I can’t speak for you, but I am fascinated by the differences from one city to the next, one state to the next, and one country to the next. Whether you call it pop, soda, or Coke, use your thumb to point instead of your index finger, or spit on the bride at a wedding, we are products of the environments in which we live. Take, for example, debt collecting in Great Britain. There, it is common for collectors to make visits to an individual’s home to try and collect on a debt. Imagine doing that here in the United States. But one collection agency across the pond has ignited a scandal after published reports revealed collectors were breaking into people’s homes and installing prepayment meters that forced customers to pay upfront for their gas supply and cut them off if they didn’t pay.
A reporter went undercover working for the agency and saw agents use a locksmith to force their way into a home owned by a single father with three children and install a meter. The collection agency was working on behalf of British Gas, one of the country’s largest utilities.
The use of prepayment meters in Great Britain is strictly monitored and utilities are not supposed to move at-risk customers onto a prepayment meter if they are struggling to pay their bills.
In the first 11 months of 2022, the collection agency reportedly applied for 345,000 warrants to force entry into the homes of people who were behind on their payments. Like in the United States, energy prices have skyrocketed in Great Britain following the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, and left many unable to make their payments.
Reports of the installations have led to the highest levels of government getting involved and calls for swift action against anyone involved.
The collection agency – Arvato Financial Solutions, said in a statement that it “acts compliantly at all times in accordance with the regulatory requirements in the areas in which we are operationally active.”
“We treat customers with whom we come into contact with respect and assess their individual needs at the time of our visit,” the company said in a statement. “If there has been any verbal or any other type of misconduct by individual employees, we deeply regret it.”