Episode 7 The Sheriffs Are Coming


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Episode 7

Series following high court enforcement officers. Sheriffs Rob and Gerald help a couple who paid £7,000 up front to have a new bathroom fitted but never received it.


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Transcript


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-Meet the sheriffs.

-My colleague and I are enforcement agents.

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Here with a High Court Order today.

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They work for the High Courts and if the judge says you're owed money,

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it's the sheriff's job to go and get it.

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Hey, all the keys!

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I'm going to be calling a locksmith.

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They can demand payment on the spot...

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What can you pay us now?

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-You're going to get the cash, are you?

-Are you paying the bill?

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..or remove assets instead.

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-You got 30 minutes to make the payment.

-I'm going to start removing stuff from the building.

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You have a week to pay in full before it gets sold at auction.

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Obstructing their work can be a criminal offence.

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I wouldn't do that if I were you.

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Don't lie to me.

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-No messages.

-Every year, sheriffs in England and Wales recover unpaid debts

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totalling more than £80 million.

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Coming up... Ian and Valerie paid thousands of pounds for a new bathroom,

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but the work was never done.

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We just fell into the trap that we trusted him.

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Rob and Gerald track down the man responsible and tell him it's finally

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time to pay up.

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Tell her I will get that, I promise.

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Yeah, but you're going to have to get that now.

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Georgiana started a new job, but wasn't paid for months on end.

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They owed me five months of my salary, I said enough is enough.

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It's down to Billy to get what she's owed.

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If you pay that now,

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that's as high as it's going to go

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and that's going to be the matter resolved.

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And when they visit a shop with a debt,

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everyone's counting on the sheriffs.

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We got 555.

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Yup. And here I've got 510.

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This morning, High Court enforcement agents Rob Foster and Gerald Anderson

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are on their way to a residential address in Kent.

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Looking for a Mr Adrian Hayes who's in debt of just over £3,500.

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It looks like he's a builder.

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Rob knows from experience that enforcements are often more difficult at

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residential rather than commercial premises.

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Today hinges on finding enough assets to cover the debt.

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All we can hope on this occasion is that the defendant does have a vehicle

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of sufficient value or tools of sufficient value

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or even a garage next to his property full of building equipment.

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That would be our hope in order to get this matter rectified.

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Schoolteacher Valerie Selby first came across Mr Hayes when she and her

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husband Ian decided they needed some work doing on their home.

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We were looking for somebody to do our bathroom, shower room and toilet.

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I'd had a few leaks in the shower room upstairs

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which I repaired a couple of times. It needed completely doing properly.

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Ian and Valerie decided to get someone in to start the work as quickly as

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-possible.

-Timescale, we wanted it done... This was October,

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we wanted it done by Christmas.

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A family friend had just had a new bathroom fitted and Ian and Valerie

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were impressed when they saw photos of the work.

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They contacted the fitter,

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a Mr Adrian Hayes, and he came round to quote for the job.

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Total price, £8,145.

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It sounded fair enough to me.

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Bearing in mind he was recommended by a family friend and we'd seen

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his work, it all seemed a good deal, you know?

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He was a really friendly person, so seemed trustworthy.

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I contacted him again for him to come round and we'll give him...

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..a deposit as long as he could guarantee to us

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that he could do the job by Christmas.

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Mr Hayes told the Selbys if they wanted the work doing quickly,

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he'd need 7,000 of £8,000 paid up front.

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Both me and my husband thought it was quite excessive what he'd asked us

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for, but I think because our friend had been really happy with the work

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that he had done,

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we were sort of swayed to go with him.

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They took out a bank loan to cover the cost of the job and paid Mr Hayes

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the £7,000 he'd asked for.

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They expected work to start promptly, but it didn't.

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For weeks and weeks, we didn't hear anything.

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We were contacting him via e-mail, via text, via phone call.

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This just went on and on. Sometimes he'd answer the phone,

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sometimes he wouldn't. It was always one excuse after another.

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"I got too much work on at the moment, I can't start it yet",

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"When can you start it?"

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"When I know, you'll know..."

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They were the sort of answers we were getting.

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The Christmas deadline came and went.

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We were really disappointed that we weren't going to have our new

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bathrooms, but we didn't really know what to do or where to go.

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We were lost.

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Then they received a recorded delivery letter from Mr Hayes.

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About February, he sent us a letter apologising for the holdup,

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making lots of excuses, saying that he had other work on.

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By this stage, the Selbys had almost given up on Mr Hayes,

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but what happened next came as a complete surprise.

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One day, a lorry turned up outside

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with a pallet-load of bathroom goods.

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When it arrived, I thought to myself,

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"Well, at least we're starting to get somewhere."

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But any hopes were quickly dashed.

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Mr Hayes wrote again,

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this time saying he was considering closing down his business.

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It was the final straw.

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Somebody takes your money and then gives you nothing in return, um...

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-it's really stressful.

-It's just constantly going through your mind,

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"He's walked away with hard-earned money for nothing."

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Ian and Valerie decided to keep the fittings and get the job

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done by someone else.

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So they wrote to Mr Hayes, demanding their deposit back,

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minus the £3,000 he'd paid out for the fittings.

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We're not stupid. We do know that you shouldn't give over that much

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money. We just desperately wanted it done.

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We just fell into the trap that we

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trusted him, and we shouldn't have.

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Mr Hayes didn't give them their money back, so they took the matter

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to the courts, and a judgment was made in their favour.

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Mr Hayes was ordered to pay them back at the rate of £200 a month.

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The first few payments came through, but then they stopped.

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The County Court bailiffs pursued the debt.

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The bailiffs went back again and again and again, and he was never

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in. On one occasion, they did actually find him. He told them

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that he had paid us back the money in full...

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which he hadn't.

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The Selbys have now transferred the case to the High Court and called in

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-the sheriffs.

-The sheriffs are our last hope of getting our money back,

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really.

