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buchanan clark and wells

An incompetent debt collecting / purchasing company

I had never heard of these jokers before I received the first letter from them at the beginning of December, 2009.

I am providing scans of their letters, along with html transcriptions in order that the contents get indexed by all the best internet search engines.

BCW threat 01

Hmm. Yes, we lived at the address given, but we had moved out before the week that they give, and had told Southern Electricity so - and had settled the bill with them with a final meter reading. We even continue to be their customers at our new address.
Here are some quick reasons why this letter stinks:

  • Southern Electricity have never asked us for this money.
  • They provide no evidence for the debt.
  • They provide no explanation of how the debt is constructed - it is huge in relation to our monthly bill at that address.
  • They spell 'road' with a zero.
  • They give a phone number to call, which we would have to pay for (never speak to these sorts of idiots on the phone - always keep everything in writing).
  • They use threatening language in order to scare us into paying.
  • They have coloured/bolded/capitalised/underlined random phrases.
  • We have never heard of Buchanan Clark and Wells before this threat letter.
  • They have wierdly 'signed' it with the name of the company.
  • It arrived in a brown envelope, second class - as if they are sending out lots of them and hoping that somebody bites.

We're not in the habit of handing money over to utterly random companies that demand we do so.

An appropriate response would probably be to ignore them.

But, as I am a nice guy, I thought I'd write back to politely explain that we moved out before the dates given. I posted the response on 07/12/2009.

My response 01

The next week, I got a letter from them in which they tell me that I need to send them evidence to prove that I was not at the address at the time. With phrases like 'we require' and 'we will need'. They say they need all sorts of stuff - meter readings, tenancy agreements and the like.

But they still have shown me absolutely no evidence of the alleged debt and how it is constructed. It's a bit much for them to start demanding that I prove a negative against their baseless assertion!

BCW threat 02

And then, a couple of days later, I got another letter, very similar to the first, but with the threat level raised higher. This one really is full of it. I like the way that the previously demanded a whole bunch of evidence, and they only gave me a couple of days to do it before giving up waiting. Note also the way that they avoid actually saying that some sort of legal action will be taken - it is 'we shall seek to', with the threatening phrases bold and capitalised. You will see a lot more of this weasely phrasing later on.

BCW threat 03

Right, I'm not taking any of that nonsense, so here is my second response, posted 21/12/2009. I tell them that further correspondence from them will be either ignored or passed on to an appropriate regulatory body. We are not in the habit of sending of personal details and documents to any old Tom, Dick and Wells that crawls out of the gutter.

My response 02

After that, we heard nothing for a couple of months. I thought that they had gone away - until I received two separate letters dated 19/02/2010. This first is similar to the last one, but with the threat level once more raised higher. Again, the weasely words and threats in bold/red/capitals. Actually, reading this one back, they appear to have got really really excited and gone wild on the capitalisations of initial letters!

BCW threat 04

The second one says that they 'have a response from our client and would request that you contact us' on their phone number and that my 'account has been delayed for ten days to enable you to respond to this letter'. They also say that they 'can hereby confirm your query has been duly recorded on our system file'. You what? What query? I made no query.

BCW threat 05

Remember, never speak to these idiots on the phone. If they have something worth saying, they can put it in writing. True to my word, I ignored both of those (though it looks like I used one of them as a tea coaster).

A couple of weeks later, the next threat arrived, dated 08/03/2010. This one says that a 'debt investigation officer' is going to visit, and that I'd better call them on their 0844 number.

BCW threat 06

I ignored that one, too. No 'debt investigation officer' ever showed up. If he existed and had visited, I would have called the police.

Next, I got a letter from 'Geoffrey Parker Bourne solicitors', dated 18/03/2010. There's something very fishy about this letter. It uses the same weasely worded phrases as the BCW letters, and ends up telling me to phone BCW (the phone number is given in red, exactly as the BCW letters do), or to pay BCW on their website. If I didn't know better, I would say that these 'solicitors' are actually part of BCW. A quick google is enough to make me very suspicious of them.

BCW threat 07

By this time, I had had enough and decided to contact Southern Electric Gas. I wanted to ask them if they knew who these fools were. If they had set them on us, I gave them this set of demands (copied here from my letter):

  • We demand that you instruct them to cease and desist immediately.
  • We demand that you instruct them to remove all data relating to ourselves from their computer systems.
  • We demand a meaningful and sincere apology from your company.
  • We demand compensation for the anxiety, stress, postal costs, and the time and effort that we have wasted in dealing with this situation, for which you are responsible.
I posted this letter on 20/03/2010.

