Student loan firm Duo picks up €1m bill for bailiff bungle

Student loan company Duo has admitted it was wrong to involve bailiffs to recover unpaid college fees from 10,000 vocational students whom it only contacts via email, consumer television programme Kassa said on Sunday.

At the end of February, thousands of students at MBO colleges received a letter telling them they not only owed €1,118 in fees but that this had been increased by €300 in bailiff’s charges and interest.

The students had all ticked a box last summer stating they would like all Duo correspondence to be sent digitally in future. Since then, Duo has communicated by sending them a neutral email telling them there is post waiting to be picked up.


But this went wrong for 10,000 students because either the email address was outdated or the email alert gave no indication of the importance of the correspondence, Kassa said.

‘We’ve had a lot of complaints,’ Duo told Kassa. ‘The emails we sent were obviously not enough of a trigger to get students to log in. We should have communicated more forcefully.’

Because so many students are involved, Duo has now decided to pay the bailiff’s fees itself at a total cost of €1m, Kassa said.

Legal expert Bart Bernard told the programme: ‘Duo cannot assume that people read digital post’.

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