i'm in a position where i can't keep up repayments on a card and the last couple of failed payments meant charges pushed it over its limit, making it very difficult to get back at the moment. i contacted a debt management agency, actually on the instruction of said credit card company, who gave me a big plan of how to sort out finances - send off monthly payment offers, defaulting on the card and paying the debt over a period of time. so after about a (very frustrating) month of dealing with the credit card company, who conveniently never received this offer, nor my second attempt (which was sent by registered post), and having to start afresh every single time i contacted them, it's eventually come down to them saying that, because i contacted the debt management agency, should i proceed with this plan, my account will be defaulted and, rather than paid directly to the credit card company over time, the whole amount will be demanded within a month, and failure to do this will result in it being passed on to a debt collector.
ringing the debt management people to find out more about this, they said this is pretty standard these days, that they don't often accept people's payment plan offers and just set the dogs on you straight away. when asked what i could expect from a debt recovery company, they pretty much said constant harassment, phonecalls at all times (to home and to work), e-mails, personal visits, and constant pressure to pay the full balance ASAP. they then said though, don't worry, you're legally protected, you just have to ignore the harassment which is unavoidable. obviously this is pretty scary and not what i'd want. the credit card company has offered a temporary plan, lasting six months, which effectively means, unless some kind of windfall comes in the next six months, i'll be back in this position by then (or will need to make damned sure i'm not - pls spare the financial lectures DiS) but in the meantime will be reasonably OK.
are debt recovery people as horrifying as they sound? i'm 90% sure i'm gonna go for the company's offer and stop the debt plan proceedings.
it does seem though that this debt management advice thing, set up by the government to help people in this situation, is pretty useless if credit card companies are going to do all they can to undermine it. you'd think there'd be a middle route where they could get their money, and you could pay it in a do-able way, without resorting to such aggressive tactics in getting blood out of a stone.
stupid credit card companies.