Stupidity tax?

I have probably had a rant on this before but every time it happens it winds me up.

We expect people to put the right reference on BACS payments to us. Its not unusual. Its why BACS has an 18 character reference in the first place - for the benefit of the beneficiary. If you pay water, gas, electric, telephone, rates, council tax, VAT, corporation tax, PAYE contributions to HMRC, heck - almost anything, you have to put the right reference. We're not unusual.

Occasionally a new customer will put something daft, we'll eventually work out who it is (sometimes by waiting for them to complain that we are chasing a bill that has been paid) and explain that they have to put the right reference. That usually sorts it. Policy is to actually send at least two real letters by post explaining this... Only if they persist do we charge an admin fee of £5+VAT for manually handling the payment (cheap price for my time I think).

When we charge £5 admin fee for this we try to include it on the normal invoice, but this does not always work as planned especially on quarterly bnilled customers, so sometimes our system raises an invoice for just £5+VAT which states "Admin fee (reduced): manual processing of incorrect BACS/CHAPS/FP payment. PUT THE CORRECT REFERENCE ON YOUR PAYMENTS IN FUTURE TO AVOID THIS CHARGE. See http://aaisp.net.uk/bacs.html for more details."

What really takes the biscuit is when someone pays this £5.75 invoice, by BACS, without the right reference on the BACS payment, so that I have to manually allocate the payment!

Are they totally mad?

I used to have a special letter I sent in such cases, but basically if people have ignored the letters already they ignore that letter too, so there is pretty much no point in doing anything other than just charging £5.75 again for handling the £5.75 payment they just made.

Ho hum...


  1. My first post. I find that I agree with RevK on many things. I agree, the public are stupid when they pay bills electronically. I also recall a person who went to their building society, obtained a cheque and went into the bank next door and paid it into a solicitors account for a house deposit. I obtained a copy of the cheque but the BS refused to name the account holder. I replied that as I knew the account number, I would be pleased the pay the money back into the BS account and that the person might loose their house. 10 minutes later, the client phoned to apologise (BS having phoned them) saying that they did not realise that it would cause a problem.

    The government and public companies are worse. If you act as an agent you may receive a tax refund quoting a URN number. Ask the HMRC who it relates to and they will quote data protection issues and not tell you who it's for. State Pensions, Incapacity Benefits etc have the same problem. All that's quoted is the NI Number of the recipient. Insurance companies paying out death benefits to solicitors administrating estates will seldom quote a reference. Query the receipt and the person in India will tell you they can't tell who it relates to - Data Protection Act (DPA). Ask if the money relates to a dead person (DPA does not apply) and they will refuse to answer the question.

  2. People hiding behind the DPA winds me up as well. When I am the data subject and they have verified it is me and then won't tell me things the DPA actually gives me the right to know, blaming the DPA, arrrg!


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