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We've tried everything else,

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nothing's succeeded, so we've, yeah,

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gone with the sheriffs.

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The amount owed today,

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including fees, is £3,638.

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Rob and Gerald are about to pay Adrian Hayes a visit.

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By now he's had the Selbys' deposit for more than two years, and Gerald

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is determined to get their money back.

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I do feel for them about this.

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I will be going all-out today to see if I can rectify this for the

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-claimant.

-The difficulty is going to be finding assets of sufficient

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value that Mr Hayes doesn't want to lose.

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As they approach, Gerald spots a van parked outside the debtor's home.

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There is an asset on the drive, there's a van on the drive.

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'04 plate, probably only worth

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in the hundreds and not the thousands.

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Removing the van won't come close to clearing the debt.

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The sheriffs are expecting this to be a difficult enforcement.

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-Hello.

-Hello, sir. Is it Mr Adrian Hayes?

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-Speaking.

-Hello, Mr Hayes, my name's Mr Anderson.

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Gerald explains that they're here to collect the money owed to Mr and Mrs

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-Selby.

-That's been paid, Selby. This has been going on and on for weeks.

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Gerald has no record of the debt

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being paid and will need to see evidence.

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You prove to me that it's been paid and I'll walk away from here, but at

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the moment, as far as we are

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concerned, you've got a debt of 3,638.96.

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-That's been paid.

-Mr Hayes disappears inside to find the proof

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the sheriffs need. Because it's a residential address,

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the sheriffs can't force entry, but

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they can enter peaceably if there's a door left open.

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-Just bear with me two seconds.

-Yup, yup, no problem at all.

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Mr Hayes goes to his office, which is in the back garden, in search of

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paperwork. Rob and Gerald take the opportunity to size up any assets.

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I can see tool boxes. Do you want me to go down and have a look?

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-Yeah, crack on, yeah.

-Yeah, I'll go and have a look.

-ROB HUMS A MELODY

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-I'll wait here.

-Yeah, no worries.

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Rob goes to join Mr Hayes in his office.

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We have gained peaceful entry.

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He's gone down the back garden there,

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to look at some types of paperwork.

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He's got a shed at the back garden which seems to be an office of some

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kind. Rob has gone down there now and gained entry into there as well.

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Mr Hayes tells Rob he gave the money

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to a financial advisor called John, and instructed him to contact the

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County Court and settle the debt.

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Rob calls the court to check out his story.

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Got a warrant number here.

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The court confirms it has received two cheques -

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one of them worth £1,500 has cleared,

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-but the other has bounced...

-Ah, right, OK.

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..which means Mr Hayes still owes Mr and Mrs Selby more than £2,000.

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Right, OK, well, we'll continue at the moment.

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-Thank you, bye-bye.

-But Mr Hayes doesn't want to give the sheriffs

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any money at all. He says he's already given the money to John,

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so the debt should've been cleared.

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I've already paid it.

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I'm asking these sheriffs if they can, can they go away and I'll go

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and go and sort this John out.

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But the sheriffs aren't going anywhere.

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If need be, they'll start removing what assets there are, and that

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includes the van parked outside.

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I've taken, now, the van key off the bunch of keys.

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I'll keep hold of that for safekeeping, just in case I've got to

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-remove this vehicle.

-Back inside,

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Rob's on the phone to Mrs Selby, letting her know that some of the

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money she's owed has been paid to the County Court.

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She'll be getting that money in the next few days.

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I have spoken to the County Court,

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and they've confirmed there is £1,500 cleared payment due

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to come out. I'm happy it's there,

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the County Court have confirmed as such, so I'm happy with that as long

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as you're happy with that.

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Please, Mrs Selby, I've... I paid this in April.

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-Right, I...I can't hear...

-I paid this all in April.

-I can't

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hear what the claimant's saying if you're shouting, all right?

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Mrs Selby says she's happy to deduct £1,500 from the amount on

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the writ, but she still

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wants the rest of the money she's owed - a total of more than £2,000.

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Yeah, I think the remainder of it is the cheque that didn't clear,

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it's the one that bounced. Yeah, I'll get that, tell her I will get

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-that, I promise.

-Yeah, but you're going to have to get that now.

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The penny is finally starting to drop.

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It doesn't matter how many times he blames his financial advisor, John,

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Mr Hayes will have to clear the outstanding balance today.

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Brilliant. We'll give you an update later. All right, thank you,

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bye-bye. Bye-bye.

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Gerald does the maths and tells Mr Hayes exactly how much he needs

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to find.

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We're enforcing today for 3638.92 at enforcement stage one.

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I'm happy enough to deduct £1,500 off that, because we know it's sat

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there waiting, and enforce for you for 2,138.92.

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If you can make payment of that in the next 15, 20 minutes,

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we're finished. If not,

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that will then go up to the next stage and than the next stage.

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That needs to be sorted out now as the claimant has said. If not,

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they're happy that they want to enforce, because there's been long enough given.

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I've got no choice, otherwise you're going to take stuff.

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I'm going to pay this 2,100 now, I'll pay it now.

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-Yeah?

-I'm going to have to pay anyway.

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And I'll go and get my money off him.

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He'll go and get his card machine and we'll just get it paid.

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It looks like they're about to get payment in full - a total of £2,138.

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He now does realise he has got to sort it.

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After much persuasion, he's now decided to make payment in full by

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debit cards, so I'm just about to go in now with my PDQ and receive it.

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Mr Hayes is still blaming his financial advisor, John, for not

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clearing the debt. He says he's not going to let him get away with it.

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I'm not happy.

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I'm not happy at all.

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I'll go and see him now.

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He's going to have to give me this money,

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otherwise there's going to be a murder in Welling.

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Unfortunately, we have to take comments like that seriously.

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-Can I just confirm that you are joking?

-I am joking.

-Right, OK,

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that's fine, just need to confirm.

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Mr Hayes's grievance with his financial advisor is no concern of

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the sheriffs. Their job is to execute the writ and get Mr and Mrs

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Selby the money they're owed.

