Thursday, August 17, 2006

Yucky Blast From The Past

I know it must be difficult to work for a collection agency.
Cuz nobody's EVER glad you called.

I try to be sensitive to any customer service/collection rep I talk to on the phone because R works in a call center dealing with pissy people all day. And it makes me sad to think that people are mean to him.

That said...

I got a call from a collection agency yesterday regarding my Cable Bill.

Oh, there must be some mistake, I said, I haven't had cable for, like, four years.

This is for your final bill, ma'am.

My final bill, from 4 years ago?

Yes ma'am. From 2002.

Are you kidding me? I haven't heard one word from you all in this time, haven't gotten one past-due notice in the mail...

We don't forward mail, ma'am.

What?? Then how do you expect to get people to PAY you?

You never gave us your new address.

Ok, well, I didn't know I owed you anything! I cancelled my service long before I moved out of my apartment, and when I moved I gave the post office my forwarding address, and my phone number stayed the same when I moved, you still could have contacted me.

I don't work for The Cable Company, I don't have all the information.

So I paid the bill (postdating so I can stop payment if this turns out to be a big stupid mistake) and I called The Cable Company (the name of which, appropriately, rhymes with FARTER) just to confirm that this is a legitimate bill.

I explained that I just got a call from this Collections Agency and whatever, and I'm so pissed off, I'm shaking. I told the Farter rep that I was afraid this Collections Agency is a scam and I just gave my bank information to them.

Yes ma'am, I'm showing an outstanding balance of $154.27.

When was somebody ever going to tell me I had an outstanding balance? I mean, how does this happen? It's been outstanding for three years. This is appalling...

I'm showing that someone did try to contact you in November 2005.

By "tried to contact", could that possibly mean that someone called and left a cryptic message and I, thinking it had to be a mistake since I haven't had cable in FOUR YEARS, deleted it? That's the only attempt that was made, almost a whole year ago?

You'd have to take that up with the collection agency, ma'am.


Oh, HELL no.

So I emailed Farter Communications thusly:

I just got a call from a collection agency regarding an account I had with Farter over 3 years ago. I had cancelled my account and apparently the final bill was never forwarded to my new address.

It has been over 3 years and, to my knowledge, not one attempt has been made to contact me, although my phone number remained the same and I had all my mail forwarded to my new address.

HOW did this happen? I would gladly have taken care of this balance immediately rather than let it sit on my credit report for a full three years. If you review my account, you can see that I was a good customer who stayed current and paid the bills each month. I am absolutely appalled that my credit has suffered as a result of Farter's inability to follow-up on this bill in a timely fashion.

I would like to see a written explanation of your past-due billing policies, because getting a call from a collection agency regarding a bill that is this old was a complete shock to me. To me, it appears that you've dumped the responsibility of contacting your customer onto someone else who knows nothing about the situation.

I would have appreciated even a minimal amount of customer service from Farter. Instead, I was forced to ask questions about my account to someone who has no information about my account. How do I even know this bill is legitimate?

I did not want this outstanding balance to remain on my credit one more day, so without hesitation, I paid it in full. However, I would like to express my profound disappointment in your customer service and billing systems.


And here's what I got back:


Dear Sarah,

Thank you so much for contacting Farter Communications.

I understand that you are concerned with your past due balance and you want a clarification regarding that amount.

I looked into your account and I see that the amount of $154.27 is due on your account.Since, your account is no more with the Fharter , I request you to follow the guidelines given by the collection agency. I also request you to pay the due balance as soon as possible.

For further questions please do not hesitate to call us again.

Thank you for contacting Farter Communications.

Sincerely,

Chriss
Farter Communications.



Um, yeah. Chriss (two S's - that's not a typo), dude, did you even read what I wrote?

I wrote back AGAIN:


I do have some additional questions, actually.

I would like to see a copy of my final bill.

I would also like to see something in writing regarding your past-due policies.

I would also like to know how long a bill is past due in your system before you send it to Collections.

Basically, I would like to know how long this outstanding bill has been sitting on my credit report without my knowledge.

