Good morning. Nothing to do with me this one but I would like to know what the rules are with regards dealing with them, a colleague is in a situation regarding the water bill and they believe that paying the original bill will make the bailiffs go away as such, is this the case? (which I doubt).
Depends why the bailiffs are there… how much is involved etc…
In which area of France does your friend live…??
215 Euros and in finistere
Mmm… has your friend actually received a document and/or phone call from the Bailiff… and/or has the bailiff knocked on the door… ???
Bailiffs act under instructions from the creditor, in some cases via a court order.
They go away when the creditor calls them off…
It’s the water supplier that your friend has to satisfy, not the bailiffs.
several letters from bailiffs
Your friend should take this up with the water company.
Is the bill disputed or has he not got the means to pay?
The correct procedure is to always pay by the deadline even if you are also disputing the bill. If you do that, you don’t get any late payment penalties added [lightbulb].
For 215€, why the heck has he let this get to the bailiff stage?
Mmm… presumably your friend has not understood what the letters are saying… in which case someone who can translate needs to be found.
Once your friend appreciates the content of the letters… he will be able to make a decision on how to act…
Contacting the Water Company does seem like a good idea… but without knowing what the letters say… our advice can only be somewhat vague…
Even without knowning any details, a good basis to start from is that any money owed needs to be paid, and the longer it remains unpaid the bigger the outstanding debt will be.
For utilities companies, chasing unpaid bills is all part of the job. They have a process that they follow, and once they’ve set the wheels in motion the process moves from one stage to the next until the debt is paid. The longer the process goes on the more costly it becomes. How far down the road it gets, is entirely up to your friend. But, if he was hoping that you can ignore a utilities bill and it will go away, unfortunately that’s not what happens. Utilities companies are included in a special class of service providers (basically, government departments, local authorities and utilities) who can approach his French bank (assuming he has one) direct to settle the debt. This triggers a bank procedure called “tiers détenteur” which involves freezing your account, and the tiers détenteur process incurs its own set of fees from the bank.
Once you have got to the Bailiff stage, a huge can of worms has been opened, which can seriously cause you problems. We have been in this position twice. Once due to being issued with two Siret numbers and by CPAM telling us to pay only one and ignore the other. This took a long time to sort out, before we received our money back, but not the Huissiers fees. The Huissiers went to our bank and despite the protestations of the manager that an error had been made (she knew the whole story), they forced our Bank Account to be closed. Before it could be reopened, we had to go to the offices of the Huissier, pay the disputed bill, the pay our bank €100 to have the account re-instated.
The second time was a dispute with Orange over €100 that they still owe us for return of equipment and overcharging. We moved to SFR and deducted the sum from our final bill. To cut a long story short, the Huissier agreed that we had the right to be in dispute with Orange over our bill, but after several months and numerous letters, told us in a phone call that if we didn’t pay the bill, they “would take our car.”
We paid the bill. I have since been told (but never tested this) that if you are in dispute over a bill and pay the Huissiers €5 in note form, they have to go away.