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Put your PIN number in and then the green

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button, please.

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OK, that's gone through, Rob.

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Once he's paid up,

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Mr Hayes tells us he's had a change of career, which explains why he's

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so keen not to lose his van.

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I did kitchens and bathrooms, and I pulled away from it

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and I owed people money, you know,

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just got into trouble, and I've dealt with it now, but, well,

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I thought I'd dealt with it all. I'm a courier now, I deliver parcels.

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Bye, Mr Hayes. Thank you very much.

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Cheers, Mr Hayes. Thanks now. Ta-ra.

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As for Mr Hayes,

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he appears regretful, and says he took out a loan and paid it to his

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financial adviser with the intention of clearing his debts.

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I'm not a crook, I don't want to rob people, so I wanted to give them

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their money back. So we got advised to go and see this guy,

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and he sorted out a bridging loan to handle my affairs, which he

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obviously hasn't done. But I'll do what I have to do...

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John, I'll deal with John.

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It's been a complex case, but the sheriffs have secured the

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-outstanding balance.

-All in all,

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this seemed to be a dead case asset-wise.

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Payment in full, very good.

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Ian and Valerie Selby will now

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finally get the money they've been owed for more than two years.

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I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe that we got the money.

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What a relief

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for it finally to be over.

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They did a marvellous job, really pleased with the sheriffs.

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-Yeah.

-Well worth the money that we paid out.

-Absolutely.

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Using the County Courts to try and recover money you're owed isn't

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difficult. 1.5 million money claims are paid every year in

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England and Wales, involving anything from faulty goods or poor

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workmanship, to unpaid invoices.

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Claims can be filed online or by post for a small fee.

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Both parties in the case will be asked to submit evidence, and you

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may have to attend a court hearing. If you're successful,

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a County Court judgment, or CCJ, will be issued against the debtor.

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If they still don't pay, that's when you call the sheriffs.

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-Stonehenge.

-It's nearly 3pm, and Rob and Gerald are on their way to

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Somerset, heading to a Polish grocer and deli.

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Today we're down in Yeovil,

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looking for a company called Maron-Shop Ltd.

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It's a tribunal case.

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At the moment we're looking for around about £1,300.

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Gerald's expecting the shop to have some valuable stock.

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Asset-wise, you're going to the dry goods and the normal shop goods,

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but the things of value will be the spirits, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.

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So I would hope that the assets would cover this debt if it went

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that way.

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The debt is owed to a woman who worked at the shop.

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When her employment ended,

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she wasn't paid her outstanding holiday allowance.

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She won her case, but the shop didn't pay up.

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Today, Rob and Gerald have a writ for the £1,316 she's owed.

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I believe it's that shop there, the one with the yellow writing on it.

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As they head in to introduce themselves,

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Gerald notices the debtors have their name printed above the door.

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Looking for the Maron-Shop Ltd.

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We've got a High Court writ for an outstanding balance owed to an

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ex-employee. There's my identification.

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Is the director about? Mr Rondos, isn't it?

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-He's in Poland, yeah?

-Is he?

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The woman says Mr Rondos lives in Poland

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and hasn't been at the shop for ten days.

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But this is the company's registered address, and regardless of where he

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lives, it's the director's responsibility to read what the

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-court sends out.

-Can you get hold of him on the phone?

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That's the balance - £1,316.23.

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He has to pay that today or we'll remove goods, OK?

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I'm going to have a little mosey and see what sort of stock's here.

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Rob and Gerald are reluctant to

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remove perishable goods like these sausages, but there are plenty of

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items here to clear the debt, including the spirits

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they were hoping for.

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With so much stock available,

0:17:390:17:41

the sheriffs aren't going to accept anything less than full payment.

0:17:410:17:44

The boss is on the phone, and he says the debt is nothing to do with

0:17:450:17:49

Maron-Shop Ltd.

0:17:490:17:50

He says the woman worked for a company called Arabat, which used

0:17:500:17:54

to trade from this address.

0:17:540:17:57

Right. Tell him I'm aware that Arabat is a dissolved company.

0:17:570:18:01

Dissolved 20th of June 2017...

0:18:010:18:04

-Yep.

-..Arabat did.

0:18:040:18:07

Maron-Shop Ltd is the name on the writ, and that's the company

0:18:070:18:10

responsible for paying the debt.

0:18:100:18:13

But the boss is refusing to pay, and that's about to cost him.

0:18:130:18:17

It's now going up a stage, all right?

0:18:170:18:20

We've asked him a simple question, to pay it, and he saying that it's a

0:18:200:18:23

different company. It's not, all right? So it's now going up to the

0:18:230:18:26

next stage, so it's now 1,910.

0:18:260:18:30

No, no, I know, but the problem is we're against Maron-Shop Ltd,

0:18:350:18:38

-which are the ones that are trading here.

-Mr Rondos,

0:18:380:18:42

the director of Maron-Shop Ltd, was also a director of the dissolved

0:18:420:18:45

company, Arabat Limited.

0:18:450:18:47

There's a certificate showing that he's still the licensee of the

0:18:470:18:50

-premises.

-All the paperwork there proves that the company we're

0:18:500:18:54

pursuing are the companies trading from here.

0:18:540:18:56

Whatever the boss says,

0:18:560:18:58

Rob knows he's in the right place, and he's getting on with the job.

0:18:580:19:02

Actually, now I'm going to have a look in the tills.

0:19:020:19:05

Sheriffs have the power to open shop tills and seize their contents.

0:19:050:19:10

20, 40, 60, 80...

0:19:110:19:14

Two, 250. Make a note of that, please.

0:19:140:19:18

At that moment, a man arrives.

0:19:180:19:20

He heads straight to the back of the shop and then to the front door.

0:19:200:19:24

-Don't lock the door.

-If you want to keep customers out,

0:19:260:19:29

no problem, but leave the key in, OK?

