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Civic Video debt collection

By toadstool - 8 June 2011 29

We recently received a letter from a debt collection agency requiring us to pay the sum of $15 for late fees for hiring videos from Civic Video at Homeworld Tuggeranong.

We thought it was some sort of phishing scam as we haven’t been to the store for a number of years.

We have now received a reminder notice giving us seven days to pay before further action is taken.

The letter states we hired the videos in September 2009. Maybe we did, maybe we didn’t. We can’t remember that far back.

Can video stores legally do this?

Should we pay, seek further advice or just ignore it?

Has anyone received similar notices and what should we do?

What’s Your opinion?

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29 Responses to
Civic Video debt collection
lexyliz 4:49 pm 08 Jun 11

johnboy said :

Personally I’d be going down to the store to talk about it.


I received a similar letter and reminder notice late last year while away on holiday. I hadn’t hired any movies for a long time and the fines were about $70 from memory (yes, I’m pretty bad with my returns…or rather Mr LexyLiz is) for movies hired in the colder months. Anyway when I got home I went to the store and asked if it was genuine. The owner confirmed it was and said if I paid $20 he’d clear the debt (late fees are in the T&C of membership). I accepted the offer and remain a happy customer hiring blueray movies rather than building up a useless collection of disks.

Deref 3:59 pm 08 Jun 11


Jeez – just pay it.

Rusalka 3:52 pm 08 Jun 11

Video shops I have found are very odd. Maybe only the Weston ones though.

My housemate got called by Civic Video in Weston when they existed, and got told if they didn’t return their late video, they would send “The Enforcer” around. It was tempting to keep the video to see what or who “The Enforcer” was.

I on the other hand got called by Video Ezy in Weston, who I hadn’t frequented in over 10 years, and was informed I had an overdue X-Box game. I explained not only had I not been in their store, that I didn’t own an X-Box and that there was no one at the phone number with that name or their game. I was accused of lying and told explicitly that they were given this number. Although I explained they may have misheard the number, they told me I was a rotten f***ing liar and that they would call me every day until I returned it, and hung up. Never heard from them again though…

la mente torbida 3:27 pm 08 Jun 11

OP: Got a debt? Pay it you scrooge!

Mothy 12:03 pm 08 Jun 11

Suspect there is a numbers game at play;

i.e. 1 in 4 people will just pay the fine and move on.
Maybe a further 1 in 4 will ask for further information and then pay.
2 in 4 will be uncontactable or tell the collection agency to sod off.

So what’s the cost of a decent mail merge off the video stores database and a few stamps, versus a 50% chance of collecting on the debt.

Strongly doubt the economics of the game stack up if you need to chase claims through the courts (small claims tribunal, whatever) though.

Personally, I’d just say;
* Did I have an account at that video store?
* Did I hire the videos mentioned (balance of probabilities)?
* If yes to above, pay the fine, and move on.

Though I could turn around and say “Really? Prove it!”, you have to entertain the possibility that they can.

And who’s got the time for those kind of games anyway?

GBT 11:33 am 08 Jun 11

And generally a debt collection agency adds their admin fees just for sending the first letter so while the original amount owed was $15.00 they are probably asking for more.

Just pay it and move on. The risk outweighs saving a bit of money on principle.

p1 10:34 am 08 Jun 11

troll-sniffer said :

You can of course ignore it, but at a risk to your credit rating. I’m not sure if $15.00 is below the Credit Reporting Agency’s threshold, if it isn’t you’ll be screwed for a couple of years if your name is added to the naughty list.

But at the rate the debt collectors add “admin fees” to the charge if you don’t pay, the figure you “owe” will soon be well above whatever the threshold is….

p1 10:30 am 08 Jun 11

I recently received a similar letter from a debt collecting agency. It concerned overdue fees from a video store located in Belconnen (next door to the location now occupied by Crust Pizza). The video store has closed sometime in the last year or so, and apparently sold the right to all their debts as part of winding up.

