Ulma Haryanto, Zaky Pawas & Elisabeth Oktofani
Car dealer Muji Harjo said that there came a time when he could not pay the Rp 12 million ($1,400) bill on his credit card, issued by an international private bank.
When the deadline was up in October 2009, Muji was still unable to pay, so he handed over his 2005 Yamaha Vega motorcycle as collateral. In May, a debt collector rang Muji up and that’s when the real problems started.
“They asked me to meet them, so I did. There were two of them. I told them that I would have the money next month and that had I already given my motorcycle as collateral, Muji said on Friday.
“They responded with something rude. When I asked them what they mean by that, they beat me up.” Muji said the bones around his left eye were fractured in the attack. “I wore glasses at that time. I was lucky I didn’t go blind because the [lens] broke.”
Muji was taken to Boromeus Hospital in Bandung, West Java, where he his injuries were noted in a police report. He was hospitalized for three days and wound up spending Rp 70 million on surgery.
“My facial bones had to be reconstructed,” Muji said. “I had two witnesses who backed up my statement … However, until now the police have not been able to arrest anyone,” he said.
“Since there was no settlement offer from the bank, last month I filed my case at Bandung District Court,” he said. Under certain circumstances outsourced debt collectors are legal, according to a 2009 circular from Bank Indonesia.
David Tobing, Muji’s legal advisor, said the circular stipulated that debt collection should not be carried out in violation of the law. Tulus Abadi, chairman of the Indonesian Customer Protection Foundation (YLKI), said a lack of internal monitoring in the banking industry and weak customer protection made the debt collecting business appear to be above the law.
“They terrorize customers,” Tulus said.
The last time the YLKI opened an exclusive helpline for credit card services was in 2005. “Even at that time the top complaint was debt collectors. We had one female customer complaining that debt collectors sent faxes to her office several times a day, calling her a whore,” he said.
“When there are a lot of people who are unable to pay credit card bills, then they should assess and evaluate their card policy. Maybe they should be less aggressive in their promotions.”