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Friday, May 24, 2024   

Jenni the Bill Collector
by Scott Bilker
Scott Bilker is the author of the best-selling books, Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Debt, Credit Card and Debt Management, and How to be more Credit Card and Debt Smart. He's also the founder of DebtSmart.com. More about and DebtSmart can be found in the online media kit.
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Scott Bilker

I received a letter from Jenni about Chris Peruzzi's article, Bad Customer Service. Turns out that Jenni is a bill collector. I found her comments to be quite interesting in that you can get an insight into the thinking of the typical bill/debt collector. I included my remarks for added entertainment.

Jenni: "I am a bill collector. What a lot of people forget is that what we do is our job."

I don't think anyone forgets that it's her 'job.' Jenni's collection victims also have jobs.

Jenni: "We do not come to your office and cuss you out because you wanted an 8:00 meeting. Under the FDCPA (fair debt collection practices act) we are legally allowed to call from 8:00 am until 9:00 pm your local time."

Of course Jenni didn't come to our office and cuss. It sounds like she would, if she could, which is why the law limits their contact.

Jenni: "But where I work, we start calling at 7:00 am our time. Do you think that I really want to be pleasant at that time?"

Does Jenni think the people she's calling are going to be pleasant at that time?

Jenni: "One of my biggest problems is that we are constantly mistaken for telemarketers/customer service. We are far from that. Our job is not to make you happy, but to make our client happy."

Well Jenni, obviously you're not making us happy, so don't be so surprised when people hang up on you!

Jenni: "We don't always know what is going on though. That is why we call. We were hired to find out why there is a past due bill with you and our client. Give us a break. You do your job, and we will do ours."

I don't think Jenni knows why she's hired. Her job is to collect, not to 'find out why.' That's why the job title is Debt Collector not Debt Investigator.

Jenni: "Also, remember this; we want to get it cleared up just as badly as you do. So allow us to help you dispute things properly if you feel that there is something wrong with the bill. Hanging up and cussing us out does not make us want to help you."

Jenni assumes that people want her 'help' to clear things up. She doesn't want to help, she wants to collect.

Jenni: "Do you really want something on your credit that could have been avoided?"

More than likely, something is already on the person's credit report because the account is in collection. It cannot be avoided at this point.

Jenni: "You are an adult. So act like one. If you don't want us to call at 8:00 am, politely tell us to call you after noon. We will be more than happy to. And don't insult our intellegence."

If Jenni could spell 'intelligence' it would make it more difficult for people to insult her. The best advice to get Jenni to stop calling is to politely ask for her address and then send a letter demanding that her company cease calling.

Jenni: "I am a 20 year old college student working my way thru just like anyone else. At least I have the manners and maturity to handle things like an adult. Think about that one."

I thought about it, and I think Jenni doesn't understand the situations that real adults, not adults by age, have on their plate. Situations like multiple jobs, children, mortgage payments...life!

The following remarks are from Chris Peruzzi, author of Bad Customer Service:

"As a former help desk rep, a management reporter, and (currently) a quality control exec, my expertise in this particular matter spans over 14 years for a fortune five hundred company. I have a bachelor's of science degree in marketing research with focus on consumer behavior.

From a point of view of operating within the confines of world class service. The examples I've made within my article are quite nightmarish. If it is the function of a bill collector to harass people in the wee hours of the evening or the early morning (please consider the time zones when calling) then they are worthy of my full unadulterated wrath.

The point of any phone call should not be to harass.

Should I get a phone call from a bill collector or any kind of corporate bulldog, he or she should be prepared to actually resolve a problem. If a check has been sent, and the bill collector does not have it in their files, the correct response is to either say, "Our records as of (this date) do not show payment. When and how did you send payment?" or "I can check now to see if the payment has arrived. How did you send it?"

A bill collector should be able to accommodate a user with alternative methods of payment. If I should get a call from a bill collector, and I don't have the money at the moment, perhaps the collection agency can create a progressive plan for payment. The company gets its money, and the bill payer may be more amicable on the next go around.

Also, in my wife's case, her phone conversation had been recorded. This seems to be more and more popular in corporations - especially those that use the politically incorrect method of shipping their customer service jobs offshore to India. Management should be keeping a wary eye on how their business is conducted and the image they are projecting when people using their name are calling their "clients". In the case of credit card companies, remember, new cards with low APR's come out frequently. Should the consumer have a choice of acquiring a new card, they can punish that bill collector - especially in the case of a misunderstanding that can be exacerbated by an impolite or stupid bill collector.

Because my wife's conversation was recorded and reviewed, the impolite bill collector met with an appropriate end to a career that was probably going to go nowhere.

Remember: Time wounds all heels."



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