Have you got a loan, store credit card, or catalogue debt with a retailer such as Littlewoods or Very? If your circumstances have changed, you’re probably getting letters from Shop Direct Finance Company about the debt.
It’s incredibly stressful receiving letters and phone calls from a finance company, and they are known for using intimidation to try and recover debt – whether you can afford it or not. If you’re wondering how to deal with Shop Direct Finance Company debt, this guide will give you everything you need to know.
Who are Shop Direct Group?
The Shop Direct Group is a firm owned by billionaires, the Barclay brothers. It includes many catalogue shops including Argos, Homebase, and Littlewoods. Recently, they have merged to form Very.
If you have ever taken out a loan or store credit with any of these companies and have fallen behind on payments, you’ll now have Shop Direct Finance Company debt.
They may also have purchased your debt from other retail firms and now legally you will owe them in the same way as a debt collection firm may purchase debt.
Are they legitimate?
The short answer is, yes. They are an integrated digital retailer with over 1900 brands. With a £2bn annual revenue and 4 million customers, you’re not alone in facing debt from this finance company.
The Shop Direct Group (or Very as it is now known) is the parent company that all these brands fall under.
Why are the Shop Direct Group Contacting Me?
You’ve probably received letters from Shop Direct Finance because you have credit with them or one of their retail partners. Most likely in the form of a catalogue credit that you’ve failed to make payments on.
If you don’t recognise the name Shop Direct Group, can you think of a retail store that you have a credit card with? Or perhaps you purchased items from a catalogue with a buy-now-pay-later scheme that you couldn’t afford? This is what these letters will be referring to.
Can I stop the Shop Direct Group Contacting Me?
Unfortunately, Shop Direct Finance has the right to try to contact you regarding debt. Initially, they’ll do this by phone or letter.
If they’re calling you too often or sending too many letters, you can get in contact with them and tell them your preferred contact method, whether this is by phone, mail etc.
Once you have informed them of this, they should only try to get in touch via this form of contact.
Can I Make a Complaint about the Shop Direct Group?
If you feel that the Shop Direct Group is harassing you over the debt you owe. then you should make a complaint.
This would now have to be done through Very (formally Shop Direct Finance):
Phone: 0844 292 1000
Post: Skyways House, Speke Road, Speke, Liverpool, L70 1AB
Should I Ignore Shop Direct Finance?
Ignoring correspondence from Shop Direct Finance won’t make them go away. What may actually happen is that after a while they will escalate the matter by sending agents and eventually take you to court.
Taking control of the situation is your best option. Begin by writing to the finance company to let them know you’ve received their debt claim and you’re looking into it. Make sure you make it clear you dispute the claims if you believe they are untrue.
At this point, do not admit to owing Shop Direct Finance anything – there are some checks you need to do first.
What Legal Action Can Shop Direct Finance Company Take Against Me?
You’ll first receive a slew of letters or phone calls. Sending regular letters is a common tactic used by finance firms to intimidate people into paying back the debt without question.
If they are unable to reach you in this way then there are several stages that they may take to try to contact you and get the debt repaid.
1. Send agents to your home or property
After failing to contact you the company may send their own agents to your home or property to try to make contact with you.
Even if they claim to be bailiffs, they are not and have no right to enter your property nor remove your assets. If you ask they must leave your property, so never invite them inside.
If you don’t want to answer the door to them, simply tell them to leave from a window or ignore them.
County Court Judgement
If they still cannot contact you regarding the debt then they will likely take you to court, but not until they’ve given you enough time to make attempts to pay the debt. If they take you to court there are several outcomes.
If granted, a County Court Judgement will compel you to pay the debt, otherwise the company can get a warrant for bailiffs to visit your home.
If this is the case the bailiffs do have the right to enter your property and seize assets.
Attachment of Earnings Order
Alternatively they may apply for an Attachment of Earnings order which will take money directly from your pay before you see it. This is only filed against those will a regular salaried job.
Can Shop Direct Finance Enter My Home to Take My Property?
If the company sends its own agents before taking you to court, they cannot enter your property nor can they remove any assets to settle the debt. They can only establish contact with you and must leave if asked to do so.
However, if the company is successful in taking out a County Court Judgement against you, then they are within their rights to send bailiffs to your property. Bailiffs do have the right to enter your property and remove assets to settle the debt.
They need to be granted a warrant to enter your property and they must give you two-weeks notice that bailiffs will be coming to your property.
Bailiffs cannot remove assets that would put you in further hardship. This includes cookers, fridges or a car that is used for work amongst others.
How Should I Respond to Shop Direct Finance Company?
Here are three steps to take after receiving a letter from Shop Direct Finance:
1. Ask for proof of the debt
Respond to the finance company, let them know you dispute the debt in question and require proof.
They should send you the original credit agreement that you signed when you took on the store credit card or catalogue order.
If they can’t provide you with this signed agreement, they have no proof and no legal recourse to recover the debt.
2. Check the debt is legitimate
While you’re waiting for them to send you proof, do your own due diligence to see if the debt is legitimate.
If you’re unsure, free credit check sites like Experian will be able to tell you if you have accounts with any of the Shop Direct Finance companies.
3. Check the statute barred status
Finally, if they can prove that the debt is yours, check to see if it is statute barred. In England creditors cannot chase debts more than six years old (in Scotland it is five years).
The clock will start ticking from the last payment made towards it or from written acknowledgement of the debt. If it’s close to the time limit do not acknowledge the debt in writing.
Should I Repay the Shop Direct Finance Company Debt?
If you are in a financial situation to pay off the debt then the quicker you can pay off the debt the quicker you can stop the phone calls and letters.
Not only this but by beginning to pay the debt you can limit the likelihood of the company taking you to court which can involve hefty fees.
But you should never agree to pay the debt if it will put you into further hardship. In the section below the alternatives are explained in more detail.
What if I Can’t Afford to Repay the Debt?
If you are financially unable to pay the debt then let the company know, they should give you some breathing space to work out how to proceed.
Affordable Repayment Plan
The best solution in this circumstance is to try to arrange a repayment plan with Shop Direct Finance to make monthly, affordable repayments of the debt.
If you have some money in the bank, you might also be able to negotiate a lowered final settlement.
If you can’t afford the monthly payments offered or a final settlement, an Individual Voluntary Agreement may be the best option.
This is an agreement whereby any debts will be consolidated together and then you will be required to pay an affordable monthly amount for a period of usually five years (this is at least £90 a month).
After this, any remaining debt will be written off which is often up to 60-90% of the original debt.
Need More Debt Management Options?
If you’re still unsure how to deal with your Shop Direct Finance Company debt and you want to explore more options, head to our full guide on getting out of debt.