0:19:290:19:31

-Otherwise I feel like I'm being locked in. Thank you.

-HE LAUGHS

0:19:310:19:35

Their exit route secured, Rob's back on the hunt behind the counter,

0:19:350:19:39

and he's found a woman's clutch bag.

0:19:390:19:42

Is that yours? OK, can you do me a favour and just open it?

0:19:420:19:45

Just to show it's not company cash in there.

0:19:450:19:48

It is, is it?

0:19:490:19:52

There's 250 there, all right?

0:19:520:19:54

There's some interesting paperwork in the bag.

0:19:540:19:57

There's HM revenues letters in the name of Maron-Shop Ltd.

0:19:570:20:00

-Till receipts.

-It's all Maron-Shop.

0:20:000:20:03

There's also a lot more cash.

0:20:030:20:06

Rob and Gerald split it between them and start counting.

0:20:060:20:09

-I've got 555.

-Yeah.

0:20:120:20:14

And here I've got 510, and 250 there.

0:20:140:20:18

That gives us a total of 1,315.

0:20:180:20:22

It's only a pound short of what they were initially looking for, but

0:20:220:20:26

since then, the director has talked himself into a stage two fee, and

0:20:260:20:30

-now the bill has gone up.

-Is there any more cash on the premises?

0:20:300:20:34

Otherwise we've got to remove stock.

0:20:340:20:37

Rob would much rather get the remainder paid then add further fees

0:20:370:20:40

by taking the job to the removal stage.

0:20:400:20:44

Do you want to phone him again?

0:20:440:20:46

That's it now, £594,

0:20:460:20:47

that's all he needs to pay. Even if he's in Poland,

0:20:470:20:50

we can send him a link to his phone and he can just make the payment.

0:20:500:20:54

But Rob never gets to speak to Mr Rondos himself.

0:20:540:20:57

Instead, the director arranges with the manager that she'll pay the

0:20:570:21:00

balance on his behalf.

0:21:000:21:02

You're paying by card.

0:21:040:21:06

If you could put your PIN number in and then the green button, please.

0:21:060:21:09

And I will give you a receipt now for the cash.

0:21:100:21:13

And with that, the sheriffs' job is done.

0:21:130:21:16

-Thanks, sir. Cheers. Bye-bye.

-Thank you. Ta-ra.

0:21:160:21:20

All in all, very good results - in, dealt with,

0:21:200:21:24

quite an easy one as there were assets there that would have covered

0:21:240:21:27

the debts, but obviously we didn't want to remove,

0:21:270:21:30

that would have escalated it even more. A cash payment was received

0:21:300:21:33

and the debt has been paid in full. It's now complete.

0:21:330:21:36

The director ended up paying in full, and costing himself an extra

0:21:360:21:41

£594 because of his initial refusal to pay.

0:21:410:21:45

High Court enforcement agent Billy Evans is in Harrow,

0:21:520:21:56

Northwest London.

0:21:560:21:58

We're off to see a PHC Care Home Ltd.

0:21:580:22:01

Had a little Google search and the address looks like it's going to be

0:22:010:22:04

a shop front, but obviously, given the name, it sounds like it's going

0:22:040:22:07

to be a carer service delivered to people's homes,

0:22:070:22:11

so not 100% sure what to expect here.

0:22:110:22:15

Might be a couple of computers,

0:22:150:22:17

possibly cars if they've got any parking,

0:22:170:22:19

but I don't think it's a care home as such, but we shall see what we

0:22:190:22:23

can find when we get there.

0:22:230:22:26

Billy is in pursuit of a debt owed to a former PHC employee.

0:22:260:22:30

Georgiana Bana arrived in the UK from Romania, hoping to embark on a

0:22:330:22:38

new career and a new life with her boyfriend Adrian.

0:22:380:22:43

When I came, I searched for jobs.

0:22:430:22:46

I was hoping to find a job in the finance, because I have a degree and

0:22:460:22:51

I have a Masters in finance and economic science.

0:22:510:22:56

She couldn't get the job she was looking for.

0:22:560:22:58

But rather than do nothing, within a few weeks of arriving in the UK,

0:22:580:23:02

she started working for PHC Home Care -

0:23:020:23:05

an agency providing care for the elderly.

0:23:050:23:08

I worked as a carer first, then after two weeks,

0:23:080:23:13

I started working in their office doing administrations,

0:23:130:23:16

and everything was all right at the beginning.

0:23:160:23:20

Georgiana enjoyed the caring side of the job,

0:23:200:23:23

but her real interest lay in other areas.

0:23:230:23:26

Helping people, I felt...

0:23:260:23:28

I felt very good, but my ambition

0:23:280:23:32

was to get in the finance.

0:23:320:23:34

They said to me, "We will have a big business, we will have shares,

0:23:340:23:39

"I will give you 40% of my shares,

0:23:390:23:42

"you will be a financial director."

0:23:420:23:45

All these promises make me have trust in them.

0:23:450:23:49

Georgiana worked hard, hoping to make a good impression.

0:23:490:23:53

I was very busy from the morning up until the evening,

0:23:530:23:57

doing both jobs.

0:23:570:23:59

Usually I start at seven o'clock in the morning and finish about ten

0:23:590:24:03

o'clock in the evening.

0:24:030:24:05

So...that were really long hours,

0:24:050:24:09

and obviously my salary was the minimum wage.

0:24:090:24:13

At first she was paid regularly, at the end of every month,

0:24:130:24:17

but as time went on, that started to change.

0:24:170:24:21

I believed and they disappointed me.

0:24:210:24:23

We were getting paid late, we were getting paid in instalments.

0:24:230:24:27

I was very stressed at that time.

0:24:270:24:30

Without any money, you cannot go forward.

0:24:300:24:33

So I was very lucky with my boyfriend,

0:24:360:24:38

because he helped me to survive.

