A widower was threatened with having his possessions seized over £71 of unpaid council tax.
Richard Kenyon, 50, only found out about the threat after spending the final few days at the hospital bedside of his dying wife.
A desperately upset Mr Kenyon has now paid the money owed to bailiffs – and more. An extra charge pushed the bill up to £181.
His wife, Sandra, was taken ill several weeks ago and died aged 47 in Leeds General Infirmary after a brain haemorrhage.
She organised the family finances and Mr Kenyon believed matters were in order to pay back outstanding council tax monthly.
He returned from hospital to find a threatening letter from bailiffs.
It demanded payment in four days – which had passed.
Mr Kenyon, of Northedge Park, Hipperholme, was in turmoil so his daughter Kirsty intervened and contacted Jacobs Bailiffs, of Merseyside, to make the £71 payment.
She was told she had to speak direct with the bailiff handling the case, but he was on holiday.
When he returned on August 15, she was informed the payment had risen to £181.
“I refused to pay it,” she said. “I couldn’t understand why we should have to pay an additional £110 because the bailiff had been on holiday.”
A further letter arrived saying if payment was not received, bailiffs would start taking Mr Kenyon’s belongings.
She said: “In the end I had to pay. The last thing my recently widowed father needed was people breaking into the family home.”
Mr Kenyon, a motorcycle instructor, said: “It’s appalling.
“I have just lost my wife of 26 years and that doesn’t seem to count for much.
“I would have been quite happy to pay the £71. I didn’t want to pay the £181 but I have had to.”
Jacobs – motto “firm but fair” – recovers debt for Calderdale Council.
The council said: “Only after all avenues are exhausted will a debt be passed to an external party.”