...

Tempted to do that myself some time...

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Perhaps...

Perhaps sue them for harassing him with debt collection agencies when he has already paid them in full but they refuse to accept the perfectly valid payment?

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Not Sure How It Goes in UK...

...in the US, I believe that it's actually a federal offense not to accept cash, as it represents the legal tender of the US government*. This may have come about after the Civil War, when there were a number of competing monetary systems, including private and state-sponsored ones. Fascinating stuff. I have an old coin from out West, which is "good for all night" at a brothel.

There may be similar legislation covering other forms of payment.

*Which, of course, means that all those businesses that refuse to accept cash -including some government bureaus- are actually in violation of federal law.

Well done, Dave.

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Pint

Oh Come on, Keep up.

He's got a land shark. They'll be able to thing up a few hundred things to sue BT for.

I hope one of the things BT gets sued for is 'Exisiting'.

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The law

I believe companies are required to accept anything defined as legal tender, so cash and cheques (not credit cards). In theory I think you could pay them in pennies if you wanted to, although obviously that would be a bit pricey to ship.

Companies cannot claim you didn't pay them just because they refuse to accept your legal method of payment.

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Paying in pennies....

Although it is technically legal to pay for a large amount in pennies... I'm sure I remember reading somewhere that the recipient can refuse to accept a large amount of small denomination coins/bills.

I'm not sure how true this is though. Perhaps someone else could shed more light into this

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You can't pay them in pennies

There are defined limits to how much change vendors are forced to accept. From the Royal Mint :

£5 (Crown) - for any amount

£2 - for any amount

£1 - for any amount

50p - for any amount not exceeding £10

25p (Crown) - for any amount not exceeding £10

20p - for any amount not exceeding £10

10p - for any amount not exceeding £5

5p - for any amount not exceeding £5

2p - for any amount not exceeding 20p

1p - for any amount not exceeding 20p

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Anonymous Coward

Blimey

Kicked 'em off there didn't I?

Apologies for the length, I'll try cover all in one.

Cheques aren't legal tender, legal tender is explained here:-

http://www.royalmint.com/corporate/policies/legal_tender_guidelines.aspx

You will note that even coinage isn't legal tender for various amounts depending on the coins value.

Legal tender provides a defence in law for the accusation of failing to pay a debt, refusing it doesn't make you guilty of an offence, just unable to collect.

It is not automatically harassment to ask for a debt to be paid, although it depends on the exact correspondence between the two parties, and I suspect that BT aren't falling foul of that.

It is not harassment to take someone to court over a debt, a threat of legal proceedings is not normally "threatening behaviour" in law - it's an expected step.

Can any of you imagine what a court will be thinking when the prosecution claims they have been victimised over a debt where all that's happened is that they've been sent a handful of letters, and they've insisted on paying with a bloody great clown cheque rather than anything resembling legal tender?

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@CantusAeolus

"Oh for the days when they were only TLAs..."

You're not familiar with the ETLA* standard then?

*Extended Three Letter Acronym.

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Big Brother

Cash as legal tender

Yes, I took advantage of that specific aspect of federal law once.

My local city likes to 'fine' people who don't cut their lawns when the city demands that they do so. So, when I went to pay that fine, I paid it in raggedy $1 bills. I had the exact amount in an envelope, and just tossed it at the cashier, while mumbling something about `fscking Nazi's`.

My opinion of my city government is simple:

FSCK them at $hitty Hall!!!

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FAIL

Well..

>>Can any of you imagine what a court will be thinking when the prosecution claims they have been victimised over a debt where all that's happened is that they've been sent a handful of letters, and they've insisted on paying with a bloody great clown cheque rather than anything resembling legal tender?<<

I would hope the court takes into account the person being sent to debt collection. It's not just "a handful of letters", but an all-out attack on the persons credit record.

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Well done that man

Here's a pint for you

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Well done that man

I propose a national movement to send BT crazy but legal cheques, that'll shack 'em.

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brilliant!!!

"Well done that man" indeed... :-)

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Boffin

Pee on parade

Not to be a pedant (oh go on then) but cheques can't be written on anything you like as suggested. They have to conform to C&CCC Standard 3.1 defining physical dimensions, weight and layout:

http://www.chequeandcredit.co.uk/cpas/-/page/standard_3.1/

Still, bloody amusing and I for one am right behind this man's effort to p1ss off BT.

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Boffin

I believe...

It could be read that that standard applies only to cheques which are printed, to be submitted for automated processing, and includes such things as the format, size and spacing of the MICR line (the funny looking numbers printed in magnetic ink at the bottom). The CPAS standard, AFAIK applies to pre-printed cheques provided to you by your bank in the form of a cheque book, and cheques that are printed in bulk to be mailed out, such as payments or refunds from companies, etc.

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Coat

Weight?

I note that this would mean a user would have to be aware of a standard that isn't accessible other than by payment. I didn't see the "weight" bit, but I guess it stops people from sending cheques on slabs of marble. That is, of course, breaking compatibility with stone age cheques, but you have to draw a line somewhere.