0:24:380:24:40

He helped me to survive and to have food and everything you need in your

0:24:400:24:44

life to... Because, without any money, obviously we were struggling.

0:24:440:24:49

She decided to cut back her hours and work part-time, and she started

0:24:490:24:53

looking for another job.

0:24:530:24:55

That period, I was feeling very ill,

0:24:550:24:58

all these things affected me in many ways.

0:24:580:25:02

For five months, she didn't get paid at all.

0:25:020:25:05

It put a strain on her finances and her relationship.

0:25:050:25:09

I had arguments with my boyfriend because...

0:25:090:25:12

"Why you don't do anything about that? Why you are still working

0:25:120:25:15

there? Why you don't leave?" He told me from the beginning,

0:25:150:25:19

"This is not right," and I did not want to listen.

0:25:190:25:22

I just believed in them and helped them to have their business.

0:25:220:25:27

After five months, promising me they will pay me, "Please bear with us,

0:25:270:25:31

"I will pay you, next week, next week, next week and the next week,"

0:25:310:25:36

and they still haven't paid me.

0:25:360:25:38

My final message to him was, "If you don't pay me today in full,

0:25:380:25:42

"all my money, I will leave."

0:25:420:25:45

Despite the ultimatum,

0:25:450:25:47

Georgiana still didn't get the money she was due.

0:25:470:25:49

They owe me five months of my salary.

0:25:490:25:53

I said. "Enough is enough," and I just left, I just left.

0:25:530:25:58

She got a new job working in payroll in office management, and

0:25:590:26:03

reluctantly took her former employer to court.

0:26:030:26:06

I've got my judgment

0:26:060:26:09

and still no money, so I waited and waited.

0:26:090:26:14

I didn't know what to do any more.

0:26:140:26:16

I'm really desperate.

0:26:160:26:18

It's like no-one can get back my money.

0:26:180:26:21

In a final attempt to get her unpaid wages,

0:26:210:26:24

Georgiana has called in the sheriffs.

0:26:240:26:27

They are my last hope, to be honest.

0:26:270:26:30

I don't want to do any more.

0:26:300:26:32

The amount owed today, including fees, is £1,774.

0:26:320:26:38

It's now up to Billy to try and get Georgiana the money she's owed.

0:26:390:26:44

He's in Harrow and about to arrive at PHC Home Care.

0:26:440:26:48

Right, so it's apparently up here on the right-hand side.

0:26:500:26:54

The address on the writ is Systems House.

0:26:540:26:58

-System House. It's an empty shop.

-HE CHUCKLES

0:26:580:27:01

At first glance, it looks deserted.

0:27:010:27:05

I've got 20/20 vision,

0:27:050:27:07

and I can't see anything in the windows, but as I get

0:27:070:27:10

closer, it may surprise me, may be different, but

0:27:100:27:12

we'll go and have a look.

0:27:120:27:15

Billy's concerned this could be a wasted journey.

0:27:150:27:18

Hang on, it's open. PHC Home Care.

0:27:200:27:23

Wow! Well, what that's a shock. I thought I had 20/20 vision.

0:27:230:27:27

It appears I don't. See, it looks like it's got PHC Home Care in

0:27:270:27:30

it, so we'll go and see what we can do.

0:27:300:27:32

-Hello there, sir.

-Hi, hi.

-Hiya. I'm a High Court enforcement agent.

0:27:390:27:42

It's this gentleman? Perfect.

0:27:450:27:47

The man on the phone is company director Eric A-Kum.

0:27:470:27:51

Hello, sir, how are you doing? I'm a High Court enforcement agent.

0:27:510:27:54

I've got a High Court writ here against PHC Home Care Ltd.

0:27:540:27:57

Okey-doke.

0:28:000:28:02

Billy is shown downstairs to a more private area.

0:28:020:28:04

He tells Mr A-Kum that he's enforcing a writ in favour of

0:28:070:28:11

-Georgiana Bana.

-So, at the moment, the balance is 1,774.75.

0:28:110:28:17

-Mm-hm.

-If you pay that now, that's as high as it's going to go,

0:28:170:28:21

-and that's going to be the matter resolved.

-Yeah, and what...

0:28:210:28:26

Sorry, and if it escalates?

0:28:260:28:28

So, if that's not paid within, sort of 15,

0:28:280:28:31

20 minutes, it will go up to that amount, and if that's still not paid

0:28:310:28:35

because you're refusing to make that payment, it will then go to £3,000

0:28:350:28:39

and we'll have to start unplugging assets and removing them.

0:28:390:28:42

-Mm-hmm. One moment, just bear with me.

-Yep, no worries.

0:28:420:28:46

Mr A-Kum leaves the room, and a minute later he returns, clutching

0:28:460:28:49

his wallet.

0:28:490:28:51

It looks as if he's going to make payment in full.

0:28:510:28:54

-Are you paying by card?

-Yep.

-Right, OK.

0:28:560:28:59

We'll do it on our website. We have a payment line on our website which

0:28:590:29:02

basically just works as the transaction.

0:29:020:29:04

While he's putting in the case details,

0:29:040:29:07

Billy tries to engage Mr A-Kum in conversation.

0:29:070:29:10

What's the nature of the business? Are you carers?

0:29:100:29:13

-It's home care, yeah.

-Right, home care. Right, okey-doke.

0:29:130:29:17

Right, so if you can fill out these details here.

0:29:170:29:20

Small talk over,

0:29:200:29:21

Mr A-Kum puts in his card details and completes the payment process.

0:29:210:29:26

Right, OK, I'll just write down your reference.

0:29:260:29:28

That's gone through fine.

0:29:280:29:30

OK, sir, so that's the matter resolved.

0:29:300:29:33

Debt is now paid in full, so we shall leave you in peace, all right?

0:29:330:29:37

-OK.

-Thank you very much, sir. Thanks for your help.

0:29:370:29:40

With barely a word spoken,

0:29:420:29:44

the payment's gone through and the debt's been cleared.

