Councillor slams penalty fee "rip-off"

Monday 26 November 2012

A lack of reminders from council will result in more than 50,000 Auckland property owners having to pay a 10% penalty fee on their rates, says councillor Cameron Brewer.

By The Landlord

The second rates installment for the year is due today at 5pm but Brewer said there had been no reminders to ratepayers to get their payments in on time.

"The council spends millions on public relations and marketing each year but staggeringly not one dollar has been spent on reminding ratepayers to pay their second installment.”

He said: “Anyone would think the council is more interested in protecting its $20.6 million expected in late rates penalty revenue this financial year, than providing a good faith reminder service to ratepayers."

Data shows 58,925 ratepayers had to pay a 10% penalty fee after missing the deadline on August 30.

"Many Aucklanders, who haven’t remembered or simply can’t afford to pay, will find their rates suddenly up a staggering 20%. That’s because over 133,000 of Auckland ratepayers have had rates increases this year at the full 10% cap, and now some of them face a further 10% in penalty fees for late payment."

He said although people had to be personally responsible for paying their bills on time, the council had a responsibility to use its communication channels to get a reminder out cost-effectively.

“Only a few months ago the council paid $198,000 on a marketing campaign on to get the political message out that rates were somehow ‘fairer all round’ but then has done nothing to remind Aucklanders to actually pay their rates on time.”

Comments from our readers

On 27 November 2012 at 12:53 pm john said:
I moved mine to pay by direct debit but have received no reminder. I will now check my bank account to see the impact on my balance (have I gone into overdraft?). No information was received about the payments to be taken out.
On 28 November 2012 at 3:43 pm ANNE said:
I believe the counsel should have a few days leniency after the due date for payments to be made. Visa do this. 3-4 days. Its a sign of good faith as you can have all the best intentions on paying on time and you just simply forget or circumstances get in the way.

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