On a crossed cheque, presumably.

Mine's the one with the chisels in the pocket..

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Its ok to be a pedant when youre right

But youre not.

Thats an industry group guideline to help cheque issuers and processors deal with them not a legal requirement.

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Anonymous Coward

It's a processing standard not a law

A cheque is nothing more than a payment instruction to your bank. There are standards to ensure that cheques are easy to process but those arefor the convenience of the banks and are not a law.

BT is entitled to refuse to accept any form of payment excpet legal tender. (Note: what constitutes legal tender varies depending on the size of the debt being settled, e.g. pennies are only legal tender upto a debt of 20p)

If BT accpted his check, i.e. didn't return it then he's fine. I'm not sure if they have to treat all cheques the same regardless of size.

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Alert

installment plan

he should offer to pay by installments, which legaly they have toaccept. then he can send in a few!

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Anonymous Coward

Ummm

No they don't...

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Anonymous Coward

hmmmm

no they don’t...

If someone is having difficulties paying a bill and makes a reasonable offer of payment, then if the creditor does not accept that offer of payment and takes you to court to gain a county court judgement ordering you to honour the debit.

Once in the court, as the defendant, you have the opportunity to tell the court your circumstances and why the offer you made is the best you can offer. Or even why you don’t even owe the money in the first place. (demand for them to produce the credit /sale agreement in court. Without it they cannot prove you owe the money !!!**)

The court then can decide if that persons offer was reasonable. If the court agrees it was reasonable then the creditor is very unlikely to be successful in an plication for the cost of going to court.

For example, if Joe millionaire owes BT £500 and offers to pay them at the rate of £1 per week then the court will determine this is un-resonable. if however, joe skint, on the verge of loosing his house because he was made redundant last year and is currently of sate benefits, owes BT £500 and offered to pay £1 per week until his circumstances change. The court may see this as very reasonable as he also has to pay other creditors a £1 per week and he only gets state benefits (which is exactly how much the law says he needs to live on).

** If you are having difficulties paying a credit-card bill or mobile phone bill or anything that required you to sign a credit agreement. When the sharks start to circle and harass you on the phone. First thing, DO NOT ADMIT you owe the amount outstanding. First step is to tell them you have no record of the debit and can they send you a copy of the original agreement. Without that agreement, you owe them nothing. Second, if it is a debit collection agency calling, you are under no obligation to talk to them. Just ask who they are calling on behalf of, then say thank you, and tell them you will contact the company involved direct. Unless it is in the original agreement that you have to pay the costs of employing a debit collection agency if you default on payments, you do not have to pay any additional charges. Make any payments direct to the original company NOT THE AGENCY.. it pisses them off no end, because most only get paid on what they collect. If you pay direct, they have not collected, they get no fee !!!

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Anonymous Coward

Take care with that.

"First step is to tell them you have no record of the debit and can they send you a copy of the original agreement. Without that agreement, you owe them nothing."

Very complicated basis to work on. You could do this, but it is up to the court. For example if it is a CC bill and they can show you have been getting bills for the last 5 years the court will probably find against you and won't take kindly to this kind of thing so will issue a judgement for the full amount with no payment plan or negotiation.

"Second, if it is a debit collection agency calling, you are under no obligation to talk to them. Just ask who they are calling on behalf of, then say thank you, and tell them you will contact the company involved direct."

Not a good idea. 1) The creditor will probably refuse to talk to you. 2) You may well end up a summons very very fast. You can get a judgment within 48h. If your debt has been passed to collection agents then the creditor wants rid of you.

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Badgers

Possibly anecdotal but,

I believe legislation was changed specifically to prevent a farmer paying his taxes by writing a cheque on the side of a cow and driving it into the tax office.

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Stop

do as i say not as i do

BT are always wheeling out those giant cheques every time it's Comic Relief or Children in Need. Did they all bounce too?

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Go

Novelty cheques - not real

I wondered about that myself and I don't remember where I heard or read it but those giant cheques you see on TV are just for show. A normal cheque is presented afterwards but that's not as flashy or good for publicity as a giant cheque with the bank's name on it.

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Sue under what law

Possibly harrasement or trying to extract money with menaces, after all he's legally paid them but they are still hounding him.

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Admiration deserved.

Good effort that. May i suggest plywood is urinated on by yourself and stray cats as well as several rusty nails stuck through it should they choose to take on said replacement,

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Excellent

I think the next government should make this guy the next head of Ofcom, just to annoy BT even more.

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Title #92

Assuming he wins and they accept his cheque, I will jion him with the novelty cheque payment for that £4.50 as I pay online as well. Please keep us imformed how it goes.

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Pint

Well done.

I love the fact it would have cost BT loads to do the ring round, the arguing and now the debt agency will want paying. All for a 4.50 cost. Why didn't they just right it off.

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Probably because

They are legaly in the right and he's dicided to be childish.

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