0:29:440:29:47

Well, the gentleman wasn't very talkative,

0:29:470:29:49

didn't really want to know much about the case,

0:29:490:29:51

he just wanted to get this paid and get us gone.

0:29:510:29:54

So, yeah, it's another paid in full.

0:29:540:29:57

It's taken Billy just 15 minutes to get Georgiana the money she's

0:29:570:30:01

been owed for almost a year.

0:30:010:30:04

They were my only hope, and they have my money back.

0:30:040:30:08

Massive, massive thanks, Billy, for all your help and support and, yeah,

0:30:080:30:13

I'm very happy. Many thanks. Thank you very much.

0:30:130:30:16

When debtors can't pay on the spot...

0:30:250:30:28

-Are you going to pay the bill?

-What do you mean, no?

0:30:280:30:31

..the sheriffs won't always remove assets.

0:30:310:30:33

Goods go for almost a fifth of their true value at auction, and it's

0:30:330:30:37

often better to agree a payment plan.

0:30:370:30:39

Do you reckon you can do 200 a week?

0:30:390:30:42

They'll make a list of assets...

0:30:420:30:44

That's a nice motor.

0:30:440:30:47

-Rice cookers.

-Seven wrist bracelets.

0:30:470:30:49

..and a controlled goods agreement is signed, making it an offence for

0:30:490:30:53

-anyone else to remove them.

-You sign it, I sign it.

0:30:530:30:57

The sheriffs will only return to take the goods if the debtor fails

0:30:570:31:01

-to make payments.

-I've signed him up to £1,000 a month.

0:31:010:31:04

Providing you stick to that, you won't hear from us again.

0:31:040:31:07

Enforcement agents John Farley and Tommy Coyle are in Hampshire,

0:31:110:31:15

with a High Court writ in hand, on their way to a car garage.

0:31:150:31:19

Early morning in Southampton, heading to AM Mechanical.

0:31:190:31:24

Outstanding balance we're looking for today is around £2,000.

0:31:240:31:29

The debt relates to work AM Mechanical did on a customer's

0:31:290:31:33

vehicle. The customer claimed a wheel bearing was poorly fitted and

0:31:330:31:37

caused £1,200 of further damage.

0:31:370:31:40

They took AM Mechanical to court, but the garage didn't attend.

0:31:400:31:44

Today, the amount owed is £1,907.

0:31:440:31:49

John's anticipating some valuable assets.

0:31:530:31:56

We're hoping to find maybe a couple of vehicles and things at this one.

0:31:560:32:01

They find the unit on an industrial estate.

0:32:010:32:04

AM Mechanical.

0:32:040:32:06

"Vehicle service and repair."

0:32:060:32:08

It's exactly what they were hoping for - an asset.

0:32:080:32:12

It's a sign-written vehicle worth more than the debt.

0:32:120:32:15

-He's got to pay this.

-Yeah.

0:32:150:32:18

Oh, I don't know if my clamp's big enough for that, you know.

0:32:180:32:21

Confident that if the debtor doesn't want to pay, they can remove the

0:32:210:32:24

vehicle to recover the debt, they head in.

0:32:240:32:27

Hello.

0:32:280:32:29

-All right?

-Hi there, mate. AM Mechanical?

0:32:300:32:33

That's you guys?

0:32:330:32:35

Here in relation to a High Court writ that's been issued.

0:32:360:32:40

You the owner or director?

0:32:410:32:43

-Can you get a hold of him?

-The mechanic calls Anthony Morris,

0:32:440:32:48

the director, and he says he'll come down to the unit.

0:32:480:32:50

Do you know how long he'll be?

0:32:500:32:52

That's ideal, thank you.

0:32:540:32:57

There's just time for a quick look around.

0:32:570:32:59

That's an expensive tool box there.

0:32:590:33:02

Also there was the pick-up on the way in,

0:33:020:33:05

so I might go and have a look at

0:33:050:33:07

that shortly. Depends how the conversation goes.

0:33:070:33:09

And that's not all -

0:33:090:33:11

there's a vehicle key in a box on the wall.

0:33:110:33:14

I'll put that in my pocket for now,

0:33:160:33:17

see what he wants to do when he gets here, cos if he

0:33:170:33:20

doesn't want to pay, it could be a possible asset that

0:33:200:33:22

I'll be taking control of.

0:33:220:33:24

Tommy is hoping it fits the branded vehicle they saw on the way in.

0:33:240:33:28

There's also a couple of valuable four-post vehicle lifts -

0:33:280:33:32

that's more than enough leverage to get payment in full, one way or

0:33:320:33:35

another.

0:33:350:33:38

15 minutes after they arrived, the company director turns up.

0:33:380:33:42

-Is that him out there now, mate, in the yellow car?

-Yes.

0:33:420:33:45

Yeah. Hi, how you doing?

0:33:450:33:47

Here collecting an outstanding judgment that's been issued.

0:33:470:33:50

-You're aware of it?

-Yeah, basically, the last I heard,

0:33:500:33:53

basically got a letter from your office.

0:33:530:33:55

-Yep.

-I've been going through County Court, trying to get a monthly

0:33:550:33:58

-payment sorted.

-Yep.

-It was meant to go in front of a judge.

0:33:580:34:01

-My court down here is basically useless.

-Yeah.

0:34:010:34:03

Ring them, ring them, "Yeah, we're going to get it up today,

0:34:030:34:05

it may not be back till..." "Look, I need, you know..."

0:34:050:34:08

-I know you guys are coming, I need to put it through.

-The courts can take their time sometimes, though.

0:34:080:34:12

Yeah, it's just everything that seems to be going wrong.

0:34:120:34:14

It's got to the point now where they've issued the writ, and the

0:34:140:34:17

writ tells us to come here and look at removing goods or collect the

0:34:170:34:20

-payment.

-How much is the writ now?

-It's 1907.

0:34:200:34:22

All right, I'll just pay it, I'm sick of it.

