A man who owns four properties in the Shoalhaven, and forgot to pay his rates bill on time this quarter had a rude shock when a council debt collector appeared at his home in Sydney.
He has paid the bill promptly every year for 20 years, and claims that he did not receive a notice in the mail or a phone call to remind him to pay the bill before the collection agent showed up.
He contacted the South Coast Register to advise readers about the process.
“I unfortunately missed one set of quarterly rates on one of the four residential properties I am involved with, purely due to a bookkeeping error, a couple of weeks later, thugs on my doorstep,” home owner Stuart Cregan said.
The man would not identify himself, other than providing a first name, and confirming he was representing Shoalhaven Council.
“I asked the man what he wanted, he told me to ring a number and pointed to the piece of paper he was holding,” Mr Cregan said.
“I refused and he continued with his spiel.
“I asked him to identify himself, again no response other than a first name.
“The conversation became intense.
“I asked him to leave as he wouldn’t identify himself, he continued with his thug-like spiel and wouldn’t leave until under intense pressure.
“I assisted him off my property, he advised he would be back.
“I'm a large person, I didn't back down.
“What would happen if it was a little old lady, or handicapped person, or my wife, it's just not on.”
Shoalhaven Council confirmed the debt collection agency they employ were handling Mr Cregan’s case.
“Council has been outsourcing debt recovery to an external agency for some time,” a spokesperson said.
“This is common practice for a number of local councils due efficiencies that are provided by these agencies.”
Council said the agency issues reminder notices before they take further action.
“Reminder notices are issued by our Debt Recovery Agency using Council letterhead,” the spokesperson said.
“Then, if the overdue amount has not been paid or a satisfactory payment arrangement made, as per the Debt Recovery Policy, the account is referred to Council’s Debt Recovery Agency for further action.”