RSS

Tag Archives: mail

Pension? What Pension?

Against a fair few odds, I think, family and I had watched my 60th birthday roll in at the beginning of October 2009. Obviously, it was a low key celebration, and, to be honest, having received no birthday cards from family in the UK – a parcel of cards was en route from Champagnac, but it didn’t arrive until several days after my birthday – I was feeling rather quiet. Tom and I had also celebrated our Silver Wedding Anniversary just days before. 2009 will forever be known by us as the celebrations year that wasn’t!

However, by March 2010, I was still not receiving my pensions, and the rest of our savings were gushing away like water out of a broken pipe! I had applied for my pensions in June 2009. Not receiving any acknowledgement by August 2009, as I had requested, I wrote to enquire if that large brown envelope had arrived. I heard nothing, so I telephoned Newcastle. The large brown envelope had not been received! “Complete it on-line.” advised the very pleasant lass on the other end of the phone. I tried three times using the on-line service, without success, my application just wasn’t accepted, so I downloaded the documents and tried again. It was fortunate that I had an extra copy each of my Birth Certificate and Tom’s and my Marriage Certificate.

By the end of October 2009, I still had not received acknowledgement, so I telephoned Newcastle yet again and spoke with another pleasant lass. Once more, I was advised that the large brown envelope had not arrived. I then had to wait for more copies of Birth Certificate and Marriage Certificate, before I could re-apply for my pensions.

At the end of January 2010, Tom physically took the next big brown envelope filled with documents to a JobCentre Plus near his youngest brother’s home in London! Incredibly, when I telephoned towards the end of March, having not received an acknowledgement, a very pleasant lass advised me that my pensions application, and formal documents, had indeed arrived on her desk, but they had then “been misplaced.”!

By that time, I was feeling rather upset by the fiasco, and I contacted the office of (then) MEP Caroline Lucas. Her PA was horrified and told me she would pass all details to Caroline within 24 hours – Caroline Lucas was, at that time, preparing to represent the Green Party at the forthcoming General Election, and she was only days away from stepping down as an MEP in order to become an MP/Leader of the Green Party for England and Wales. I have never voted for the Green Party, yet, Caroline Lucas took up the fight for my pensions – and, whether the threat alone was enough, I don’t know, but Newcastle went into overdrive and I received my pensions backlog within days! Touch wood, my pensions have continued to arrive in the UK bank account every four weeks since then. But, it was a very close shave!

At this point, I would just like to acknowledge the unconditional help, support and kindness of two close friends, ie Diane and Natalie; without them, food and medication would have been very scarce during two weeks, specifically! The words, ‘thank you’, are never enough, but those two little words come from the hearts of family and me.

Buoyed up and in fighting mode, I emailed our avocat, Alexandra, and I asked her if she would please ‘look over’ our application to the European Court of Human Rights, before I posted it to Strasbourg. By the beginning of June, we had not received a response, and we never did receive a response! I posted the application.

A few days later, we received a brief notice from the ECHR, Strasbourg, to say our application had been filed at the Court on 10th June 2010, Tom’s 64th birthday.

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Money Flowing Like Water

Just before we headed back to the Dordogne, Tom and I travelled to Champagnac to collect our accumulated mail from our good friend and former neighbour, Madame ZC. As we pulled in outside our house that can never be our home, several neighbours were standing, chatting, in the Place de l’Eglise, they looked towards us as we left the car. Within seconds, they had all joined us and were talking ten to the dozen, shaking hands, kissing us on both cheeks, as we struggled to keep up with their excited questions. Eventually, our former next-door-but-one neighbour, Madame ML, a retired Moulin Rouge dancer who had retired many years before to the commune of her birth, Champagnac, from Paris, took control and politely asked us if we had returned to stay, and had we won our fight for justice against “the people who have treated you shamefully”. Briefly, with Madame ML translating the more complex aspects of the French language, we clarified our current position to the dozen or so villagers who were clustered around us, and who were listening intently. Each and every face dropped and they became still and silent as we spoke. Then, gently patting Tom and me on our shoulders, kissing our cheeks again, they all wished us good luck and started to walk away.

Suddenly, Madame ML, who must be in her late 80’s, possibly older, slowly walked back to us, hugged us both and told us, “You are very strong. You are strong like la résistence, you will win. Have faith in your family strength.” That was very encouraging for us, especially during the months to come!

There was a lot of mail for us to open. But, we recognised a Toulouse postmark on an envelope, and we opened that envelope first. Inside, there was a neatly worded facture (a bill) for over €4,000, the anticipated cost of the forthcoming Appeal hearing. Tom and I were stunned, we had already paid that amount towards the Appeal, to Monsieur MA months before. I telephoned Julia’s office and spoke with the office secretary, she politely advised me that Julia was in hospital but she would ask Alexandra to contact me as soon as possible, hopefully, later that same day. We were given to understand that Alexandra was our replacement avocat, in view of Julia’s severe health issues.

Somewhat reluctantly, we opened all the other envelopes – Foncier and d’Habitation property taxes, water rates, Social Charges! A total in excess of €3,500.

Water rates of over €1,000? Yes, water rates payable by the hairdresser, but the hairdresser had refused to pay for the water she used, because we would not sign her Lease Contract!

Social Charges? Yes, because our locataires were paying rent – not to us, because we refused to receive or acknowledge payment of rent, as we had been advised by Monsieur MA. The rent payments were received directly at the local Trésor Public (Council Tax Office), to pay the annual property taxes. Both rents had apparently never been increased since the late 1990’s when Madame T had initially started renting out parts of the house, so the monthly rents were, in Monsieur MA’s words, ‘Little peanuts, just enough to pay the annual taxes for the property, if they do not increase too much before your Case is resolved.’

Taxe d’Habitation? Tom was 63 years old, and we didn’t (couldn’t!) live in the property. That was apparently of no relevance, because the house was considered to be our maison secondaire (holiday home), our tent was considered to be our main home, and we were considered to be rolling in money because we had “two homes in France”! The facture was for the difference between what had been paid via rent and what the Trésor Public estimated was still owed from the previous year’s facture!

Tax Foncier? Yes, the majority of us must pay that property tax. But, the facture was for the difference between…yes, as above!

It was obvious that Monsieur MA had not done with our money as we had instructed, and entrusted, he had just banked it for himself, and for the new business venture he has since started as an avocat!

It took the lion’s share of the rest of 2009, plus all of 2010, plus the first half of 2011, to prove we did not owe the money demanded in the envelopes that we opened that day. Well, we’re still battling over the water rates facture that now stands at €1,900, and is still rising, despite Tom and I formally requesting that the water supply to the building be turned off!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,