0:34:220:34:24

Mr Morris seems to want the debt cleared as much as the sheriffs,

0:34:240:34:27

but he can't make the payment online from the garage.

0:34:270:34:31

I would have to go to the bank for that, cos my bank only allow me to,

0:34:310:34:34

-if I haven't ever paid one before, they'll get me to transfer £250...

-How long would it take to do

0:34:340:34:38

-that now?

-I could run up to Shirley, which my bank's about ten minutes away from there.

0:34:380:34:41

-We'll do that. You know we'll have to stay on site here until it's completed.

-Yeah, yeah, no, it's not

0:34:410:34:46

-a problem, it's not a problem.

-Do you want to take that with you?

-If it is easier for you to get the

0:34:460:34:50

-cash, you can just get the cash as well.

-Cash is even better.

0:34:500:34:52

All right, I'll just go and get that.

0:34:520:34:55

The boss leaves, and true to his word, he's back within ten minutes.

0:34:550:34:59

He's clutching the one thing sheriffs like more than expensive

0:34:590:35:02

goods - an envelope stuffed with cash.

0:35:020:35:06

-You want me to have a count of that?

-Yeah, you have a count of it

0:35:060:35:09

and I'll get the receipt started.

0:35:090:35:12

Mr Morris takes £7.04 from his office to add to the £1,900 he's

0:35:120:35:17

already handed over.

0:35:170:35:20

-Five...

-Seven, four.

0:35:200:35:22

Excellent. Can I just get you to sign there for me and print there?

0:35:220:35:26

-Yeah.

-And with that, the debt is settled to the penny.

0:35:260:35:29

I'll give you this back as well - it's the key.

0:35:290:35:32

-Obviously we're here to seize assets so...

-Yeah, no, that's all right.

-All right. You never know how it's

0:35:320:35:36

-going to go.

-Thanks very much.

-Cheers, Anthony. You take care of yourself, mate.

0:35:360:35:39

Immediately said they wanted to pay,

0:35:390:35:42

didn't want to escalate any further than it needed to.

0:35:420:35:44

Went off and got the cash and paid in full.

0:35:440:35:47

-So, a good job.

-AM Mechanical might be £1,907 down,

0:35:470:35:52

but the director can be happy he's discharged the debt and dealt with

0:35:520:35:56

the sheriffs in the best way possible.

0:35:560:35:59

In South London,

0:36:080:36:10

Rob and Gerald are battling their way through the traffic.

0:36:100:36:13

Off to Croydon today, looking for London Borough of Croydon council.

0:36:130:36:18

They're owing just over £1,900.

0:36:180:36:22

The debt relates to unpaid legal costs.

0:36:220:36:25

The total amount owed today is £1,909.

0:36:250:36:29

Gerald has some experience of dealing with local government.

0:36:360:36:40

With councils,

0:36:400:36:41

what they do feel is that, "We'll do it, but we'll do it in our time."

0:36:410:36:46

"Yep, no problem at all.

0:36:460:36:48

"Leave us the paperwork and, in the next couple of days, we'll look at

0:36:480:36:51

"the paperwork to try to get it sorted out for you."

0:36:510:36:54

Well, in our job, that doesn't work. in our job, we're there now today,

0:36:540:36:57

today it needs to be sorted.

0:36:570:36:59

It's saying just don't here, so...

0:36:590:37:02

It's not hard to find the address on the writ.

0:37:020:37:05

-Well, there it is.

-Where?

-That big building in front of us.

0:37:050:37:09

-What, Bernard Weatherill?

-Yep.

-Very big building for the Council.

0:37:090:37:12

-Right, good to go.

-Let's go.

0:37:120:37:16

GERALD GROANS

0:37:160:37:18

As they make their way towards the

0:37:180:37:20

front entrance, they discuss strategy.

0:37:200:37:23

You Mr Nice today, or me Mr Nice?

0:37:250:37:27

-We'll see who they like.

-See who they like.

-Yeah.

0:37:270:37:30

-Well, they're bound to like me, then, aren't they?

-LAUGHTER

0:37:300:37:34

-Yeah.

-They head in and Gerald turns on the charm.

0:37:340:37:38

Hello. Some ID first.

0:37:380:37:40

My name's Mr Anderson.

0:37:400:37:42

I have a writ here...

0:37:420:37:44

to deal with, I'm afraid.

0:37:440:37:46

Legal and democratic services...

0:37:460:37:49

The receptionist makes a call.

0:37:490:37:53

Thank you very much.

0:37:530:37:55

As long as she comes down and sorts it, no problem at all.

0:37:550:37:58

If she starts stalling when she comes down,

0:37:580:38:01

whether there's security gates here or not,

0:38:010:38:04

we will gain entry and we will go up to whatever floor,

0:38:040:38:07

whatever level we need to go up to.

0:38:070:38:09

Looking at the sign there, it's... they're dealing on floors two to

0:38:090:38:13

seven. If it means us going through each one of them floors,

0:38:130:38:16

then we will.

0:38:160:38:18

Sheriffs have the power to force entry to commercial premises in

0:38:180:38:21

search of a debtor's goods.

0:38:210:38:23

But today, there's no need,

0:38:230:38:25

as three minutes later, someone arrives to speak to them.

0:38:250:38:29

-Hello.

-Hello.

-All right?

0:38:290:38:31

My name's Mr Anderson. I've got a writ here for an outstanding

0:38:310:38:33

-debt that needs to be sorted today.

-Can you tell me what it's regarding?

0:38:330:38:37

-Right, OK.

-Consent order, for costs?

-Yeah, I know about it, I do know about it.

0:38:400:38:44

It's been with our finance department. I'll take it upstairs and...

0:38:440:38:47

If you can ask your finance department to make a payment of the

0:38:470:38:50

-amount that I'm going to give you.

-Well, I can do my best, that's all I can do.

