So you've received a payment demand from Australian Recoveries and Collections? The demand will be a parking fine from Australian National Car Parks, Parking Patrols (Vic), PriPark or a similar payment demand from UPS, Publicity Monster or several other companies. This page and surrounding links explains how to get-off these fines, and details how Australian Recoveries and Collections do not follow the ACCC Debt Collection Guidelines.
ANCP is being prosecuted over debt collection practices
As the debt collection arm of National Australian Car Parks, Australian Recoveries and Collections does the majority of the chasing of alleged debts demanding that they pay ANCP's invoices, usually for $173.00. Vehicle owner's, following the instructions on my website, have complained to the NSW Office of Fair Trading that they have been unlawfully harassed by people collecting debts for Australian National Car Parks. Fair Trading had so many complaints, they are prosecuting ANCP in the Parramatta local court on criminal charges of harassment. The mention date for the first hearing is 7th June 2013. If anyone has received an Australian National Car Parks payment demand in the mail (from ANCP, or Australian Recoveries and Collections, or from MBBF solicitors) and they want to join the action against ANCP and their debt collectors, they should firstly write to ANCP asking them to stop sending demands, and if the demands continue, then lodge a complaint to Fair Trading. Note: Fair Trading are not taking court action against ARC itself.
Australian Recoveries and Collections letters of demand
If you have come to this page, it is probably because you have received one of the following letters of demand from Australian Recoveries and Collections. In this letter, Australian Recoveries and Collections say "if legal action is taken to recover this debt, legal fees, charges and interest may be incurred". This is arguably misleading. Australian National Car Parks rarely take legal action. The receiver of this letter was based in Victoria and ANCP have never taken legal action against anyone in Victoria. Also, even if it went to court, in Victoria a creditor cannot claim legal fees for debts under $500. It also says and "your credit rating may be adversely affected by this action" and "your next communication from us may result in legal action". This is also misleading because it fails to mention that your credit raitng can only be affected if the creditor took the matter to court and won in court.
But the following letter takes the cake in the misleading stakes. It came in a plain envelope which did not identify who the sender was. The person who opened the envelope found simply the message "MAILGRAM: Please contact Claire Martyn on (02) 8570 9209 regarding an urgent business matter." There was also a 5 digit number quoted as reference. But there was no further information about which companies were involved, who this Clarie Martyn was, or what the matter was about. Clearly it was not a business matter at all, although the sender was obviously trying to make it look like it was related to the person's business and hoping they would innocently ring. Well the person did ring the number and a young woman answered the phone with the greeting "Good morning Australian Recoveries and Collections, you're speaking with Claire". The person hung up at this point. So this so called mail gram was just a ruse to try to get you to call ARC so they could harass you about money they claimed you owed Australian National Car Parks. According to the ACCC Debt Collection Guidelines:
- A debt collector must not misrepresent their identity in any way.
- A collector must identify themselves to the alleged debtor at the first opportunity.
By disguising a debt collection attempt as a "business matter" and by hiding the contact behind an anonymous mailgram, it was arguably misleading.
But wait, there is still more. For sheer nastiness, the following letter from Australian Recoveries and Collections wins hands down. This letter, signed by Andrew Stewart, Recovery Manager at Australian Recoveries and Collections, states:
Basically ARC claim they can do everything except kill your cat. But lets examine this. Those three point actions are all theoretically possible. But a lot has to happen before that:
- ARC's client must firstly give instructions to take legal action. This hasn't even occurred yet according to the letter from Andrew Stewart.
- ARC must issue a complaint to the court against you and serve the court papers on you personally. This hasn't occurred yet.
- A court case must take place. This hasn't occurred yet.
- ARC must win the case. This is impossible because the person who received this letter from ARC wasn't the driver and wasn't a party to the contract.
- Finally, even if ARC did win in court, the person would have to refuse to pay the judgement amount.
- ARC would then have to come back to court to ask the court to grant one or more of the above orders. The court may not necessarily grant those orders because the person is retired and on a pension.
There are way too many assumptions involved in this letter from ARC, and especially given the fact that the person was not the driver, this letter from Australian Recoveries and Collections is arguably misleading.
