Ever found yourself on the runway of a developing nation’s airport about to repossess some long-sought asset, only to be surrounded by a private militia wielding former Soviet machine guns?
Perhaps you’ve turned up at a premises in Middlesbrough to collect a car only to be threatened with grievous bodily harm by a former client turned menacing Neanderthal.
Whatever your Collections Nightmare we at Leasing Life are looking for the worst repossession tales from anywhere in Europe for this diary page, so get in touch if you have a horror story worth sharing, or perhaps a leasing myth that you’ve heard.
We look forward to sharing your woes.
This month George Ashworth, head of asset finance at Aldermore, remembers a dark weekend in the Welsh Valleys. Horrifying.
“The collection of exotic cars,” recalls Ashworth. “In my day this was always to be undertaken on a Friday afternoon or early evening. Subject to a successful repossession being completed, this meant you had use of the vehicle over the weekend.
“Being a single man in those days and of course impressionable, it was always nice to be able to have a rather impressive motor car for the weekend, particularly on a Saturday night.
“It brings tears to my eyes just remembering how flexible one had to be!”
Were they tears of terror? Read on.
“When in the employ of Mercantile Credit, a colleague [Alex Badran] and I once went up to Trevethin [near Pontypool in south Wales] to repossess a car.
“We were repossessing from a miner, which at the height of the coal strike was not the smartest thing we ever attempted. Trevethin may have improved since, but in 1980 it was a pretty scary place to be of an evening.”
Although few travellers return from such places, Collections Nightmares understands it is still scary.
Our brave explorers found some sort of residence after an hour of touring around an estate, despite clear signs someone or something – perhaps a disembodied evil presence – was working against them.
“All the street name plates had been removed, plus it was pitch black given all the street lights had been smashed,” reveals Ashworth, “but we eventually found the house.
“It was pouring with rain and in this part of the valleys it was not unusual for there to be steps leading down from the road to the front door.
“The stairs were like a river and at the bottom of the stairwell it was like a swimming pool.
“Both Alex and I, who were suited and booted, were standing up to our ankles in filthy water. The experience was shared with a number of rats swimming around our feet as we waited for the door to be answered.
“Eventually we heard someone coming to the door shouting at the top of his voice.
“We looked at one another and without speaking legged it up the stairs as fast as we could, jumped in the car and scorched off leaving the repossession to be done by braver men than us.”
Ashworth clears his throat with a rasping dryness.
“Whoever it was sounded big and angry.”
On the basis we can assuage our fears through shared experience, Kevin Davidson, managing director of Premier Asset Finance, returns to Collections Nightmares with a similar tale of terror in the 1980s.
“Working for North West Securities back in the 80s and 90s, two nights a week were set aside for default calling and repossessions.
“I was tracking a guy [a local gangster] who was hiding a Toyota Supra from us.”
On the case, Davidson discovered the reprobate would only park his car close to his flat after 9pm and then drive it away early in the morning to avoid his wheels, furry dice and all, being taken.
“With the help of a friendly dealer I got a key cut using the chassis number as we didn’t need a court order to repossess. So sure enough the car appeared around 9.30pm.”
Seemingly overcome by the haunting memory, Davidson compares his experience to a 1987 Emilio Estevez action comedy.
“It was like a scene from the film Stakeout,” suggests Davidson, “my rep and I waited for three hours until the lights in his flat went out, we had a flask of tea, binoculars and my wife’s best carrot cake.
“The car was literally parked underneath his bedroom window. I crept up to the side of the car and put in the key. I actually could feel my heart beating with the adrenalin pumping hard through my body.
“I turned the key so gently only to be greeted by the loudest ear piercing alarm I have ever heard, I am sure this alarm had a built-in amplifier. I tried to open the car door but it was not budging an inch, my rep by this time had fled towards our stake-out car.
“I kept trying the key but to no avail suddenly I looked up and the block of flats was lighting up like a Xmas tree and to cap it all our friendly client was now at his bedroom shouting at the top of voice what he was going to do to me, which I took as my sign to exit the scene.”
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