Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Ask RiotACT

Experts in Wills, Trusts
& Estate Planning

ACT Library Fines?

By adas01 - 14 April 2013 17

So I may or may not have recently been slapped with one of the new ACT library ‘administration fees’ after being unaware of a book being out for the last couple of months thanks to letters being sent to my old address =(

Does anyone have any experience with not paying library fines in the ACT?

Am I likely to be pursued by a debt collection agency and have my thumbs broken?

A $200 fine is quite a bit of a hit for someone in my financial situation.

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
17 Responses to
ACT Library Fines?
adas01 3:25 pm 15 Apr 13

For everyone’s reference, I actually returned the items well before they were replaced and wasn’t charged for the replacement. The $175 admin fee still applies even if they never had to replace the books.

sarahblaec 1:59 pm 15 Apr 13

I think charging an administrative fee is fair if it will discourage people from being careless with library books – unless it’s stolen or there are other exceptional circumstances it’s somewhat poor form to lose something that isn’t yours. Replacing the book does take time, and an admin fee to cover that part of the process seems fair. That said, I can’t imagine that a $200 fee can possibly be justified by those tasks (even taking into account the drama of dealing with the sticky-clear-plastic stuff that they cover the books with, which in my experience is horrible to try to use). As for the “the cost of staff time to … conduct shelving audits to ensure accuracy of collection data”: isn’t that a normal part of running a library and not something specifically related to late or lost books?

peebus 1:14 pm 15 Apr 13

Stevian said :

Masquara said :

Immediately start going in and paying off the fine with a $2 coin every fortnight (preferably at a different library each time, to add to their bureaucratic load). Surely they can’t suspend borrowing rights while you are paying it off in good faith? You should get considerable schadenfreude from the fact that four years of processing your micropayments will cost them way, way more than the $200. Keep all the $2 receipts over the four years it will take to pay off the fine, keep us posted on Riotact, and consider donating the receipts to the ACT Heritage Library in due course as an historical example of ACT Government excess …

They have rules against you being a dick as well.

Let me guess…. it’s a $300 admin fee?

Grrrr 1:05 pm 15 Apr 13

magiccar9 said :

the price of the fine shouldn’t exceed the cost of replacing the item (plus maybe a tiny amount extra).

Rubbish, it’s a punitive action and an arbitrary figure – whatever they feel convinces you to return your books on time. Perhaps making the amount smaller would make it less likely for people to pay it?

Also sad to see here is the expectation that government debts can be paid off however one feels like (EG $2 a week) Sounds like someone who spends too much time arguing with Centrelink and not enough time on domestic budgetting….

Stevian 12:49 pm 15 Apr 13

Masquara said :

Immediately start going in and paying off the fine with a $2 coin every fortnight (preferably at a different library each time, to add to their bureaucratic load). Surely they can’t suspend borrowing rights while you are paying it off in good faith? You should get considerable schadenfreude from the fact that four years of processing your micropayments will cost them way, way more than the $200. Keep all the $2 receipts over the four years it will take to pay off the fine, keep us posted on Riotact, and consider donating the receipts to the ACT Heritage Library in due course as an historical example of ACT Government excess …

They have rules against you being a dick as well.

NoImRight 12:49 pm 15 Apr 13

magiccar9 said :

I’d ask to see evidence justifying the cost. Ask for proof that a staff member was actually required to do those tasks and a breakdown of all costs involved – eg, hours spent auditing x amount paid per hour and the number of fines issued from that particular audit.
Surely unless we’re living in the previous century the invoicing process should be automated (it’s not as if someone is sitting there typing each individual letter anymore).
As previously stated, the price of the fine shouldn’t exceed the cost of replacing the item (plus maybe a tiny amount extra).

Yeah I do that in Woolworths all the time. or at least I tell people on the internet they should do it. Same thing.

Watson 12:12 pm 15 Apr 13

I got the same a few months ago. I brought a stack of (admittedly already a bit overdue) books back when I was in the middle of moving house and didn’t realise that I had missed two that ended up in my packing boxes. Next thing I get a letter advising me of a $175 fee. The cost of the 2 books was about $20. I sent off a fee waiver form and no one got back to me…

I do get the email and SMS notifications (great service) but if you accidentally miss a book when you return them, that doesn’t help as they don’t send out an update. Of course I should’ve used the email to tick off the books as I put them in the shoot – which is what I always do now, but it was a stressful time and my brain wasn’t working all that well.

