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Mar 28 2014

Harrow Council Tax Fiasco – Council Blames TNT Post

An iharrow.com exclusive.

Following an exclusive report by iharrow.com three days ago, around 24,000 residents are being given an extra ten days to pay their council tax following the late delivery of some letters. The council, three days ago, described only a “small number” of people being affected – the problem seems to be now over a quarter of bills sent out: hardly small.

Harrow Council has taken the action after it emerged a number of bills are arriving late following an administrative error by TNT, the company employed to deliver the letters.

The Council has written to 24,000 residents who pay by direct debt, and were due to have their first instalment deducted on April 1, to let them know this will now happen on April 10th. This is a one-off exception to cover late arrival of bills and payments will revert to the normal date in May.

TNT is picking up all additional costs caused by late delivery and there will be no impact on council services. The council hasn’t commented on the cost to TNT, but with £2.4 million arriving ten days late, the cost is likely to be significant.

Cllr Susan Hall, leader of Harrow Council, said: “I’d like to offer sincere apologies to anybody who was concerned over the late arrival of their council tax bill. As soon as this issue came to light, we decided the fairest thing was to give an extra period to those due to pay on April 1st by direct debit. We are working with TNT to see what went wrong and to ensure there is no repetition of this.”

People who have any concerns or questions can refer to www.harrow.gov.uk where more details can be found, or call Access Harrow, the Council’s call centre, on 020 8901 2610.

TNT Post, headquartered in Marlow,  said “we are working with the council and our delivery partner to investigate the cause and resolve the situation as quickly as possible.  We cannot comment further at this stage.”

Updated at 13.31 on 28.03.2014 to include the quote from TNT Post.

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6 comments

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  1. John Clement

    I always believe in paying promptly at the level of service the council supplies, so without waiting for the invoice I have sent them my monthly cheque for £2.14.

  2. Linda Robinson

    This story just gets worse and worse though, Paul, with each update just generating more questions than answers. The other day (http://www.iharrow.com/council/harrow-council-messes-up-on-council-tax-bills/) it was MyHarrow account holders who weren’t getting their bills and being given extra time to pay. They indicated that two thirds of bills are paid by direct debit and so “will not be affected”. Now we’re told that a quarter of the bills sent out were to direct debit payers who now, contrarily, seem to be considered the only ones to be affected.

    TNT’s inability to deliver the bills is in no way connected to people’s method of payment. Many people haven’t received them, whether they pay by direct debit or MyHarrow or any other way. I can’t see how the council knows whose has been delivered and whose hasn’t. I understand that TNT are now passing on piles of the bills to Royal Mail for delivery in some areas. We should be clear that everyone will have extra time to pay, not just those who might eventually get another letter about their direct debits – or they might not if it’s being delivered by TNT! It’s not an “administrative error”; it’s that piles of council tax bills are being left lying around in the streets by inexperienced deliverers, according to what I hear – a big risk of identity theft. The best way “to ensure there is no repetition of this” is not to use TNT and to stick instead with the new contract the council has apparently signed up to with Royal Mail, who may not be perfect but at least you do usually get your post delivered in time.

    And I’m still waiting to hear why I’m suddenly expecting to pay in twelve instalments instead of the usual ten that most other people get.

    Well done Paul and Susan for trying to keep on the case.

  3. King David

    Unfortunately its called passing the buck…

  4. Robin Vaughan

    So much for TNT competing with Royal Mail. Mot a hope from a poor company.

  5. Linda Robinson

    Good news! I will be paying my council tax on 01 April. My bill was delivered by Royal Mail today, 29 March, 17 days after it was entrusted to TNT. This is normal behaviour for TNT in my street – they hang on to things for a couple of weeks, and then if you’re lucky and they haven’t already lost it or delivered it to the wrong address, they hand over their big undelivered pile for Royal Mail to handle.

    You’ll see on the Harrow Observer website
    http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/local-news/postal-firm-tnt-makes-administrative-6889963
    that whole mess is expected to cost TNT £2000. Don’t make me laugh! Even if that was the total of the lost interest, it’s not about losing a few quid from the savings account for a few days. What about the cost of all the extra letters going out, the wasted staff time, the overloaded telephone systems, the stress, the damage to Harrow’s reputation… £2000? Who’s paying for the rest? Heads should roll!

  6. Susan Hall

    Linda, I am on the case as you would expect. TNT have agreed to pay all costs so that the Council and therefore the taxpayer will not be out of pocket. Once finalised I am happy to account to the public on the finances around this. I apologise to all that have been inconvenienced by this but I can do no more than try and ensure it does not happen again and that we are compensated for any costs incurred.

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