A catalogue is a popular way to purchase something expensive and then spread its cost out over a number of payments. 

Many people don’t have the money to buy expensive items straight away so it’s generally a good idea to spread the payments out over a few months. 

There are a lot of catalogue companies out there that will let you spread your payments over a certain period of time. 

However, these payments are often expensive and have high interest rates. This usually means that if you keep making minimum payments, your debt may actually increase over time. 

Can a Bailiff Come to My House for Catalogue Debt? What can Bailiffs Take? 

A catalogue debt is a non-priority debt. This means that you should not prioritise it over your basic payments such as living costs and utility bills. 

Catalogue companies do not have the authority to send bailiffs to your home if you have been unable to make payments lately. 

If you start missing payments, then the catalogue company will contact you in regards to why that is. If you are unable to pay them then your account will default and further action may be taken against you. 

There is a chance that the catalogue company may hire a debt collection agency to collect their debt from you. You may get phone calls from a debt collector but you must keep in mind that debt collection agents don’t have any extra-legal powers. 

A debt collector is not allowed entry into your home unless you invite them in. They are also not allowed to take any of your possessions in order to pay for your debt. They can only inquire about your debt and ask you about the status of your payments towards your creditor. 

It’s important for you to know that unlike other types of agreements such as Hire Purchase, you do not have to return the item to the company if you start falling behind on your payments. 

If you still refuse to make your payments then the catalogue company may take court action against you in the form of a County Court Judgment (CCJ). If the CCJ passes, you will be obligated to make payments to the catalogue company until your debt is paid. 

If you fail to make payment to your CCJ, then the court could send bailiffs to your house. Keep in mind that the decision and authority to send bailiffs to your house lies with the court, not the catalogue company. 

Bailiffs are not allowed to take items that don’t belong to you. They are also not allowed to take pets or items that you need in order to make a living or for your studies. They also cannot take items that you need for domestic purposes such as kitchen appliances, a washing machine, etc. 

If they happen to take any of these items and you feel that they took something they did not have the right to seize, you can lodge a complaint and get your goods back. 

bailiff court

My Catalogue Debt Isn’t Going Down. Why is This? 

It’s a good idea to keep making regular payments towards your catalogue debt each month. You’ll definitely be asked to make a minimum payment each month but it’s not a good idea to keep making minimum payments for an extended period of time.

This is because if you keep making minimum payments, it’s likely that they will not cover the interest on your debt. Remember that catalogue debts usually have a considerably high interest rate.

Thus, if you keep making minimum payments, your debt might keep increasing to the point where it becomes completely unmanageable for you. Not only that but you’re also at risk of being in ‘persistent debt’. 

Persistent Debt and Catalogue Debt Repayments 

As mentioned earlier, if you keep making minimum payments, you will never be able to pay off your debt completely. This is known as persistent debt.

If you’ve been making minimum payments for a while, the catalogue company may send you a letter informing you of this and they might ask you to increase your payments. 

If this isn’t manageable for you and you need help, then I suggest you contact a UK registered charity such as Stepchange for debt advice. . They have experts who will analyse your financial situation and give you debt advice as to how to move forward. 

After 18 months of making minimum payments, you will have paid more towards interest and charges than you will have towards your actual balance. Your catalogue company will contact you and encourage you to take action. 

If your account is still in persistent debt after 27 months, you will be contacted by your catalogue company again. Once again, they will encourage you to take action. 

They may hire debt collectors as well even if you’ve been making minimum payments as they may be dissatisfied with the amount you’ve been paying. 

If you’ve been in persistent debt for 36 months, the catalogue company should figure out a way to help you pay off your debt. This could be in the form of an affordable payment plan or by you clearing your debt using your credit card or a loan. 

If you can’t pay your catalogue company using these methods, then they will consider options such as freezing interest or reducing the minimum payment on your account. 

Keep in mind, however, that this may cause them to suspend your account. Not only that but it will be mentioned in your credit file and will definitely have a severe impact on your credit score. 

If you’re having trouble getting out of persistent debt, I highly suggest you seek help from a professional such as from an independent debt charity. Examples of independent debt charities currently operating in the UK include National Debtline and StepChange.

Can I Cancel Catalogue Purchases? 

When you purchase an item from a catalogue company and it arrives, you should first make sure that it’s definitely something you want/need. 

You have up to 14 days to cancel the order after you’ve received the item. This could be if the product is not satisfactory, if you’re having second thoughts about it or if you’ve realised that you can’t really afford it. 

You may have to cover the postage costs in order to send the item back to the catalogue company but this will be a lot cheaper than staying in debt and paying back an item you don’t want or need. 

If you’re having second thoughts about an item and feel that you can’t really afford it, I suggest that you think about whether you really need it. If you need it for your job or your studies, then I suggest you seek advice from a professional. 

They can help you determine whether you’ll be able to realistically pay off the debt or not. Not only that but they can also give you advice in regards to what the best payment plan should be for you considering your financial situation. 


Mail order catalogues often provide an attractive option to buy expensive items which you may have not been able to pay for otherwise. 

However, it’s very important that you be wary of catalogue debts as they have very high interest rates and paying them back can become a nightmare. 

Consider very carefully about whether you’ll be able to afford to pay back such a debt before you enter into any kind of agreement.

Finally, keep in mind that catalogue company debts are non-priority debts like credit card debts, etc. and you should treat them as such. Always pay household bills and other priority debts such as rent arrears first before thinking about non-priority debts.


Schedule 12, Tribunals, Courts and Enforcements Act, 2007

Part 1, Regulation 10, Certification of enforcement agents, 2014.

Gov.uk, CPR – Rules and Directions, 2018.

About the author

Scott Nelson

Scott Nelson is a financial services expert, with over 10 years’ experience in the industry, including 6 years in FCA regulated companies. Read more
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