This letter stated that I owed them about fifteen dollars, and listed on the back (OP might want to check there) videos we returned late. I recall watching those to it is most likely accurate. The following is a list of things which I did not like about the letter:

It did not state the legal details on the business which I originally owed the money to in any convincing way (ie ABN etc),

It did not state in any way the process under which they came into possession of the right to collect the debt on the behalf of the person I owed it too. How do I know that if I pay this company, the video store won’t send their own letter?

It didn’t exactly explain how, a year or two after incurring a late fee on a video rental, they conclude that a months is a valid time to give for me to pay the fee. Nor do they justify the late fee (making the total more like $50) when I didn’t get around to responding to the first letter.

Now, while I am not exactly happy, I am more then willing to pay money I own. I am not very happy (nor do I intend to) pay without some evidence I am paying the right person, nor pay some arbitrarily decided “late” fee as the result of a very dodgy looking and sounding letter.

I’ll be sending a strongly worded letter to them asking them to clarify the points above, anybody got any suggestions for other questions I include? Or people I should CC (I’m thinking industry regulators, etc).

TL:DR I got a letter too…

troll-sniffer 10:26 am 08 Jun 11

It’s very very unlikely the store would have sent this (along with probably hundreds of others) to the agency without verifiable proof of debt. So you should consider it as a legitimate debt, and my fifty bucks says you owe the money.

You can of course ignore it, but at a risk to your credit rating. I’m not sure if $15.00 is below the Credit Reporting Agency’s threshold, if it isn’t you’ll be screwed for a couple of years if your name is added to the naughty list.

Moose 10:01 am 08 Jun 11

We’ve recieved a few of these lately. If it’s from Debt Success, usually you can call them up and sweet talk your way out of it.

I recieved one for videos rented at Dickson a few months ago (I haven’t rented out a DVD from their since 2006). Little did I know, my stupid idiot ex boyfriend had been borrowing movies under my name and either failing to return them all together, or returning them late. After explaining what happened and how I’ve never watched “Saw IV” or owned a PlayStation, they debt collecters were happy to wave it. And yes, after that I was very careful to change every single one of my passwords. He was a jerk.

My little brother also recieved a letter for a movie he’d returned late. As he’s in the ADF and serving OS, they were happy to wave the fine after explaining he was unable to pay it or be contacted. The DVD’s were rented in 2008 and we just recieved the letter.

Maybe they’re doing a big swoop of debt collecting as the internet gets more powerful?

maniac 9:59 am 08 Jun 11

You should certainly go to the store to talk to the manager there.

However, if it is in the hands of a debt collection agency, then you will have to pay them.

gospeedygo 9:58 am 08 Jun 11

Trying to drag in some more money as they go down for the count.

M0les 9:57 am 08 Jun 11

If you ever want to use that store again, you may want to pay it. Personally, I wouldn’t.

“I am not a lawyer”

If they have a record of an unpaid fine that’s covered by their TOS (Which they probably do), then I believe they’re within their rights to sell that debt to a debt collector. I doubt $15 is worth the debt collector doing much other than sending you a couple of threatening letters (They will probably plump-up what they tell you the potential risks for you may be though).

In yesteryear, debt collectors would drive a van to your house with “DEBT COLLECTOR” written in large letters on the side and make a scene on your doorstep. Nowadays I don’t think this would be very effective and I’m reasonably confident you can get plod to shoo them off.

johnboy 9:52 am 08 Jun 11

Personally I’d be going down to the store to talk about it.

But it is interesting, these could be some of the last late video fees ever collected as technology moves on!

ed2279 9:48 am 08 Jun 11

If you hired the videos then you should pay for them. If you can’t remember that you did, it might be worth requesting proof from the store/collection agency that you did in fact hire them.

With regards to them sending the debt collector in, it’s completely within their rights to recoup monies owed for services rendered. I suspect that it’s probably in the fine print of their hire agreement too.

If you’re worried about it being a phishing scam maybe you could contact the collection agency and see if there’s an office or shopfront you can pay your $15 in cash. That way you get to see if its dodgy or not and you wont be giving out your credit card or bank details.

Best of luck

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