This final letter, signed by Hamish Smith a collector at ARC, says "If you are responsible for this payment notice and legal action is taken to recover this debt, legal fees, charges and interest may be incurred and recovery of these charges may be enforced. Your credit rating may be adversely affected by this action and your next communication from us may result in legal action" . By virtue of the "if you are responsible of this payment notice" it is clear that ARC have no idea who the driver of the vehicle was. In that case, how can they threaten the vehicle owner with legal action and with affecting their credit rating? In fact, the vehicle owner in this case was not the driver, and had already written to ANCP and ARC advising them he was not the driver. So ARC had no right to be continuing collection action against this person.
How to contact Australian Recoveries and Collections
Phone: (02) 8570-9296
Note: If you have also received a letter from both Australian Recoveries and Collections and Freedman and Gopalan Solicitors, it is better to contact Freedman and Gopalan instead of Australian Recoveries and Collections. The reason is that lawyers are bound by professional conduct rules and you are therefore more likely to receive a reasonable response from Freedman and Goaplan. If sending by email, email to MBBF's email address firstname.lastname@example.org and cc. email@example.com If you don't receive a response from Freedman and Gopalan or ARC, or don't receive a reasonable response, please let me know (my email address is on the contact page of my site).
Not happy with your response from Australian Recoveries and Collections? Or perhaps, if you are like most people, you didn't receive any respond from your email or letter to Australian Recoveries and Collections. In that case, you should go straight to the top and contact Andrew Smith. Andrew Smith is the managing directory of Australian Recoveries and Collections and is a 25 percent share owner.
A sample email is here.
Andrew Stewart is the most complained about person in the private car park industry. He uses various aliases such as Andrew, Andrew Stewart, Andrew James, and others. Using these aliases he represents himself as a law clerk working for a law firm, as a debt collector, or as a member of staff at Parking Patrols, Pripark, and a number of other car park companies. Read the story of Joanne who tells the story of how she was harassed by Andrew Stewart.
Named in Parliament
In Victorian Parliament on 14th June 2011, Mr Michael O'Brien, the Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs, said he will ask his department, Consumer Affairs Victoria, to look into complaints about a debt collection company called Australian Recoveries & Collections. The complaint was raised by Victorian Member of Parliament Mr Robin Scott (member for Preston) who said he sought "an investigation into the actions of Australian Recoveries and Collections Pty Ltd, particularly those of Mr Craig Brugman, who has been demanding payment of debts which had already been resolved" (i.e. double dipping). The Minister said "private car parks have a right to operate, but they have to operate within the law and they do not have the power to issue fines".
Ownership and officeholders of ANCP (source ASIC register):
Company shareholders: Paul Gyles and Victor Nudler
Company directors: Paul Gyles and Victor Nudler
Company secretary: Paul Gyles
- Ownership and structure of Australian Recoveries and Collections (source ASIC register):
Company shareholders: Paul Gyles (30%), Victor Nudler (30%), Andrew Smith (25%), Craig Brugman (7.5%), Nayomi Brugman (7.5%)
Company directors: Paul Gyles, Victor Nudler, Andrew Smith, Craig Brugman
Company secretary: Paul Gyles, Victor Nudler, Andrew Smith, Craig Brugman
- How to contact payment notice collection officers at Australian Recoveries and Collections
So you can see from the above that Australian National Car Parks and Australian Recoveries and Collections is the one and the same company.
So why, you ask, do they have a separate company to follow up on its debts? Why doesn't ANCP just send out its own reminder letters? Well, research by the debt collection industry has shown that people respond quicker if they receive a letter from a different company to the one they are alleged to owe the debt to.
Where a company has been setup purely to chase debt for the parent company, they are known as "Ghost Companies" because they have no income or business of their own.