I would accept that I made an error and just pay the bloody fee if it wasn’t so exorbitant… And them calling it an admin fee really does pee me off too. How long does it take to order a couple of new books and click a few buttons in the admin system? I didn’t think librarians were paid quite that much…

magiccar9 11:54 am 15 Apr 13

I’d ask to see evidence justifying the cost. Ask for proof that a staff member was actually required to do those tasks and a breakdown of all costs involved – eg, hours spent auditing x amount paid per hour and the number of fines issued from that particular audit.
Surely unless we’re living in the previous century the invoicing process should be automated (it’s not as if someone is sitting there typing each individual letter anymore).
As previously stated, the price of the fine shouldn’t exceed the cost of replacing the item (plus maybe a tiny amount extra).

PantsMan 10:41 am 15 Apr 13

Maybe write a nice letter to the Treasurer, Mr Barr, setting out your circumstances, and asking that he waive any debt owed to the Territory under section 131 of the Financial Management Act 1996: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/act/consol_act/fma1996164/s131.html

That, or barricade yourself in Black Mountain Tower with a military assault rifle and demand to speak with the Queen.

bd84 2:22 pm 14 Apr 13

Just wait until they have their annual amnesty and chuck a few cans of food at them.

“Fines” for overdue library and movies are ridiculous. Common sense should see that they should never be more than the value of the item concerned.

Masquara 1:52 pm 14 Apr 13

Immediately start going in and paying off the fine with a $2 coin every fortnight (preferably at a different library each time, to add to their bureaucratic load). Surely they can’t suspend borrowing rights while you are paying it off in good faith? You should get considerable schadenfreude from the fact that four years of processing your micropayments will cost them way, way more than the $200. Keep all the $2 receipts over the four years it will take to pay off the fine, keep us posted on Riotact, and consider donating the receipts to the ACT Heritage Library in due course as an historical example of ACT Government excess …

m_ratt 11:36 am 14 Apr 13

I received similar, soon after the new system was introduced. Through oversight (my wife being in hospital in Sydney for several months [coincidentally the overdue item being a book on her diagnosis], I missed the overdue notice and had a book too long. I was lucky enough to have the fee waived, after I immediately returned the overdue book, and raised a few issues with ACT Libraries.

If they haven’t changed their invoice/letter format since October:
– The invoice I received was not a valid invoice in accordance with ATO requirements: no ABN, nor indication of if or how much GST applicable to the fee.

– The invoice stated that my overdue items were not yet deemed lost, but would be deemed lost if not returned within seven days, however this was contradictory to information on ACT Libraries website stating that the administration fee would be applicable after the items were deemed lost. (ie, returned within seven days of notice, not deemed lost, administration fee cannot apply). Semantics I know, but if they’re going to make claims, they must get them right.

– An administration fee of this magnitude is more a penalty than a true administration fee. As banks have found out with their late payment fees, these should be appropriate to the cost of the loss, rather than a penalty. If it actually costs the library $200 (inc GST) to administer this type of loss, then they’re doing it wrong.

<cue unhelpful comments of “pay the fine”>

Blen_Carmichael 11:30 am 14 Apr 13

Yep, $200 is a bit OTT for one book. They argue on their website that this is justified on the basis that “the cost of staff time to administer and process invoices as well as conduct shelving audits to ensure accuracy of collection data.”

An alternative would be for you to offer to settle the matter for the price of a replacement book (if another has been purchased), plus the original administration fee of $25. CC’ing the offer to the relevant Minister wouldn’t hurt your chances.

dreamlikecheese 11:01 am 14 Apr 13

I haven’t had a fine since the new system came so things may have changed, but previous experience suggests they won’t chase you; you just won’t be able to borrow again until the fine is paid. I have paid previous fines in installments and sometimes they’ll take pity on you and wipe some or all of the remaining fine.I suggest cultivating an good a relationship with one or two of your local librarians, make the latter situation more likely to happen.

miz 10:54 am 14 Apr 13

The fees do seem excessive (replacement value plus $200 admin fee seems rather OTT to me). http://www.tams.act.gov.au/about-us/fees_and_charges/administrative_fees#libraries

I would approach them and ask if the fees can be waived in this instance for the reasons you have given. Here’s the form to dispute fees
http://www.library.act.gov.au/how_to_use_the_library/fees

Also, ask them to send you reminders by email so it doesn’t happen again in the future.

Good luck.

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site