I am extremely upset that my account went to collections without Farter ever attempting to contact me at my new address. I had NO idea that I owed you anything. I cancelled my service before I moved out of my apartment three years ago, and when I moved, I gave the post office my forwarding address so any mail would have gotten to me, and my phone number stayed the same when I moved. Farter could easily have contacted me, but no one did. Farter obviously had to provide my contact information to their Collections agency, right?

According to the representative I spoke to yesterday, the last time anyone tried to contact me regarding my account was in November of 2005. I have no memory of this attempt to contact me, and the rep had no record of any other attempts made to contact me. Interesting.

If someone "tried to contact" me by leaving me a cryptic message on my answering machine, I probably thought it had to be a mistake since I haven't had cable in THREE YEARS, and deleted it. That's the only attempt that was made, almost a whole year ago? Is it possible that an employee could have updated the account falsely to make it appear that they were doing work that they didn't actually do? Sending me a notice in the mail might have been a better idea.

I understand that once an account goes to Collections, it's no longer your concern, but the problem at that point is that the collection agency has very little information to go on when they (finally) call me, and I wind up calling Farter anyway to confirm that I have an outstanding balance, but they have no information either, because it's gone to Collections. So who's supposed to help me?

Perhaps Farter needs to consider a new Collections agency, because Asmi (Ed: Isn't "Ass-me" a funny name for a Collection Agency?) is clearly not contacting your customers and collecting your debts in a timely manner. Of course, if Farter would have make a better effort to contact their customers who have outstanding balances, perhaps there wouldn't be a need for a Collections Agency. I'm sure that if Farter would have made a slightly-less-than-minimal effort to contact me over the last three years, my account would never have gone to Collections in the first place.

I have paid this bill in full, and I will never be a Farter Customer again.

--- end of crabby email ---

I'm so pissed. We're trying to clean up our credit so we can buy a house next year. You can bet yer sweet ass I won't be installing Farter Cable there.

12 comments:

purrl (aka the kitchener bitch) said...

That is sucktastic, Penny. But you should be able to get it off your credit report. If you can, demand to know that it will be removed when payment is received. You can geta free credit report from the gummint to make sure it's not there. If it is, and if they won't take it off, keep calling the collections agency and threaten to sue if they don't remove it. (Hey, whatever works.) And you can also dispute it on your actual credit report. Either the credit report company will remove it altogether, or they will leave a note on your report forever that says you disputed it and explains why in your own words.

Sorry your cable company seems to be comprised of total dickweeds. PM me if you need any help getting it off.

bradyphrenia said...

you should send your story to consumerist.com i bet yours isn't the only story like this.

OldLadyPenPal said...

CHARTER

CHARTER

CHARTER

Deletion Powers are all yours, of course, but you were too decent to say it. All cable companies are the devil. Actually, ALL companies that make reports to the credit bureaus are the devil, becuase They Can.

I'm still trying to get my ex-husband's crap off my credit report. I have heard, and this may not be true, that companies are so overwhelmed with credit disputes that they rarely take the time to counter argue. So if this rumor is true, you can dispute it right off. I'm about to try that, because I shouldn't be penalized for a medical bill my ex-husband didn't pay when he had that check-up after he found out the woman he was having an affair with had a genital affliction. Yeah.

Hang in there. Have some chocolate mousse. That always helps (my butt get bigger) me feel better.

Skye said...

Wow. The idiots.

Elspeth said...

I had a similar situation with a cell phone company -- I had closed my account and then 6 mos to a year later they billed me again, because they said they had just merged their records and "found" some old calls for many people. I couldn't believe it.

I know it won't make much difference but I would probably write a review for JudysBook, Insider Pages, Epinions and any review site I could find just to get it out there.

The nerve!

Bezzie said...

Yeah what Kirchner Bitch said. Go to that free credit report site and run you and R's credit (by federal law you get one free run of it a year--make sure it's the true free one, a lot of them are scammy pretending to be the federal site) and make sure if this is on there you dispute it (just copy and paste your blog entry there and delete all the profanity....or not!). It will let you run a report for all three major credit report agencies.