In 2001, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ASIC) investigated alleged harrasment of consumers by phone company "OneTel" for its use of a "ghost company" to collect some of its debts. See Sydney Morning Herald April 19th 2001 ACCC investigates One.Tel's ghost, a debt collector by Kevin Morrison. During this case, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman put out a media release saying "If you are contacted by a debt collector representing the One.Tel liquidators, you are entitled to request (and receive) an itemisation of the bill the collectors are pursuing. It is the view of the TIO and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) that consumers should not have to pay a bill unless a proof of the debt can be provided" and that "The debt collectors are required to act in accordance with debt collection guidelines and must not engage in any undue harassment or coercion in collecting the debts. People disputing a One.Tel debt should immediately contact the debt collection agency which is requesting payment of the account." (see http://www.tio.com.au/media_statements/NOTICES/2001/notice01.140801.htm).
When Michael Roper was the solicitor that handled ARC legal issues, the phone number Mr Roper listed on his letter heads was a number at the Australian Recoveries and Collections office. When you rang that number, you never got Mr Roper. It was always answered by Australian Recoveries and Collections staff members Caroline Collins or Claire Martyn. The phone number also often went thru to voice mail during business hours. The male voice on the voice mail message was not Mr Roper's voice. And if you left a message for Mr Roper, he did not call you back. Rather ARC employees Caroline Collins or Clarie Martyn would call you back. Further, people have advised me that Australia Post registered mail that they sent to Mr Roper's PO Box was signed for at the post office by Paul Gyles. Paul Gyles is a majority share holder in Australian Recoveries and Collections. What was Mr Gyles doing looking inside a lawyer's PO Box?
According to reports, Australian Recoveries and Collections has taken some business off a rival debt collection company called "Dun and Bradstreet". Dun and Bradstreet (D&B) is well known for its ethical stance and often rejects contracts with companies that have "dodgy debts". The Sydney Morning Herald ran an article on 28 August 2012 about how Dun and Bradstreet had walked away from a lucrative contact with a company called "Publicity Monster" after D&B discovered that Publicity Monster was asking it to chase debts that were in dispute (it is illegal to harass consumers over a debt that is in dispute). A Dun & Bradstreet spokesperson said that it had been "having issues with Publicity Monster asking it to chase invalid customer debts" and that D&B had ceased recovery attempts on all accounts that were found to be in dispute. The spokesperson said that Dun & Bradstreet has "informed Publicity Monster that the satisfactory resolution of these issues will be required for the continuance of their contract together". Well, guess who is now chasing debts for Publicity Monster? None other than Australian Recoveries and Collections! But the "link" between ARC and D&B goes further than that. When Australian National Car Parks first started its car park business, it used Dun and Bradstreet to collect its "debts". It is not known for sure why this relationship between creditor and debt collector ceased, but history says that ANCP's business was moved from D&B to ARC in early 2011. It is suspected the D&B refused to deal with ANCP anymore, as ANCP were sending disputed debts to D&B for collection. But it goes further than that again. When ANCP created ARC from scratch on 7th February 2011, ANCP wanted staff that knew its business well. So they poached the collection staff at D&B that had been working on the ANCP account. The D&B staff that moved across to ARC from D&B are:
- Andrew Smith (now managing director of ARC).
- Craig Brugman (now director of ARC)
- Caroline Collins (now collector at ARC)
- Gwenda C (now senior account manager at ARC)
- Shane A (business development manager at ARC)
- Ken Torres (collector at ARC)
Note: Gwenda and Shane do not work on the collection of payment notices, they work in other areas of the business, and for this reason I have left their surnames off.
It is known that several people who have been chased by ARC for alleged Publicity Monster debts are now suing ARC in court. The detail of one of the court cases is as follows.
WOLLONGONG: 9:15 AM Tuesday, 2 Apr 2013, Level 3/43 Burelli Street Wollongong NSW
GEN 13/11159 – Stephen De Hosson v Publicity Monster Pty Ltd & Australian Recoveries & Collections Pty Ltd
A women said she felt "stalked" after an Australian Recoveries and Collections employee tracked down where she worked and phoned her work number and her mobile phone number repeatedly. Read more on the My Story page.
See Brian's story about how ARC demoralised him into paying a fine
Australian Recoveries and Collections on Facebook.
Disclaimer: the author of this website is not a lawyer and this site does not constitute legal advice.