0:38:500:38:53

Well, if they don't, I'll be wandering around and then walking

0:38:530:38:56

-out with chairs, tables and everything else.

-Yeah, OK.

-I'll give you the paperwork.

0:38:560:39:00

-It's 9:25.

-Yeah.

0:39:000:39:02

As long as someone comes down to show me proof that everything's

0:39:020:39:05

-been paid by 9:45...

-Yeah.

-..then I won't go through here.

0:39:050:39:10

-OK.

-If it's not been...

-Might be a little bit longer than that,

0:39:100:39:13

cos I've got to find the person who's dealing with it.

0:39:130:39:17

-15 minutes, cos we are a huge organization.

-Well, a huge organisation should have had it

0:39:170:39:20

-sorted, then, shouldn't it really?

-I hear what you say, but...

0:39:200:39:23

-All right, I'll work with you. I'll give you till ten...

-Thank you very much.

-..as long as somebody comes

0:39:230:39:27

down and says, "There you go, there's proof that everything's

0:39:270:39:30

-"been paid into the correct account, I'll give you all the details now..."

-OK, all right.

-..then I'm

0:39:300:39:34

out of here. Obviously, come ten o'clock, if it's not, then I'll go wandering.

0:39:340:39:38

-OK, thank you very much.

-OK, cheers.

0:39:380:39:40

It sounds as if the Council knows about the debt, but for some

0:39:400:39:43

reason, the finance department haven't paid it.

0:39:430:39:46

Rob and Gerald can only wait to see whether the woman can get the matter

0:39:460:39:50

resolved in the half an hour they've given her.

0:39:500:39:53

I've given her a little bit of grace, bit of compassion,

0:39:530:39:56

we'll see where it goes from there.

0:39:560:39:58

Croydon Council's skyscraper opened in 2013,

0:40:000:40:04

and cost a reported £144 million.

0:40:040:40:08

Gerald and Rob haven't explored the internal winter garden or

0:40:080:40:12

been up to the roof terrace, but there's plenty to admire

0:40:120:40:14

in the lobby.

0:40:140:40:17

-It looks almost like a military badge there, Rob.

-It does. Nice little coat of arms.

0:40:170:40:21

-What's that underneath it? Is it Latin?

-That's Latin.

0:40:210:40:24

"Ad summa nitamur."

0:40:240:40:28

What does that mean?

0:40:280:40:29

I reckon, being the Council, it'll probably mean something like,

0:40:290:40:33

-"Strive for perfection."

-Yeah.

-LAUGHTER

0:40:330:40:37

Not bad, Gerald. It actually means, "We strive for the highest."

0:40:370:40:41

"Let's strive for perfection,

0:40:410:40:43

"which we haven't quite reached yet,

0:40:430:40:45

-"because we've got a writ against us."

-LAUGHTER

0:40:450:40:48

It may not be perfection, but Croydon Council is certainly doing

0:40:510:40:55

all it can to get its debt cleared.

0:40:550:40:57

It's 9:53, and the woman from legal is back just in time to

0:40:590:41:04

beat Gerald's deadline.

0:41:040:41:06

-Oh, there we are.

-Oh, here we go.

0:41:060:41:08

She's brought a colleague who she says will pay the bill.

0:41:080:41:12

OK.

0:41:120:41:14

Right.

0:41:170:41:18

Exactly what we want to see. There's been no fuss, no hassle.

0:41:190:41:22

Put your PIN number in, please, and then the green button.

0:41:220:41:25

I'm hoping, within the next sort of 20,

0:41:250:41:28

30 seconds, the debt will be settled and we'll be on our way.

0:41:280:41:31

No, it's declined.

0:41:310:41:33

You can do it on a number of cards.

0:41:360:41:38

-Yes, yeah. One receipt's easier, isn't it?

-Yeah.

0:41:390:41:43

As the Council try and find a way to pay the £1,909 they owe,

0:41:430:41:48

we're asked to leave the lobby by security.

0:41:480:41:50

We continue to film from outside.

0:41:520:41:54

Ten minutes later,

0:41:540:41:55

another council employee comes down to the lobby and makes the payment

0:41:550:41:59

across a couple of cards.

0:41:590:42:01

If you could put your PIN number in, please.

0:42:010:42:05

OK, that's gone through, and I will give you a receipt now.

0:42:050:42:08

It took a little longer than they'd have liked, but it's a job well done

0:42:090:42:13

for Rob and Gerald. They've got

0:42:130:42:15

their client the money they were rightfully owed.

0:42:150:42:18

-Sorted, aren't we?

-Yeah.

-Eh?

-Yep.

0:42:180:42:20

Not a bad little result.

0:42:200:42:22

-No, job done.

-And all done in an hour and a half.

0:42:220:42:26

-Yeah.

-Quite quick for a council.

-Yeah. There's you.

0:42:260:42:30

Yeah, that's you all right.

0:42:300:42:31

Oh, there's me, look. Top Cat.

0:42:330:42:36

-Yeah. That's who you would like to be, Top Cat.

-LAUGHTER

0:42:360:42:40

Afraid not, though. That's probably you there.

0:42:400:42:43

-Who's that? Popeye?

-Looks a lot more like you - no hair!

0:42:430:42:46

-Hmm.

-A very aggressive-looking Popeye.

0:42:460:42:48

Rob might have a point. GERALD GROANS

0:42:480:42:51

Croydon Council told us it processes thousands of invoices on time every

0:42:530:42:57

month. It accepts the payment was

0:42:570:42:59

due and settled the balance immediately.

0:42:590:43:03

The sheriffs help a couple who paid £7,000 up front to have a new bathroom fitted. They never got their bathroom, and when they asked for their money back they did not get that either. Now Rob and Gerald confront the builder and demand payment in full.

Elsewhere, a young woman started a new job but was not paid for months on end. Sheriff Billy visits her boss and demands the money she is owed. But will he get it? And the sheriffs call in at the plush offices of a local council, chasing a payment that is overdue.