Groundhog Day

I now have a court date – in either a beautiful stroke of irony, or a perfect example of sod’s law, it’s been fixed for my 50th birthday.   I guess, it will mark a new beginning, and a new freedom from E, whatever the court decides to do.

However, my birthday is at the end of October.  Which means more than two months of waiting. More than two months of struggling to pay the mortgages (I’m now trying to pay both the mortgage and the secured loan).  And more than two months of dealing with regular calls from the Secured Loan Company.

These calls happen, on average, every three or four weeks.  I know that it’s something that the Loan Co have to do.  I very much appreciate the fact that they are being very good to me (they don’t have to keep accepting delays in payment).  They’re very professional and just doing their job, but the calls can be patronising and do tend to treat me like I’m completely and utterly financially incompetent.

I have to take it on the chin, but I’m nearly 50 and, whilst I’ve had debts, I’ve never missed a payment on anything ever in my life.  I’ve always managed my finances well.  This makes it very difficult to be lectured on my spending/debt by someone who’s probably half my age and just sees me as a bad debtor.  It’s also hard knowing that I’m only in this situation because of E not paying his share of the mortgage, and that he is as liable as me for the arrears, but because he refuses to take any calls, or answer any letters, that he is not getting any hassle at all about the situation.  Its also hard to deal with the fact that the kids and I are being threatened with eviction and are facing great difficulty finding somewhere to rent, whilst he is happily enjoying a secure home in his Canary Wharf flat with P.

The calls are pretty much identical – they ask the same questions and cover the same ground.  It’s like Groundhog Day, except, unlike Bill Murray, I don’t get a chance to gradually make things better and come out victorious.  I literally relive the same call, again and again and again and each time the threat of eviction is a little bit heavier…

They go a bit like this:

Loan Co: “Good morning Miss W, thank you for taking my call/calling me this morning. Let me just take a quick look at your notes”  *long pause*  “I can see that you’re still in arrears, I know that you’ve been in contact with us about this, but can I ask if you’re able to make a payment today?

Me: “Um.  No.  I still haven’t receive any child maintenance from E.  I literally can’t pay anything. However, as requested by you, I have now taken out a TPP via StepChange which means that, my unsucured debts are frozen and being paid at £1 per month, so when I do start receiving child maintenance, I should be able to make the main payments to you, hopefully, with something added to pay the arrears

Loan Co: “Yes, I can see that you’re sitiation has been difficult.  Can I ask when do you think you’ll start receiving child maintenance?

Me: “Well, the CMS have sent me two dates, so, either the 19th August or the 29th of August.  Of course, I am still slightly nervous that something will go wrong/that the payment won’t happen, but we’ll have to wait until the end of August to see

Loan Co: “I also need to ask, how you are, obviously you’re in a very distressing situation?

Me (deciding to go for it and tell the truth): “Actually, I’ve been struggling with really bad depression and anxiety

Loan Co: *pause*

Loan Co: “I’m sorry to hear that Miss W.  Can I ask if you’re receiving any help?”

Me: “I‘m fine, I’m being treated my my doctor and I have a really strong network of friends and family around me.  But it is just a tough time.

Loan Co: “I’m glad to hear that you’ve got a good support network.  Now, I know we’ve been through your budget before, but is it ok if we just go through it again

Me (losing the will to live): “Of course

Loan Co: “From our records, with child maintance of £x, and your salary/tax credits/child benefit of £x, this means that you can afford to pay us £x, if your mortgage company agrees to a lower payment.  Do you agree Miss W

Me (slowly banging my head against the nearest wall): “Yes, that’s fine.  I just need to speak to the main mortgage company.  I’m fairly confident that they’ll be helpful, but I havent had a chance.to……

Loan Co: “…… we need to know how much your main mortgage payment will be before we can agree a payment schedule with you Miss W….

Me: “Yes, I know, I just haven’t had a chance to talk to them yet….”

Loan Co: “….. can I ask when you’ll be talking to them Miss W?