Megan said...

You got a call from Asmi collections agency - the one I deal with at work is named MAD Collections (their caps). Yeesh. And, for whatever it's worth, I have to be able to document at least 90 days of active attempts before the collections place will touch an account. That means e-mails, telephone calls and good ole USPS. Only exception is if the e-mail bounces, the phone is disconnected AND the mail is returned - but it has to be all three. I'd pitch an ever loving fit to the Better Business Bureau if I were you!

Zonda said...

That just totally sucks!! Bummer! Another reason I hate cable!

Dan said...

You should NEVER give your account info to any company that you do not do regular business with and then that is iffy. I would 1st get a copy of my credit report(there are free sites out there) to see if it is actually on there. IF it is then and only then would I consider paying it, AFTER I received something in writing that shows it is a legit charge. Then to add to it just for fun I would drag it out with the collection agency. If you were going to pay it I would let them know you can pay it over time. Since they waited 3 years they can wait a little longer. The agency is likely to get a big portion of the money so tell them you can pay them $25 a month and after each payment you want a letter back stating payment received and the new balance. Then tell them that you are requesting that they never call you again and if they do you will consider it harrassment and report them to the proper state agency. IF you pay monthly mispell there company name and add snarky comments on the memo line. That is my advice. If it is too late then, in the future please bring this stuff to your readership before you act so we can throw in our 2 cents to maybe help you play head games with whoever is bothering you. That is what we are here for :)

Dulcedosa said...

When I was buying my house, I found the following websites that have VALUABLE insight from folks like us on how to manuever the system and remove bad marks from your credit reports. I used many of the techniques and increased my FICO score 15 points before I applied for my loan. That made a HUGE difference!

All about FICO scores:
http://www.myfico.com/Offers/myFICO_UYCS%20booklet.pdf
http://www.myfico.com/myFICO/CreditCentral.asp
http://www.myfico.com/myFICO/FAQ/CreditBureaus.asp#Q23
http://www.mycreditfile.com/credit_reporting_questions.htm

Credit Forums:
http://www.creditboards.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=2070
http://www.creditboards.com/phpBB2/viewforum.php?f=2
http://consumers.creditnet.com/straighttalk/board/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/whopulledmycredit/
- Go to this group to find out which retailers, banks, etc pull which credit reports.

Z said...

Chances are that the collections agency bought - for pennies on the dollar - your unpaid (legit or not) balance from the cable company. Collections agencies make money off collecting allegedly "uncollectible" debts and therefore have the incentive to lie, scam, harass, etc. consumers. All that stuff is illegal of course, but most consumers don't know their rights and get intimidated, then pay whether they owe or not.

The free credit report site is annualcreditreport.com. Might be worth it to pay the $9-10 for one of the credit scores (experian is usually the mid-score, which is what mortgage companies are most interested in).

Anonymous said...

FWIW, we successfully called a collections agency on a probably fraudulent debt they tried to collect on us last year. I'd just pulled both our credit reports, and it wasn't on there (at all).

The debt was about 10 years old, and technically uncollectible in any case, even if it was legit. It was with a company that my husband had had an account with, but he'd closed it out - prior to being stationed overseas. The account was with a store that only has locations in the US. No attempt was made to contact us until last year. Interestingly, my husband had great credit during the entire time this was supposedly on the report. Hmmmm.

We figure, if it's a real debt, that it's a case of someone swiping his account info when they knew he was going to be overseas.

We sent them a registered letter. We asked for all hardcopy records, which would be reviewed by us and a lawyer prior to being submitted to the feds for pursuit on identity theft charges.

They never called or mailed us again, and I had to call them back to find out what they were doing with the debt. I was told "We'll notify you by mail if we decide to pursue this."

I figure that they looked at the costs of trying to gather all the information I requested vs. their cut of the collection bill and decided to write it off. I'm keeping the letter in case they sell it off to someone else.