Southern Electric Gas complaint 01

Before Southern Electric Gas responded, I got another BCW threat. Well, I say threat, but it's more pathetic than that. They offer me the 'exceptional opportunity to settle on highly favourable terms'. Instead of £153.94, they say they will accept £115.46! Utterly desperate and absolutely risible.

BCW threat 08

I ignored that one too.

Next, I got a letter from 'Scottish and Southern Energy', dated 30/03/2010. They do know who the fools are, and admit responsibility for setting them upon us. They agree that we do not owe the money, apologise, tell BCW to desist, and offer us £30 in compensation. They attempt to explain what happened. I can't make head nor tail of what the explanation actually is. The gist seems to be that their accounting and billing systems are rubbish.

SEG response 01

However, note that they have not instructed BCW to remove records of us from their system. I also think that £30 is not enough compensation. So I sent the following letter back within a couple of days (I forgot to update the date on it, which says 20/03/2010 - whoops). I also can't understand why we had heard nothing from SEG before BCW crawled out of the gutter.

Southern Electric Gas complaint 02

I then decide to pursue BCW for the following demands (copied from my next letter, sent 02/04/2010):

  • Compensation for the stress that you have caused us, and the time that we have wasted in dealing with your strident incompetence. We suggest that 50 GBP per threat letter received is a reasonable amount. That totals 400 GBP for the 8 that we received. We will accept a cheque.
  • That you remove all records of our name, address, and associated data from your computer systems, and written confirmation of this.
  • That you remove any adverse credit markers that you may have set at any credit reference agencies, and written confirmation of this.
  • A genuine and sincere apology.

My response 03

Then, as if to underscore BCW's utter incompetence, we got a letter from them dated 13/04/2010, in which they ask us to pay the outstanding debt of £0. You couldn't make it up! Note that they say that the repayment agreement is subject to periodic review!

BCW threat 09

The next day, I received another letter from BCW, this time in a more friendly blue envelope with their logo on it. They say that my concerns have 'been duly recorded' on their 'system file', the issue is being investigated further and that 'our file is currently closed on our system'. Eh? That's a bit contradictory! The signature is odd though. It is plainly signed by 'A Shaw', but the print says 'Darren Carruthers'. They've given me a new phone number too.

BCW response 01

The next letter from SEG arrived, dated 15/04/2010. The further explanation as to what went wrong still makes no sense, and they seem to refer to themselves as 'Atlantic', but they agree to up their payment to me to £100. Thank you, SEG!

SEG response 02

The next response from BCW arrived, dated 28/04/2010. They basically shirk all responsibility for their actions, and do not even have the common decency to offer any sort of apology!

BCW response 02

I'm not having that, so I reply on 02/05/2010, telling them that should they ignore our demands again, I will make all of their letters publicly viewable and searchable on the internet. I address it to 'Darren Carruthers'.

My response 04

Meanwhile, Natalie Mclean from SEG, rather sweetly sends a letter dated 30/04/2010, saying that she's not heard from me for a while, trying to make sure that I am happy with the resolving of the complaint. I am happy with her response, but have not replied yet as I am still fighting with BCW.

SEG response 03

The reply from 'Darren Carruthers' at BCW comes, dated 17/05/2010. Again, he shirks all responsibility for their actions, does not apologise, and refuses to remove the data that they hold on us.

BCW response 03

Well, there we go. True to my word, I have just made all of their letters publicly viewable and searchable on the internet.

Darren says that BCW will only remove the data that they have on us if SEG tell them to do so. So, the next thing to do is to write a letter back to Natalie Mclean about this. I did actually demand that SEG instruct BCW to do so, back in my first letter to them. I guess I'll just have to do it again.

I recently found this blog, where the writer fought a similar battle, and went all the way to getting a letter from BCW saying that the records had been deleted: bcw-complaint.blogspot.com
It looks like he had to do it via the client, too.

So, here is my next letter to SEG, written 24/05/2010:

Southern Electric Gas complaint 03

I have heard nothing for a few years. However, somebody called Bernie Brandon emailed me today with this message:

"Hi Here is a copy of what I have written today to the FCA. The background to our story is a spurious demand for £600 claimed to be owed to Scottish Power!! You will find yourself vindicated over the clear fraudulent letter from Geoffrey Parker Bourne Ltd ! They do not and never have existed . Kind Regards Bernie Brandon : no response needed better off blogging ! well done again and thanks to you we are now quite relieved : I will let you know what the new Regulator does if anything"

Bernie's letter to the FCA