Me: “I’m planning on calling this week”

Loan Co: “I’ll make a note of that Miss W

Loan Co (in horrified voice): “I can also see that your credit card balance has gone again up since our last conversation.  How has that happened Miss W?

Me (through gritted teeth): “I had to buy food, I had to help Oldest Daughter for her University expenses, I had to buy birthday presents for the kids.  Anyway, it’s all moot now – I can’t use the card anymore because of the TPP

Loan Co: “That is quite an increase though Miss W.”

Me: “I know.  But, as discussed before, I’ve had no child maintenance for nearly a year.  E owes me over £10,000 in arrears.  I’ve had no choice but to get into debt, just to pay the mortgage and live.

Loan Co: “Can I ask why you think you need to support your daughter at University? Does she get a student loan?

Me: “Yes, she gets a loan.  She also has a job.  However, a loan of around £9k, plus rent at around £6k a year, doesn’t leave much for food, books, and, well, you know, living.  So I do try to help her out whenever I can

Loan Co: “Can I ask if you’ve had any contact with E since our last conversation?

Me (brightly – I have news): “Actually, yes, he emailed me telling me not to ask him for any money  I sent you the email address he used, so that you could try and contact him on it?

Loan Co: “But, apart from that Miss W?  Have you been able to contact him?

Me: “No.

Loan Co:  “Can I ask if you’ve tried any other methods of contacting him?  Do you have any mutual friends, or family, who might act as an intemediary.  Have you passed any messages on via the children?

Me: “He’s not been contactable by anyone.  My solicitor, his parents, my parents have all been ignored. I’ve even tried contacting his wife!  I’m not prepared to use the children to contact him, but, to be honest I don’t think it would do any good.

Loan Co: “Can you talk to him when he sees the children Miss W?

Me: “Nope.  He doesn’t even come to the house anymore.  He sends a taxi for them.  But, anyway, I wouldn’t put the kids through confronting him in front of them.

Loan Co:  “I see.  Can I ask, do you know where he lives?

Me (worried): “Um, yes.  In fact I gave you his address almost a year ago!  Do you have that address on file?

Loan Co: “Unfortunately Miss W, I can’t divulge confidential information we hold about E.

Me: “But, you are writing to him every time you write to me?  You are trying to contact him as often asyou try to contact me?

Loan Co: “Of course, Miss W, in a situation like this, we’re legally obliged to contact both of you.

Loan C: “Now, Miss W.  I can see that you’ve sent us an email telling us you have a court date?  Thank you for that.  What are you hoping to achieve?

Me: “A fair way of selling the house. Once that’s all agreed, I’ll put the house on the market and sell it as soon as I can.

Loan Co: “And, can I ask where you’ll live Miss W?

Me; “Well, I’ll never be able to get a mortgage, now that my credit record has been wrecked, and there’s not enough equity to let me buy anything.  So, I’ll have to try and rent.  Although, that might be tricky with a wrecked credit reference too….

Loan Co: “Yes, I can see that….

Me: *waits for the final, inevitable, part of the call – the part that the call was all about in the first place”

Loan Co: “Miss W, I know you’ve got a court date, and I know that you re doing everything you can. But you should be aware that we are now within our rights to persue a possession order for your house, in order to recover our arrears.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be evicted immediately….

Me: “Yeah.  I know.

Loan Co: “Can I ask what advice you’ve taken?

Me (refraining from mentioning my Mum’s advice re what I should say to them): “Well, I’m on constant touch with you, I’m in constant touch with the Mortgage company, I’ve taken out a TPP via StepChange as you requested and I have a Solicitor acting on my behalf re E.  What other advice do I need?

Loan Co: “I mean regarding the possibility of us seeking a possession order?

Me (wondering where on earth they expect me to find the money to fund more legal advice): “Not yet.  I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it?

Loan Co: “We would recommend that you seek advice re what to do if we issue a possession order…

Me: *……………*

Loan Co: “Anyway, Miss W.  Thank you for your time today.  I can see that the child maintenance is due to be paid at the end of August, so Il’ll set a date of 2nd September for us to make contact again.  Is that OK Miss W?

Me: “Yes, that’s fine

*call ends*

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