Published: 17:56, 30 October 2020
| Updated: 18:02, 30 October 2020
Ashford Borough Council has apologised after direct debits were taken from people four days early.
An error in a new IT system meant council tax and business rate payments were taken yesterday. They should have come out on November 2.
The authority posted on Facebook to alert people. The post received hundreds of comments from people asking if they were going to let people know in any other way, other than social media.
One said: "It's your mistake, your problem, how about you don't take the money at all?? Nice of you to let people know one day ahead... like we all have money trees in the garden and just able to magic money out of thin air."
Another said: "They could have sent out an email. Not everyone is on Facebook. And this will go against people's credit ratings."
Cllr Dara Farrell (Lab), who represents Victoria ward said: "I think there needs to be some questions raised to the council on this. As far as I'm aware, there's no real strategy on contacting people. Is that the right way to do that, on its Facebook page?
"If you have someone who might be older and struggle a little with technology, do they actually see that?
"They announced it yesterday but as far as I'm aware, you have to issue a 10-day warning to change a direct debit.
"This affects many people and every business in the borough. Do they have the adequate numbers of staff answering those phones or responding to those emails?"
Maria Stevens, Head of Finance and IT, said: “We apologise for the inconvenience and stress that this error has caused. We are aware that by taking this payment a working day early people might have incurred bank charges, if that is the case, please contact us either by calling 01233 331111 or email email@example.com.
“The error has come from the installation of a new piece of software and we have put in place processes to make sure that it can’t happen again.
“More information, including some frequently asked questions is available on our website www.ashford.gov.uk.”