Admin note - this is now a sticky at the top of unenforceability.
One year on.
To-day May 11th is exactly 1 year since I sent off for my first CCA and began my UE journey.
When I started the journey I was in credit card debt to the tune of £130K, I won’t go into detail about how I allowed myself to end up in such a desperate financial position, if you are interested you can read a little of my story at the beginning of my diary.
By March of last year, I had reached a point where I was in such despair that I could not function properly; I was verging on the brink of becoming mentally unstable, so much so I even contemplated suicide at one particular low point.
I was paying back £30K per year to service my credit cards, and with the continuing growth in interest charges, I was getting known where fast, in some cases the outstanding balances increased even though I was paying more than the minimum monthly payments. I realised it could not continue, I was robbing Peter to pay Paul, paying credit cards with credit cards, and also draining my business of much needed cash flow.
I had worked hard to try and build a reasonable business and looked forward to the time when I could enjoy the fruits of that hard work as I grew older. But all those dreams looked like falling apart, going bankrupt, losing my home and business now looked a real possibility.
I didn’t bury my head in the sand when I realised how bad my finances had become, I tried to think of positive ways to deal with the situation, I started by contacting all my card creditors, and explained my unfortunate financial position, I asked for help by way of freezing interest on the accounts, and agreeing a fixed monthly payment so I could at least start to reduce the debts.
All my pleading fell on deaf ears, not one of them was interested, it seemed help wasn’t in their remit, in fact all my letters seemed to achieve was credit limits got immediately reduced to what the card balance was, or in some cases, below the balance which put my account in arrears and resulted in interest overcharges, some creditors also increased the interest charges. I had certainly succeeded in starting the alarm bells ringing even though at that stage I wasn’t in arrears with any of the accounts.
I did contact a debt management company, following a one and half hour phone call one Sunday evening with a “councilor” I had the feeling it wasn’t going to be the right direction for me, it would appear the “management company” would be the real winners in taking the lion’s share of any payment plan they arranged with my creditors, promises of getting my debts written off after a couple of years of payments and my credit file would still be intact, was just too good to be true, so I quickly put an end to the suggestion of going down that route.
So what now? I thought ok maybe one of the free debt advice charities can offer me some sort of help or even negotiate with my creditors to persuade them to accept a payment plan. While researching this possibility I came across “another site” and on the forum there, I started to read threads from people
who, in varying degrees had also found themselves in a similar position to me, (and there was me feeling sorry for myself, the only one in the UK who had serious debt problems)…NOT!
It was while reading thorough the various threads that I came across a lady, with the user name “mouseanne” Little did I know when I first started to read her thread, how this was going to change my life. I only read a few of the posts to start with, but something drew me back to mouseanns thread, and I spent a good few hours reading her story from the very first page. She was receiving advice from a few different members, but one stuck out more than the rest, “Niddy”! Who was guiding mouseann and discussing the unenforceability of many credit card agreements, in particular many flawed ones were issued around the dates that many of mine began.
This was my first introduction to UE, I had never even heard the term used before.
Could this be for me? I began to think very carefully about it, could it help me? what about the moral implications,
I had always believed you had to pay back what you owed, In fact I suppose I still do, but then I thought, ok I have used credit card money, but they have had the capitol back and profit on the loans over the years, they had me well and truly on the hook paying back the outrageous interest charges each month, they didn’t care about me as a person in trouble, they don’t want you settling your debts, they just keep squeezing until there is nothing left to squeeze out.
When the banks made a mess of their finances while continuing to pay themselves massive bonuses, they simply went cap in hand to the government for a bailout plan. Where can the man in the street go for his bailout plan? No where! So do I feel I am doing something morally wrong, no not any more? This is my life, the only one I have got, and I don’t have a lot of it left at my advancing years.
So here I am on the UE journey. I have not paid one single payment to any of my credit card accounts since March 2010. When I started out on this journey I didn’t really know what I was letting myself in for or how things would turn out, I still don’t know what the final result will be.
In the months since I stopped payments, first I had the general “must bring your account up to date” letters from my creditors, this then progressed on to chaser letters from DCA’s. Some of my creditors have closed my accounts and now leave it to DCA’s to chase me for money. As the months have gone by, the letters have reduced significantly. I have received a number of CCA’s from my creditors, most of them have been deemed UE, and to date I have not had any court action taken by any of them.
I continue to respond to DCA threats with the help of our mentor, the site owner, Niddy and his excellent template letters, which up to now usually stops them in their tracks and they pass the debt back to the original creditor, who in turn pass it to another DCA in the hope they can get better results. It is an endless task of letters going back and forth, but that is a tiny inconvenience to put up with. Although it can never be taken too lightly it is almost like a game dueling with the DCA’s.
One year on I still have £130K of debt (more with added interest). But at least I am fighting back now, and in a much better place mentally and physically.
As I said earlier, I don’t yet know what the final result will be, yes my previous good credit rating is now in tatters but, a year on I have managed to function without the need for credit, in fact I was pleasantly surprised as how well you can do without credit when necessary. And I have no regrets whichever way it turns out, I believe I have taken the right route, if at the end of the day I end up having to pay half of the original debts, it will be a fantastic result.
I’m not endorsing the UE route is for everyone, you need to look carefully at your own situation, and think long and hard before embarking on it. But if you do decide it is for you, then you have found the right place to help you guide you through the process.
This forum now plays a major part in my life, I have made many new friends, ok mostly on line friends, but that is irrelevant, I still consider them friends, not only do we come here for financial guidance, you will find an answer to almost anything here if you ask, and it is also a great place for socialising, somewhere to come and get away from the day to day routine for a while. Long may it continue.
Thank you for reading my story, and thank you Niddy for your invaluable help, and giving us this platform to express ourselves.