Civic Video debt collection

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?


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29 Responses to Civic Video debt collection
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audere et gaudere audere et gaudere 10:21 pm 05 Feb 15

Re: Civic Video, Belconnen Erroneous Debt of $51.25 February 2015

Civic Video is still up to its dastardly debt-collecting tricks, taking advantage of the goodwill of those who take it as a matter of pride to discharge any outstanding debts promptly. When e-Collect sent me a demand to make a payment for a movie that we’d actually bought, I immediately approached the lovely owner of Civic Video, Belconnen to clarify our situation. She advised us to ignore the letter as we were in no debt to her. Alas e-Collect continues to pursue me, bumping the fee up with every letter. I’ve asked them to contact the former owner to verify my claims. I look forward to hearing from them with good news rather than further threats.

c_c c_c 4:56 pm 17 Sep 12

Rusalka said :

…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.

Just make sure you keep a chair free for him http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoqKdWY692k

Truthiness Truthiness 4:26 pm 17 Sep 12

Rusalka said :

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.

At least you only stole the video, you should see who they send if you download it!

Antagonist Antagonist 3:46 pm 17 Sep 12

Conan of Cooma said :

Can video stores legally do this?
If you owe the money, yes.

Should we pay, seek further advice or just ignore it?
Depends. Do you owe them money? This needs to be determined first.

Has anyone received similar notices and what should we do?
I have received them for overdue library fees, so it’s more than feasible.

Conan – what do you know about a guy named Rip Van Winkle?

Conan of Cooma Conan of Cooma 3:14 pm 17 Sep 12

Can video stores legally do this?
If you owe the money, yes.

Should we pay, seek further advice or just ignore it?
Depends. Do you owe them money? This needs to be determined first.

Has anyone received similar notices and what should we do?
I have received them for overdue library fees, so it’s more than feasible.

Genie Genie 12:49 pm 09 Jun 11

Unless it is clearly stated in a contract you sign when joining the video store. They cannot charge you for late fees.

I managed to get out of some rather expensive late fees with Video Ezy by stating the following:
1. They couldn’t tell me what the late fees were for as they had upgraded their system.
2. I had a request on my account that no DVDs were to be hired unless ID AND password were produced. They day I found out about the late fees neither of these were asked for. (eg I stated a surname and suburb and they let me hire movies… I could have been anyone)
And 3. They couldn’t produce any documents I had signed agreeing to pay late fees.

I only hired videos once in a blue moon, which is why I refused to pay them a cent. I knew the fees weren’t mine and someone else had racked up the fees.

Madman Madman 12:11 pm 09 Jun 11

Burden of proof lies with the party requesting the debt to be paid.
If they are unable to prove that your are the debtee then you wouldn’t need to pay.

Since video stores don’t require you to provide ID or much proof you’re entitled to use the account it is very easy to get out of paying a late fee.
If you’re going to pay then I suggest you go into the store and pay the store, that way the debt collection company loses on their commission. I agree that this isn’t the best way, but the way debt collectors can be ruthless warrants such action. Especially if the store has not tried collecting themselves, I believe the store needs to try collection themselves before referring to a debt collector.

dvaey dvaey 10:38 am 09 Jun 11

GBT said :

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

la mente torbida said :

OP: Got a debt? Pay it you scrooge!

Deref said :

$15? Jeez – just pay it.

It is sad that in this day and age of awareness of scams, there are still people who think like this. Scams ask you to pay $15 or even $5.. most honest people will just trust the scammer and pay $5. Even if 99% of people are aware of the scam, they only have to send 10,000 emails to make $500.

Like Mothy said, its a numbers game, they only have to get a response from 1-2% to make it worth their while.

To anyone who fits in that 1%, Im sure you owe me money from childhood, please send $10 and we’ll call it even.

p1 p1 10:29 am 09 Jun 11

sweetlibby said :

I’d be doing an estimate on what my time is worth, how much effort I want to put in and whether I need to do something for “the principle of the thing”. Personally if I thought I’d probably hired them I’d just pay it and move on. Not worth my time to fight $15 only to find out I’m probably in the wrong anyway.

My issue wasn’t with the dollar amount, or if I legally owe it to somebody. It was with the way the debt was approached and the quality of the letter of demand. The letter I received was the written equivalent of a man approaching you on the street, telling you that you own the Commonwealth Bank money, and that you need to give it to him.

Felix the Cat said :

p1 said :

Best to get someone to do that for you, preferably someone who has Year 7 education or above.

Thanks for that, should I also have them proof read my posts on RA, or can I let my standards slip a little there? By the way, what was the extra “I” for in your post?

cleo cleo 12:56 am 09 Jun 11

I suggest you pay, as I had gotten some DVD’s for a friend, and he didn’t return them, I received a debt collectors bill, and if you don’t pay on time the cost doubles, but I got him to reduce the debt to the original cost, and payed it.
Recovering debt was on the news regarding this matter. So pay up it won’t go away.

what_the what_the 12:36 am 09 Jun 11

Ha, suckers the lot of you!! They have no legal recourse, unless you’re actually holding the DVDs and haven’t returned them. Scare tactics by lawyers.

Felix the Cat Felix the Cat 8:16 pm 08 Jun 11

p1 said :

I

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?

Best to get someone to do that for you, preferably someone who has Year 7 education or above.

sweetlibby sweetlibby 7:36 pm 08 Jun 11

I’d be doing an estimate on what my time is worth, how much effort I want to put in and whether I need to do something for “the principle of the thing”. Personally if I thought I’d probably hired them I’d just pay it and move on. Not worth my time to fight $15 only to find out I’m probably in the wrong anyway.

On the other hand if I knew I han’t rented anything I would fight it – tooth and nail.

dr phil dr phil 5:28 pm 08 Jun 11

Civic video must be going broke and looking for any money they can so they use a collection agency.

The best one I heard of on 2cc was a guy that rang Mark Parton and said he had a $800 video fee, they listed him as he wouldn’t pay.

lexyliz lexyliz 4:49 pm 08 Jun 11

johnboy said :

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

+1

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 Deref 3:59 pm 08 Jun 11

$15?

Jeez – just pay it.

Rusalka 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 la mente torbida 3:27 pm 08 Jun 11

OP: Got a debt? Pay it you scrooge!

Mothy 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 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.

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